Our founder, Leon Shaw, has always loved testing products. It’s one of the main reason he started Audio Advice back in 1978. After 40 years, it’s simply a part of our DNA. Our inboxes are constantly filled with messages from manufacturers, asking us to give our thoughts and feedback or to carry their products.

The 3 Pillars

While we carry a wide range of products in a variety of categories, they all have one thing in common. All of them have been thoroughly tested and shown to meet or exceed our standards in 3 key areas:

  1. Performance
  2. Quality
  3. Brand Integrity

If we do not carry a product in our stores or on our website, there is a reason why. We’d like to walk you through what each of these three pillars mean, and how we evaluate our products. Hopefully it will help you get a better understanding of our curation process and will empower you to look at other products you find with a more educated and critical eye.

For the purposes of this blog, we will use audio products as an example, but the same pillars apply for home theater products and smart home products as well.

Performance

Above all else, everything that we carry at Audio Advice has to perform among the best products in their product and price category.

Great audio gear should sound great and immerse you in the music. For us, it’s all about coming as close to the original recording as possible, allowing the listener to experience the music the way the artist intended. It’s a feeling as much as anything else, and after four decades of listening, we know that feeling when it hits. The brands we carry understand this feeling and share this philosophy — you must really love the music when you are listening.

We should also be able to listen for hours without fatigue. While many audio products grab your attention with their sound, over time they can become tiring, sometimes even causing headaches. Distortion or problems with exaggerated frequencies in some part of the range can wear on you over extended listening sessions.

Technology is another important component of performance. While our industry is flooded with manufacturers who invest heavily in marketing and celebrity endorsements, we prefer to partner with brands that invest in research in development.

The products we carry have the latest technologies available, but In many cases, they’re blazing trails — innovating and helping to move the entire audio world forward.

Ease-of-use or usability is also extremely important. If something is more complicated than it needs to be, we will not carry it. While some of our more advanced products can be more complex than others, they’re easier to use than other products in their category. We also offer a variety of how-to articles, setup guides, and videos at AudioAdvice.com that help to keep things simple.

Quality

A product can sound great without truly BEING great. This is where quality comes in. For us, quality boils down to a few key things:

  • Build Quality & Craftsmanship
  • Design
  • Value

Let’s start with build quality. At Audio Advice, we’re tinkerers. We like to take components apart and look at quality of the parts and the way the products are put together.  

Sometimes it’s obvious it is very well made, but other times it is hard to tell if it really is made to last.  If this is the case, we will rely on historical data.  In other words have products from this brand been reliable or not? At Audio Advice we are fanatical about tracking defective rates on the products we choose to carry.  We are constantly analyzing our sales and service data to make sure that our products consistently meet our expectations.

This means we are not always the first to jump on board with a new brand that has just come on the market.  We can look at the company background, and if it’s run by a group of veterans, we will consider it, but many times we will tell a brand to come back to us in a year if they are still in business.

While the goal of audio equipment is to sound good, it also needs to look good! Whether you’re wearing it on your head like a pair of headphones, or it’s sitting in a cabinet in your living room, looks matter. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we go out of our way to find products that you would be proud to put on display.

What all of this really boils down to is value. When you find a product at Audio Advice, you can rest assured that you will not find better products in the same category and price range. While our performance standards do set a higher entry-point than some retailers that carry huge selections of products, this does not mean that our products are all expensive. Everything is relative. If we find a $200 speaker that sounds better than any other $200 speaker we’ve heard, it passes this first test.

Brand Integrity

We consider this last piece to be our secret sauce. We develop close partnerships with all of our brands. When we sell your products, you’re part of the Audio Advice family. With thousands of audio brands to choose from, we can be picky. We feel that the best products are made by the best people, and these are the brands we choose to work with.

Like us, some of our best partners have decades of experience and are the top brands in the industry. While we work with many of these manufacturers, we also take pride in finding the diamond in the rough. Before we decide to carry a new brand, we like to meet with the manufacturer and make sure that our values are aligned and that they stand by their products with fair warranties and customer service policies.

We are not afraid to end relationships with brands, even if we are selling tons of their products. If their integrity starts to slip, we have a big problem with that and have stopped selling brands in the past where we were one of their top dealers.  Our reputation, our integrity, and your trust in us is just that important to our team.

Shop with Confidence

By curating our entire product selection, we can ensure that our customers have access to only the best audio, home theater, and smart home products available. We hope that this makes your experience simpler and allows you to shop with confidence.