The question is simple: how do professional audio reviewers put food on the table and why should I trust them? I am just another audio enthusiast, mostly a consumer of information on this forum, but I've also tried to contribute when I had the opportunity. Writing even a single post's worth of thoughtful impressions and adding some pictures takes considerable amount of time. Between family, work and actually enjoying the hobby, there isn't much time left for such contributions. Enter the "professional audio reviewer." These are the people who might have "contributor" rank on Head-Fi, or a blog or a website and produce reviews for seemingly every new major product release. Based on what I just wrote above, I cannot imagine these people have time for a regular job on top of all the review work they do. So how do they generate income? Simple answer would be: they get paid by the manufacturers, either directly or indirectly. But most claim that they are not in any way affiliated with the companies whose products they review. Even if it's not a question of money, there is access. They get access to all the new gear (for review purposes) before anyone else, and while it's not as fun to listen to something in an analytical way as it is to do it for your personal enjoyment, it's still crucial to their relevance so they are incentivised to stay on the manufacturer's good side. Something's got to give... Or maybe I'm missing something basic, like they get donations from users (paypal, patreon, etc.) or they generate income from advertisement on their websites/blogs. I keep trying to find an explanation that makes them out to be truly objective, unbiased, selfless information providers, but I can't seem to make it work. Reading their reviews doesn't help either. Every negative seems to get a positive spin and nothing ever ends up as really "not recommended" or "a bad product." Any thoughts?