I. Lirpa

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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

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