Fase Nimis Integrated Amp Reviewed

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Fase_Nimis_amp.gifThere's no escaping it: the Nimis exhibits the soft'n'cuddly lower registers of vintage valve amps like Quad IIs and the smaller Leaks. Categorically, its bass will not impress Pete Tong or Mr. Zoe Ball. The other area? An amp the size of Nimis simply cannot exploit the dynamic capabilities of the WATT Puppy. If anything, it's vivid proof of the argument used against the single-ended triode brigade (whether or not they're using horns) which says that just because a speaker has high sensitivity, say better than 92dB/1W, it doesn't mean you can get away with a meagre 10W or 12W. And while I was perfectly happy to tootle along with the Nimis driving the WATT Puppies, I have to admit that speaker-busters like the soundtrack to <Glory> revealed its limitations: the sound just runs out of steam, and you'll find yourself wanting more power. So what you must do is think of it like the aforementioned small-displacement motorcar, and drive it accordingly. And as with the Seicento, it will still get you from A-to-B.

But, hey, this is an Italian amp, so I spent most of the time using it with the Sonus Faber Concertinos, listening to the DCC Sinatra CDs, the new Dean Martin compilations and the soundtrack to <Big Night>. All of these exploit the midband, not the frequency extremes nor the absolute dynamic swings. And despite the amp compressing slightly with big works like <Glory>, it positively embraces less frenetic or bombastic work. It even projects a sound stage so large and cavernous and whole that you forget all of the other effects related to 'bigness'. Think of it as you would a surround sound system minus a sub-woofer, and you're there.

Why do I not find it surprising that this tiny amplifier prefers romantic lounge-lizardry in which the singers are too cool to either raise their voices or raise a sweat? This amp, despite its Ronald McDonald attire, seduces, charms and romances. It reminds me of the words of a sage of horizontal dancing who once said that there's nothing sexier than a love-making partner who makes you laugh. And with that in mind, then this amp is sexy. So sexy that I'm actually buying the review sample, even though I don't need it and have no space for it. And I don't look at it as spending money on a visual gag. No way: this is an >objet d'art>. But I do have to wonder at whom it is aimed. I mean, how many kitsch collectors are also audiophiles?

Naturally, the standard British response at the Hi-Fi Show to the coloured Nimis Naéf was, 'But is it available in black?' <Stronzi inglese>...

Audio Images, 128 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1HB. Tel (01502) 582853

Hey, I was confused, too, having seen the FASE's products and personnel at numerous shows and still failed to figure out what the company was actually called: FASE? Synthesis? Nimis? FASE was founded in the early Sixties in the Marche region of Italy, manufacturing output transformers for pro amplifiers, including the Model 3.370.063 for the legendary VOX AC30 guitar amplifier. One of FASE's earliest products, the company can proudly proclaim that it is still being used by professional musicians like U2 guitarist "The Edge"; too bad I despise U2. Anyway, FASE's diversification eventually led to production of the transformers with domestic applications, so that by 1987 the company had finalised its first prototype home audio tube amplifier.
Oozing potential, the amp underwent a period during which the designers optimised the various components, naturally focusing on the supply and output transformers. The final version was presented to the public in 1992 at the 11th Adriatic Hi-Fi Expo in Ancona, when FASE also introduced the brand name, SYNTHESIS Art in Music, to identify its hi-fi division. SYNTHESIS Art in Music - which is a ridiculous mouthful for a brand name, so I'll stick to FASE - kicked off with the PL-1 line preamplifier and ST-1 stereo power amplifier fed by a Micromega CD player and driving a pair of LS3/5As. The catalogue now contains nine models, all of which are severely under-priced, gloriously finished, and - in the case of the Nimis Naf - more fun than an episode of Frasier.

Additional Resources
• Read more stereo amplifier reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
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