Does Verum Audio Deserve the Boycott? Here’s What Really Happened

Verum Audio is one of the most controversial headphone brands ever.
Verum Audio is one of the most controversial headphone brands ever.

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A tale of great headphones ruined by a bad attitude.

Few stories in the headphones world have grabbed and shocked the community quite like that of Verum Audio.

Verum Audio started as a promising newcomer, offering a mix of low prices and good value. But, it quickly became the center of a cautionary tale that has continued to flood online forums for years.

If you’re new to the hobby or haven’t been paying attention, here’s a quick recap of what really happened.

The Promise: Affordable High-Quality Planar Headphones

When Igor Krasnov, a Ukrainian audio enthusiast, launched Verum Audio in 2018, he seemed to have cracked the code that many thought impossible.

The Verum 1, priced at just $349, promised to deliver the benefits of planar magnetic technology at a much lower cost than established brands. This became a very tempting buy for budget-conscious audiophiles everywhere. And, early reviews claimed that these promises were pretty much true overall.

According to them, the headphones weren’t just cheap; they were good. Really good.

A close look at the Verum 1 headphones. (From: Verum Audio)
A close look at the Verum 1 headphones. (From: Verum Audio)

Listeners raved about the Verum 1’s well-rounded performance. They offered a wide soundstage, treble that didn’t tire the ears, and bass that satisfied without being too much.

And, in a market where competitors often focused on one thing – like the Monoprice M1060C with their deep bass or the HIFIMAN Sundara with their lightning-fast transients – the Verum 1 were the jack-of-all-trades that mastered them all.

Even the design had its charm. The Verum 1 featured magnetic ear pads for easy replacement and forward-angled connectors, which were novel back in the day.

Sure, some reviewers noted that the build quality felt a bit… homemade. But Igor spun this as a feature, not a bug. According to him, these are proof that these weren’t mass-produced cookie-cutter cans; they were “artisanal”.

The Controversies: A Perfect Storm

If only the story ended there. But as we’ve seen many times in the tech world, a great product isn’t enough if the company behind it stumbles. And stumble Verum Audio did, in a very public way.

Offensive comments and social media behavior

One of Igor’s racist comments during the Black Lives Matter protests. (From: YouTube/No Theme Reviews)
One of Igor’s racist comments during the Black Lives Matter protests. (From: YouTube/No Theme Reviews)

The audiophile community is close-knit, passionate, and, thanks to the internet, always watching. So when someone posted about talking directly with Igor for customer support in June 2019, it started a fire that many others fed.

Here, you can see that, when a customer asked to cancel their order, Igor replied with, “I hope you’ll die from cancer soon.” And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he said the same about the customer’s whole family.

After this, Igor’s posts under his Discord username ‘Garuspik‘ also came to light.

These showed him making inflammatory comments during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Many screenshots showed Igor using racial slurs and making derogatory statements about minorities.

Other controversial comments revealed. (From: Discord)
Other controversial comments revealed. (From: Discord)

As expected, the comments quickly spread through the audiophile community, causing outrage and criticism.

And it wasn’t just a one-time heated moment. Igor’s online history showed a pattern of behavior that went back months, if not years.

Igor’s greatest hits included saying Black people couldn’t compete in math Olympics and calling rap music “monkey shouts.”

Quality control issues

While Igor was busy creating a PR nightmare, Verum Audio’s products weren’t doing much better.

As mentioned before, Verum 1 were previously praised for their sound quality. But, people started reporting quality control issues, mainly about channel imbalance.

Joshua Valour, taking about his experience with Verum 1 and Verum Audio in general. (From: YouTube/Joshua Valour)
Joshua Valour, taking about his experience with Verum 1 and Verum Audio in general. (From: YouTube/Joshua Valour)

Now, a bit of variance between left and right channels isn’t uncommon in headphones. But when popular YouTuber Joshua Valour reports one channel playing at 5% volume, this raised concerns about how consistent and reliable Verum Audio’s manufacturing was.

Making things worse, customers reported that Verum Audio’s warranty and return policy was very strict.

The company charged a $50 restocking fee plus shipping for returns, which many thought was too much, especially given the quality control issues. And, according to Valour, the warranty claim is also highly dependent on how Igor will handle it, not on the claim itself.

“Verum’s warranty and return policy is the most draconian, anti-consumer, and underhanded I’ve ever seen from any manufacturer.” says Joshua Valour.

“Igor could easily refuse warranty because there is no way to hold him accountable. If you say your headphones arrive damaged, he will say they were shipped in perfect condition. And guess what? That’s what he said in the most recent rant comment, despite the original owner of this headphone stating that he got the headphones damaged.”

Problems with handling criticism

Igor's interaction with a customer giving feedback on Verum Audio's service. (From: superbestaudiofriends)
Igor’s interaction with a customer giving feedback on Verum Audio’s service. (From: superbestaudiofriends)

The company’s way of dealing with customer complaints made the situation even worse. Verum Audio’s approach to customer service seemed to be “the customer is always wrong, and also possibly our worst enemy.”

Responses to questions, when they came at all, ranged from dismissive to outright hostile.

Remember that customer who dared to cancel an order? Not only did they receive a death wish, but they were also told it was “too late” to cancel even though the headphones hadn’t been shipped yet.

But this hostile approach wasn’t just for consumers. Reviewers were also treated the same way.

For instance, No Theme Reviews had a polite initial email exchange with Igor after a negative review of the Verum 1.

However, things quickly got worse.

Igor accused the reviewer of bias in the comments section of the review video, suggesting that the negative review was because they didn’t get a free unit.

One of Igor’s comments in response to No Theme Reviews’ video about the Verum 1. (From: YouTube/No Theme Reviews)
One of Igor’s comments in response to No Theme Reviews’ video about the Verum 1. (From: YouTube/No Theme Reviews)

The conflict escalated with Igor making excuses for the headphones’ performance and leaving hostile comments, even after the reviewer offered him a chance to publicly clarify his product’s specifications.

Despite eventually apologizing, the reviewer decided to disengage from further interactions with Igor due to his previous hostile behavior.

There were also rumors that Igor had threatened a YouTuber named MAX SETTINGS after a negative review, though Igor said this wasn’t true.

Part of the discussions Max Settings shared about Igor allegedly joking about grave threats due to a negative review. (From: X/Max Settings)
Part of the discussions Max Settings shared about Igor allegedly joking about grave threats due to a negative review. (From: X/Max Settings)

But whether it’s true or not, the drama spread to audiophile forums, where Igor was banned from several communities.

The Fallout: Reviewer and Community Reactions

The audiophile community’s reaction to these controversies was swift and largely negative. Many popular reviewers, including DMS, spoke out against Verum Audio and Igor’s behavior.

DMS sharing some of Igor's inflammatory comments. (From: X/DMS)
DMS sharing some of Igor’s inflammatory comments. (From: X/DMS)

The controversy even affected other content creators.

Even DankPods, a YouTube channel known for its fun approach to audio gear, couldn’t ignore the controversy. A positive video about Verum 1 was hidden within 24 hours and later deleted completely.

It was as if the Verum 1 had become radioactive, and no one wanted to be caught holding it.

Because of these, many community members expressed a loss of trust in Verum Audio, with some calling for a boycott of the company’s products.

Igor’s Response: Apologies and Explanations

Igor's apology addressing the issues, as posted in Verum Audio's official website. (From: Verum Audio)
Igor’s apology addressing the issues, as posted in Verum Audio’s official website. (From: Verum Audio)

In response to the backlash, Igor posted an apology on the Verum Audio website in late 2020.

He attributed his offensive comments to his background. Having grown up in the Soviet Union where, he claimed, systemic racism didn’t exist, jokes about national differences were common.

The story of his upbringing was detailed. He said he was born in a country made up of 15 republics, each with its own dominant nation, where racial and ethnic equality was supposedly unquestionable.

Because of this, he admitted that the BLM protests initially looked “comical” to him.

But, he acknowledged that this perspective was wrong and insensitive. So, he had since educated himself and felt ashamed for his words and the feelings he hurt.

As for other allegations like homophobia and antisemitism, Igor stressed that as a Jew himself, the accusations of antisemitism were particularly absurd. He explained that some of his comments had been misunderstood or taken out of context.

Interestingly, Igor claimed that he himself had received threats in private messages, causing him anxiety given that his personal address was publicly known due to the nature of his business.

However, many in the community found these explanations insufficient, given the severity and frequency of his offensive behavior.

This apology was posted BEFORE the issue with No Theme Reviews.

The Aftermath: Impact on Verum Audio’s Reputation and Future

The controversies surrounding Verum Audio and its founder have badly affected the company’s reputation.

Verum Audio has gained some niche following despite the controversies over the years. However, many others have written off Verum Audio entirely. So, it may be hard for them to get into the mainstream market.

A close look at the different color variants of Verum 2. (From: Verum Audio)
A close look at the different color variants of Verum 2. (From: Verum Audio)

A solid example of this is the launch of the Verum 2. These new headphones promised technical improvements over their predecessor. But, they were overshadowed by the lingering stench of controversy.

Even positive aspects, like better scalability with high-end equipment and a more balanced sound, struggled to cut through the noise of Igor’s past actions.

Yet, without knowing the company’s actual sales data, it’s impossible to say for sure how much the controversy has affected them. The long-term impact on Verum Audio remains to be seen.

At the end of the day, the Verum Audio saga presents a moral question: Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Or in this case, the headphones from their creator?

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