Alas, Our Brilliant Colleague

Alas, Our Brilliant Colleague
Jim Merod
3 September 2002

Denny Purcell, the talented and uncompromising award-winning mastering engineer, passed away in his Georgetown Mastering Studio in Nashville last week August 22nd. His death, at fifty-one, apparently from natural causes, followed a period of recent ill health.

Purcell strove to advance audio standards on an industry-wide basis, a result of his dedication to audiophile-inspired sonic quality in his mastering activity. The recipient of BILLBOARD Magazine’s “Mastering Facility of the Year” award in 1998, Purcell’s Georgetown Masters studio consistently set an example for path-breaking sound work. 

Across thirty-plus years of professional mastering work, Purcell garnered five hundred or so Gold albums (one-half million sales) and Platinum (one million sales) combined. He mastered more than 8,000 albums for major record labels.

Among his attributes as a leading sound professional, Denny Purcell insisted upon setting others straight when the topic of sonic quality was in view. In a forum on the future of digital audio, at a recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES/Las Vegas) “Hi-End” discussion session, Purcell offered a no nonsense view of the longstanding aesthetic as well as market appeal of pushing audio industry standards to their maximum achievable results.

Such strongly held positions sometimes put Purcell against the prevailing professional grain. His well-considered stands on vital professional issues – such as recent discussions of CD and DVD “watermarking” – sought to exact the highest sonic values despite entrenched pressures of commercial considerations.

Purcell was a thoughtful, caring man as well as an iconoclast whose extraordinary professional achievements earned him fame. For anyone who cares about the present and future of music reproduction, Denny Purcell’s devotion to the craft of enhancing sound constructed a legacy that, for years to come, will bear upon the technical and artistic standards for realizing the most vital, engaging sound possible.

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