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.
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.
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.
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:
- 45VA ultra low-noise toroidal transformer – Very clean output from transformer with bridge rectifier and isolation
- LT1083 regulator with 4 ultra-fast diodes – Ones of the best regulator with ultra-fast diode grade streaming high quality power
- Highend audio grade components – 10,000uF Elna input capacitor, Mallory output capacitor, Dale resistors used in many highend audio devices
- 2.5mm Aluminum chassis with large heatsink – Durable with highly efficient heat dissipation for stable regulation
- High quality cable tuning – Cable assembling and wiring are carefully chosen from leading industrial companies for optimal sound quality
- Stable and reliable – No hum, no significant heat dissipation with low energy lost from conversion with optimal transformer design
- Selectable fixed output voltage – You can choose output voltage between 5/7/9/12V for your equipment for best possible sound quality
Fidelizer Nikola Linear Power Supply
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: 3.7A@12V / 4A@5V / 2.8A@7V / 2.2A@9V / 3A@15V / 2.3A@19V
Bundles: 2.0m US Power Cable / 1.8m DC power cable
Dimension: 145(W) x 60(H) x 241(D) mm