About The Audio Files

About The Audio Files
Editorial at The Audio Files and The Headphone Show

Our goal is to provide a comprehensive, unique source of expert, unbiased insights, reviews, guides, education, and original research, all focused on the best audio gear anywhere and everywhere.

Our Articles and Videos

We create content to help move the audio hobby forward: to make it more fun, accessible and intellectually stimulating. We love the experiences we get to have with headphones and audio equipment and we want to share that with the world with the hope that it helps others have similarly great experiences as well. This industry can at times be needlessly opaque and inaccessible and our mission is to make it a better place for people.

The Audio Files (including The Headphone Show on YouTube) was created with this ambition in mind. It is made up of a comprehensive testing and research team that is also a group of passionate creators who evaluate headphones, IEMs, amps, DACs, speakers and all manner of audio equipment.. In addition to our evaluations, we’re deeply involved in discussions around audio science and research, theories of auditory perception, connections between science and art, and making these topics more accessible.

Our reviews and forums are run by a small team of audio enthusiasts dedicated to finding the very best products, giving clear and objective insight into them, and contributing to a vibrant and growing community of people who love great sound.

Our goal is to provide tangible information that’s often missing from the usual marketing material that’s meant to generate sales and give people an idea of how a product actually performs, what it might be good for, and importantly what it might not be so good for - whether for those interested in potentially buying it or those just curious and want to learn.

Our Policy, Our Promise

Do our reviewers get paid to sell products? Definitely not. The Audio Files team is an editorial media platform that’s kept separate from the headphones.com store operations. There is no quid pro quo for positive reviews to promote sales, and no behind the scenes deals with brands or suppliers. When we do interact with brands, it’s for the sole purpose of editorial-related projects, such as interviews, factory tours, or product demonstrations.

A longstanding position from the Headphones.com founders is that ‘paid-for’ reviews intended to spin positive sentiment around products for the purpose of increasing sales aren’t reviews at all, and this is why we’ve drawn a hard line between the editorial and the storefront.

Reviewers are (gratefully) uninvolved with the day-to-day running of the Headphones.com shop beyond providing test results as part of the normal review process. The people running the store have zero influence on how reviews turn out, and our creators get to say exactly what they feel about a given product. This means you’ll regularly come across critical reviews from our team on products carried by the store and positive reviews of products not carried by the store.

We also recognize that not everyone will take us at our word right away, since what we’re doing is very different from what anyone doing research on a product might be used to seeing from any website that has an online store - regardless of the industry. So how do you know we’re following through with our commitment to unbiased, unaltered reviews? Apart from what you’ll see when checking out our coverage, we’ve also given up significant store revenue for the sake of our editorial integrity.

While we’ve seen support for what we’re doing in the audio community, there are many (profitable) products that Headphones.com no longer carries because of disagreements over the publications of a given reviewer or reviewers. Some brands embrace our approach, welcoming critical evaluations of their products as constructive feedback when this occurs, and some prefer more control over the narrative of their products. All of this is perfectly understandable, we respect everyone’s decisions, but know how we want to operate.

Our Audio Shop: Headphones.com

All this work takes time and money, supported by Headphones.com, a unique audio specialty shop.

Over the years, our dream has always been to build an online store that offers comprehensive knowledge, fun insights, and personal recommendations from passionate and enthusiastic experts. We want to be a store that offers more useful information, entertainment, and peace of mind than anywhere else on the internet.

The audiophile market will keep growing if the experiences it offers - sensory enjoyment, technological insight, engaging science, and shared experiences are more easily accessed and understood - not just by dumbing things down! The most committed hobbies and communities embrace complexity and deep understanding as much as they make it fun for newcomers.

We are not a huge corporation. We’re a store designed for audiophiles, by audiophiles, with every product we carry being chosen because we think it’ll bring a deep level of enjoyment to someone. Our rather extreme return policy, and commitment to objective reviews, and awesome customer support team show that we’re in it for the long-term, and what matters most is that our customers end up with the best experiences, whether it’s shopping with us or engaging with our editorial for further research.. We encourage you to shop from wherever is most convenient for you, our job is to do the best we can at being that. You are of course free to shop anywhere you like.

Funded by the shop

Having a shop attached to our editorial (and vice versa) allows us to fund objective reviewers, more reviews, time and equipment, and more features and content in the future. It would be naive to think everyone will understand (without question) how we can maintain our editorial independence and shop integrity as we work together.

Reviewers, media personalities and content creators in general need to find ways to support themselves. Typically this takes the form of monetizing their material in some fashion, most commonly through sponsorships and affiliate links. Many who would want to do this - often people with important things to say in the audio space - never even consider doing so, because it’s both extremely time consuming and expensive to get into properly.

We feel that our model of having the Audio Files and the Headphone Show funded by the shop is a way for reviewers to get their voice heard, get gear in to review, acquire measurement and production equipment, and all the rest that goes along with it (like a stable income), without needing to worry about sponsorships, affiliate links, or any other monetization strategy. Honest, truthful editorial content is central to our model, and because of this, reviewers have every reason to express how they truly feel about a given product, and not gloss over the negatives. This is because their income isn’t attached to the sentiment of a review, like it often is with more traditional setups.

Since the beginning of the shop, we’ve worked hard to earn a reputation for unbiased, objective assessment of audio equipment, and we will do everything we can to maintain that. We no longer carry some products because of critical reviews, but we’ve also built wonderful, long-term relationships with other suppliers based on similarly-critical reviews. We won’t always have the answers–we’re following our instincts and trying to make the best decisions we can, and if you want to tell us what you think or what we can do better, we invite you to our Headphone Forum and Discord channel!

The existence of our Headphones.com store does not in any way affect our principles that guide reviews, research, articles, or videos. The shop staff and management are different from the Audio Files, which focuses on product assessment and development. Everyone in the company, from content, to customer support, to partnerships and design & development, is committed to the same goals of making the audio industry a better place to be. Our credibility is not for sale, and we are only a part of the community as much as everyone else.


Why do you publish content?

Firstly, because we really want to build an amazing specialty headphone store for the audio enthusiast. We are full of ideas (and will welcome your input), and the Headphones.com team is excited about making those ideas come to life on the site. But this is also an important initiative for The Audio Files, because it allows us to fund more Headphone reviews, more reviewers, and an even better and more comprehensive Audio Files in the future, without turning to advertorials or intrusive ‘roadblock’ ads that we hate as much as you do.

We want to be one of the world’s leading destinations and most trusted platforms for discovering, comparing, and purchasing premium headphones online. Our goal is to cut through (or properly explore) jargon and FUD to offer a clear, accessible, and responsible shopping guide for music enthusiasts, audiophiles and hobbyists looking for the best possible pair of headphones to suit their lifestyle, budget, and passion for great sound.

Sometimes we’ll review the same product multiple times, with multiple voices, seeking to offer a real 360° view of the audio products that really matter. The reality is that what works for one person may not work for another, and so it’s important to provide a variety of perspectives on given topics or products.

Why would I buy from Headphones.com?

We hope the features and deals on the store will give you good enough reason. We’re working hard to give Headphones.com customers real value (check out our loyalty program), but buying from Headphones.com also directly helps Audio Files continue to expand its editorial team and build cool new features. There are several other reasons to buy from Headphones.com:

  • Exceptional Customer Service Our team of agents consist of those who are always available to help support as well as product knowledge experts. Our aim is to provide service so good that you can't help but tell people about it.
  • 365-Day Returns Read more on our 365-day return policy. You can also check out this article CNET wrote about our return policy.
  • Giving Back World Wide Hearing is a fantastic organization that screens for hearing loss and provides hearing aids to children around the world. A portion of every Headphones.com sale goes toward helping a child hear.

You are, of course, perfectly free to buy your Headphone anywhere, and you can still use our content and tools even if you don’t intend to buy from us.

Where do you operate?

While we’re part of the global audio industry, we only sell to customers in the US and Canada. We still appreciate our thousands of subscribers all over the world and we welcome feedback from you wherever you are. We will use it to help us evolve and expand in the future.

Why is XYZ brand / product not listed?

We have an intentionally narrow selection of products – those we have tested, those we use and love and those we know to be essential. If we can’t offer you the best price (some companies just seem to like dealing with Amazon), we won’t carry it. Still, we’re gradually expanding our selection based on our own evaluations and what our customers tell us.

Beyond this, there are several reasons that individual products or entire brands might be missing from the site. If we cannot get stock, get bad feedback or discover a flaw we may de-list an item. Certain brands may just be absent from our inventory because we’re still in talks with those companies. If you’d like to stay up to date on our new product additions, we recommend that you subscribe to our email newsletter.

Where can I talk about The Audio Files?

We have the Headphones.com forum and Discord channel, which are actively monitored by the entire Headphones.com team. Feel free to have your say!

Support more content like this by shopping on Headphones.com

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