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Nikola – Linear Power Supply

 

Nikola - Main

 

While developing Nimitra Computer Audio Server, we also developed our own linear power supply aiming for affordable highend audio performance. The name “Nikola” is from the famous Nikola Tesla who invented affordable power distribution line that revolutionized the world until this day.

 

Nikola power supply is terrific. I knew I’d hear an improvement with a more robust power supply but this is quite impressive. Music sounds much more robust and propulsive, soundstage is considerably more open, more revealing of musical textures, more nuance and inner detail, the list goes on. Thanks again.

Paul Candy, 6moons

After extended listening with the SOtM sMS-200 / Nikola, I felt that many of the sMS-200 owners will love this combination.

Steven Plaskin, AudioStream

 

 

 

Built from thoroughly tested prototypes

 

We designed and built a few prototypes with many revision through years of research. We tried many ideas, shot down many designs as below:

 

Balanced DC power supply

It’s not possible to make balanced DC power supply output for device with DC power supply input. We tried building balanced AC power conditioner with full wave transformer but it didn’t work well as we hoped. It should be used on product with balanced DC power supply input only.

We decided to use bridge rectifier with isolation transformer and the result is much better result. Diode won’t work twice harder as before, DC current is even cleaner with matching design for non-balanced DC power output.

 

Two-stage voltage regulation topology

When we tried to to make early prototyping PSUs having cleaner sound, we tried two-stage voltage regulation topology. Yes, it did make the sound cleaner with smooth as silk presentation. But dynamics won’t be as solid as before and transient attack got worse.

We also find side effects from two-stage voltage regulation with more heat dissipation from energy conversion lost during each stage. We decided to build transformers with specific voltage range for best uses and make the sound cleaner with proper designs.

 

Nikola - Prototype

 

Choke-filtered linear power supply

We also tried choke-filtered design too since some of preamps I like use this design. with very clean and transparent sound using choke-filtered. However, the side effects of choke-filtered will make the sound losing sweet touches and full body dynamics on lower frequencies so we didn’t keep it.

 

Power capacitor bank

I can vaguely guess about it already as I saw many products trying this approach before but we decided to give it a shot too just to be sure. You won’t get current shortage with this design but since we never has issue with current load, we decided to drop it like before.

The reason why we dropped this design is mainly about sonic performance. Focus became blurred and timing got a lot slower with strong sound signature from capacitor. No matter what capacitor brands and values we tried, it does harm more than good in our case.

 

We also considered other design implementations like shunt regulator design but it tends to be very hot for over 1A current so we didn’t try it with over 3A cases. It’s important to make sure the product will be safe and reliable for long time usage.

 

 

Tested with highend CD/SACD transports

 

We tested Nikola and early prototypes in many highend systems as computer audio server’s power supply. We compared with highend CD/SACD transports such as Esoteric/dCS/Emm Labs to make sure we didn’t miss important information from reference sources.

Before launching Nikola, we have many Esoteric and dCS owners who are satisfied with our prototypes. During development, some customers who thought $300 power supply being too expensive ended up buying one of the very expensive prototype unit instead.

 

 

Awards

AudioStream's Greatest Bits Award for Fidelizer Nikola

AudioStream’s Greatest Bits Award, 2016 for Fidelizer Nikola

AudioStream’s Greatest Bits is our version of Recommended Components. This list is culled from every piece of gear that we’ve reviewed each year and represents those components that stand apart in their ability to deliver a musically satisfying experience.

 

 

Tuned for affordable highend sound

 

Before designing Nikola PSU, we built a few prototypes with best possible sound quality. We use the best parts for highend audio performance. We also built with Mundorf highend caps and if possible, we’d like to try Duelund too as it sounds very good on our friend’s DIY speakers but too large.

 

It also needs to be affordable too. So, we revised the design using the same principles as Nimitra to make affordable ones without losing its principles. As many Thai audiophiles still think PSU above $300 is too expensive, we set the bar for sub $500 price.

 

As a result, the finished hardware design has the following features:

  1. 45VA ultra low-noise toroidal transformer – Very clean output from transformer with bridge rectifier and isolation
  2. LT1083 regulator with 4 ultra-fast diodes – Ones of the best regulator with ultra-fast diode grade streaming high quality power
  3. Highend audio grade components – 10,000uF Elna input capacitor, Mallory output capacitor, Dale resistors used in many highend audio devices
  4. 2.5mm Aluminum chassis with large heatsink – Durable with highly efficient heat dissipation for stable regulation
  5. High quality cable tuning – Cable assembling and wiring are carefully chosen from leading industrial companies for optimal sound quality
  6. Stable and reliable – No hum, no significant heat dissipation with low energy lost from conversion with optimal transformer design
  7. Selectable fixed output voltage – You can choose output voltage between 5/7/9/12V for your equipment for best possible sound quality

 

For sub $500 price, this is the best we can build. It’s our policies to build only products worthy of being used in highend systems.

 

 

Specifications

 

Wattage: 45W
AC input voltage: Switchable 115/230V (configured according to shipping location)
AC input type: 2-pole+earth, rated 15A/250V with ceramic fuse
DC output terminal: 2-pole AC-DC power connector
DC output power limit: [email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected]
Bundles: 2.0m US Power Cable / 1.8m DC power cable
Dimension: 145(W) x 60(H) x 241(D) mm
Weight: 2.5kg

 

Ordering Nikola

 

Nikola - Order

 

Only US $495

It’s our policies to build only products worthy of being used in highend systems. Even Nikola is sub $500 linear power supply, it’s still an affordable highend product with exceptional performance just like Nimitra computer audio server.

The MSRP price for Nikola is US $495 with 30-day money back guarantee and one year product’s warranty. You can order Nikola with the following options below for most suitable uses with your products.

Fidelizer and Nimitra customers can order Nikola Linear Power Supply with $50 refund discount.


DC Output Voltage
DC connector termination


 

What customers say about Nikola

 

To show how our customers satisfied with Nikola linear power supply product, we’d like to share customers’ experience with Nikola. Feel free to read testimonials before before giving Nikola a free trial with 30-day money back guarantee.

Read all customers’ feedback

Nimitra/Nikola is a clear winner in my system; this innovative system represents a step change in performance. Compared with my ‘tuned’ laptop audio-PC, Nimitra/Nikola is clearly the better music machine. Higher level of detail, transparency and tona…

Kjell Nedrebo

Hoi Keetakawee,

I thought I will give you an update of my adventures with Nimira and Nikola. It runs very stable. Some times after a driver switch a DAC clock locking problem occurs but that is fixed by a restart or some more switching.
Roon runs ver…

Richard

Hi Keetakawee,

Just to let you know, the Nikola LPS arrived today. Have been listening to it for a while and I love it! Perhaps it needs some burn in time, but my first impression is that the sound stage is wider, the keyboard on one track was much n…

Tak Ashida

Many, many thanks!

I am listening to the Kazoo JPLAYSTREAMING on HUGO through HIFIMANN 1000v2 headphones and the sound is truly magical!

I am sure I will still need some handholding later on but for now everything is quite wonderful.

You are obviousl…

Colin Campbell

Beautiful couple in both sound and body. Sound improve in all three range. For update, the improvement of Nimitra upgrade version from Nimitra original version now is more than 50%!

Nattachai Srisawat

Hi Keetakawee,

Thanks so much for all your trouble! Everything seems to be working well now. I did unplug the USB lead to the DAC, so I could compare the Aurender and the Nimitra, as you had it playing stably..

I can’t get JRemote to register, but th…

Simon Bailey

Keetakawe,

The PSU is operating perfectly. I have the Nimitra setup using Roon server with the microRendu connected to my PS Audio DAC. I’ve already noticed more delicate sound with deeper and quieter background. Low end if firmer and more pronounc…

James Daras

Nikola power supply is terrific. I knew I’d hear an improvement with a more robust power supply but this is quite impressive. Music sounds much more robust and propulsive, soundstage is considerably more open, more revealing of musical textures, more…

Paul Candy, 6moons

Thank you so much. The display is now working fine and the music has never sounded better. Great support.

Craig Wilson

Hi guys.
I wanted to jump in here as a customer of Nimitra.

Firstly I have to say the product is top shelf. I have never heard my system sound so good and am thoroughly enjoying the benefits of this device. In fact I have sold a Sony HAPZ1ES player t…

Steve Andrews

 

 

Distributors

 

You can order Nikola and receive local support from the following online shops below.

 

 

If you have any questions about Nikola, feel free to contact the author directly. If you haven’t received any reply on email after 2 business days, message might be sent to spam/junk box. Please contact us through other means like Facebook / Twitter / Skype.