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AXPONA 2016: Jolida reinvents the flux capacitor

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axponaVisitors to the Jolida room could be excused for wondering for a minute if they’d arrived in a DeLorean time machine with Doc Brown and actually were at AXPONA 1974.

But no, my iPhone still was getting a signal and reading 2016. Yet, in front of me was a modern-day version of the old-school quadraphonic system — one with a circuit designed by Jim Fosgate to boot.

Jolida, which is changing its name to Black Ice Audio Solutions, offered a peak at its new F360 tube preamp ($999, shipping in September). The unit offers tone controls, a “soundstage expansion” button and — get ready to go “Back to the Future” — outputs for front and rear channels. A built-in matrix-style decoder straight from the 1970s, courtesy Mr. Fosgate, creates the quad illusion.

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The company had two systems in Chicago. The most interesting one featured the F360, connected to two Jolida 1000 P stereo tube amps (100 watts per channel, $1,999 each), a Black Ice tube phono stage, also designed by Fosgate ($1,200, due in September), MBL 116 Elegance Radialstrahler speakers ($32,000 a pair) in front and MBL 126s ($13,000 a pair) in the back.

Two VPI turntables, a red Scout and a tricked out Avenger, stood atop the rack.

A Led Zeppelin track — fitting for the audio time period evoked — showed the system could rock. The MBLs produced a powerful sound for their size, although the bass was not as well controlled as it could have been, and the highs showed some edginess when pushed.

The four-channel soundscape, thankfully, was rendered subtly, rather than with the ping-pong effects and too-loud rear channels of yesteryear. Two-channel snobs likely will smirk at Black Ice’s moxie to bring back quad, but the reasonable price of the F360 preamp should make it an interesting toy for fun-minded hobbyists and those who still have a soft spot for the wrap-around sound of their high school system. As I remember it myself, four-channel was the only way to listen to records like Queen’s “A Night at the Opera.”

Galileo, Figaro. Magnifico!

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About John Stancavage (183 Articles)

Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile

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