By Gregory Daurer | Jan 16, 2023
Presently, Heinsenfolg speakers aren't available at any audio stores catering to stereo buffs. But you will find them at a couple of home furnishing outlets, as well as an art gallery -- The Fig and Ivy in Longmont, Element Home in Cherry Creek in Denver, and the Zandee Gallery in Steamboat Springs.
"I call them objets d'art -- art objects," says Heins of his wireless speakers. They're aesthetically arresting designs, showcasing handsome natural woods. "We have about 12 different collections -- and within those collections, there's several different models."
For instance, there's the Flatiron series, which drew inspiration for its triangular-shape from the Flatiron Building in the Big Apple. The Amsterdam's outlines mimic buildings situated along canals in that Dutch city. The horizontal Mid-Century gives a 21st century update to a 20th century look. And there's the Teak Teak: box speakers made with sustainably sourced teak wood that spotlights the wood's natural grain.
But even though Heins places a premium on design elements, he incorporates longstanding audio know-how into his creations. "I've actually been designing audio speakers and electronics for about 20 years or so," says Heins. Calling himself a lifelong "audiophile," Heins grew up just outside of Woodstock, New York, attending multi-generational parties at which kids, parents, and grandparents would play a multicultural variety of sounds on high-quality stereo systems.
Then, during the early 2000s, Heins worked for the now-defunct Innersound Audio Components in Boulder. The company built very large speakers, standing over six feet, that "sounded amazing." Heins says, "We eventually won Best Speaker of the Year from Architectural Digest for that original speaker design." A pair of the speakers cost around $24,000.
But Heins observes how large speakers gradually fell out of favor with the buying public. There had also been the move to portable, personal audio, begun with the Sony Walkman, leading all the way up to the present-day popularity of expensive headphones, purchased in order to accompany various music players.
Home speakers have decreased in size, but they've often decreased in quality, as well. "It is really difficult to make a truly full-sounding speaker from a tiny thing that is about the size of a coffee can," says Heins. Heins generally manufactures speakers under two feet in width or height. And they range from around $3,500 to "upwards of $16,000" for a single one.
Heins sees a market for home audio speakers that liven up a living room, both with sound and with the way they look. "This is something you don't want to hide," says Heins of his speakers. "It's really an art piece, and it should be out there right in your entertaining space where everyone can see and kind of appreciate the beautiful handcrafted woods that we're using."
Heins brainstorms his speaker ideas, often using 3D computer modeling during the process. The woodwork is done by Heins' partner in the business, Sage Eckman of World Tree Woodshop in Longmont, Colorado, who Heins calls "an expert at his craft." Heins then adds the electronics. "The way we do everything is really hands-on," says Heins, including choosing the wood from companies they deal with in Denver. "We will specifically pick out individual boards for the different parts of the speaker."
It's not a high-volume business. "We sell about a dozen to 15 a year," says Heins, whose online resume also notes his separate work as a creative director and designer. He's also at work on a line of audio furniture.
Heinsenfolg speakers incorporate Bluetooth technology, and they can be used with a variety of devices. Heins jokes how they're "intentionally dumb," in the sense that they're not "smart speakers" containing technology inside which might become obsolete in the near future. Heins says, "We've made these wireless amplified speakers so simple, that my main parts [inside them are] their amplifiers and speaker drivers."
Like the massive wooden furniture audio consoles that used to adorn home spaces in the '60s and '70s, Heins sees his thoroughly-modern, "heirloom quality" audio-furnishings as being just as durable and sharp-looking -- if extremely reduced in size. "The company really is about quality, it's about making something that can truly last 20, 30, 40 years and then be handed down to your children," Heins says.
Challenges: The challenge is "scalability," says Heins -- increasing production, while still maintaining a high-quality. "I really don't want to grow super fast, super quick."
Opportunities: "I think the pendulum swing is going to come back to really good quality speakers in your home," says Heins. Sustainable products, at that: products that will last for years, instead of becoming obsolete and needing to be thrown away like the latest budget iterations of home speakers.
Needs: "People getting to know us over time," says Heins. "That'll kind of be a big part of growth for us."