To each their own of course but I can't get anywhere near the even-ness, weight and depth of a proper hardware 1176 with any of the plugins.
They can sound so close in shootouts sometimes, even the ones I've done for myself, but trying to get a vocal to just float in the middle of the track, with weight and energy, I can't get close with the plugs, personally.
I mean, I still use them for stuff, but anywhere I can, I use the hardware. That means printing things for me, but I don't care, once I got a grip on what the hardware was bringing to the table, sonically, I don't consider it an option to not have it.
I'm referring to WA-76's which I have a pair. Don't get me wrong, I like them alright but I think while they add presence and some hair they don't smack as hard as other comp/limiters.
I've got a pair of WA76 too. Love em. I also have a Hairball Rev A and had a Mohog for a couple years. I've used Urei Rev F's and 1178s some too.
Above and beyond attack questions, I just solidly prefer any good hardware to the usual software suspects (UAD, Slate, Waves, etc).
I'm hearing references here to uses for an 1176 that are generally not that great an idea too.
Prime Example: Kick Drum. Why do 'we' use a VCA on Kick? Because it let's just enough transient through to actually keep a nice point on the kick and still control the other 99.5% of the kick capture, especially the body of the sound.
An 1176 works on hard peaks from a source that needs more constant to it... more hold as it were. Which is why it works on snare. Because the transients are being captured in the overheads. You don't lose anything with an 1176 on a snare drum, and you create more of the punch (thrust in particular) we would want to capture with a snare drum recording. Works great on the peaks in a very dynamic vocal for the same reason.
So whilst a 76 is an indispensable tool for the recording engineer, it isn't the only one.
If you find yourself agreeing with me too often, start to worry.