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November 17, 2016
November 17, 2016
Alex Rosson’s life has been guided by music. At age 11, he distinctly remembers being in the school auditorium and hearing the beat of the snare drum for the first time. The sound reverberated in his ears, a feeling he would never forget. From this point forward, he made a commitment to improving how people listen to and create music. Earlier this year we launched the Shinola Audio division, and there was no one better to lead the team than Alex to bring high quality music-listening to everyone.
Alex, a lifelong Californian, had never been to Detroit prior to 2014. That winter, Tom Kartsotis, Shinola’s founder, invited him to the city to discuss our new idea: designing turntables and assembling them in the Motor City. Alex, the founder and former CEO of high-end headphone producer Audeze, was game.
With his broad industry expertise and vast network, acquired from a successful career as a recording, mastering, video and systems engineer, producer, musician, and indie label owner, the opportunity to head up Shinola’s audio division and Runwell Turntable production felt like a dream come true to Alex.
“It's very intriguing to me to be able to assemble a turntable in the city that invented Motown. That's pretty special," he says. "Detroit is like a vortex for the soul — a melting pot and meeting place for the creation of iconic products and music,” he says.
The Runwell Turntable is designed and built in the United States using U.S. and imported parts.
For over a decade, Alex was heavily involved with the advancement of digital cinema. Coming from a long line of cinematographers (his grandfather shot The Wizard of Oz), he worked as a mastering engineer at Technicolor on over 16,000 major motion films.
His knack for delving into difficult product development gave him the confidence to take on Shinola's Audio division, he says. There was one other thing; he had a strong opinion on the revival of vinyl. Listening to vinyl, Alex says, is a form of art. "There’s a deeper emotional impact and therapeutic nature of analog music. Vinyl is important because it is an analog waveform and has a characteristic that is really soothing and appealing," he says.
“I think people have not given up on vinyl because you're seeing this era of listeners who missed out on turntables and vinyl the first time around," Alex says. "They're being drawn to this classic way of listening.”
Alex Rosson (above) + the Shinola Audio Research and Development Team
Alex, a former DJ and musician, is no listening snob, and listens to all types of music on all types of devices. When he set out with the team to create the first Shinola Audio product, they went with a classic belt-turntable, made with sound-preserving aluminum and an oak base.
"We're paying respect to the history of how we first started listen to music, and a belt-driven turntable has a certain sound that's very smooth," Alex says.
There are still more types of turntables to make, ones that cater to DJs, ones that cater to artists, and Alex says Shinola Audio plans on making more than a few kinds.
“There is no best. There's no, ‘This is the ultimate,’ it's all how you perceive the sound, and that's the tricky part,” Alex says.
Shinola's Detroit Audio Team
Alex and Shinola partnered with American turntable manufacturer, VPI, to bring the belt-driven Runwell Turntable to life. The classic system and powerful sound are the result of over a year of testing, crafting, and sourcing all the right materials.
The Runwell Turntable is Shinola’s first audio product, but Alex emphasizes that it won’t be the last.
A passion for music is what brought Shinola Audio to life, and what will continue to drive innovation. "At the end of the day, I'm a drum and bass head," says Alex. "That's what I love, that's what got me here," he says.
"Everything in life is vibration. We're all sound, we're all a vibration," Alex says. "Turntables are machines that read vibrations, and this Shinola turntable is a work of art that's easy to use for every listener out there. All it calls for is a good record."