Established by whom ?
Basically, because FM radio stations also compress like mad ever since the mid 80s, so that the listener, skipping from station to station in his car stuck in the middle of a traffic jam, will stop on the station whose sound is more distinct = louder (in most people's heads, alas, it works that way !).
This stupid equation has slowly but surely made it's way into Joe Public's head :
Louder = More Distinct = I Don't Have To Prick-up My Ears Looking For Details = Everything Is Served On A Plate
Why, then, have the CD albums themselves been struck (the radio station can always compress, on her side, a music program which has remained reasonably compressed on the CD) ? There is no offical explanation.
In my humble opinion, after several years of FM radio madness, musicians must've been tired of hearing over and over again "I prefer the sound of your album when I hear it on the radio, compared to what I get when I play it at home on my Hi-Fi" ! You quickly figure out that you'd better have the right sound, the one everybody likes so much, directly on the CD in the first place.
I also incriminate these f...ing compilations, which establish a competitition between bands based on one sole criterion : volume level, where we should rather lean on all the other artistical critera that make a band more interesting than others.
For that's where the problem really dwells. When the average music fan gives you his opinion about a band he heard on the "thing-ma-jig rock" compilation, it is never in the terms "the mix is really open !", or "there's a fabulous clarity in the instruments", and even less "I love their music". Instead, you're almost sure to hear the same old chorus : WHAT A BLOW !
Now you're probably telling yourself that only certain styles of music are concerned : heavy metal, techno music, or any other music played by the demented. If you consider that MICHEL JONASZ (let's say, the french equivalent of BRUCE HORNSBY : Uncle Phil's Good Ol' Stories) must also play this stupid compression game, you can very well imagine that the affected musical styles are inceredibly numerous !!
I truely believe it will take decades to reverse the engines. Every kind of media is affected. The commercials on TV have never been louder than the sunday night movie. These "bastards" at the station don't crank the level up during the commercial break. It's just that the guy who designed the commercial doesn't give a rat's ass about dramatic sound perspective effects. His vision of dramatic effect is to repeat loud and clear and as many times as possible the name of the product so that from the kitchen, with your head stuck in the fridge looking for that beer, you can still hear it.
The sound on CD-roms is also afflicted. That sound is going to have, by any means, to leap above the whirr of the hard disk drive and the scanner, once it has emanated from these sloppy speakers they wouldn't even dare put in a car.
It's all screwed-up...
Now that we are forced into playing this stupid game (of putting a maximum of subjective level on a medium that has a fixed maximum electrical modulation level), we must play this game wisely.