I like presets. I tend to use them as a reference point for the kind of things I’m looking for.
The new record I’m making includes new timbres I’ve never worked with before but I’ve spent hours sourcing sounds from plug ins trying to find the right one for the particular passage or song. If I tried building every sound from scratch, I’d release my next record in a decade’s time!
With the amazing technology out there, it’s easy to get a sound you’re after, even close to artists you love. I’m always jumping for joy when I make a synth sound like Boards of Canada.
However, it’s worth reminding myself I’m not them and whilst influences are fine, it’s good to dig deeper, customise, explore and ultimately, find that which can make you unique.
It’s why as a guitarist, I’m ambivalent about digital amp profilers, I know they sound amazing, but I like the unpredictability of microphones and valve amps.
Presets are a good reference point for that which you are after. But good becomes greater when you can tweak, customise and innovate.