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Old 10th May 2013
Generally speaking, all the best mixers compress their mixes and it's a big part of their sound. That means getting them louder is easier. Keep in mind, their mixes aren't squashed, but compressed professionally. Tape saturation can also help.

As far as how loud? You go as far as you can without screwing up the mix. At some point you get it perfect. I can get stuff pretty loud without messing with the original mix balances. Try to see how far you can go without distortion.. maybe go over the top first and slowly back it down.

There have been many occasions where I make it sound really great but then the producer, band, label, or manager says they want it louder. My response: "I don't recommend it".