: Paul Candy
Digital source: CEC TL51X transport,Asus laptop/Win10, J. River Media Center 22, JPlay 6.2, Fidelizer 7.6, Tidal, Audiomat Maestro 3 DAC.
Analog source: Well-Tempered Lab Amadeus with DPS power supply, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE phono stage, Ortofon Rondo Blue MC cartridge.
Amps: Audiomat Opéra Référence integrated
Speakers: Jean-Marie Reynaud Evolution 3, REL Q108 MkII subwoofer x 2
Cables: MIT Magnum M1.3, Sablon Audio Panatela, Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable, Curious Cable USB, Sablon Audio LAN cable
Power cords: MIT Magnum AC1, Sablon Audio Corona series, Wireworld Aurora & Silver Electra
Stands: Ikea Besta & bamboo cutting boards
Powerline conditioning: Blue Circle FX2 6 X0e, Blue Circle BC86 Mk5
Sundry accessories: Audioquest Jitterbug, UpTone Audio USB Regen, Acoustic Revive RR-77, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, Caig Pro Gold, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments, Isoclean fuses, HiFi Tuning Disc Demagnetizer, Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine, Soundcare Superspikes on speakers, dedicated AC lines with CruzeFIRST Audio Maestro outlets
Room size: 11x18x8', long-wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area sisal rug, walls are standard drywall over fibreglass insulation
Review component retail: $1'395

As much as I enjoy file-based music playback, the one aspect that continues to baffle me is the asking price of many streamers, servers or whatever you want to call them. I cannot see spending five figures on what essentially is a computer quite often packaged with buggy and/or limited software. While some manufacturers of such priced number crunchers claim special components and greater attention paid to electrical isolation and power supplies, I still struggle with spending such sums on a piece of equipment that will become more or less obsolete by the time I get it home. If it comes with some manner of physical storage media, long-term reliability is also a concern. If a hard drive goes (and it will), it should be user replaceable. Suffice to say, I had yet to come across anything that intrigued me enough to consider replacing my ASUS laptop and the enormous flexibility it offers. Until now.

Some time ago I wrote about a nifty inexpensive piece of software called Fidelizer Pro. It's essentially a script/code that optimizes a Windows computer for audio by disabling a ton of non-essential background services, threads and features. Considering how well it has increased my enjoyment of file-based playback and online streaming, it is practically free in my book. By the way, there is a free version albeit less effective. I continue to use it and have noted at least incremental improvements to sound quality with each update. Fidelizer's creator Keetakawee Punpeng must have been reading my mind with respect to overpriced servers to recently issue his own take on the breed. Keetakawee has merged his software and hardware knowledge to create a reference quality music server that not only should sound better than any off-the-shelf PC but also offer painless setup and use. The Nimitra is essentially a small, silent, plug'n'plug headless PC preconfigured and ready to play within minutes of installation. And it doesn't cost $15'000 either or uses some weird proprietary software. It retails for a remarkable $1'350. Brother, sign me up! Incidentally, the name Nimitra is derived from Tri-Nimitra which is the name for traditional Thai music. It means cherished dream.

The Nimitra is based on the Windows 10 Pro OS and uses a customized version of Fidelizer which offers greater optimizations than the standalone version of Fidelizer Pro. Furthermore, Keetakawee has removed all non-audio related features from Windows and carefully selected hardware components for optimum sound quality. The Nimitra also ships with JPlay Streamer and Asset Library Server. All you need is an OpenHome compatible control point such as Linn's Kazoo or Bubble UPnP installed on your iOS or Android device respectively and you're good to go. I used both without issue. A tick in Bubble's favour is that it supports Tidal streaming. For direct support, TeamViewer is included. However, if you know your way around Windows computers, you probably won't need it. However, as Nimitra is an open platform, Keetakawee can offer custom solutions via TeamViewer.