We welcome questions and comments
I have been following the exploits of Lirpa ever since I read what I believe was his first-ever appearance, in Audio. As you can see, I’m a bit hazy in regard to time and place, but I remember clearly in regard to his name: It was I. Lirpa. I was not aware of any name change to Loof Lirpa or Lirpa Loof. I am aware of his eldest son, Eno Lirpa, and a daughter, Lirpa Lirpa (of whom you may not have heard because I invented them both).
Could you please look into, and straighten out, this matter—and quickly. (I’m 92 years old and don’t have a lot of time to wait for answers.)
Paul Alter Pittsburgh, PA
If I were in a generous spirit, I might consider Rob Sabin’s “History of Lirpa Labs” to be a (not very good) April Fools’ joke. I’m afraid, however, it is merely the result of him failing to give the history of Professor Lirpa the respect it is due.
First of all, there is no Loof Lirpa, at least not in the audio industry and certainly not in Professor Lirpa’s family. The founder, chief engineer, publicist, janitor, and chief bottle washer of Lirpa Labs is Professor I. Lirpa of Bucharest. In 1983 Len Feldman claimed that the I stood for Igor, but most historians believe that, like Harry Truman’s middle initial, the I stands by itself and does not represent a name.
In any case, the professor had two children, Biff and Gladys, with no Loofs or Sloofs amongst the progeny. No one has unearthed a reason for his daughter’s uncharacteristically normal name. I’m afraid Rob was misled by fake facts planted by the Russians. If Loof Lirpa seems like a mythical character it is because he is, in fact, nothing more than a myth.
Sabin also shows he does not have a reporter’s nose for digging as he gave up his research after findinga 1980 article. Lirpa was first
mentioned in the April 1972 issue of Audio magazine and appeared yearly until the mid ’80s, when his presence in the declining magazine became more sporadic. You can find almost all of the appearances at american-radiohistory.com/audioMagazine.htm. Scott Soloway Evanston, IL For the record, my editorial in April (Track One, “A History of Lirpa Labs”) never claimed that 1980 was the first reference to Lirpa in Audio, only the earliest I had hands-on access to in our archive. That said, the point’s well taken—if I’d perhaps read a bit more deeply into that review I might have noticed that Professor Lirpa was indeed I. Lirpa and not a Loof. Although, Lirpa was known to be aloof, but not in that way. Scott’s excellent sleuthingout of that remarkable scanned Audio library residing at the link provided did offer some additional insight here, so we might give proper credit where it’s due. That 1972 Lirpa item, assuming it is indeed the first reference, was not a review but a technical notice about a new quadraphonic matrix speaker that would somehow allow you to skip all those extra amplifiers otherwise required for quad. It was not bylined, but the editor-in-chief at the time, and therefore the fellow who could presumably take credit for introducing Lirpa to the world of hi-fi, was George W. Tillett. Gene Pitts, who I mentioned as the longtime editor of Audio and the person running it in 1980, was an assistant editor in 1972. So we might rightly assume he carried on a tradition. I am deeply grateful to you for setting us straight, Scott— though I doubt as much as Mr. Alter, who is presumably running out of time faster than I am.—rs
A Trek a Minute
Proof that dreams can come true: You can’t go a day without a pop-culture reference to Star Trek. This television phenomenon has become an embedded part of our culture. After the original Star Trek television series went off the air in 1969, new films and new television series have kept the franchise alive for over 50 years. But there has always been something missing. To fill that gap, 11 new fan-produced episodes under the banner Star Trek Continues ( STC) successfully provide closure to the original Star Trek series, which was prematurely cancelled.
The love that is poured into the work by these fans (who are otherwise all acting and film production professionals) is obvious. The authentic re-creation of the style and look is more than nostalgic, it’s a museum-quality reproduction—but also alive. The artists who created STC have propelled the show a step further than the original 1960s Star Trek series by severe attention to continuity and being true to the future history timeline. The self-referential back-story woven into new plots is incredible.
Star Trek (the original television series) was a space opera filled with corny moments. STC has captured those moments (I say this lovingly). Star Trek often used allegory to make commentary on political and social issues of its day. STC has taken the same path, updating to contemporary issues and magically connecting the episode plots to the concerns in today’s headlines about racism, abuse, human trafficking, medical ethics, and political divisiveness.
STC two-part episodes 10 and 11 come full circle by brilliantly resolving plot issues left unattended since the unprecedented second pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Of course, those story possibilities left dangling for 50 years absolutely required a return visit to wrap up the series and set the stage for what came next in the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Sound & Vision readers will no doubt be interested in the fine production values of STC. The sets, costumes, lighting, art direction, sound—all these are reproduced as if the show was being filmed in 1969. Even the camera lens and 1960s broadcast television 4:3 aspect ratio are used.
I am not in any way affiliated with STC. I am only a fan (of the original Star Trek and STC). Warp speed. Peace, live long and prosper!
George J. Perkins Madison, WI
I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with what the team from Star Trek Continues has accomplished here, but until receiving George’s letter, I was not. Lucky me, as I only recently fully embraced Star Trek and its later spin-offs and am picking my way through them via streaming and late-night TV. (I’m finding myself partial to Voyager at the moment.) All 11 STC episodes, produced between 2013 and fall 2017, are available at Youtube, and ISO files can be downloaded to burn your own DVD and Blu-ray Discs (complete with box art) at
startrekcontinues.com. Episodes run between 40 minutes and an hour each, and it’s all free. Just a quick look at the STC preview trailer will convince you how faithful these producers and actors remained to the original characters and precepts, assisted by what George reports as a generous policy during the shooting period by Cbs/paramount about fan use of their intellectual property, one which apparently ended abruptly when other parties abused the privilege and forced STC to abandon production two episodes short of their goal. What got done before the clock ran out is absolutely great stuff.—rs
The Art of System Building
There’s no shortage of what to write about in your ever-changing industry; however, there is something I have not seen anywhere that I think could help a lot of people: a how-to guide for selecting A/V equipment combinations.
When I built my dream theater, I spent months reading equipment reviews before I started shopping.
While this was helpful, what I was really looking for was someone to tell me how to put it all together. For example, I went with a receiver, but should I have bought a pre/pro instead? Would an external DAC be beneficial for music listening? At what point should a power conditioner be considered?
I realize this is probably the job of a sales professional, but with so few brick and mortar stores, it’s getting harder and harder to find that trusted someone. What I think a lot of readers could benefit from would be a few budget examples, how you and your team would spend it, and why. So if you had $5,000 to spend and you needed everything (TV, receiver, speakers, wires, remote, accessories, etc.), what would you get? What if it was $2,000 or $10,000?
Michael Skrzat Via e-mail
Mike, system-building exercises like the one you describe have indeed appeared in the pages of Sound & Vision and its predecessor Stereo Review from time to time in the past. One reason we don’t do it more often is that, although our team could put together lists of what we think makes for good, better, best systems at various price points based on our experience with individual products, we rarely have all the equipment on hand simultaneously to truly test how a full system interacts.
What I can offer are some topline tips about what will most affect the sound of a system and where, therefore, to be careful with your money. Tip #1: It’s all about your speakers. By far, these transducers that turn electricity into sound waves have the most sway on the character of your system, and although better speakers all approach neutrality from a frequency measurement perspective, the nature of driver selection and crossover and cabinet design play a huge role in giving different speakers their own personality. There are fewer places these days to audition speakers in advance, but some careful reading of reviews that describe a speaker’s basic sonic nature and a money-back return policy from an online retailer (or two) can provide an alternative.
Tip #2: If you’re listening to a lot of digital content, and who isn’t these days, the D/A conversion at the front end can create really noticeable differences on decent speakers. It’s absolutely worth considering an outboard asynchronous USB DAC or an amp with one built in if you really care about music. And you’ll hear differences among highend DACS, too, albeit more subtle than with speakers.
Tip #3: Get some decent power behind you. It’s not about playing loud, it’s the dynamic headroom that a great amplifier delivers that can give a system authority and control over the speaker drivers.
There’s more to this, of course. But by paying attention to these basics, you’re bound to come away with an exhilarating audio system you love.—rs