Color me “intrigued”.
Shinola has been brand-building and brand-expanding for the last several years. You’ve probably heard of their watches, perhaps their bikes, and maybe even their leather goods. Their appeal is only in part due to their nifty hip product line, but perhaps even more so in the fact that everything they do is based in and out of Detroit. Hand made where possible, and locally assembled when not, the brand is bringing high-end product manufacture back to one of the original homes of American manufacturing. Given that the state of American manufacturing is what it is, this is remarkable on several levels. But the point — the brand is here, and is making a bold statement. Quality is homegrown.
You all probably don’t need an introduction to VPI, but in case you’re new to the idea of 21st century turntables, the Weisfeld clan out of Holmdel, New Jersey (VPI is based in nearby Cliffwood), have been making high-end turntables for the last 30+ years. If you’ve been to an audio show in the last couple of years, you’ve probably run into the Mat Weisfeld, the President and Head Honcho over at VPI. Mat took over business duties a little while back to let Harry (aka, Weisfeld Senior) to get back to what he loves — tinkering on new products. Again, if you’ve been to one of those audio shows and run into Mat and his new wife Jane, you probably also ran into one of Mat’s new babies — the Prime, the Avenger, or maybe even the Titan. Big tables. Bold tables. Part of a grander design?
Well, maybe so — because here we have a strategic collaboration. Shinola Audio is here.
I’m told that this audio collaboration is just the beginning for Shinola Audio, and that we should expect to see (and hear) new products from them in the coming months.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on the new Runwell Turntable.
As for me, I’m heading out to Detroit next week to get my eyes, ears, and teeth (what — how do you do it?) on the new offerings from Shinola during their press launch. If you must know, I got invited because I agreed to carry Michael Fremer’s crate of vinyl. “Portable” my ass. Anyway, I’m hoping to be back with some choice pictures, some tasty bits, and some cool swag. Ahem.
More soon. Details in the press release, after the images. And yes, that looks like a leather record mat.
DETROIT – Shinola is pleased to announce the launch of its first Audio product, the Runwell turntable, set to debut in select locations November 2016.
For the past year, the Shinola Audio team, led by Alex Rosson, has worked with partner VPI of Cliffwood, New Jersey, to create this first turntable and set up turntable assembly in Detroit. Rosson, Director of Shinola Audio, grew up in sound stages and recording studios in Los Angeles as a professional musician, engineer, and producer. He redefined the high-end headphone landscape when he founded Audeze, and brings a reputation for quality, authenticity and love of music to Shinola’s new Audio initiative.
“Watching this American team, their love of music and passion for quality, has been a wild and inspiring ride and we can’t wait to hear how our customers react,” said Tom Kartsotis of Shinola. “Our goal was to marry the Shinola visual ethos with an incredible sounding, state of the art analog product. It had to be substantive and beautiful, set the right tone for our foray into audio and show the special connection Detroit has to music. We think Rosson and VPI’s Harry and Mat Weisfeld might just have pulled it off.”
“We are approaching Shinola Audio products like we’ve approached every other product development strategy: with respect, quality and detail, an incredible team, and the right resources,” said Rosson. “Our first product is a turntable, and who better to help us develop a remarkable turntable than VPI?”
Just like timepieces, great turntables are high-precision instruments. Reproducing quality vinyl recordings requires detailed engineering, use of the best materials, precision machining and skillful assembly.
VPI founder Harry Weisfeld and son Mat partnered with Shinola on the design, specification and manufacturing techniques of The Runwell Turntable. Precision-machined aluminum components like the main-plate, platter and tone arm are being produced by MDI of Lakewood N.J, a key VPI manufacturing partner. American Board Assembly of LA is supplying the circuit boards.
“VPI Industries has been dedicated and takes pride in American craftsmanship in high-end audio and engineering,” said Mat Weisfeld. “The American worker is the life blood of every company, large or small. We are excited to team up with Shinola to continue this journey while creating more American jobs.”
The Runwell is a two-speed, belt driven turntable with an integrated phono preamplifier and will be equipped with an Ortofon 2M blue phono cartridge. The clean lines combine solid aluminum, steel and wood to generate a modern American aesthetic. It is designed inside and out for the discriminating audiophile yet easy to use out of the box by any music enthusiast.
Production of The Runwell Turntable will begin in the Fall of 2016 and will be available in Shinola stores, online, and select domestic hi-fi retailers. The initial 500-piece limited-edition Runwell Turntable will be priced at $2500 and can be paired with a limited run of active bookshelf speakers.
The turntables will be assembled behind glass and in full view of the public, with the same intergrity and pride as all Shinola products, at our flagship store in Detroit.