This becomes a very passionate issue. There are those of us old fossils, that experience a slight difference in perceptions. It really doesn't have anything to do with the post/mixing process, CPU load or saving time. We've been tracking analog for so long where we've compressed vocals to tape, we like it better that way. Even when tracking to digital. The simple fact that you can actually record both a compressed & noncompressed track at the same time, of the same source, means, if we don't like it, we don't use it. But we do. It sounds better to us. It's strictly an emotional impact. Were not worried about what we can't undo. Because, if it doesn't sound good when we're doing it, we don't do it. But we've done this so many times over the years I frequently prefer it this way.
Of course, numerous modeled plug-ins provide a marvelous facsimile of their original hardware analog counterparts. A popular example would be the Bomb Factory LA 2A/3A, 1176 plug-ins in Pro Tools. I like the 1176 plug-ins when the track wasn't recorded with it. Heck, even if it was already recorded with it and I want to crush it some more. Since I recorded & mixed numerous projects that were all recorded without any additional manipulation. You still can get a similar flavor. It's just one of those cerebral things.
So you're still confused? Bottom line is, you'll want both. You'll need both. It's never black or white when it comes to audio. I won't even get into whether you should track them with an RMS compressor/limiter or, Peak compressor/limiter. You'll want both also. , One when tracking and one when mixing. Be it hardware or software or, a combination of both. Maybe none!? The fact is, there is no hard and fast ways as I've created great mixes where everything was recorded pure raw and all dynamics processing done after the fact. Allot also has to do with the style of what you're recording. Generally I don't compress and/or limit operatic singers When tracking, just pop singers, I'll use judicious amounts of the real analog stuff. if I have any doubt? I'll double record the same thing to 2 separate tracks. But I rarely do that.
Cost, that's another matter. If you don't want to sink $1500 on an 1176 then the plug-ins may be the ticket? So, you'll purchase your self a reasonable & largely inexpensive dbx's and use the plug-ins that you can't afford the hardware for. It's the only way to go.. Let's face it, you're anaudio junkie.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Ms. Remy Ann David