Thomas Barefoot created a beautiful design for the bookshelf speakers with Bluetooth and USB ($1500 per pair), available in natural oak wood and black, clearly in line with Shinola's aesthetics and the company's range of turntables - the first audio product from Shinola. Thomas Barefoot is the owner and founder of Barefoot Sound, a company founded in 2006 and already well-established in the studio and musician's market. These new consumer-level speakers have clearly benefited from the company's know-how. The new Shinola Bookshelf Speakers are also assembled and tested at the Barefoot Sound facilities in Oregon.
According to Thomas Barefoot, the new bookshelf speakers were designed with the same philosophy of his company's studio monitors, which aims to provide a detailed and truthful listening experience, able to translate what artists do in the studio - imperfections and all. Barefoot Sound studio monitors are certainly getting extremely popular in recording studios, even though the company reveals very little about its designs and product specifications. In a way, Barefoot sells professional tools the way Shinola sells lifestyle products, maximizing the brand image and empathy with its target market. As Thomas Barefoot says about its collaboration with Shinola for the Bookshelf Speakers: "There was an immediate and natural affinity with Shinola. Shinola has a passion for what they do. They want do everything right."
"Shinola has this beautiful turntable, and the marriage between the turntable and the Bookshelf Speakers is sort of a no brainer," says Thomas. "It makes perfect sense. I felt like there was an opportunity to take it up to an entirely different level to make speakers that were extraordinary."
"I got into building studio monitors because I wanted to give recording artists a tool that would allow them to be more connected with their art, to get closer to the music, to kind of pull away whatever veils are between them and the sound that they're trying to create. I think bringing that to listeners of those creations is just the natural next step. It sort of brings it full circle," he says.
Highlights for the new Shinola Bookshelf Speakers are the choice of components, including a soft dome 1.5" tweeter with dual ring radiator and 6.5" high-excursion aluminum cone woofer, combined with the speakers' solid cabinet. "The reason you try to make the cabinet more solid is because you want all the sound coming from the moving parts," Thomas says. "You don't want the sound coming from the cabinet. You don't want the cabinet walls vibrating. That's just a kind of distortion."
Preliminary specifications for the Shinola Bookshelf Speakers - which are now on pre-order on the company's website - detail 300W peak power output (100W RMS per channel), 3.5mm Stereo Jack, RCA L/R, S/PDIF, USB Type-C and Bluetooth inputs, as well as S/PDIF output. The speakers are designed to work as a pair, with one of the cabinets featuring all connexions, source selector and Class D amplifiers, and the other (wired) cabinet working passively. No specifications are provided about the wireless connectivity, which indicates we might expect further surprises on that front given that new Bluetooth 5 components are now available and that would clearly provide important new functionalities for these nice-looking speakers.