Thank you so very much, Colin :-)
I totally agree with all your points, and yes, the absolute primary goal is to save eardrums!
Speaking of artifacts, I'm right now working with the clamping release, because the circuit - I should say "the code" - give a click at the end of a loud tone when the clamp level is set "heavy". That's why I'm looking at slowing down the release, but I don't want to induce "breathing", because that's irritating too.
And as for being educational, I really do appreciate that remark. As I've said a couple of times, I'm a seasoned old guy on electronics and software, but I'm a rooky at radio, and I need, value and respect the input of those here who are much more knowledgeable than me in that regard. I couldn't do this WELL without your and their input, so thank you. Your comments are inspiring, and reassure me that I'm on the right track :-)
I'll keep posting development notes (and actual audio clips and scope traces shortly) and asking for input. When I get the electronic interface worked out, I'll fab up and make available a circuit board, and release the code I've worked on at that point, then people can continue to fiddle - 'cos that's what we like to do here ;-)