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You want to make their CD sound better

O.K. here's what happened. I got this CD from a local musician who asked me to give it a listen and see what I thought. uggg.. Five piece rock and roll and recorded to mono. Almost too much level, obviously normalized to 100%. No stereo spread and really thin sounding.

I ripped the five tunes to .wav files and tried several tricks to get it to sound better. When I was finished, they were impressed and now I get to record their next project. However, how would you all knock the levels down so there is headroom for eq and effects? Just lower the volume? Compress the files? Limiting? Since all my formal training is from the "doing" school of mastering, I wondered what the accepted method would be.