I play in an amateur university orchestra, and I just recorded our last concert this weekend. This was a very simple setup: just a Sony PCM-D50 recorder, set to record at 96/24 through its internal mics, on a tripod a couple of meters away from the orchestra.
I set the recording level low enough that the internal limiter never triggered, while getting peaks at around -3 dB when the orchestra was really loud (and 0 dB during applause, of course).
Now with an orchestral program (especially in this case where we played movie soundtracks, so you get a solo violin in Schindler's List, a small woodwind ensemble in Harry Potter (Nimbus 2000 theme), and full-tilt brass/percussion in Star Wars) there is an enormous dynamic range to cover. It seems that modern productions use heavy dynamic range compression to "lift" the soft passages, and while I'm quite happy with the sound quality of the recording as-is, I'd still like to try and "equalize" it a bit so it's more in line with other CDs.
My problem is that when I use the pre-set Dynamic range compression settings in Sound Forge Audio Studio (for example 2:1 compression from -18 dB, or 3:1 from -15 dB) and then add gain (say, +6 dB), I find that the recording starts sounding quite muddy.
I don't think that that's because of a bad algorithm (I find the same problem in Audacity) but probably because I'm using a sledgehammer instead of a fine screwdriver to adjust the sound. Do you have any tips on how to lift low volumes without muddying the middle dynamic and high peaks?