The Nova Bravo Loudspeaker

The Nova Bravo Loudspeaker

A Follow Up

Henry Wilkenson

10 October 2002

Nova Bravo SpeakersSpecifications

Enclosure Type: Two way vented design
Tweeter: One 1″ soft dome
Woofer: One 7″ Carbon-Fiber composite
Frequency Response: 33 Hz to 20 Hz +/- 3db
Sensitivity: 87db @ 1m/1watt
Impedance: 8 ohms nominal – 6 ohms minimum
Power requirement: 30 watts minimum 
Equipped with two pairs of 5 way binding posts
Dedicated spikes included
Finish: Black, Light Oak, Natural Cherry or Sapeli
Dimensions: 42″ H × 9″ W × 9″ D 
Weight: 58 lbs.; 68 lbs. shipping weight
Price: From $3,600.00 per pair (depending upon finish)

Nova Audio 
P.O. Box 40569 
Houston, Texas 77240


After reading Clement Perry’s review of the Nova Bravo loudspeakers, I became very interested in giving them a listen. When the opportunity arose, I eagerly agreed to do this follow-up review. 

For a number of years now, loudspeaker designers have been trying to find ways to get a larger, fuller sound from smaller enclosures. It is surprising the degree to which this goal has been achieved. The Nova Bravo is just such a loudspeaker. The Bravo stands less than four feet high and is less than ten inches square. The pair that I had was finished in a light oak, to a high degree of fit and finish. In my opinion, they are a very attractive pair of speakers that should easily fit into most any décor. 

Given the relatively small size of these speakers, they have a surprisingly full low-end response. Product literature attributes this response in part to the carbon fiber filled composite bass-midrange driver derivative of the much larger Evolution speaker. The result is a driver that is very stiff while at the same time low in mass. The major contributor to this response is that the cabinet is a slotted or a reflex design. Briefly, with a reflex or bass reflex design, the cabinet vents some of the low frequency energy into the room through a port, or slot in this case. The port is lined with absorbent material in order to smooth the frequency response. In this case, the port is located on the rear of the cabinet. The trick here is to delay the energy leaving the port long enough to be in phase with the energy being emitted from the front of the woofer. Admittedly this is an oversimplification, but this method will generally result in a much deeper bass response when compared to a sealed box design. As you shall see, Nova has utilized this design to produce a rather small package that produces a large sound.

The Sound

I set the Bravos up in my usual listening position. They were just about seven feet apart and three feet out from the rear wall. My seating position formed the last leg of the triangle at just about seven feet away. I gave them a slight toe in; this seemed to provide the best image. Neither too defuse nor overly etched. 

One of my favorite CDs is Patricia Barber’s Companion, [Blue Note/Premonition 7243 5 22963 2 3], recorded live at The Green Mill. Cut two, “Use Me,” begins with a tight solo bass line that is a good test for a speaker’s upper to mid bass performance. While the Bravos performed well with tight and tuneful bass, the output level seemed to diminish as the bassist explored the lowest levels of the instrument, but Ms. Barber’s voice was conveyed with what I felt to be the right amount of intimacy and breathy detail.

The venerable Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis [Columbia Legacy CK 64935], came across quite well overall. Tonal shadings were resolved accurately but the brass tended to become forward and hard sounding when the volume was pushed past low to normal listening levels. This also happened with some female voices under the same conditions.

I found these speakers to be somewhat cable sensitive. With the Audience Maestro speaker wire, the treble was clearer but harder overall. I achieved the best sonic results with a bi-wire run of Cardas Neutral Reference speaker wire. With this wire, the treble hardness was not entirely eliminated, but it was greatly reduced. This problem did become much less noticeable at more moderate listening levels.

The reason for a ported enclosure becomes apparent with music that has a very prominent bass line. “Genesis,” which is the first cut of George Duke’s album Illusions, [Warner Bros. 9 45755-2], is a case in point. This is heavily synthesized dance music that makes very strong demands of speaker’s low-end capabilities. While your pants legs won’t flap in the wind from the bass energy, the output is more than adequate to serve the music. Given the fact that we are talking about a 7″ woofer here, the performance in this area was quite impressive. 

Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony, [Reference Recording RR-93CD] is a good test because of the full range of the symphony orchestra. The Novas were able to deliver the width and breadth of the performance, although at reduced scale when compared to larger floor standing speakers. Strings had the proper silkiness without any of the nasties that often come along with the reproduction of those instruments. While they could not provide the full musical impact of “Appalachian Spring Suite” that I have heard from larger and more expensive speakers, given their size and driver complement, the Bravos acquitted themselves quite well. 

Everything taken into account, the Nova Bravos are a fine pair of loudspeakers. The field in the 4K-price range is crowded, but the Bravos can certainly hold their own there. While I feel that these speakers may be better suited to jazz or rock, they also will do a credible job with other musical fare.

Given their small stature, they should fit easily into most rooms. Choose your cables and associated equipment carefully. I would avoid any thing that is zippy or hard sounding unless you prefer that sound. If that is your cup of tea, you could still end up with too much of a good thing. 

If you are in the market for a pair of speakers in this price range, I recommend that you do give the Novas a serious audition.

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