East Meets West in Zoco City

Valencia has the first shop in Spain dedicated exclusively to the sale of headphones, and it’s all thanks to the Ayatollahs’ Revolution in Iran.

Axel Toribio and Nabil Gil are both children of the revolution, although only because their mothers had to leave the country due to religious persecution.


Both of them belonged to the Bahai religion and it was logical that they should end up in Valencia, where there is a strong Bahai presence, with a school and cultural centre in Lliria.

Axel’s father is from the Canary Islands, while Nabil’s is from Pamplona, and although Axel was born in Valencia, and studied at the Ferrer I Guardia secondary school, Nabil was born in Australia.

As they point out, their lives ran parallel courses, focused on business and electronics, and especially on the Internet, where most of their business is done today.


Axel started his first company at the age of 17, selling MP3s on e-bay and by the age of 21 was dealing mostly with digital audio playing headphones and earphones.

Nabil, born in Melbourne, left Australia when he was 4, although he would return later, before finally settling in Valencia. Axel gained a little more international experience by spending a year in the Czech Republic.


Having known each other for over 20 years, and having constantly discussed their business ideas and exchanged advice and information, they finally set up Zoco City together, at first selling and distributing on-line and since May 2015 in a small shop in Benimaclet, where they have the opportunity to meet their many customers face to face.

This is important to them as their idea is not merely to sell product, but to evangelise and educate about the use of their equipment, for as they point out, choosing the right headphones is not just a question of finding the right price; the choice depends on what kind of music you usually listen to and where and how you listen to it.


For this reason they organize workshops and meetings where users can try out their headphones, and especially DJs, many of whom have become friends and regular customers, and many of whom have already taken advantage of their system of personalize headphones.

This photo courtesy of Zoco City

This photo courtesy of Zoco City

They also have an educational blog and a YouTube channel where they explain the finer points of obtaining the greatest (what the Rolling Stones referred to as ) satisfaction, so that both their customers and other can get the maximum benefit possible from a set of headphones.



Because of their specialization, their catalogue is bigger and more wide ranging than the competition’s, and their client range wider, with customers coming to their shop from as far away as Albacete or Alicante, looking for that personal service; in fact, they even had a Ukranian sailor drop in when in port, having discovered them on the Net.

The fact that they both speak fluent English also expands their range of customers, giving a more international flavour to their business. And of course ‘Zoco’ means Bazaar in Arabic, a place where you can find anything and everything.

Their events have been one way of finding their staff; they employee three people, and look for people who share their passion for music and technology.

They sell all the important brands, with prices ranging from 15 to 3,500 euros, and are pioneers in Spain, the only shop of its kind; although in Asia there are similar companies with over 20 shops.

Tastes and lifestyles change, and today’s young people listen as they walk, and whereas once upon a time a conversation about music would refer to the brands, today it includes whether you listen with a FiiO, Hifiman, Vmoda, iFi, Soundmagic, iBasso, AKG, Bose or xduoo.

I don’t pretend to understand any of that, but my children assure me that it is so.

Zoco City is in Calle Dolores Marques 17.


All photos by Mark Sicon, unless otherwise stated.


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