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CAF 2018: Black Ice Audio (Jolida); A name, and new designs from Jim Fosgate

KEF R Series

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Jim Fosgate is a name as well known in Hi-Fi circles as it is in the world of car audio, television, and movies. Jim is known for inventing the first car audio amplifier in 1973, and for founding Fosgate Electronics, which is now called Rockford Fosgate. His other project Fosgate Laboratories created something called Dolby Pro Logic II, which you might know as five channel surround sound, and for inventing Jim received a special Emmy. Jim was also the developer of one of the finest quadraphonic decoders ever produced, the TATE II 101A SQ Quadraphonic / Surround Stereo Processor.

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The Story

Here at Capital Audiofest we are bombarded with new product debuts. None so prolific as the one helmed by Black Ice Audio, which is also the new company name for the more familiar Jolida. Much of the to-do about the Black Ice room, was around a new Jim Fosgate designed F159 Phono Stage prototype. The F159 is a tube phono stage preamplifier with a Crosstalk Reduction Circuit (XT-R) that increases channel separation and in doing so creates a more realistic sonic image compared to normal phono stages. It achieves this by electronically eliminating crosstalk caused by the turntables cartridge, and issues by consequence of axial tilt. Of painful revelation is that the F159 is named as such, for the 158 prototypes that came before it in the development stages of design. Ouch!

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Along with the new phono-stage, were a rack full of electronics also designed by Jim Fosgate. Two new integrated amplifiers were taking turns powering a pair of Vienna Aoustic Beethoven Concert Grand floor-standing speakers. The first was the Fusion F11 Integrated, an all-tube design that delivers 20 wpc stereo. Jim designed it to be a fully balanced differential push-pull amplifier. The second was the Fusion F35, also an all-tube amplifier that delivers 60 watts per channel, and is also a fully balanced differential push-pull design.

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Another prototype product on display was the F360 Tube Preampamlifier with Equalizer Controls, Soundstage Expander circuits, Tape Loop, and Rear Outputs to set up a true analog surround system. Static in the system while I was listening was the Black Ice Fusion DAC Tube CD Transport, with the capabilities of processing DSD formats.

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The Sound

At first listen the system sounded great. Powerful enough and dynamic as anything I am familiar with. Then we engaged a few knobs and buttons on the preamp, which I am guessing was the expanders circuits and everything got really big. No weird sensations accompanied this, it was just as before but now wrapping around me. Quickly we switched back and forth, also playing with the degree of expansion.

The Phono Stage was also equally impressive as it did everything it stated to do. Channel separation on vinyl was astonishingly wide and imaging was clear and defined.

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The System

Black Ice Audio

– Fusion F11 Tube Integrated Amplifier – $1,399 USD

– Fusion F35 Tube Integrated Amplifier – $1,999 USD

– Fusion F360 Tube Preamplifier – $1,999 USD

– Fusion F159 Tube Phono Stage – $1,499 USD

– Fusion DAC Tube CD Transport – $2,499 USD

Clearaudio

– Champion Turntable w/ Benz Glider Cartridge

Vienna Acoustic

– Beethoven Concert Grand Loudspeakers

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