Jumpin’ Jive is one of the clearest examples of an album where it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to make sure your stereo is running on good electricity before you make any attempt to play it. This is the kind of recording — bright, full of energy — that will bring most stereo systems to their knees. Of course, when you play a good copy and it really sounds good, it’s a record that rewards all the time and effort you’ve put into your system.
So much of the aggressiveness, grit and grain that we hear in immediate, high-energy recordings such as this are really the fault of the electricity feeding the stereo, not the fault of the record or even the equipment used to play it.
Now it should be noted that this recording has a ton of high frequency information that will be difficult to reproduce on most systems. If you leave a lot of appliances and electronic devicesplugged in around the house when you listen to your stereo, you can forget ever hearing this record right. The grit and grunge caused by polluted electricity will make this record practically unlistenable, at the levels we listen at anyway. (At lower levels most of the garbage is masked, one reason no doubt that audiophiles rarely turn their stereos up to anything approaching live levels.)
So do as we do: unplug everything you can get your hands on before you sit down to listen. Make sure your tubes (if you have tube equipment) are nice and warm too.
We are not big fans of power conditioners for the most part. We think most of them do more harm than good. Loss of energy and dynamics are the key shortcomings of practically all of the units we’ve tested. If you have not tested your conditioners lately, try playing some lively, large-scale music without them in the system. You may notice quite a difference.
(Or you may not — perhaps yours work right. Nobody can make that judgment but you, so it’s important to test these things regularly and carefully and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t buy into the hype; test and retest for yourself.)
Our philosphy: Better to unplug devices and prevent their bad effects in advance rather than try to filter them out of the electrical system after the damage has been done.
…along these lines can be found below.
The most important advice can be found under the heading Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.
Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.
Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.