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In normal recordings, you balance the highs, lows, and mid tones to get a more natural sounding tone. If you watch the volume on a peak meter, it's bouncing all over the place! Going from soft to loud to somewhere in the middle, depending on the tones - how loud the lows are, how loud the highs are, and how loud the mids are. One of the jobs of a recording studio sound engineer is getting the right balance of the volumes of the highs, mids, and lows.
However, after the law came out to limit the volume of commercials based on the average volume levels, someone came up with a "limiter" that would keep any of the volume levels in any range from going above the volume level that you pick.
So, for commercials, instead of balancing the highs, lows, and mids for a more natural sound, they turn the EQ all the way up for all levels and turn on the limiter to keep any of them from going over the volume limit set by Congress.
Therefore, even though it "sounds" much louder because all levels are running at the maximum volume level allowed by law, it still falls within legal limits because the "average" volume measured by the VU meters doesn't go past the levels set by the law.