A separate discussion that would be very interesting to me is how people are using hardware processing in tracking and why. Surely there’s some inspiring tricks to share.
I use simple stuff while tracking and rely a lot on Mic positioning and Mic choice rather than using EQ while tracking. Very simple concepts like if I want more treble from an instrument, I will change the mic for a brighter one rather than using an EQ, also if I find an instrument too bright I might using a Ribbon mic instead to smooth it up. If I want an in your face sound I might use the mic very close, while if I want a more natural, loose and roomy sound I position the mic further away. Very simple stuff.
But before than that I like to have instruments/sources already with character and not with a generic or uninteresting sound. So I might give advice on a different amp or different instrument to be used in the first place.
I can't live without good mic preamps, and I choose each individual mic preamp for each individual source and mic. So I might choose Neve Preamps for sounds that I want "rounder" with body and less peaky, and API preamps for stuff that I want to have snappy (fast) transients and punch. Then some preamps with a lot of clean gain for Ribbon Mics, as ribbons already have a lot of character on their own, so I just need a lot of clean gain for them.
I might have a Night EQ if I use Ribbon mics for overheads, as I like that combo to brighten up Ribbon mics, in situations were you really want the ribbon character and not a conderser mic, but the ribbon is too dark.
I use compressors always for Snare, Bass, Electric Guitar and Vocals.
Snare gets the 1176 (slower attack, faster release), if there's none available in the studio I will use a plugin later on,
Bass could be an LA2A, LA3A, LA4A, Distressor or DBX160, depending on whats available, but gets a compressor for sure in tracking. I always use at least 5:1 ratio on bass
Electric Guitar I like the LA4A
Vocals: I choose the Mic for that singer and for that song. For vocals I'm a big fan of a Neve 1073 (Mic Pre+EQ), I'm not a fan of API for vocals. The EQ on the 1073 is only used if needed just for some general tone shapping, might be needed at some point or not, but it's good to be there. Then I like to use 2 compressors. A compressor Combo of an LA2A into a Distressor, 2 to 3 dbs of Gain reduction in each (fast realease on the Distressor). When tracking vocals I prefer to use 2 compressors doing less than only one compressor doing a lot, it also adds a bit of the character of the LA2A and a bit of the Distressor.
If I need some distortion, or grit, I might send a Mic Preamp out to another Mic Pre input and distort/saturate to taste. Or smash the sound with a lot of Pumping in an 1176 or an SSL bus comp. I will normally record that into separate tracks.
So this is basically it for me, just the general idea, could change depending on the session and type of music. But somehow I learned how to record without using EQ and depending on changing the mics and the positioning, so I got used to it, even though I'm not a purist at all.
But this perspective changes while mixing, then I might use a lot of EQ and everything else as needed. If I need to have 8 plugins in a track to get the sound I want I will not have any problem with that. I'll use what I think is needed, sometimes it's less other times more.
Sorry if this is boring