The primary bounces is calculated through the irradiance map, and as the render appears, the shadow/light balance displays expected contrast. But the secondary, brute force, washes it all out.
The ground in the two images is colored through a Max standard shader.
The object next to the light has the Vray material applied in the first image, and a standard applied in the second.
I'm using an omni light, with area shadows and attenuation. I assume that anyone reading this post will need more detail, so please ask!