Talking about how a server ‘sounds’ is always an interesting one for me. Comparisons are awkward as it involves more than just cable swapping or changing the cans on my head but that’s not to say they don’t really set the ‘tone’ for the entire system. I tend to find that better models do less, or at least I think these ones sound better. From the start I used my iMac as a source, basic I know, but as I have journeyed through different source equipment it has acted as a good benchmark. I say that because the iMac does a lot, it is very energetic and aggressive, seemingly louder with the additional gain coming from distortion. On an initial listen it may grab your attention but give it some time and analysis and you will realize it is fatiguing and while cliche to say, very digital. That is why I find more to be less.
The Nimitra is none of the things that the iMac is. It is not loud nor brash and seems to have a controlled fluidity to it. Keetakawee made a big statement when he went along and said that this was an a server for analogue lovers but I think he may just be onto something here. Obviously the rest of my system is helping achieve such an analogue sound, the R-2R arrangement in my d1-seven certainly helps, as does that lusciously tuned Audeze LCD-MX4 but there is an apparent glare with the same system running off the mac, and noticeable artifacts all through the sound and they just aren’t there with the Nimitra, instead the background is dead quiet. The best part is this is all the quiet before the storm, it starts controlled, quiet and smooth but then you realize the intense dynamism that this is capable of, something that really comes out with Jack White’s new LP “Boarding House Reach”. While the Linux based BMC PureMedia wasn’t as distorted or lively as the iMac, it didn’t ever provide that crunch, that power and that is where the Fidelizer really moves things on a gear. It makes the BMC sound sterile and boring yet it is as refined, it has better emotion and realism, aided by a firmer (but no more present bass) and more agile and snappy treble.
Now when I say it has more emotion don’t think I mean it is stepping out of linearity. It definitely has an analogue vibe but is nowhere near as warm and tubey as the totaldac d1-Server and doesn’t have the rolled off treble of the Aria Mini. The balance is impeccable, it is just the timbre that provides that de déjà vu to simpler times of records and turntables that albeit were before my time, but that is not to say I don’t know the feeling.
The funny thing is that every product I have mentioned runs a different goal and can be set for different tasks. I would say this is most similar to the totaldac with both searching for an analogue sound and sharing many similar principles when making a server. Even then though the totaldac doubles as a digital reclocker. The BMC on the other is much more expensive than this, which says a lot about the Nimitra because I certainly prefer its sound. That being said the BMC is a fully fledged media centre, made for so much more than Music, so audiences just won’t align.
When it comes down to it I would be left with just two of all the servers I have tried/reviewed. They would be this and the totaldac. The totaldac was euphoric and at €4700 did sound overall superior. If I didn’t run one of Vincent’s DACs in my system then this would be the only server for me as I just need a little bit of his magic in my audio. That being said as I am running one of his best DACs I actually think Nimitra adds a lovely contrast. It still has similar analogue value but is flatter, giving me incredible snap in the treble and clarity in the upper mids (read: not the iMac’s distortion in upper mid that sounds completely different). So while it may not be on the same technical plane, I think Keetakawee has made an incredibly versatile server that will fit any system guaranteed, because it is just such a straight shooter.
So there we have it – a Thai server that is fit for purpose. It does nothing fancy and looks basic but it is functional and smooth operating in the areas you need. On top of that, it sounds phenomenal, with me preferring to more expensive models and only really drawing comparisons with a 3x the price totaldac. There is a reason why I said in the opening paragraph that this is one of my most used products. It has taught me you don’t need distractions with a server and for that reason, I will go ahead and make this the first music servers on our coveted Pride of Place!