LFD AUDIO: Dr. Bews, simple circuits, fanatical component matching, human mortality, brand immortality, Tantalum capacitors and … Antonio Stradivari

Howard; Dr. Bews's clear reply prompts me to voice another concern: given the fact that LFD products stand out, not so much by design, but by careful and intensely personal component matching by Dr. Bews, what are LFD customers to do if -God forbid- something should happen to Dr. Bews? I fully intend to be a lifelong LFD-customer, but am scared by the extent to which the company hinges on a single mortal being.

Steven – you raise a most interesting question. It’s one I asked myself when I embarked on my long journey representing the LFD Audio brand in the UK and supplying and guiding end-users in countries that don’t have an official LFD importer / distributors. As I moved progressively to the global #1 position as Dr. Bews’ most successful retailer then inevitably it became time to ask him the very question you pose. Apart from anything else, with a large number of pieces out there in the field with the majority having my unique 25 years parts and labour warranty there’s a lot of financial exposure for me. Anyway, the important points for you, I and everyone considering LFD Audio products are these:

Boards:

As has been well-documented elsewhere, there is nothing particular innovative nor clever regarding a Dr. Bews circuit. These aren’t my words, but his. Thus fault find on a board is, for a competent engineer, easy.

Reliability:

Given my entire trading history and the large number of LFD owners from other retailers wanting to discuss the brand with me, total reliability currently runs at (for me) an unprecedented 98.3% reliability for the entire product lifetime.

So … ?

Given the above, then what makes the LFD non-sound so special? It’s (a) the components and (b) how those components work in collaboration with each other. It’s precisely this fanatical attention to sonic detail that makes these designs so special. He’s spent years doing the ‘hard lifting’

Components:

He holds vast, and I do mean vast stocks of all critical components such as Tantalum capacitors. As an aside, A tantalum capacitor is a type of electrolytic capacitor, a component of electronic circuits. It typically consists of a pellet of tantalum metal as anode, covered by an insulating oxide layer that forms the dielectric, surrounded by conductive material as a cathode. Tantalum capacitors are the main use of the element tantalum.

The tantalum capacitor distinguishes itself from other capacitors in having high capacitance per volume and weight. Tantalum capacitors have lower equivalent series resistance (ESR), lower leakage, and higher operating temperature than other electrolytic capacitors, although other types of capacitors are even better in these regards.

Tantalum capacitors are considerably more expensive than any other commonly used type of capacitor, so they are used only in applications where the small size or better performance are important.

Anyway, getting back to the point in question …

all the parts are available with a back-up should a sonic-specific component become unavailable. The boards are simple. Thus when the great man dies in theory everything would be on hand for a competent engineer to fault-find, repair and ultimately replicate these outstanding designs. Inevitably this leads to the question; has Dr. Bews nominated an Heir Apparent? Frankly I’ve no idea.

So Steven, all of the above is, as far as I can see, everything of any relevance – based on the facts as I know them – than I can provide as an answer. However if I may, may I leave you with a personal thought of my own?

My ‘take’ on this:

All the ‘bits’ are, if my understanding is correct, available for the brand to continue after Dr. Bews’ demise. But … perhaps we might all do well to consider the situation after Antonio Stradivari, during the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite the fact that intense investigation into how he achieved what he did has revealed perhaps every one of the significant secrets, no one has to date precisely replicated the famed Stradivari sound – let alone improved on it. Maybe after Dr. Bews has retired (in any sense of the word) other might continue along is path?

If that’ll happen anyone’s guess.

My belief though is that his designs and design philosophy will continue but given the Stradivari replication futility, inevitably with a slightly different flavour. Which means that the literally thousand of pieces hand-built by him will be outright classics in the way that, for example the Mark Levinson ML2 is, the Beveridge 2SW speaker system as indeed are the Leica M3, the Jaguar D-Type and so on.

Epilogue:

I'm pleased to say that despite not being a keen communicator Dr. Bews seems in good health and appears to love what he does. These are, I hope you’ll agreed, good signs.

Thank you

Howard Popeck.

ME but smaller

Ask Howard a Question