To avoid such distortion, you simply have to check "Clipping prevention"!
Let me make things clearer about the volume: those 89 dB correspond to about -14 dBFS of a sine wave (single tone), where 0 dBFS is the absolute maximum (the highest possible digit). So 103 dB (=89+14) would be the maximum level. If you set it to higher numbers, the digital signal is clipped, that means all samples above 103 are set to 103dB. This destroys the signal, you hear distortion.
Of course only if "Clipping prevention" is unchecked.
But music has dynamics, even if contemporary pop often has very few because of the loudness war. That means if the loudest sample is at 0 dBFS, the average (RMS) is at e.g. -8 dBFS for a loud record, or e.g. -16 dBFS for a more dynamic pop record.
The setting of 89 dB corresponds to about -17 dBFS RMS for music (or pink noise to be exact).
So if you listen mostly to modern mainstream pop/rock, you may be fine with a setting of 95 dB, as the level de facto mostly remains unchanged. If you set it higher, in most cases it is ignored when "Clipping prevention" is checked.
To sum up:
- If you listen to different genres, styles and epochs, let it at 89 dB.
- Always use "Clipping prevention".
- If you feel the maximal listening volume is too low with your PC or mobile device: buy some headphones with higher sensitivity or a more powerful device. (Or if there is not enough bass: buy some decent headphones that suit your ears.)
MM has a bug at automatically analyzing volume where "Clipping prevention" has no effect. See Re: songs sound like static