Thanks for all the input, guys! Lots of stuff to think about, even though nobody really seems to use referencing hehe.
Bringing cover works into the discussion is really interesting. I would not have seen much of a connection, but of course, it can be used or has a similar effect as if referencing the composition, melodies and arrangement of tracks.
What I meant in the OP with referencing was more focused on the sound of specific genres.
This is obviously less important for more experimental stuff or soundscapes, but imho can help people that are trying to produce tracks in hope to be played by DJs, so they see where the problem is when DJs tell them they would like to play but can’t really mix that track ^^
When I used referencing, I made folders for common sub-genre-specific sounds of a few roughly similar tracks, then put some tracks togehter and compared to my sound in terms of compresison and tonal qualities or with Reference in terms of stereo width, compression levels and so on for specific frequency bands. Some tracks sound much better but don’t help much since they have a very difefrent setup of synths and frequency interplay, so that changing into that direction makes your track worse, but by checking a few different track you can get a nice picture how your track compares. With regard to loudness and compression, it’s still crazy in bass-heavy and club genres. The good stuff often hits at up to -4.5 LUFS, crazy levels of complete madness if you adhere to common mastering guidelines, recommending to keep levels at around -12 or -14 LUFS.
Not so sure about the big hardware advantage these days - but I think in general, even though not the best case, you can reference mixdowns against masters. For instance, if your mixdowns have a completely different frequency or stereo field than your mastered reference tracks, chances are you should “fix” it at the mixing stage.
Haha, yeah, great point!
Serves a bit different purposes as mentioned above, but I think cover work is a nice idea for musicians and I can imagine it being helpful. However, my precious music time is getting more and more restricted so I like to use it mostly for just playing a bit for relaxation or some original work or remixes of people I know or from around these parts ^^