Squeezing A Bit More Life Out Of The Levelator

Hey, there!

I’ve been seeing more and more traffic about how El Capitan, a version of MacOS, breaks a lot of software.

As an example, if you happen to upgrade to El Capitan, The Levelator will simply stop working.

I’m working on a better solution for the long term, but in the meantime, I have a fix. And, an update as of 12/1/15.

UPDATE: Bruce Sharpe, as noted in the comments below, is the original developer of The Levelator, and has created a new version, 2.1.2, to address the installation issues in El Capitan. You can get the newly updated version at (as always, I keep that link safe and up to date.)

(The changes made in El Capitan from what was in Yosemite are major. And don’t worry, Windows users, this isn’t for you.)

One of the pieces of software affected is our beloved Levelator. This is the software that was originally created to level out the volumes of both sides of a recorded podcast conversation, but happens to perfectly produce files that ACX wants for audiobooks.

The Levelator is almost a decade old, and development stopped on it in 2007. But it’s lasted a good long time, and you can make it last a bit longer if you follow the steps below.

(The full write up on this is over at my friend Adam Engst’s TidBITS site. Just click here to read all the gory details.)

Be sure you only do this if you’ve decided to update your MacOS to El Capitan, and have already done so. This isn’t for Windows users, and it isn’t for users that are on Yosemite or below. You can check this by going to (Apple menu) >> About this Mac. If you see anything other than El Capitan, Version 10.11 as shown below, you don’t need to go any further with this:


If you drag an audio file onto The Levelator, you’ll see this instead of the usual progress bar:


(If you don’t, please let me know – I’d love to find out why.)

Here’s the step-by-step on how to fix this. You’ll need to do some surgery on your Mac’s user library. This is pretty straightforward, so put aside any fear you have and follow these instructions to the letter.

1. Open your Applications folder. Leave it open on your desktop.

2. Right-click (or control-click) on the, and choose Show Package Contents (click on the image to show it full size):

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.40.082 PM

3. You should see the Contents folder. Within that, open the Resources folder, and then open within that the osx folder. There will be a file called libsndfile.1.dylib.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.49.06 PM

(You can click on that image to see it full size as well.) That file is our culprit, and we have to find a new home for it. We’re going to create that home, then place a copy of it in that new home (folder, actually).

4. Open a new Finder window (File >> New Finder Window).

5. Immediately go to the Finder’s Go menu, choose Go to folder…:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.59.23 PM

Then, type this exactly: /usr/local (you can also copy and paste it from here, just don’t have any spaces before or after it). Then, click the Go button:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.59.42 PM

6. You may already have a lib folder inside /usr/local. If so, open it. Otherwise, choose File >> New Folder to make a new folder, and name it lib. You’ll need to enter your administrator password, the one you use when you boot your Mac, to create a folder here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.06.07 PM

7. Last step. Hold down the Option key (this will create a new copy of the file rather than just move it), and while you’re holding down the Option key, click and drag libsndfile.1.dylib from the first Finder window (the package contents of The Levelator) into the second Finder window (the lib folder you now have) to make a copy. You’ll need to enter your password after you do this. Now, restart your Mac.

Everything should be hunky dory. Let me know if it isn’t.

As I said, I’m working on a universal solution for the future – I can only imagine what new versions of the MacOS will do to The Levelator. I’m not waiting to find out.

Leave a comment below if you have any issues or ideas.

Hope this helps.


7 Responses to Squeezing A Bit More Life Out Of The Levelator

  1. John October 12, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Just want to say how much respect the way you do your thing, David. When I get in a position to invest time and resources in VO I will definitely be working with you. Thanks for being excellent at your craft and an example how to share that excellence freely and still profit as well.

  2. Tim Olson October 12, 2015 at 7:54 am # is the levelator on steroids. They have a liberal free recording length to try it.

  3. Gina October 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Will we HAVE to upgrade to El Capitan at some point?

  4. Ian October 23, 2015 at 5:27 am #

    thanks so much for this Dave. A godsend.


  5. Craig Bruenell October 29, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks, David!

  6. Rob Hephner October 30, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You very much.

    I was more than a little disheartened when El Captain loaded and Levitator didn’t work.

    Amazing that I found this and seriously, I can’t thank you enough.

  7. Bruce Sharpe December 1, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    A new release (v2.1.2) of The Levelator fixes the compatibility problem with El Capitan. It can be downloaded here:

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