It turned out the J. Sebastian Baroque is the only one of Lirpa Labs’ new headphones with an actual signed celebrity endorsement. Getting the deal, though, proved especially difficult for Dr. Lirpa. After hours and hours of research, he located a descendent of Johann who lives right in L.A. Billy Bach was more than willing to sign over his family name and, according to Dr. Lirpa, generously offered to sell the movie rights for another $50.
As with all open-backed headphones, those standing near you can hear sound leaking from the Baroque’s drivers. Using advanced acoustical processing, the Baroque morphs the drivers’ back waves into classical music, no matter what music you’re actually playing. So while you’re listening to Ke$ha, everyone around you will think you’re listening to the Brandenburg Concertos. The default setting plays a selection of Bach pieces recorded by the Chatsworth Philharmonic Orchestra & Wedding Band. A GeoCities Web site informed us that the CPO is available for parties and the occasional bris.
A special Fugue U mode plays Toccata and Fugue in D minor on loop (not advisable on airplanes). Other settings include Ode to Symphony No. 9, where they’ll hear a simulacrum of Beethoven, and Baroquen Glass, where they’ll hear adaptations of Philip Glass (really not advisable on airplanes).
Despite all the advanced electronics, the drivers themselves are rather traditional. Very traditional, actually, as they are made of wood. Sections of old-growth beech are thinly sliced and carefully embedded with brass lace. Aluminum magnets move leather plectrums that “pluck” the drivers into vibration. Frequency response is a claimed 65.41 to 1,174.66 Hz.
I found the historically accurate headband overly scratchy; oddly, the other panelists didn’t. Brent found the sound to be rather “reedy,” while Lauren felt it was a little too “Germanic.”
A Copland edition is planned, for those who prefer to embrace Lirpa’s distinctive American roots. The Copland will feature a more streamlined design, a selectable “Mitchum/Elliot” mode, and a subtle bovinae fragrance.
Lirpa Labs J. Sebastian Baroque headphones $1,685–$1,750
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