First Sounds: Fidelizer Nimitra
eetakawee Punpeng of Fidelizer first hit the audio headlines with a software package designed to streamline the Windows OS for audio replay, improving the musical performance of even latest-generation media players such as Roon and Tidal. Available as a free download or an even more effective and auto-activated Pro version ($69.99), it quickly garnered a solid reputation for delivering a worthwhile uplift in file-replay performance, either for free or a modest outlay, depending on just how serious you wanted to get.
Now, Fidelizer has launched its first piece of hardware. Sticking with the direct sales model established by the downloadable software, the Nimitra server/streamer is available mail order only for $1395. For that you get a slim, square-footprint case that looks for all the world like a black Mac Mini. Essentially a hub that sits between USB storage or a network and whatever is doing the decoding, it shares a mission statement with the Fidelizer software: streamlining the path and easing the flow of data into your DAC. Its a philosophical continuity thats important and helps explain why the Nimitra has quickly earned a place in a whole range of seriously high-end systems in its native Thailand. As the designer is quick to point out, the old "its only ones and zeros" argument is not just nonsense, its actually misleading. Instead, a data stream is a modulated voltage that is sampled at discrete moments to designate an integer value. The potential for instantaneous and cumulative error is thus considerable -- a potential that the Nimitra is specifically designed to eliminate. The end product is the result of significant work on both coding and hardware -- and a development path that included close comparison to state-of-the-art disc-replay solutions, itself an interesting point in a technological environment in which file-replay advocates simply assume superiority over physical media, despite the weight of evidence to the contrary.
So far, listening experience with the Nimitra has been limited to a system in which it was acting as a network player connected to a dCS Vivaldi DAC. The results were unusually planted and rhythmically coherent for a file source, with greater body, weight, musical coherence and structural organization than Im used to from file sources. But perhaps most interesting was the direct comparison with a MacBook Air, running on battery and feeding the DACs USB input via Nordosts excellent Blue Heaven USB cable, a setup that produced a sound that was insubstantial, flattened and disjointed in comparison. All of which marks the Fidelizer as apart from other file-replay solutions Ive heard. It seems that the high-end aspirations have been realized and that all that comparative listening has paid off.
Of course, anybody marketing such a product can make a similar claim, but both the success of the Fidelizer software and the demonstrable performance capabilities of the server/streamer suggest that the Nimitra is worthy of closer attention, especially as the direct sales model keeps the price low and promises an impressive price/performance equation.
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