Nova Audio's CES Display to Offer Rare Glimpse at Mastering Gear

Almost beaten to death in the past couple of years by salesfolk, pundits, and journalists, "convergence" has been applied to the coming-together of audio and video, analog and digital, hardware and software, information and entertainment, and Democrats and Republicans. Among all these merging trends, the audiophile community rarely hears about the convergence of pro audio with the High End.

That's because so few companies have ventured outside the narrow niches of their self-defined markets. Only a couple of loudspeaker makers, such as JBL, have anything resembling a tradition of working both the professional and consumer sides of the street. In recent years, primarily pro-oriented companies like Genelec and Westlake Audio have brought their powered loudspeakers into the home-theater market, but no one other than a few small recording labels has made the obvious connection between the world of the professional studio and that of the high-end listening room.

Houston, Texas-based Nova Audio plans to change all that at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Nova will be demonstrating its as-yet-unnamed new flagship loudspeakers not merely with ultra-high-quality amplification, but with professional mastering equipment directly from the studios of Nashville's legendary Georgetown Masters. Mastering guru Denny Purcell will be on hand to demonstrate his techniques and answer questions. Lucky attendees may even get to try their hands at tweaking rough takes from some of the world's most famous recording artists—as well as get the chance to hear previously unheard recordings in their "pure" state.

Purcell, a veteran with innumerable gold and platinum records to his credit, will have on hand an assortment of pro tools he uses in his daily work—including a full "front end" consisting of Pacific Microsonics' HDCD 192-bit/88kHz encoder and magneto-optical disc recorder, according to audio consultant Chris English, who has been working closely with both Purcell and Nova for the past year. Little noted in the high-end press is a move afoot "to bring studios up to high-end standards," according to English.

He and Purcell have teamed up to bring the high-end gospel to studios worldwide. "The convergence of professional and high-end audio is an obvious direction for us to go in," English says of the industry. He was instrumental in the selection of equipment used for last summer's expert listener tests conducted by the Secure Digital Music Initiative. Sony VP of technology Malcolm Davidson, who conducted the tests, will be at CES to participate in panel discussions hosted by, as will Purcell and Jim Marod of San Diego's renowned Blueport Sound studio. Bringing studios up to high-end standards, English notes, can only serve the cause of higher-quality sound for music lovers of all tastes and income levels.