Meters are a complicated topic, I´ll give an example: In the pro-world you will see three different types, VU´s, Peak and Digital.
Vú = (Volume Units) corresponds to how your ear will hear loudness, it has very slow responcetime, I think it is in the region of 30 ms (correct me if I´m wrong) to rech its reading. This means that about 16.000 samples will pass before you see it on the meter.
Peakmeter is faster, about 10 ms risetime. First introduced in broadcast and mastering where overloading your transmitter och disc-cutter would cause problems. But still, for 10 ms almost 4.400 will pass before you see it.
Digital, or dBfs, reads (in theory) each sample and shows it on the meter, so it´s very fast.
If you line up a masteringsystem for: 0Vu = 0 Peak = -14 dBfs. A good mix will produce appr: +2Vu, +9-12 peak and -1 to 0 dBfs. The difference is called crest factor, difference between fast peaks and program. In digital, overload doesn´t exist, it´s a definition. If you have more than 3 continues samples of full reading, it will be seen as an overload, and a flag will be added to the word (Sony system, this could be altered in the machine by jumpers). If it was 0,1 dB or 20 dB doesn´t matter, they are all treated the same.
Many studios keep a lower setting on their digital multitrack: like -16 to -24 dBfs (as close miking will give more peaks) while in mastering a -12 to 18 dBfs will be used (as mixed program has a better balance).
So most important is: what type of meters are used and exactly what do they show. An older engineer could probably record to digital only using Vu´s, but the sad thing is...no single meter will give you the whole picture.
I belkive you can find som tech info at manufactors like RTW, NTP and DK-Audio.