Fidelizer Nikola Linear Power Supply

Nikola photo credits: Fidelizer

Device Type: Linear Power Supply
Output: 1.8m DC power cable (DC Connector termination 2.5mm, 2.1mm, micro USB 2.0, Custom)
AC Cable:2.0m US cable provided
DC Output Voltage: Selectable at time of order 5, 7, 9, 12, or 19v (12v used in evaluation)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 145 x 60 x 241 mm
Weight: 2.5kg
Availability: Online
Price: $495.00 (plus shipping)

When Keetakawee Punpeng sent me the Nimitra Computer Audio Server for evaluation, he told me that he was working on a linear power supply for the Nimitra. Given the numerous designs available for a linear power supply, Keetakawee spent a good deal of time building different prototypes until he found a design that he felt achieved the sonic performance he was looking for. The result was the Nikola Linear Power Supply; a power supply that was not only designed for the Nimitra, but also designed to work well with NUCs, media players, and other devices running up to 19VDC. Consider this mini-review a continuation of my Nimitra Computer Audio Server review.

The Nikola is an attractive power supply housed in a 2.5mm black aluminum case with an 8mm silver aluminum faceplate. The effective heat sink assembly is found within the aluminum housing of the Nikola. The Nikola has the look and feel of a high-end audio component.

Nikola Features:

  • 45VA ultra low-noise toroidal transformer with bridge rectifier and isolation
  • LT1083 regulator with 4 ultra-fast diodes
  • 10,000uF Elna input capacitor, Mallory output capacitor, and Dale resistors
  • Order selectable fixed output voltage
  • Wattage: 45W
  • AC input voltage: Switchable 115/230V (Configured to Shipping location)
  • DC output terminal: 2-pole AC-DC power connector
  • DC output power limit: 3.7A@12V / 4A@5V / 2.8A@7V / 2.2A@9V / 3A@15V / 2.3A@19V

The Nikola / Nimitra Combination
While I felt that Nimitra Server (see review) sounded quite good with the supplied SMPS (switching mode power supply), I did hear an improvement to the sound of the Nimitra when an HDPlex 100w linear power supply was used in place of the standard power supply. When listening to the Nimitra powered by the HDPlex, I heard a larger, more refined sound with a better sense of weight and authority. The low-end definition and dynamic qualities of the sound from Nimitra improved with an enhancement of immediacy and palpability to the bass.

Listening to the Nimitra Server with the Nikola provided another bump up in performance compared to what I heard with my HDPlex linear power supply. I felt that the noise floor was improved with the Nikola allowing low-level details to emerge with greater clarity. The soundstage did seem slightly larger compared to what I was hearing with the HDPlex. The overall-sound seemed to be more expressive with a more powerful rhythmic drive. The Nikola seemed to build on what I had heard with the HDPlex resulting in sound that was simply more engaging.

The SOtM sMS-200 / Nikola
Since I was reviewing the SOtM sMS-200 Mini Network Player at the same time I was evaluating the Nikola, I decided to try this combination given that the 12 volt output was within spec for use with the sMS-200. After extended listening with the SOtM sMS-200 / Nikola, I felt that many of the sMS-200 owners will love this combination. The overall sound was smooth, detailed, and free of hardness. The bass and mid bass were extremely well controlled with good dynamic qualities. The soundstage was quite large with good depth and width. The overall transient speed and pitch definition were very impressive. Voices and instruments were very well focused and had a life-like presence with wonderful transparency to the sound. And yes, background silence was perceived as being excellent.

The midrange reproduction of the sMS-200 when combined with the Nikola was pure and direct when I listened to Julienne Taylor’s When We Are One (96/24). Having used this wonderful sounding recording in my review of the sMS-200, I decided to see how the Nikola stacked up to the SOtM mBPS-d2s battery power supply. While the SOtM was the king of midrange lushness and beauty, the Nikola did itself proud being just as engaging, but in a different way. The Nikola had very low noise coloration that sounded quite natural to me without ever displaying a digital edge to the sound. The overall quality of the Nikola was expressive and musically involving with exceptional neutrality while lacking the ultimate liquidity of the mBPS-d2s.

The Nikola didn’t disappoint when challenged by orchestral music. Listening to Kazuki Yamada conducting the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande performing works by Richard Strauss, Liszt, Korngold, Buson, and Schreker in a Pentatone DSD64 download, displayed a richly layered soundstage with fine resolution of transient detail. The orchestra emerged from a black-velvet background with rich tonal colors with lifelike timbres. The low coloration of the Nikola served this music beautifully and allowed me to hear deep into the music.

How does the Nikola stack up to my favorite linear power supply; the Sonore Signature Series Power Supply when used to power the SOtM sMS-200? The Sonore Signature trounced the Nikola in terms of general dynamic qualities and low end power. The bass was far more dynamic with the Sonore. I also felt that the sound was livelier with superior rhythmic drive when listening to the sMS-200 / Sonore combination. But remember, the Sonore does not come cheap at $1399. Also, a better comparison would have been if I had used a 9 volt version of the Nikola.

A Wonderful Combination
I found the Nikola linear power supply to form a wonderful sonic combination with the Nimitra Server. Owners of the Nimitra should strongly consider this power supply for their server. Given the available voltage options of the Nikola, I have no doubts that many of you will be able to find other applications for this well-built linear power supply.

Associated Equipment

anon1's picture

I've read others put the Sonore Signature Series Power Supply as the top of the heap, explaining the greater cost.

Have you tried the CiAudio VDC MKII power supplies? Given they are close in cost to the Nikola, it could make for an interesting comparison.

Also, I had a question on your Denali review.

Thank you for any answers and thoughts you can provide! :)