I don’t labor over how it was recorded. It won’t change the fact that I have to mix it so why worry about it. I just deal with it. I've been mixing other engineer's work for so long that when I recognize problems I immediately know what to do to undo the engineering and remold it to my taste. I start searching for the vibe and then EQ accordingly simultaneously as I remold the sound. I can tell if it’s old school engineering or if it’s recorded by someone that hasn’t a clue about anything acoustic.
Recording everything through the same preamp, EQ and compressor chain when done by old school engineers is no problem. They use mic technique, good placement, room ambience, proper tuning of the instrument, in other words, they use their ear to make each sound compliment the others instruments and the song. Those without that experience tend to have everything EQ’d in the same range, compressed the same etc. and it all sounds alike so the result is I can’t hear a thing when I put all the tracks up and of course the sounds have little to do with the song.
Therefore, I don't look at sounds as sonic signatures. Either the sounds work for the song or they don’t. If they don’t, I dig in and change it. If they do work, I don’t touch a thing. Mixing records by Jay Messina is a perfect example. I don’t need to see his name to know it’s his work. You can get a good mix by taking the length of a pencil to pull up all the faders to ‘0’. I barely touch the EQ’s and if I want to put a different take on the mix, the sounds are easy to mold to my liking. I’ll look down the length of the console when the mix is complete and it’s the same every time with Jay’s work, all the faders are lined up in a straight line. That is the way we learned to record at Mediasound. We’d put all the monitor returns to ‘0’ and panned accordingly. All rides and levels were done in the recording process. At a later date, when it was time for overdubs, you or another engineer just needed to put all the faders up to ‘0’ and you had back the exact feel of the song in ten seconds. There was no pressure or surprises of trying to get that great rough back to how it sounded on the tracking date. It also made mixing a breeze.