Review: Lirpa Labs Ts1-Lirpa iPad app
There is no audio company in the world more revered, feared, disputed, or discussed than Lirpa Labs. Its speakers and headphones are unmatched in their respective categories, not least for their blistering performance, but also as a well-known conflagrant.
The indefatigable Dr. Lirpa has found a new niche for his company to cater to: tablet-loving audio- and videophiles.
“Tablet computer pads are nothing more than inventions of the liberal propagandists called ‘science fiction writers,’” Lirpa told me in a pre-launch interview for his company’s latest offering. “It’s clear that with the continued success of tubes and vinyl, smart people these days have no interest in the new. It’s my job as a leader in the audio community to rescue these digitally sullied minds from their iPads.”
To that end, the great minds at Lirpa Labs have come up with an app that gives users a delicious, nostalgic taste of the old on this terrifying new tablet technology.
The app itself, a reasonable 17.76-MB download, has multiple features aimed at specific areas to improve the iPad’s audio and video performance. Here are the highlights.
Vinyl Analog Mode
Lirpa’s genius really shines in the “Vinyl Analog Mode.” Selectable amounts of crackles and pops are only the start. Through a series of exacting mini-games, the VAM sets up and aligns the internal hard drive, digital-to-analog converters, and analog amp outputs of your iPad. This is no joke; it really had a huge difference. Skilled audiophiles should be able to complete the mini-games in approximately an hour, though beginners may need additional time. I was unprepared for the additional warmth and vibrancy released by the VAM. It was like the artist was performing in the room with me. Those interested in tweaking even further can acquire additional calibration tools, sold separately, such as the iLirpa iProtractor app ($299) and the Lirpagometer iPad azimuth measurer dongle ($499).
Days of Dolby
The audio cassette was beloved for decades. I know I miss it. I think it’s a fair argument that if the pops and crackles of vinyl evoke wistful memories, why not tape hiss? The “Days of Dolby” Tape Hiss Inserter adds a selectable amount of tape hiss to any music selection (even Pandora!). Dolby B and C noise reduction are also available, to reduce the amount of tape hiss inserted by the app to a more acceptable level. I found that the “Days of Dolby” feature improved the sound of everything. In the settings you can even vary the amount of “tape wear,” acting as a sort of low-pass filter. A “Special 8” mode inserts a loud “ka-chunk” noise in the middle of any tune lasting longer than 6 minutes.
There are two main aspects to the VCR-inspired “12?” feature. The first causes the iPad’s clock to flash 12:00 continuously, regardless of the actual time. A helpful secondary feature maintains and monitors available hard-drive space by randomly deleting episodes from any TV show you’ve purchased but haven’t watched.
Be Kind, Rewind
The “Be Kind, Rewind” feature is linked to the “12?” feature. In fact, if you use one, the other initiates automatically. The “Be Kind, Rewind” Video Rewinder feature requires that, after you finish watching a movie or TV show, you exit that program, launch the Lirpa app, and select the Video Rewinder. Three speeds are available, from 1x to 10x. Select your desired speed, and the VR will automatically return the video to the beginning. No other app is available while the VR is active. In my testing I found a worrying bug: There seemed to be a slight chance that rewinding would permanently corrupt the video data.
After 30 minutes of watching any video, the “Analog Laser” CAV feature requires you to walk five paces (registered by the iPad’s GPS) and then flip the iPad over (registered by the iPad’s gyrosensor) before the video will resume. If you return the iPad to its original orientation, the video starts over. To simplify setup, it seems that this feature is active from the moment you install the app and cannot be disabled.
For $99.95, the Ts1-Lirpa from Lirpa Labs is a bargain, with dozens of ingenious features. My only complaint is that all the features are active from the moment you download the app, and that the app itself permanently installs on the iPad. But why would you want to ever delete such brilliance?