Shinola launches high-end headphones -- we go ears-on

Not to be confused with the shoe polish, this Detroit manufacturer is following up its exquisitely designed turntables and watches with a set of premium headphones. But how do they sound?

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read

The Shinola Canfield On-Ears start at $495

Sarah Tew/CNET

Shinola, maker of luxury watches and high-end turntables, is branching out into headphones with a line of four new models. They're going straight for the high end -- think Bowers and Wilkins or Bang and Olufsen.

The headphones include two pairs of in-ears models, a pair of on-ears and a pair of over-ears, all called "Canfield" for some reason. 

The range starts with the $195 Canfield In-Ear Monitors, which feature a dynamic driver, and is followed by the Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitors ($495), which include a more sophisticated Quad Balanced Armature Receiver.

The Canfield On-Ear starts at $495 for the burnished metal version (and piano black for $550). It's a closed-back headphone and includes a 40mm Shinola Dynamic Transducer, and it's the model I got a chance to test.

The Canfield Over-Ear Headphones in black and cognac retail for $595 and the Canfield On-Ear Headphones in black PVD retail for $650. They feature a larger 50mm Shinola Dynamic Transducer and fit around the ear for a potentially more comfortable fit.

Shinola partnered with Campfire Audio from Portland, Oregon for the in-ear models, while the on- and over-ear models were developed in house.


The Shinola Over-Ears come in a piano black finish


How do they sound?

I had an ears-on with the $495 Shinola On-Ears. In person they look as premium as you'd expect, and build quality is generally good. Like the less-expensive B&W P5, the Shinolas feature magnetic earcups, but I found that the Shinola's came off too easily -- such as when adjusting the headband. That's my only complaint, however.

I didn't have a set of P5's on-hand to directly compare, but based on my recollection, B&W and Shinola headphones sound quite different. The P5s are generally warm while the Shinola featured more of a "smile" curve to its sound signature -- something more readily associated with Beats headphones. The bass was a little too prominent -- "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, for example, was bassier than I'd ever heard before.

Competition is tight and by charging at least $200 more than its B&W competitor, the Canfield On-Ears may struggle. The in-ears look quite promising, however, and we look forward to hearing them as well. 

The On-Ears and Over-Ears will be available from Shinola stores, online, and at select domestic retailers from November 2017. Availability for the in-ears is yet to be determined.

Correction, November 15 at 10:09 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the headphones are manufactured in the United States but they are only assembled there.