Of the many software tools in Wilkins’ arsenal, Sonnox Oxford Plug-ins seem to play a supporting role in the lion’s share of his productions. “I was just in Miami, with my production team, The Runaways, working on Energy, a single by new Timbaland artist Keri Hilson,” he says. “We made good use of Oxford Dynamics and Inflator while programming that single. They’re especially helpful in fine-tuning my style of music. I’ve used them on virtually everything I’ve done, especially vocals, and the master bus.”
Wilkins finds the Dynamics Plug-in particularly helpful on stereo mixes with Logic. He’ll often print his parts through Dynamics to give his sounds a final ‘polish’. “We’ll end up printing the individual parts out of Logic even if we go to Pro Tools and mix on an SSL,” he says. ���We use that sound on every record I do. We’ve compared our tracks with and without Dynamics, and they truly sound a lot better with.
“I like the ‘analog’ sound of Dynamics on the vocals,” he adds, “and the ‘Warmth’ function is good for fattening up certain sounds, like bass guitars and vocals. Sometimes I’ll use that on the whole mix. I’ll turn the Amount Control to 10 o’clock, to add a subtle kind of analog sound that I like.”
For Bedingfield’s Pocket Full of Sunshine album and upcoming Put Your Arms Around Me single,Wilkins employed the Inflator on the master bus in exactly the same way. Occasionally he’ll use it along with the Compressor to ‘fatten up vocals’ recorded on multi-tracks that originate from other sources. “I end up getting all the music together pretty fast when we’re writing our songs,” he says. “Before I used the Compressor, I actually struggled with using master mix compression. But when I started using the Oxfords, it really seemed to make everything gel”
Wilkins uses the Oxford plug-ins primarily in Logic. If he’s recording vocals or traveling, he prefers to have a Pro Tools HD system. He also uses Pro Tools when separating tracks out across an SSL after they’ve already been processed by the plug-ins.
When using the Dynamics Compressor he’ll set Attack to the slowest time and Release to the fastest to start off with a minimum effect. He’ll also push the Makeup gain up a bit to control his gain structure. “I’ll play with the Attack and Release times from there,” he explains, “because I like getting my mixes pumping a little bit. I play with those settings to get a compression effect happening. It just gives things a lot more energy.”
He also varies the settings on the Inflator’s Effect and Curve sliders just after the halfway point. “I don’t play around with any of the other controls much,” he concludes. “I just put it up so I can gently hear what it’s doing. I just love its sound, because it adds a richness to my mix. Sometimes, I’ll use it directly on a vocal, especially when I’m working with something recorded by someone else. Inflator can help add some warmth to the sound. It’s very musical sounding, just like all the other plug-ins from Sonnox.”