Often I get deep into a mix and I'm really liking what I'm hearing. The snare has plenty of punch, and the vocal is sitting nicely on top of the mix.
As I glance up to my insert rack I notice I haven't used any compression on those tracks. What!!
So many times I have gone back and added some just because I know I should. Vocals and snare thrive on a healthy amount of compression right?
I think it's important to look at all our plugins and processors as tools. As in any trade, tools only get used when they're required. Picture yourself building a coffee table from a flat pack. This design means you need to screw in the legs to the bracing, but the bracing has already been nailed to the table top, it's good to go 'right out of the box'
Now, just because you have a hammer at your disposal, and it's commonly known that hammers are extremely handy when working with timber, doesn't mean that it has to be used! It's not required in this scenario. Truth is, if you get the hammer out and bash over the top of your pre hammered nail anyway, you will just damage the otherwise neat finish, with a nice big hammer dent.
Same goes with your studio tools, eq, compression, reverbs, even pannings. Don't just add processing because you can or think you have to. There are no rules!
Add your plugins because they'll lift the track, if it's already sounding great then leave the tool alone, you'll only dent the picture.
Mix with your ears, that's the only rule.