The very specific and subtle area I'm focusing on is the tone and acoustic space of each sound. Like you can have a really spacious and detailed production and still stay true to the sound sources. Remember the good old days when it was all about mic selection, room selection, and mic placement? I've read so many times in these interviews from older engineers where they say stuff like, "I don't really ever touch EQ, I just make sure to get the right mic for the job and record it right!"
And it makes too much sense when you really dig into well produced and recorded classic(and new) records that have this huge, clear and detailed sound to them. The tone produced from the mic selection and the way the room and its reflections color and surround the sound is all the EQ you need until it's time to actually mix.
Like you said, there are key ingredients and then there are garnishes, and I'm thinking the key ingredients are the tones within various spaces you choose for each sound and how they all work together. Which is a challenge if you're a strictly computer based producer and a lot of your sounds are dry and DI stuff. Just putting some delay or reverb or eq on that stuff isn't going to get that spacious and clear sound.
And that's something I always struggled with I think lol, cos I don't think I ever directly realized it. Like you cannot fix a mediocre production with good mixing, it'll only sound like a well mixed mediocre production, haha
Like Savestate's entry sound fantastic imo. Idk what he tapped into but his entry has a lot of space and detail and clarity to it. That's a good example of what I'm talking about I think. Same sentiment goes for your entries as well, moot