Although compression and limiting can be integral in boosting overall levels and obtaining “competitive” masters, being too heavy-handed with these types of processors can result in squashed, lifeless, and even smaller sounding masters.
I like to be careful and discern the two. Limiting will generally be the final step when applying processing to your master. I like to use compression earlier in the chain for boosting perceived loudness, subtly taming transients or adding character to the program material. Keep in mind that every mix is different and may drive these processors harder depending on frequency spectrum, overall volume and how transient the material is.
It’s also important to not use the wrong approach for compression and limiting. Slower attack times, and fast to moderate release times will most likely preserve the precious transient information and give you better results, so make sure to pay attention to these parameters on your plugins.
UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor and Cytomic the Glue for compression.
FabFilter Pro-L and PSP Xenon for limiting.