Does Excessive Music Mastering Rob End Users of Much Needed Sound Design Flexibility?

This is a debate that has raged for years.  But honestly, have you listened to music that almost sounds plastic?  Or what about a stereo width that is virtually duophonic, with highs that are higher than high.

All this begs the question, “what is production music designed for. Listening or for artful synchronization with a picture?  Sure you want your music to sound good but what happens when it is artificially enhanced? Do you or can you “artfully” recover a suitable sound from one that’s been “stepped on” multiple times.

All of this is leading to a point.  If music is compressed for punch or EQ’d to death or run through this or that exciter is it more or less useful to you?  We at CSS Music take a minimalist approach to mastering.  We let you compress or limit if you need to punch through or create apparent loudness.  We feel EQ should be applied gently as well use of exciters and artificial stereo width enhancers.  Can you successfully manipulate an over-mastered tune and get back its natural essence or would it be better if the music were left substantially alone?

Of course only the individual editor can answer these questions.  What do you think?