A few quotes from customers and visitors
No way was yesterday’s LFD test about an audio upgrade. Rather, it was all about UPGRADING LIFE, for which my heartfelt thanks!
What struck me most at New Sound Center was the soundstage. There was absolutely no question of the sound being boxed. In the imagination, everything could be perfectly localized in terms of both stereo and depth – as though on a podium.
That was why I literally stepped between and behind the loudspeakers to listen, wondering whether a central loudspeaker was concealed there.
The localization of the instruments had its sweet spot, razor-sharp within an imaginary, multidimensional space – all as the LFD demonstrated yesterday.
We threw everything at the amplifier – Jazz (Günther Adler’s “Meta 005” and Bill Frisell’s “Valentine” were the icing on the cake), followed by the entire “Sacre”, cello suites, “The War On Drugs” (talk about a ‘live’ concert!), Costello, Carla Bruni, Leonard Cohen (from where did that gorgeous, deep timbre suddenly appear?), Jeff Buckley and much more (including a few old, techno recordings, but these were were immediately put to one side – too shrill and thin a sound).
I had my LFD NCSE upgraded to a Golden Signature this past February. That has been the best upgrade I’ve ever made in my 40 + years of audio gear ownership.
I have an LFD V that I bought in the USA that is a 110V version. I would like to get it converted to 230V and get the Golden Signature upgrade for it as well.
I would also like to buy one the $1000 (?) power cords for my NCSE.
Is it alright to ship you the LFD V at this time?
A few months ago, I bought an LFD V Gold Signature amplifier by way of upgrading from my LFD 1V Signature – already a fine amplifier, performing strongly as regards musicality and authentic reproduction throughout the registers. But this ‘Gold’ version is quite another beast – really outstanding. I’m utterly wowed! And it’s perfect in combination with my high-performance loudspeakers.
The days of sighing about audio quality are past. Now we have pure and true-to-life music reproduction – a breath of fresh air after years of assorted forays into valves and transistors.
Thanks for your good advice!
It”s many years ago since we used often to bump into each other at music concerts and audio shows. I never thought that we’d meet up again as we did recently … creating the opportunity at last to be able to realize a forty-year-old dream.
Being the audiophile that I am …always on the look-out to improve my stereo installation … I have (like so many others) over the years bought and sold a great deal of new and second-hand equipment – Quad, Krell, VTL, McIntosh, Audio Research, Spectral, Pass, etc., in combination with many types of loudspeaker (isodynamic, electrostatic, etc.). All very fruitless, really: sometimes there’s been a ‘slightly’ better result, sometimes a ‘slightly’ worse one; always, though, there has lurked a sense of disappointment, leading to a revived urge to change one or other piece … it’s been endless.
(It has to be said, of course, that this urge to change and try out everything is part and parcel of our – let’s face it – somewhat crazy hobby.)
Ultimately, you were able to convince me at least to take the trouble to listen to an LFD amplifier. Well … how glad I am now that I at last turned away from my old mistaken and too well trodden path.
Instruments have to sound natural. I have always sought realistic sound reproduction, correct and undistorted timbre, authenticity, the sense of sound breathing, lightning-fast responsiveness with no aggression, unveiled transparency, short, correct and controlled bass, detail in both loud and soft passages, as well as in evanescent sounds. Here, however, analysis ceases – one simply sits back, listens and enjoys!
This joy is mine, thanks to this magical LFD NCSE II amplifier in combination with difficult-to-control panels!
And … believe it or not … I can at last upgrade without any loss of value worth mentioning!
I’m currently on a voyage of rediscovery of my pretty extensive CD collection, as well as what my tuner has to offer, not to mention all the music that I have recorded over the years.
A heartfelt ‘thank you’, then, Raf.
With warm regards,
After been struck by lightning, it difficult to get back up, and move passed what just happened, they say lightning doesn’t strike twice, I beg to differ.
Electrifying, is not even carrying the load.
Hearing the colour of the instruments, hearing details that where not there before, and more important a bad recording, we all know them becomes good, bearable.
A good recording, becomes sublime, magical, made tengable.
I started with low quality recordings, like the new red hot chilli peppers, track 2, most systems do alright the first few seconds of the track, then it very quickly becomes aggressive, and most will switch to the next track, not so now, the harshness becomes pure, clean, more than bearable, which makes you listen to the rest of the track, and regret when it finishes, you want more and pretty soon you listen to the complete cd, without realising, no regrets.
Its clean, pure, tight, musical, when there is a bas line, which before it become obvious that the loudspeakers are to close to the wall, and suffer from resonating reflections, not so now, the room which was too small before the set up of the loudspeakers too close to the wall, but no choice in the matter, that all falls away, the bas is tight, clean, controlled, the wall is’n’t there anymore, the cupboard, the seats in the room disappear.
I choose another low quality recording, Inxs the track Taste it, the voice of Michaël, he is not singing in this small room, but it seems almost the grand canyon, so much echo, a bat will loose its geolocation sense.
One last test, before I get out the good recordings, The White Stripes, Blue orchid, before this was harsh, heavy, loud, and aggressive.
This new Gold Signature version, the track becomes good, add a second level the guitar section, I never heard before.
So lets try Melanie DB, sounds sublime, everything is correct, the voice is to die for. Then that one track of Destiny child’s, Emotions, the striking of the match, you can actually feel the sulphur igniting in the air, never heard it like this.
Then Adel, so real, so clean, the loudspeakers, the DAC, the pre-amp, they all disappear, together with the room and furniture.
It’s just you and the music, the way it was intended, recorded.
After 4 hours, of pure musicality, you realise you lost track of time, it seems at the same time you got addicted, you got it bad, now you hunger for the next fix, and the next….
Use this DAC with caution, It’s very hard to forget, the bad thing is if any is that you don’t even want to try, you simply can’t.
I’ve been listening to this upgraded installation for two weeks now and I have to say that I’m almost at a loss to describe the experience.
Ten years ago, the LFD III Silver Signature amplifier was an amp that “blew me away”. Now, with the new LFD Golden Signature amplifier, I find the musicality of the sound simply phenomenal. It’s not for nothing that the LFD amps have no need of flashy exteriors with lots of fancy knobs. They are handmade by the Englishman Dr. Richard Bews in Essex, England, whose criterion for the selection of each and every component is “highest quality”. The use of upgraded components at the output stage makes a palpably audible difference.
This particular amplifier – the LFD Golden Signature – exudes space, extreme openness, and transparency, and the timbre of the harmonics is correctly reproduced. With this amp, there is absolutely no incidence of listening fatigue. At High-End fairs, I have listened to many top-range household-name audio amplifiers that cost up to ten times as much, but that simply can’t hold a candle to the LFD audi amplifiers.
The additional adjustments made by Dr. Volker Bajorat of Germany to this amp add an extra dimension to its musicality. It is indeed worthy of its “Golden Signature” tag.
The amp is all about reproducing music as it should be reproduced, without any frills and as if one were at a live performance. Whatever the style – classic, jazz or pop – one can listen for hours. Time and again, moreover, one discovers fresh details in the recordings.
Dr. Bews, Dr. Volker and you, Raf, are right out of the top drawer in High-End Audio. It’s no wonder that there are long waiting-lists in the US and elsewhere for an LFD amplifier.
Thank you once again, Raf, for the many hours of both exposition and listening experience.
I can’t really say that I’ve listened to every audio component or combination of components on the market. Nevertheless, the fact that some of the jobs I’ve had required me to travel abroad gave me the opportunity to visit any audio or high-end-audio shop within manageable distance and listen not to what the people there were trying to sell, but to the sound of any source they had available and in any combination of components they cared to set up.
The shops to look out for and not to take for granted are those offering a wide selection and willing, on request, to set up combinations of what they have (there is really little point in lingering in shops that can offer only a single set-up to listen to).
Whatever one has sampled in various cities around the world, though, my experience is that, for some reason – I’ll leave it to you to figure out what – one finds oneself in abundant company treading a well-worn path to a shop in the middle of nowhere.
That middle of nowhere is the small town of Ninove, Belgium. If you hadn’t been invited, been told or hinted to about, driven by or stood in front of that shop, you’d have no idea of what lies behind the admittedly intriguing window display.
Once you have listened to what’s inside, no longer will you speak – even momentarily – of stereo sound, of very bad recordings, of systems that just don’t do it for you. The feeling one has inside the shop reminds me of a line in a song we all know: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.
The shop is unique, there really is only one such place. But don’t take my word for it, let your own ears be the judge.
And what can one hear there? Well, I’d say
“nothing less than sheer MUSICAL LIVE SOUND”.
On first hearing, it’s almost too much – certainly so for the uninitiated. There’s absolutely no hiding from the sound.
Importantly, the experience is the same right across the board from ‘start-up’ systems to the more adventurous, and the same whether the music is a studio recording or a recording of a live concert.
Once one is initiated into the virtual world of Musical Live Sound, there is no way back, believe me (I dare you not to!). I have failed to find one, though whether I would want actually to take one is another question!
Here, then, is an opportunity to experience the magic – the true magic – of sound, to be transported into a world one wouldn’t imagine existed, let alone easily accessible.
Try it, then, if you dare (be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted!) …… you’ll be hooked within less than ten seconds, drawn in a flash into a heaven on earth (if you believe in the hereafter) or (if you don’t) into another dimension with its portal here in the out-of-the-way small town of Ninove, Belgium.
The name of that portal? Oh, yes ….
NEW SOUND CENTER
PS: In fact, that line in the song Hotel California comes nowhere close to expressing the magical experience of the (new) sound to be heard here.
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
– nor would you want to!
I’m writing to tell you of my recent experience in choosing a High-End amplifier for my system, which I thought would be of interest to anyone looking around in the Mid to High-End ranges.
Being thorough, and thanks to the patient help of dealer and friends, I was able to listen to the performance of many fine amps, including the likes of DNM, Krell, Audio Innovations, Levinson, Roksan, Audio Research, Deltec, Classé, Chord, Conrad Johnson and Finestra.
But it was only when I listened to the performance of the LFD amplifier (reviewed elsewhere as a ‘state of the art’ amp by Martin Colloms and originating from the highly respected team of Dr. Malcolm Hawksford and LFD proprietor Dr. Richard Bews) that I really perceived those qualities that I – as a musician and avid listener – know live music to possess. The LFD has everything I look for: detail, transparency and openness; dynamics, speed and timing; balance, slam and tactility. The sound-staging and tone colours are all exceptional and natural-sounding .
The amp is also beautifully finished and looks great. Moreover, I’ve found reliability and service to be exemplary – if only some larger British manufacturers had these high standards!
I urge anyone undecided or seeking, as I was, an amp that makes recorded sound appear as live music – irrespective of whether one is a vinyl- or cd-lover, a valve- or solid-state-devotee – to contact an LFD dealer and audition the LFD amps as soon as possible. They are absolutely brilliant – brilliant sound and brilliant value.
Christopher Fuller, London
—– Original Message —–
From: “Tony Devitt”
To: “Sound Center Ninove”
Sent: Sunday, June 15, 2014 12:10 AM
Subject: Re: Thoress 300B monoblocks
Raf and Reinhard,
> I have collected the preamp and amps but have not yet installed and
> listened to them; my room is quite small and needs a bit of
> re-organisation first, which I am doing today. However I thought I would
> confirm the successful arrival and a couple of thoughts:
> 1. The packaging is amazing, and protected the equipment so well. I
> actually turned up at the DHL airport depot in my little Alfa 147 and
> wondered if I would be able to fit them in! However, with the back seat
> down I managed to fit them all in and get them home. I will certainly be
> retaining the packaging.
> 2. I am stunned at the appearance and quality of finish. It is impeccable.
> I removed the top plate of the preamp to install the tubes and now I don’t
> want to put it back on because the layout, dressing of the wiring, and the
> quality of soldering is so impressive. Maybe you should offer a
> transparent acrylic top so that owners can admire the interior all the
> 3. This transaction has been one of the best that I have ever been
> involved in. I have at all times felt very comfortable that it was
> proceeding as I hoped it would and despite distance and never having met
> either of you at no stage did I have any concerns about placing my trust
> in both of you.
> To be honest I am going through the installation process quite slowly as I
> am ‘savouring’ the experience of this equipment.
> I will be in touch again once it is up and running. In the meantime
> grateful thanks to both of you for such an outstanding buying experience.
—– Original Message —–
From: “jan van neck”
Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2009 8:35 PM
LFD’s latest amplifier
New Chassis, Very Special Edition
By Marc Phillips
I had my first experience with LFD in 1998 when I purchased their Mistral amplifier on the suggestion of my dealer, Gene Rubin, of Gene Rubin audio. It was such a good amplifier, that even after upgrading my analog front end to five-figure territory, I was still very pleased with the Mistral.
Last year, Gene sent me the LFD Zero LE III, which was basically a Mistral with higher quality parts throughout. At $2,495 it was an incredible bargain and even at the current price of $3,195 this is still one of my favorite integrated amplifiers. I am still haunted by the high level of performance by that modest, minimalist amplifier and regret not buying the review sample.
The current offering from LFD, the NCSE (New Chassis, Special Edition) has taken their design even further using Vishay bulk-foil resistors, Shinkoh tantalum resistors, silver internal wiring and a very robust case that adds eight more pounds over the LE III. The faceplate is unusually thick for a British integrated and is similar to what you might see on a big American monoblock. The four rubber feet from previous versions have now been upgraded to three isolation devices that consist of a viscoelastic foot that fits into a milled aluminum cup. Power output has taken a jump to 70 watts per channel, up from 60wpc in the LE II and 50wpc in the original Mistral. Even with the power increase, the LFD runs cool to the touch, so it will easily fit in tight spaces without a problem.
At $7,500, the NCSE is not inexpensive, but there is an introductory price of $6,000. LFD had a similar pricing policy with their past models, so if you are intrigued, I suggest getting in at the beginning of the production cycle before the price goes up or something else wacky happens in the currency markets.
LFD is a low profile company that takes pride in hand assembling their amplifiers, but part of what makes the NCSE so special, is that designer Richard Bews assembles each unit personally. Every aspect of the amplifier exudes craftsmanship with understated elegance. The compact size and dark grey casework will blend into your decor quite nicely. If you need the approval of your audiophile buddies that own gargantuan amplifiers and huge heatsinks, the NCSE may not pass muster, but the minute you turn it on, I guarantee they will be impressed.
Items for the wish list
I only have two complaints with the NCSE; the lack of a remote control and the crowded rear panel. I can certainly understand the purist approach taken by LFD, eliminating every bit of unnecessary circuitry from the main board, but an amplifier at this price point should provide a remote, even if a very basic one with volume and mute options.
The RCA jacks and speaker binding posts are very close on the rear panel, too close to use some premium cable with the amplifier, and this amplifier’s performance is worthy of the best cable you can afford. The speaker binding posts are so close together that many of the larger cables will be difficult if not impossible to use with spade lugs. If you do not have a lot of room behind the LFD, sticking to banana plugs will be best.
The NCSE features five line level RCA inputs along with a tape monitor input and output. As you can see from the front panel, there are no markings for the various inputs, so you will have to commit your sources to memory. A phono stage is not available as an option, so an outboard phono stage will be necessary for LP lovers. I found excellent synergy between my Lehmann Black Cube SE and the NCSE, using Audience Maestro interconnects.
On to the good stuff…
Anyone who has owned or used LFD gear knows that these criticisms are minor and those willing to forgo some functionality in search of performance won’t find any of this an issue. As with past LFD amplifiers, the NCSE required about three days of continuous play to settle into its character and sound its best. Initially, I found the presentation slightly laid back, but with a very wide-open soundstage that spread out behind the boundaries of my room. Once adjusted to this new perspective, I was reveling in the detail, noticing the sizes and shapes of the presentation in my favorite records.
The NCSE was a fantastic match with the Harbeth Monitor 40.1’s (which you can also get from Gene Rubin), doing what only the best gear does – offering ever bit of nuance your recordings have to give without sounding analytical or harsh. Many have called the LFD amplifiers “tube-like” and I think the NCSE comes even closer to that description than its predecessors.
After hearing “Prophecies” used in the film Watchmen, I had a hankering to go home and listen to my Nonesuch pressing of Koyaanisqatsi. Even though it had been a while since I last listened to this LP, I was immediately struck by the fact that I could make out individual voices in the choir and follow each person all the way through certain passages. While listening to folk-singer Sarazin Blake’s newly repackaged 2007 CD, The Air Your Lungs Forced Out, I was treated to a wealth of information that was downright surprising, relishing the way Blake’s guitar amp would make the snare drum rattle and buzz on certain notes or the way the four musicians would move and shift their positions slightly throughout each tune.
When auditioning the LE III, I was always impressed with the quality of low bass information present, but the NCSE offered more extension and slightly more warmth. On the new MFSL LP pressing of Linda Ronstadt’s Prisoner in Disguise, Kenny Edwards’ bass sounded unusually rich and full without being boomy or over-extended. Low frequency information continued to be tactile and textured throughout a variety of recordings, with just a little more pluck, a little more flesh-against-string and a little more interaction with room boundaries clearly evident.
Into the sunset…
Boxing the NCSE back up at the end of the review, I’m reminded of the ongoing conversation I’ve had with fellow audiophiles about the “Golden Years” system, the one that you retire with after you are finished keeping up with the Joneses and playing the upgrade game. This is an amplifier that I could live with forever. If sound quality is your priority and you can forgo the remote control, I highly suggest the LFD NCSE.
—– Original Message —–
From: Rudi xxxxxxxxx
To: Sound Center Ninove
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 2:03 PM
I have been a loyal Krell fan for years.My second system is Mark Levenson.However , 18 months ago while on a social visit to my solicitor friends home I came across a British integrated which completely changed everything in my listening requirements.I was completely bowled over by this amp. You may not have heard of it as they rarely if ever advertise. The name is LFD Mistral LE. It is a hand made masterpiece putting out 75 w.p.c of the purest, most musical,most enthralling music I have heard in 18 years of audiophile listening.It absolutely destroys the Krell and Levenson amps as good as they are. Anyone contemplating an upgrade or who wants to be really serious about their music should advertise their present integrated or separates and RUN to their nearest LFD dealer or pick up a used one on the net.Try Audiogon. I know about which I speak – My company designs accoustic requirements for all the major theatres throughout this country , and being a musician I know the real thing when I hear it.
Beautiful tonal accuracy , sweetness smoothness ,unbeleivable voice and instrument reproduction, and passion.
No remote if you require one.
Similar Products Used:
EAR, Krell , Mark Levenson, Naim,Audionote / GEVONDEN IN LFD REVIEWS, MAAR JA, DAT WISTEN WE AL! GROETEN, RUDI Beant