Template Mixing and Mastering with Billy Decker

Billy Decker's had 16 Billboard number one records, and when invited to a blind mix shootout with some of the world's mainstream A-list mixers, Decker won, but that's not even the most impressive part. Billy's approach is unique; he spends an average of 45 minutes on each song he mixes. Yes: 45 minutes.

Thanks to his ultra-fast way of working, Billy's putting out 1500 mixes a year for Nashville legends such as Dustin Lynch, Rodney Atkins and Chris Young.

To be this productive, Billy relies on a carefully crafted template, allowing him to focus on fine-tuning and balancing the entire mix rather than focusing on individual adjustments. "It's a good way to work. It's fast, efficient, and most importantly, it's fun."

So, where does Sonnox fit in?

Billy: I use Sonnox plugins across my master channel, the stereo buss through which all sounds must pass! The master buss is the business end of the frame for our musical picture. It all comes together here, and it's important to treat it with respect. You can make or break a mix on this channel alone, so be very careful what you add here and only entertain what is most needed.

Some plugins change and distort the original sounds - It's important to use extremely transparent plugins here – I don't want any colour added on my master, so I'm using Sonnox. Sonnox seems to respect your mix; you can turn two knobs, and it sounds awesome.

Not only do they sound phenomenal, but their ease-of-use, the presets, the reliability; they've never crashed. To me, 'speed mixing', 'template mixing', and Sonnox go hand-in-hand.

We wrote Template Mixing and Mastering so that the reader could apply my thoughts to their own plugins. However, with the Oxford Inflator (Exciter Plugin), our approach was slightly different. We felt it was such an important, irreplaceable element to the template that we said, "try a demo version of this plugin to see the impact it has." Oxford Inflator is a one-of-a-kind plugin.

I used to use a different compressor on my master, but trying out the Oxford Dynamics recently, I actually fell in love with it. I turn the bad-boy on, 1ms attack, 3:1 and a super-fast release. I barely kiss it for pop and country, just a few dB, but you can definitely squeeze it harder for rock music.

I love the sound of the Oxford Limiter. I start with preset 'Rock 3'; it's kind of soft and rounds off the corners a little bit, but the Limiter is so flexible that I can absolutely make it sharper and punchier if I want to.



Billy has kindly shared his Dynamics, EQ, Inflator and Limiter preset.

Extract the .zip file and place the .spt inside the corresponding folder

  • Mac: /Library/Audio/Presets/Sonnox
  • Windows: Users\<username\Documents\Sonnox\Presets\


Template Mixing and Mastering

This article contains excerpts from Billy's book, written with Simon Taylor.

The book is available as a hard copy or digitally for a deeper dive into all aspects of Template Mixing and Mastering. We highly recommend it!

Template Mixing and Mastering - Amazon (US)

Template Mixing and Mastering - Amazon (UK)