Ok so I've had this problem for a while. No matter what I do, it seems my recording volume is always so low. When I create an mp3 file, the volume is always significantly lower than an mp3 of any pro recording. If I pump up the volume on my preamp or in the program (regardless of the program, I've used many), it'll get loud but noticeably distorted. Is there a fix for this? Maybe an after-amp (as opposed to preamp)? ha i really don't know, any suggestions?
i do EQ, not too familiar with compression techniques tho. im not really sure where to begin on compression.. any starter points? or recommend a good compressor?
well what program are u using,

also compression is only needed so that it doesnt really distort when u increase volume so it may not be needed as of yet,

what u could try do is look through the efect list on ur Program (what program u use by the way) and see if there is something like maximiser or something like that, and fiddle with it lol
well i plug everything in my interface then that outputs to the PC. I'm using Tracktion 2 and Guitar Rig 2 as of now. I like both programs. What I usually do is record everything dry in Tracktion 2 as it's very easy to organize in there. Then I export it out, trying to maximize volume levels w/o getting distorted. Then I bring that mp3 file into Guitar Rig 2, play it through a set up, recording on the second tape deck. Then take that wav file and make it an mp3. But it seems that I always either get a distorted final product or perfect quality with volume too low.

If I run a compressor through the in-out port on my interface (mackie satellite btw), will this help out? I'd imagine a real piece of hardware will work better than a compressor in Guitar Rig. But I don't wanna buy a compressor if it's not gonna help out with volume issues.
no no the Effect Compressor should be a digital effect in a recording program, so u just have to apply it just like apply EQ to it,

So u dont have to buy a pedal, lol

What happens when it distorts is that there is to much aritificial gain so that the track CLIPS IE touches the red section from the volume bar,
Digital can only go so high before it clips, and you will never be able to change that. Keep below about -3dBfs before final mixdown/processing and you should be fine.
Hmmm that's probably it. Cause when I export it out of Tracktion, I usually try to get it as high as possible in dB level, I'll try keeping it at -3, then pumping it as high as I can when I play it through GR. Thanks guys
Are you mastering your tracks? Mastering your tracks will help increase the level by applying compression and perhaps limiting to the final mixed down track. For information on this , check this page.
There is poetry in despair.
yea use multi band compressors, mastering plugs, EQ a little, and normalize.

Once you master the tracks the song should come up in volume a little more without distorting.

I just started using some of the new mastering tools in Sonar, such as Boost11, all great plugins.