LAST Seeks New Ownership

The first chapter in the history of the LAST Factory, manufacturer of LAST Record Preservative for LPs, is coming to a close. After shepherding for 30 years the Livermore, California–based company he founded, LAST's president, Walter Davies, is retiring to devote his energies to still photography. With Jan and Ric Mancuso, of Trade Secrets Consulting, Davies is looking for a buyer to keep the company in operation.

Three LAST products—Record Preservative, StyLast Stylus Treatment, and their flagship Power Cleaner for LPs—have been listed in Stereophile's "Recommended Components" for many years. "I unhesitatingly recommend [LAST Record Preservative]," declares Michael Fremer, who has used the product for over 25 years.

In his "Analog Corner" column in the May 2008 Stereophile, Michael cited a letter from a reader who declared that LAST made his records sound "dead," as if they'd been recorded in a "black hole" devoid of ambience. MF responded: "I've never heard LAST make my records sound better or worse. I have multiple copies of many records, some of which I've treated with LAST, some not. I recently compared a few, and heard none of the effects the letter-writer mentions." MF's request that Stereophile readers send him corroborating negative experiences with LAST failed to generate a single report of sonic doom.

Instead, MF reported on LAST's staying power. When Classic Records reissued on vinyl Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane's Rough Mix, they scanned the jacket of Mikey's copy of the original edition for their facsimile jacket, but didn't notice the LAST sticker on the back. So every copy of Classic's reissue edition also bears a facsimile of the LAST sticker.

In addition, LAST's website lists endorsements from critics dating back to 1982. The first is from the pre-digital era, when Larry Archibald and J. Gordon Holt, then both of Stereophile, concurred that "The sound becomes less mechanical and more like original tape."

LAST's products also include LAST Stylus Cleaner, All Purpose Cleaner, Recording Cleaning Machine Fluid, and Microfiber brushes. The CD/DVD Cleaner & Treatment and Digi-LAST Protective Shields address digital media, while LAST Tape Head Treatment and LAST Tape Preservative address you-know-what. The Tape Preservative is said to reduce friction between the tape and the tape head, prevent binder breakdown, and thus guard against data loss. LAST also distributes Lindsay audiophile interconnects and speaker cables, and offers a Tape Preservation Service.

LAST's dealer list, which covers multiple continents, includes 23 independent vendors in California alone. Just this spring, when Best Buy began selling LPs in their 1020 stores, they also decided to stock LAST Factory products. With sales of new vinyl up 89% over last year, sales of used LPs emerging from the garage into the light, and a whole new generation buying vinyl and turntables to play it on, LAST is poised to last.

Walter Davies and Jan Mancuso were at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest October 2–4, talking with prospective buyers for the company. For more information, write TradeSecrets@comcast.net.

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