REVIEW: FIDELIZER NIMITRAS MUSIC SERVER - UK EXCLUSIVE
The NimitraS is the Signature upgrade to Keetakawee Punpeng's well-received Fidelizer Audio Nimitra digital audio server. We have spent a few weeks with the music playing computer and are ready to pass judgement.
After making his own self-designed system and slimming down operating systems (OS) to nothing but audio playback, Keetakawee went on to customising and tweaking systems down to API level to eek out ever better sound quality. Eventually, after getting frustrated Apple OS audiophiles berating Windows, he wrote the Fidelizer system.
From the Fidelizer Windows-based operating system he started to develop and fine-tune digital audio solutions for audiophiles. Eventually, he would design and produce an audiophile plug and play computer audio server; enter the Fidelizer Nimitra.
The Nimitra can be a:
- Music Server
- Audio end-point
There have been many reviews regarding the Fidelizer Nimitra; however, it is the NimitraS that I have had sat in my system for the past few weeks.
The 'basic' package features is a fanless PC which means there's no noise or vibration from a fan. The machine uses PCIe SSD (solid state drive) for OS storage which, again, means no moving parts, also no data/power cable that could cause signal degradation. The Nimitra is powered by a Quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 2.0GHz CPU with 2MB L2 Cache. Finally, rounding things off, there's 4GB of DDR3L RAM from Kingston.
You aren't going to be able to play any games on this, but that's the whole point. This machine has one job to do, and it has been designed to do it well.
You get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in and a simple array of ports. The I/O board has a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, VGA monitor connection, a pair of USB 3.0 (one being especially for audio), an HDMI port and then 3.5mm headphone and mic sockets.
All the components are encased in a 3.5mm-thick aluminium alloy frame made up of just three pieces, and so having less frequency shift. The case sits on audio-grade isolating feet.
This specification costs £1395.
However, the Signature model upgrades the SSD to SLC (single-level cell) grade which is considered the best. You get improved RAM for better audio performance and reliability, and the motherboard receives capacitors with an ESR (equivalent series resistance) of lower than 10mOhm, and that has a 5000hrs lifespan. Lastly, the blue USB 3.0 ports have a clock upgrade with 1.3ps phase jitter and shock/vibration resistance.
The NimitraS brings the price up to £1895. However, if you have already bought a Nimitra and would like the Signature upgrades send it, along with £500, and then Keetakawee will do the neccessary.
Furthermore, at the point of purchase, you can choose which streaming solution and what Roon configuration you want.
There is a further option which our review sample came along with, and that's the Nikola linear power supply. The power supply adds an extra £495.
The Nikola features a 45VA ultra low-noise toroidal transformer with a bridge rectifier and isolation. The linear technology regulator has four ultra-fast diodes. Additionally, there is a 10,000uF Elna input capacitor, Mallory output capacitor, and Dale resistors which are all the wrapped in a 2.5mm-thick aluminum chassis with a large heatsink. Finally, there's the high-quality cable from leading industrial companies for optimal sound quality.
The NimitraS is as plug-and-play as a Windows 10 PC. Well, that's essentially what it is - albeit tuned for audio.
Thanks to the SSD boot-up time is around 30 seconds.
As I had given my Arcam irDAC to a friend when I bought my Oppo UDP-205, my care package included an Aqua La Voce DAC. The NimitraS was pre-loaded with all the necessary drivers. During testing, my review sample of the Chord Qutest arrived. Both new DACs, as well as my returned Arcam, were used over the period I had the Fidelizer.
As soon as I had plugged the NimitraS in and hooked it up to my network, with a little help from Keetakawee over email, I was playing music from my QNAP NAS using Bubble UPnP on my mobile. It was that simple to use.
Once I had got it in my head that the NimitraS was a PC, I plugged in a mouse, keyboard and monitor and got it set for use as a Roon Core.
While I am here, I'd like to add a quick note about Roon.
If you have a digital audio library and not yet tried Roon, I suggest that you put that right as soon as possible.
Roon has one of the most beautiful user interfaces that I've used for audio. The only head-scratching moment I had was pointing Roon Core at my NAS drive, but that only lasted a cup of coffee and half a pack of biscuits. I do consider myself fairly tech savvy though.
I started off with a free trial of Roon but, by the end of everything, I now have it for a year. I do see me keeping it for good though, especially as my UDP-205 is also a Roon ready player.
Roon's rich user experience and the fact that you can delve further into information about the artists, read lyrics and pretty much fall down the rabbit hole during a listening session is fabulous. Furthermore, the simplicity of selecting your listening 'Zone' and overall navigation is another bonus. I have not been able to fault the software over the past few weeks of running it.
The NimitraS is a total turnkey device that supports the popular contemporary codecs. Also, as it is an open platform, Keetakawee can customise it to fit your personal needs.
If you don't have a NAS drive, you can load your music onto a USB drive and plug it in directly to the NimitraS. I tried this out with a 128GB flash drive, and it popped up on Roon instantly.
Both the Aqua and Chord DACs have played well with the NimitraS. It doesn't take you long before you get used to the effortless playback of your digital catalogue.
Before, I used to use my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro as the player connected to a DAC. However, since relegating it to use as a Roon controller, sound quality has improved using the NimitraS. Granted, I cannot say how much better the Signature upgrades make it, but this little music computer has benefited from not having to multitask.
Starting things off with a live version of 'Big Love' by Fleetwood Mac the instant realisation that there was greater detail and focus from the track when using the NimitraS when compared to my laptop plugged into the same DAC was nothing short of incredible.
Turning to a test track favourite and Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' and again, the soundstage opened up more with the NimitraS. The performance through the Fidelizer server was just more visceral than through my laptop. Same track, same DAC, same NAS drive. But, apparently, it's all just zeros and ones.
I have been impressed. I do love my PCs, and custom ones tend to trigger a reaction in me that is probably illegal in some parts of the world. That said, there is no mistaking the improved audio quality through this little music server.
The subject of support is not something I usually mention in reviews but, when you buy a Fidelizer product, you get the most awesome direct support from its creator, Keetakawee Punpeng.
When I was sent the set-up for review, I was asked if I needed any guidance or support in setting it up. Of course, being someone who has built his own PCs, maintained his own classic cars and designed and developed websites, I said no.
However, there was an instance where I couldn't get the NimitraS hooked up to Wi-Fi before I got the fact that it is a PC. But also, the device being a loan item, I didn't want to mess around with it. Within moments I got an email from Keetakawee. After a matter of minutes, I was up and running.
After that, I have not required any further assistance. However, I know full well that if I had any difficulties, there would be an answer to my email quickly and then the man himself will be logged on to the NimitraS via Team Viewer sorting things out. I dare say that this is a level of service that even most of the big names cannot match.
The NimitraS is one of those devices where you read its essential ingredients, shrug, and say to yourself "well, that's obvious isn't it?" So, why aren't there more devices like this out there? Furthermore, how come there is hardly anyone able to do it at this price? Add to that the unwavering, polite and patient support given to everyone who buys a Fidelizer product by the guy who made it, then you have something close to priceless in my book.
Granted, it a Windows-based fanless computer, but it has been highly refined and optimised for the one job it has been designed to do.
I cannot help but enthuse about this device. Better still, you don't have to take my word for it. If you are wanting to try out the Nimitra or NimitraS in your own home system, Elite Audio offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
For more information visit Fidelizer Audio.
StereoNET UK's Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He's captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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