Reprint from Positive Feedback Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 3

By Jennifer Crock, Senior Editor

NOVA USA's Ovation Speaker: Serious bang for your buck

Something really special happened this year in David Robinson's Listening Room One. The folks at NOVA USA sent him a pair of their Rendition speakers for review. Yup, believe it that those are some pretty good large speakers - and good golly, Miss Molly! - they really brought that system to a new realm.

The interesting news is that the same folks also make a very affordable speaker that brings more than just a touch of the great qualities found in the big job to a product that most folks on real world budget can afford. The NOVA Ovation sells for $1,995.00. Oh yeah, I can hear the reverberations now... How can any speaker that's 'affordable' be worth a hoot? In almost any other case I would be joining the ranks of those howling that it just can't be done at this price point, but not here and now. Naturally, at two grand, a designer has a tough balancing act to implement. Every penny spent carries a lot of weight. A little better cap means a little less for cabinet or drivers. I know how hard this is. I used to design affordable speakers for a regional distributed speaker company, TC Audio.

NOVA USA has come up with a 7 inch two way that belies its price. They bit the bullet, so to speak, and selected inherently good and fairly expensive drivers by ScanSpeak. The rest of the system was carefully balanced to get the most out of the drivers at the available budget. The result is a small system with great dynamics and enough fun to keep most music lovers smiling.

The box might be described as an overgrown mini-monitor - after all, there is a 7 incher in there. The finish is a fashionable black over wood veneer, with a black fabric covered grill frame. The front panel has a slight slope, no doubt to accomplish a phase alignment between the drivers, but this feature also serves to soften the rectangular look, and improve their visual appeal. Like all speakers of this general type, they must be used on stands. Given the current rage over mini and midi monitors, the consumer now has a great range to choose from at the local audio shop.

I auditioned the Ovations perched atop some TC Audio stands, filled with about 30 pounds of sand and planted on spikes. I experimented with methods of coupling the speaker to the stand, trying stainless steel balls, a soft putty sold to the RV crowd to seal under window frames, and spikes. A 3/8-inch ball of putty placed in each corner, and flattened with a downward push of the speaker did the best job. Other stands may produce very different results with differing coupling methods. The rule here is to experiment and see what works best in your system.

The Ovations excelled in dynamics. Soundstage recreation was also very good. They responded well to adjustment in toe-in to adjust the stage presentation to my liking. On the overall tone, I found them to have a slightly strong bass region, and also a bit of a forward top end. In these areas they differ from the more refined reference system, but the overall presentation is really pretty good, especially in the critical mids where all voices have their roots.

If your musical preferences are oriented more toward rock and roll, where listeners demand prodigious bass output without breakup, stop looking: I may have just found your speaker. This tonal balance is also suited to larger rooms where bass and highs are easily and often absorbed.

I had kind of a funny vision for these speakers. Just imagine a carry handle on the top! Hey, if you have ever done location recording, you would know how hard it is to find a transportable size speaker that actually has meaningful low end, and a "rest of the range" good enough to tell you what you've got on tape. These little NOVAs would make GREAT location monitors!

I recommend that you audition a pair if you're looking about in this price range. They do use some very expensive drivers, and I know of no other company offering a similar driver set at anywhere near the affordability of the Ovation.

View the Ovation Specifications

For subscription, please contact:
Positive Feedback Magazine
2939 N.E. 155th Avenue
Portland, OR 97230
Tel: (503) 256-1300
Fax: (503) 254-3866

Email: [email protected]

Copyright 1997 Positive Feedback Magazine. All rights reserved.