One note of clarity / geek talk:
Extreme loudness, that thing that makes the waveform of a new album's look like a solid block with no discernible dynamic is a result of digital brick wall limiting, a process that completely flattens out any peak that exceeds the user defined threshold (L2, Finalizer, Oxford Inflator, Massey L2007..). This process does not exist in the analog world. Compression and limiting (limiting just means compression with a high ratio) in the analog world always allows at least a small amount of the transients to pass through the processor unattenuated.
Many people will make the mistake of thinking that tons of compression on recordings is a new thing. that might be the case if you consider the Beatles Sgt. Peppers to be a new recording. Heavy compression has been a staple of popular recording techniques for several decades, it has both creative applications as well a way to manage a few problems inherent in analog recording and reproduction methods.
It is not my belief that look ahead brick wall limiting is always bad. It is part of almost every record I make, but it often gets used inappropriately , either over used or used on content that is not benefitted by it. My reason for throwing out a warning about compression and limiting in my previous post is that a lot of looping music (especially soundscapes or textural stuff) can really be harmed by poor application of limiting or especially multi-band compression because they can compromise a lot of the natural dynamics between frequency ranges that can be part of a tunes evolution.
On a quick plug, if you are looking for a brick wall limiter, the best I have found it the Massey L2007, which sells for about $75-USD.
Ronan Chris Murphy
www.venetowest.com (Production & mixing: King Crimson, Chucho Valdes, Steve Morse, Nels Cline, Terry Bozzio, CGT...)
www.homerecordingbootcamp.com (Workshops around the world teaching the art and craft of recording )
www.livesofthesaints.net (The hottest ambient noise duo since Sonny & Cher)