There is an interesting resource that shows the DR meter readings (DR stands for “Dynamic Range”) for loads of albums. The database was put together to educate people more about the loudness wars.
Check it out here:
It is arguable whether the DR type reading is still the best option now that LUFS and LKFS have been implemented more as international standards of metering (mainly in broadcast), but it still interesting to check out.
One of the most famous examples of the loudness wars at work in modern music production is Metallica’s Death Magnetic album from 2008. It has been reported to be the loudest CD ever, and has copped plenty of flack over how distorted it sounds and how little dynamic range it has. The DR value for the album according to the database is 3. Compare that to their 1986 album Master of Puppets with a DR value of 12 for the album. Huge difference.
What actually put me onto the DR database was a review/comparison of Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks Standard vs Audiophile CD. The “audiophile” version is still really loud, and has made some people feel very negative about the “audiophile” label: