My philosophy may not be a lot of help to young folks out there because I started in the 70s on large frame analog consoles and tape machines. Even though we have Pro Tools and an S6 at TRC, my style retains elements from history. For example, we have quite a few analog preamps and compressors here, and I do use compressors when tracking. In theory, you don't need to do that going to digital with 32 bit floating point depth, but it gives me tracks that feel right to mix. I also use a Rupert Neve Master Bus Processor on my mix bus, rather than a plugin. Well, I do use a brickwall plugin at the very end, not to squash as in mastering but just to make sure I don't send out anything that's clipped.
Our first engineer, now producer Jake Saghi, and his young fellow Belmont grads don't have the loyalty to analog that was prevalent even ten years ago. And for pop and hip-hop you really can do it all in the box. They also use a lot of synthesizers and samples. I'm not a total antique, and do use samples for overdubbing keys, horns, strings and even bass sometimes, as well as drum replacement. But for country and classic rock nothing works for me like live musicians with the right acoustics, mics and analog preamps and compressors. And I can't get guitars to sound much like guitars inside Kontakt.
I do mostly remixing anymore, so I don't have control over what the tracks are like. I hope not too many potential clients read this, but if I have a specialty it is making average or even bad tracks into a good mix. Melodyne on vocals, Auto-tune on horn tracks, drum replacement, things like that. We have probably too many plugins here, and three-quarters of them are out of the plugins folder. But when you're working with tracks that weren't done by Garth in his studio it's good to have a huge palette of options for processing. I'm a physician, so maybe folks can think of me as a remix doctor instead of the transplant surgeon I once was. And I can make great tracks into a super mix, but average tracks are probably my specialty. I live to make them shine in the mix.