Keeping things on a level with Levelator

I need to level the audio on some files so they have the same Loudness – and that means Levelator!

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levelator

My first audio task is to ensure that the output audio level of 3 audio files is within a roughly equivalent Loudness value. I will try to achieve this more comprehensively, but for now, I looked for a simple tool I used to use called Levelator.

This program does not seem to be in the Repositories so I had to download the tar ball from their site at http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator. Their download instructions warn me that I will need Python 2.5 and wxPython installed. So, it may not work the first time. OK then…

Then I tried to unpack the tar ball (a compressed file, like  a ZIP file) by right-clicking and choosing ‘Open‘, but Studio tried to open using Mousepad (a text editor) – D’oh! That won’t work.

Selecting ‘Open With Other Application‘, I was able to look through my installed software to see if I could find tar to do the job (or maybe even try with ZIP or RAR?). I couldn’t find anything that seemed to fit the bill.

So, by typing:

whereis tar

into a terminal window, I could see from the result (/usr/lib/tar etc.) that tar is indeed installed on my system, so this looks like it’s going to be terminal work. So, to extract the file I am going to use the following switches:

  • x = extract files
  • v = verbose (so that I can see all proceeding happily)
  • j = bz2 archive
  • f = use the following tar archive for the operation

So, I typed:

tar -xvjf /Levelator-1.3.0-Python2.5.tar.bz2

where path to file in my case is /home/gary. Hmm… it tells me that the “Compressed file ends unexpectedly, perhaps it is corrupted?” and that I can use the -tvv option to repair (didn’t work), or the bzip2recover program to try and fix the archive. That didn’t work either.

Call for Noah and his Ark!

I’m a bit unsure as to what to do at this point, so I re-downloaded the archive in case I had managed to download a corrupt version and searched through the software packages for bzip2, and found an Archive manager called Ark. Let’s Install this.

Sadly, Ark reported that it was unable to open the archive as no suitable plugin had been found. Grr..

Have to report a FAIL so far on this one then.

Solution Found

So how did I manage the job in the end?

I loaded each file into Audacity on a separate track. Then by selecting Effect->Amplify I discovered that a pre-generated value was suggested for me to normalise the sound files. Woohoo! Simple to apply the suggested amplification (each one different) to each file and then save each track out as a separate file using File->Export Selected Audio! Piece of Cake! 🙂

Hunting the Blue Griffin

The first job I have on hand is to edit some web pages, so I chose the Blue Griffin web design package.

Blue GriffinThe first task I have to do is update some broken links on my website at celticmythpodshow.com so the best application I seem to have found for the job so far is a suite called Blue Griffin available at http://bluegriffon.org/. I downloaded the package from their site and extracted it to a folder in my home directory. I’m not sure that this is where it should live, but when I ran the executable it all seemed to work well.

The next problem was that the application did not appear in the system menu. (Oh, I have now switched back to Whisker rather than the Applications menu as I managed to lose many items from the menu). So, after a bit of googling I found this thread https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2220891 that showed me others had experienced similar options using MenuLibre – which is the recommended menu editing application.

My menu Alacarte

A lot of people seemed to bemoan the lack of Alacarte, so I search for a way to install the program manually. So:

sudo apt-get install alacarte

seems to install the program with no problems. And yes, it appears in the system menu as Menu->Settings->Main Menu. I found I also had (just below) Menu->Settings->Menu Editor and after investigation, I found that this was the dreaded MenuLibre program that everybody reports so many problems with. So, it is NOT recommended to use this.

Running Alacarte, I went to the Development category and added Blue Griffon‘s executable in as a new Launcher. It does not seem to come with an icon sadly. All ready now to go and do that web editing – when done, I shall need an FTP program to upload the files.

Full Steam ahead

steam_logo_white_on_blackWanting a bit of a breather from the research, I tried to install the Steam game launcher, but it refused to install from the Menu->System->Software option on the Menu. Eventual;ly I went to the Steam website at http://store.steampowered.com/ and clicked on the install Steam button there. It downloaded the launcher and ran Steam perfectly. Hoorah! A small subset of my Games library (those with executables written for Linux) is now accessible again!

How to get the Volume Control button back

For some reason, there was no easy way to turn the volume up/down. The little mixer button in the notifications are of the panel had disappeared. So I went to Applications->Settings Manager->Panel. Then I chose the Items tab, clicked on the ‘+‘ button and chose the Indicator Plugin from the list of optional extras.

I then used the Up (or down) arrow on the Right-hand side of this tab to position the indicator where I wanted it, made no other changes to the settings, and clicked Close.

Oh yes! One little Volume Control button now back where it should be! 🙂

I’m on Parole with media player problemettes!

Just tried to watch a video with the built in Parole Media Player – and it failed! Oh no, first problem!

VLCSo, before finishing off the day and getting some convalescence I thought I’d watch a quick video. There seems to be only one Media Player built into Studio: Parole. Sadly, it wouldn’t play my video which was a *.MKV video. I’m too tired to try and figure out the CODEC problems and I know that VLC is a light and powerful media player, so I headed on over to their website at https://www.videolan.org/vlc/ to grab some serious VLC action!

So, I found the Download page that seemed to be the right one for Studio, and opened myself up a Terminal.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vlc browser-plugin-vlc

Success! I now have Media Playback->VLC media player on my system menu and can watch my video. A nice, easy fix (although technically I’m still on Parole 😉 )!

Now to try a little Ardour

Step 2 in the installation of Ubuntu Studio is to give it full functionality and make sure that the Ardour DAW is installed!

ardourSo happy that I have a working system and having taken my faltering steps on the learning curve, I’m ready to update the system to include all the latest packages. So using the system menu, I clicked on System->Software Updater. I allowed it to install any updates it wished to.

Once the Updater had completed, I then went to System->Ubuntu Studio Meta Installer and ticked all of the options to download. I clicked on Install and then went off to make some Breakfast! This is where I should get my DAW, Ardour, installed for me!

Eventually, it completed the installation and asked for a system restart, which I did. I started up (with an alarmingly large amount of background processing going on!) eventually to a sparkling new system. The screen shot below is of the system menu showing that all the development software has been nicely installed (I hope) and that Ardour is sitting there waiting for me as indeed is Audacity! Yippee!

screenshot_2016-11-04_12-17-43
My new Desktop – click on image to enlarge

 

The Podcaster’s Studio in Linux

After yet another frustrating and disappointing experience with Windows, I’m making a fresh, updated and serious attempt to use Ubuntu Studio as a platform for our Podcast.

Audio_mixer_fadersAfter yet another frustrating and disappointing experience with Windows, (which I spoke about elsewhere), I’m making a fresh, updated and serious attempt to use Ubuntu Studio as a platform for our Podcast. As I make a change to the configuration of Studio fresh from its shiny wrapper, I shall update this blog to document my steps. So that I shall be able to see, if/when it all goes horribly pear-shaped, what I have to do to get back to the last known fully-working state. For that reason, it is just as important to record failures as it is successes. For my own benefit, as well as anyone else that may/may not be following my procedures, it is vitally important that I record the successes or failures as I progress.

To summarise my needs, I’ll briefly explain that I need a computer as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a graphical design environment, a place to write and compose and finally, to provide me with the tools to maintain our website(s). I also use my PC for web browsing (the inevitable Book of Face) and for playing games as R&R. By switching to Studio as my primary OS, I will lose access to the majority of my Steam library which is a serious Pain. I have to ask myself whether working or playing is more important – and, for me, there is no contest.

So…

Installing Ubuntu Studio for the first time

I used my laptop to download the latest Studio ISO (version 16.10) and made a bootable USB Flash Drive from it. Next, started my PC from a cold boot, pressing F8 for the Boot selection menu. I chose the USB DISK as the boot device and, once loaded, chose to install Studio. I chose not to install any 3rd party proprietary drivers of META packages at this time as I could always do that later, and I just wanted a clean install to start with. So, I entered the installation details as normal, i.e., location, user account, timezone etc. – and away she went!

A little while later, 1 nice fresh little dual monitor, blue XFCE mouse displaying an installation of Studio that was ready to use. Interestingly enough, Studio did not find any USB drivers to power the interface to my 3rd Monitor so I’m still down to just the two monitors. A problem to try and fix later, I feel! 🙂

Filebot for renaming Video files

I wanted my first task to be a simple one. Having experienced a superb application in Windows called Filebot that will happily rename and organise Video files, I was overjoyed to see that a Linux version of this program was available. So.. onto the task with gusto!

I headed on over to the Filebot website at http://www.filebot.net/ and chose to download what I thought was the most likely installation choice for my 32-bit installation of Studio – “filebot_4.7.2_i386.deb“. I selected ‘Open in Software Manager’, entered the root p/w and clicked Install when it came up.

I found it had added a menu entry for filebot under Video Production, but when I clicked it – nothing happened. A bit confused. So, I opened a Terminal window and

So, I opened a Terminal window and just typed:

filebot

at my user command prompt. Head-desk! An error message that politely informed me that I didn’t have Java installed. Now I knew that Filebot required Java, but for some reason I completely forgot at the critical moment – d’oh! So where to find an installation of Java?

Well, I found the following Q&A on the Ubuntu forums and it looked both recent enough and simple enough for an eedjit like me, so:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer

to add the Oracle repository, refresh and install Java. Everything proceeded without a hitch. The tutorial then asked me to set an envirnment varibale with:

 export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle

Worked like a charm. Now to test the program. I clicked on the menu entry, and Bingo! the app launched beautifully! Happy Gary!

Success.