When evaluating standard types of plugins like equalizers and compressors, there’s so much choice of plugins that it can be hard to figure out which plugins will work well in my project and which won’t. How do you evaluate plugins?
The short answer is that I don’t. I’m in a very lucky position to have designed my own channel strip plugin, so all my eq and compression happens there at least 95% of the time.
In general though, I’d say don’t take too much time. The best thing you can do is to have a limited tool set. So, find 2, or maybe 3 at most, eq and dynamics plugins that will work in almost any situation. It’s very unlikely that having the “wrong” eq plugin will seriously affect the mix. It’s all about type: Do you need a surgical eq or a broad colorful eq? Have one of ech that oyu like and know inside out. Same with dynamics. You’ll get so much more out of a few plugins that you know really well than auditioning each time. Every once in a while your usuals won’t work, so then you go hunting.
Where I spend a lot of time is when I’m building a new parallel chain or something like that which will probably end up in my template. That could take a while to find something that sounds the way I want it, then it will be continually tweaked until it settles in, then it goes in the template.
I also will check out new plugins to see if there’s something inspiring, but I do that as they come up.
Hope that helps.