My experience precisely.If folks haven’t read about the Fletcher-Munson curve (and the other varients), they should to understand how the human ear can be tricked.
It should be mandatory that when people pontificate on the sound quality of a particular release or version of any recording they need to include the volume at which they listen.
I know from personal experience, initially I almost always think the louder one is better - if even by only a dB or two - until I adjust volume to level match the versions (as best I can since differences in EQ, compression, limiting make it impossible to be perfect) at a moderately loud volume.
Once I do this, the lost visceral impact of over-compressed/limited versions and the missing middle (where the musical magic actually is) of overly smiley-faced EQ becomes readily apparent. And often what seemed the best version at first glance becomes the worst version.
What masquerades as “detail and hearing things I’ve never heard before” and “awesome bass” becomes “no energy, fatiguing, and where’s the natural sound” and “indistinct, boomy bass”.
You can often spot this when someone writes a review that sounds more like how they prefer their listening volume delivered to them as opposed to the fidelity of the audio they are supposed to be reviewing.
Heh. We recommend getting a listening space under control first (treatment, etc as needed) before spending money on more equipment. I think we're going to have to add a new first step: How to work a "volume control"! Some of the volume war mastered CDs out there (and a few formats that have even less business getting near this!) are so mutilated sounding you'd expect 100% returns as defective. But here we are.