For over a decade, music producers have been fighting a loudness war.
Louder is more exciting and superficially appealing. This is important when you are competing for the attention of the music-buying public. It also helps overcome ambient noise if you are listening to music whilst in a vehicle.
Rather than just boost the ultimate sound pressure level of a piece of music, the trick employed is to bring the quiet parts up to match the louder sections. In this way, the overall dynamic range is reduced. The listener loses a dimension that is part of the complexity and richness of music.
This may be one reason why some enthusiasts prefer original vinyl releases to CD or streaming counterparts; it’s nothing to do with the carrier format, it’s how the music has been mastered. It’s certainly true that in some recordings we’ve explored, the remastered, more modern release can lack the dynamic range of the earlier – to the extent that we default to the earlier version wherever possible.
Here is an excellent primer on the loudness wars, viewed from the production perspective and published in industry magazine Sound-on-Sound: