Last year, Shinola released its first pair of bookshelf speakers, which were built completely in-house. For its follow-up, the company partnered with Barefoot Sound, an American manufacturer of studio monitors and loudspeakers, to create the second-generation Shinola Bookshelf Speakers, which are available later this week.
I’ve been testing the Bookshelf Speakers — which cost $1,500 and are available in black or a natural oak finish — for the past few weeks, and they are quite exceptional. They outpace my Sonos 5 with ease, thanks to exceptional bass and mids that don’t fray in the least if you want to crank the volume. (Your neighbors, however, may not enjoy it.) Sound reproduction on even the most lush production — like Teyana Taylor’s “Hurry,” a densely layered production by Kanye West, for example — is surprisingly great.
Shinola and Barefoot Sound have made a number of improvements to the speakers compared to the original version: increasing the woofer size from 5 inches to 6.5 inches, bumping per channel power output to 100 watts RMS per channel (300 watts total) up from 60 watts RMS, and adding Bluetooth, S/PDIF, and USB-C inputs alongside 3.5mm and RCA options that were available on the first-generation speakers.
Even over Bluetooth, there isn’t a massive drop in audio quality. (That’s an impressive feat, given the general state of Bluetooth speakers.) I tested the speakers using Tidal Masters, its high-fidelity audio offering that streams in a resolution of 24 bit/96 kHz, surpassing the 16-bit/44.1kHz (CD-quality) output of its standard HiFi offerings, and, in most cases, it sounds exquisite. There are places the speakers struggle: when it comes to ultra low bass lines, like those on Pusha T’s “Come Back Baby,” it can’t fully grasp them. But in my experience that was a rare occurrence.
Shinola and Barefoot Sound say they rebuilt the speakers from the ground up, and they should rival Barefoot Sound’s impressive lineup of studio-quality monitors. Barefoot Sound’s studio monitors start at just under $4,000 and feature midrange drivers and more than double the wattage, which these Bookshelf Speakers can’t really compete against. But as an option between a high-end professional setup and something better than what you can get from a smart speaker or a whole-home option like Sonos, the Shinola Bookshelf Speakers are a nice fit.
You can purchase the Shinola Bookshelf Speakers on Thursday, July 12th on Shinola’s website.
Update July 9th, 4:00PM ET: Shinola says the speakers will be available on Thursday, July 12th, not today. The story has been updated to reflect this.