Audified TNT Voice Executor Plug-In
Fix it in the mix—with a couple clix
by Craig Anderton
The premise is simple: you need to mix a vocal—voiceover, podcast, singer, rapper, YouTuber, audiobook reader, or anything involving voice. But you have a super-tight deadline, so instead of setting up a complex effects chain, you insert the TNT Voice Executor ($69), dial up a preset, and…you may not need to do much else.
The reality is a lot of people don’t have either the time or interest to tweak a processor from scratch to their specific needs, so we’re seeing more products intended to simplify the mixing process by being preset-based. Toontrack’s EZmix was one of the early ones, while more recently, iZotope’s Neutron analyzes your signal to try and create a more customized preset than one of the stock options. Cakewalk SONAR’s FX Chains are another approach—and furthermore, it seems just about every plug-in is putting more effort into including useful presets.
Of course, those who know how to edit presets will always get better results than “one size fits all” approaches. However, there are also times when it’s good enough to get a sound that’s close enough to what you need that you can move forward on a project—if it works, you’re covered and if not, you can tweak a sound at your leisure during mixdown. Does TNT Voice Executor do the job? There’s a 30-day free trial so you can find out for yourself, but let’s see if it’s something you’ll want to evaluate.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The TNT Voice Executor (we’ll call it TNTVE for short) is a multieffects intended solely for voice—primarily voiceover artists, podcasters, YouTubers, audiobook creators, and singers. It includes a gate, low-cut filter, compressor, EQ, distortion, stereo enhancement, delay, and limiting. Different effects are called up for different presetss.
- Supported formats (32/64-bit) are VST2, VST3, and AAX for Mac/Windows as well as AU for the Mac. Supported operating systems are Mac OS X 10.9 – 10.12 and Windows 7 – 10.
- TNTVE uses iLok copy protection (dongle or software authorization).
- There are four preset groups: Vocals (4 male, 4 female), Speech (6 male, 6 female), Rap (3 male, 3 female presets), and Special (9 presets).
- Adjustable controls are Input, Drive, and Output. There’s also input and output metering, a gain reduction meter, and “LEDs” that indicate which effects are in use. The Gate and Limit glow red when gating or limiting is taking place.
- The plug-in is super-easy to use: Adjust the Input control to optimize the signal level, adjust Drive for the amount of effect, then if needed, Output to set the output level.
- Proper levels are critical, so a Calibration option sets the difference between the digital dBFS scale and analog dBu scale. I just set the calibration to 0dBFS for use with SONAR, and the levels were correct with Input and Output set to 0.
- You cannot edit the presets, or bypass any of the effects.
- There’s no shortcut for choosing presets (e.g., using arrow keys). You need to select each preset by clicking the preset button, the preset group, and then the desired preset.
- The user interface looks cool, but takes up a lot of space.
To see how close TNTVE could get vocals to where I wanted, I tried the TNTVE with narration and vocals on which I had used a significant amount of processing. Given how picky I am about vocal processing, I was rather surprised at the TNTVE’s efficacy—especially given the relatively small number of presets. The key was finding out that you don’t always get the best results from turning Drive up all the way; sometimes adding just a little bit of Drive is all you need to make things right.
However, I also found that it’s important to try presets other than the expected ones. For example, some of the “rap” presets sounded really good on pop vocals. This is why I consider the current method of preset selection a limitation—I’d like to be able to jump quickly among presets. On the other hand I found the “Special” presets are more like special effects, and of limited usefulness for what I do.
Ultimately I know my way around processing, and have no problem tweaking processors for my vocals. Over the years, I’ve also saved lots of presets and track templates for dynamic and condenser mics that I know work well with my voice, so in a way I’ve created my own TNTVE. However if I was in a situation where I worked with different vocalists, or didn’t really know how to get decent sounds for my own vocals, TNTVE could be a lifesaver—not just because it can provide a “sound” that does the job well enough that I could move on, but in some cases, it gave the same sound I would end up with if I was putting together my own signal chain. It’s a relatively inexpensive problem-solver, so try the free trial—there’s essentially no learning curve, so you’ll know in short order whether you’ll want to make it a permanent part of your sonic arsenal.
How to Use TNT Voice Executor by Audified
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.