My philosophy then & now

When getting into mastering 14 years ago, I had a thirst for gear much like any other 20 year old audio geek. The more devices in the chain, the better. The years past by with mixes getting more and more dense. To cope with this, I tried working 100% ITB/digital for a while, but even though I could maintain the signal integrity, I was missing the joy and qualities of using analog outboard. Fast forward to 2018 and I'm now exclusively using custom built or modified electronics with a very short signal path to merge the musical integrity and creativity I feel needed. I still admire the work of engineers using way more gear than I use myself, but it has been a fun and highly educational journey. And don't get me started on cables...

What I've learned from this and also inspired by the engineers I've always looked up to is that the less clutter there is in the recording chain, the more natural and musical the result will be. It's not saying that one shouldn't use vintage mics or preamps and just modern gear. It's more about maintaining a pure path. Does the vocal require 5 different plugins to get there, or would it be better to try another mic instead?

I dare you to go the minimalist route and use the mics as EQs and compressors (ribbon!!) instead of plugins on your next production! If you leave some headroom on the mix bus as well, you're a certified hero!