Jolida Audio began life a fabricator of vacuum tubes. But since the early 1990s, it has been known for its musical-sounding, modestly priced tube amplification. Jolida was also famous for its association with Jim Fosgate, famous for his Dolby Pro Logic inventions and, more important (to me at least), his battery-powered cartridge-azimuth alignment tool, the Fozgometer. Which I use all the time.
Today, in the room sponsored by retailer Underwood HiFi, I discovered that Jolida has changed its name to Black Ice (which is something I’ve been afraid of since got my first driver’s license). I think Black Ice Audio is a more excitement-inducing name than Jolida.
For Axpona 2019, Black Ice introduced four (!) new products and demonstrated a prototype of a product called the FX DAC DSD. Black Ice’s CEO, Jerred Dunkerson, says the FX DAC DSD uses a “cascode (output) circuit with a tube feeding into a JFET.” (The FX DAC DSD includes a CD transport, so, silly me, I mistook it for a CD player.)
The first of their newly released products, the Black Ice Fusion F11 vacuum tube stereo integrated amplifier, employs EL84 tubes. It puts out 18.5Wpc and employs Jim Fosgate’s “Odyssey dual phase V-drive circuit.” I have no idea what that circuit actually is (A VFET drives a tube? Or . . . ?), but the amp costs only $1399, and it sounded like something I should review.
The second new product is also an integrated amplifier: the Fusion F35, a stereo tube amp that puts out 60Wpc and costs only $1999.
The third new product is a tube preamplifier called the Fusion F360 ($1999), which, according to the room sheet, includes an equalizer (remember those?), a soundstage expander, and the outputs required to “set up a true analogue surround system.”
The fourth new product is the Fusion F159 phono preamplifier ($1499), which comes with the Foz XTR crosstalk reduction circuit built in. Said circuit actively “corrects for turntable axial tilt up to 7-degrees and eliminates cartridge crosstalk.”
I auditioned two Black Ice systems: one with Living Sounds Audio’s LSA-20 floorstanding speakers ($6000/pair), and one with stand-mounted LSA-10 speakers ($2500/pair). Both played big and full. There was also a Clearaudio Champion turntable with a Benz Ace cartridge.
Would you believe me if I told you the sound—with both LSA speakers—was unusually spacious with lots of liquid gold tube-osity?