Audified TNT Voice Executor by Diogo C
Product: TNT Voice Executor
Formats: AAX/AU/VST 32/64-bit plug-in for Windows 7+ and Mac 10.9+
Price: $69 (US Dollars, MSRP)
Demo: Fully functional for 30 days
DRM: iLok (USB dongle not required)
The scope: TNT is basically puts together a recording chain with all the elements needed for a vocal track (minus reverb) on a conveniently simple plug-in. The TNT has only a few things to play with: input/output level trims, a “drive” control which makes the overall effect more prominent, and profiles/presets selection, the central and most important aspect of this plug-in. These profiles are intuitively organized as “Rap”, “Vocals”, “Speech” and “Special”. The “Rap” settings are a bit more aggressive than the ones on “Vocals”, but both of them can work on many styles other than Rap. “Speech” is mostly clean and natural, without any heavy-handed EQ or compression, and “Special” goes from heavy distortion to slap-back delays and a bunch of other strange, more experimental settings. Inside each profile there are a number of presets, each applying its own combination of processors which can be a gate, a lowpass filter, a compressor, EQ (fixed equalization curve), distortion (saturation), stereo widening, delay and a limiter, which are all indicated by the activity LEDs on the right corner. None of the processors can be tweaked, the effect of the TNT can only be more pronounced or laid back through the drive control, so there’s little to be done other than pick profile, pick preset, gain stage and set drive to taste. In order to have some further insights to what’s happening under the hood I’ve done some basic tests with VST Analyzer, so check out the attachments for some examples of TNT’s frequency response curves and harmonic distortion. Keep in mind that I’ve captured only some particular settings and be aware of the limitations of such analysis, so there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Sound quality: Audified has established themselves as a respected development team with the excellent sounding U73b compressor and U78 saturator plug-ins, so it’s not surprising that the TNT sounds very good. The compression and saturation are excellent as one expects from these guys, the EQ curves on some presets are also very good sounding and there some surprisingly cool delays and lo-fi effects as well. It can also work as an “input stage” to be followed by your favourite processor, nudging the track to the right direction, and even though TNT is ultimately geared towards vocals, there’s nothing stopping you to try it on other sources too.
Ease of use: It won’t get much easier than the TNT when it comes to making good sounding vocals to work with. It will mostly boil down to whether or not the provided profiles fit the task you have at hands, so the only difficulty presented here is deciding which profile to pick and how much drive to apply - this is where some might be carried away, but if you’re working with a trusted monitoring system you’ll hear right away if things get out of hand and start to sound bad. In case you’re working on subpar conditions just watch out for that drive and in case you’re in doubt don’t push it too far, go for settings around 10-25% and it should be all safe. Also worth mentioning that it feature dedicated gain reduction, input and output meters, so it’s easy to visualize all levels and activity at a glance.
Features: TNT is meant to be a simple plug-in and one that’s easy to use, and that comes at the expense of some functionality and tweak-ability. The approach here is basically “set and forget”, it’s a preset-based plug-in that offers very little outside of that. One thing that I think could make it into TNT without violating that premise is the possibility of bypassing the individual components of the chain, which give the presets some further range of applications - sometimes you go for a preset that has an equalization curve that you’re happy with but the vocals recording in hand is already compressed, some further compression is not necessary or desirable, but you can’t really disable the compressor so you either set on that or find another one. One more example is the EQ curve, which gets more prominent as you raise the drive control - along with more EQ comes more saturation, and you might want just one and not the other. That would be a very welcome feature in my view. Another thing that I miss here are A/B slots for comparing settings, and it’s a bit surprising to not see this feature as I think it falls perfectly in line with the plug-in’s concept. Nevertheless, some DAWs offers such functionality so some might not even miss it. My last request would be the introduction of two forward/backward arrows on the preset menu, which would help navigation - once again something that the users of some DAWs might not even take notice since they’re not using the TNT’s preset menu.
Bang for buck: Reasonably priced at $69 (US Dollars, MSRP), the TNT’s value will largely vary depending where one comes from or which plug-ins they already have and what are they trying to accomplish with a DAW. It’s clearly aimed at novice users who’re looking to surpass their mixing skills and limitations with a plug-in that helps them achieve good sounding results without any hassle but also suitable to the more experienced user who just wants a trouble-free plug-in to nail their vocal tracks, and it that regard I think TNT accomplishes its goal and delivers on what it promises - I’m also inclined to believe that the first crowd will enjoy it more than the second, but I could be totally wrong!
Recommended for: As stated above, newcomers in need of better vocal sounds or experienced users looking for great vocals without breaking much of sweat. Dialog editors and post-production professionals may also find it very useful to enhance tracks that need to delivered quickly. Needless to say that grabbing the demo is the best way to properly evaluate it, Audified has done the right thing and provides a fully-functional demo that works for 30 days, so if you’re dealing with vocals on a regular basis I strongly suggest giving it a try.
- Ridiculously easy to use
- Great sounding saturation and compression
- Decent diversity of possible applications
- Individual components can’t be bypassed (those buttons are begging to be clickable)
- Might lack depth to some