Thursday night at the Florida Audio Expo was a great chance to catch up with industry folks and reconnect with colleagues that we haven’t seen in a while, some in many years. There was a very nice ceremony between the live Jazz sets for Marjorie Baumert (RMAF show runner) and her ample contributions to the industry, both historically and present day with other shows like FLAX.
But the real deal audio spiel for consumer product consumption started on Friday, and it seemed like most of the brands were very excited for what the weekend high jinx might bring. Hopes are high for big attendance numbers and buzz, along with a heavy potential achieve said goals due to the ever-increasing inertia of public events post-Covid.
One of my first stops of the day was the Black Ice room featuring some Zu Audio transducers in the form of the new Zu Union 6. While I have enjoyed a very thorough relationship with Zu speakers over the years, this was my first introduction to the amplifier company Black Ice, or so I thought. Originating from the frozen tundra that is the United States Midwest, I was intrigued initially by the somewhat ominous choice in branding. Upon visiting the room however, it appeared that the new-to-me brand was indeed just a recent off-shoot of the show regular Jolida Audio. Much of the gear shared the same cool tube aesthetic and filled in the spaces before the Zu Audio Union 6 and Zu Undertone 2 Subwoofer in proper fashion.
The room was bumping, both in attendance and with the rocking of the tunes. A Boris Blank track called Dialectical Kid easily controlled the room with authority. There was a solid tonality to the presence, and both the front end and speakers seemed to relay a sense of natural delivery and power at the same time. It was still early on a Friday, but the team at Black Ice had already managed to dial in the music with fairly astonishingly ease. Perhaps one of the great ways to kick off the show and listening sessions as a whole. Powered by a Black Ice Fusion F22 Integrated Amplifier ($2500), Foz SSX Sound Stage Expander ($550) Dr. Feickert Analog Volare turntable ($3995), Black Ice Audio Fusion F159 Phono Stage ($1875) and Zu Mission-LC cabling, the combination proved to be a breath of fresh air from the somewhat humid climate, 82 degree weather and elevators packed with attendees recycled (but eager) breathes. On static display at the time of my visit was the Black Ice Fusion F22 Reference Integrated Amplifier ($8,999). The new Zu Union 6 and Undertone 2 retail for $2,899 each.
If you would like to see a quick snippet of the room in full motion video, check out the new “reels” channel launched on PTA’s Facebook page located here. A full interview with Sean Casey, Zu Audio’s founder and lead designer can be found on iTunes and the embed below, bonus interview in this episode with FLAX 2023 show runner Bart Andeer.
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