Something I've encountered time and time again. It's a matter that I'm not sure lies from great tracking of REAL instruments, or something that's brought to a nice shine while in the mix, no doubt a combination of the two. But every point that I've brought around a good sound from my mix, there's always something lacking that likely won't be solved by just eq or compression and placement. There's this apparent "dead" feeling when the mix is played back, especially evident when comparing a drum sampler to live tracked drums. This is easy enough to understand, but then there are examples of some stellar mixes that I've heard with just samplers alone and I often feel left in the dark, as if theres some crucial step I'm skipping over that really puts life into such tracks. Many times I also believe there to be this very vacuumed sound in the mids of most instruments (yet still with enough body and weight to the sound) on some of this forum's mixes, but when put through an analyzer there's no discernable difference between either their mixes or my own - which I can only be lead to believe it's the source attributing to the life in the mix, but I'm unsure what it is that's taking place that gives off that whole different body to the sound, other than different methods in mixing. Are there any sources one could read up on for the relatively seasoned engineer to sorta help reinforce old ideas, and often overlooked techniques that build up and add onto each other? Things regarding guitar tone, and how to train oneself to hear how the source should sit to reach an end point of how you want the mix to sound? (I'll continue to use earch but maybe a handy cookbook consolidated into another source that some could recommend, the recent Ermin eBook is a fun read so far but hasn't quite brought new revelations to me just yet) Maybe I just need to start tracking real gear in any case. Until then I wonder if I can make do with what's available as far as ITB processing and simulations go.