So today I brought the new KT Tunstall album because it's winning lots of awards and sounded like it could actually be pretty good. I'm going to skip over why a pressed CD needed so much error correction work from cdparanoia on the first couple of tracks and skip straight to the mastering. Here's part of the (raw, PCM) waveform from the forth track (which I picked at random):
There's clearly some headroom there, but it's been really aggressivly compressed - and it sounds like it. I've never heard a kick drum sound like the skin was a hot water bottle.
Which is a terrible shame because there's good music under there somewhere.
Update: just to compare I thought I'd show a bit of Dire Straits at the same scale: