Audio Shows, who goes, which one and do you think it benefits your setup?

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Just got the prices for RMAF 2019 which are up 40% over last year now that they are moving it to the Gaylord out by the Denver Airport.

So it got me thinking…

Which shows do people go to?

Do you benefit in the knowledge provided by these shows?

Are we missing something from the presentation of the suites? i.e. is there something you would like to see?

Are the setup of these shows good, bad or ugly?



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Hello Gordon,

only ever have been to shows in Europe and Asia, so no real experience how it is done your side of the pond.

Yes i go (high end Munich, Fuji AVAC, Tokyo Audio etc.). Why do i go. The chance to listen (so the static display is of very limited appeal to me) to a variety of gear and philosophies on music reproduction. Some way out of my budget, some way out of my interpretation of what music reproduction should be. So i get pointers for where i might want to have a closer look (get a proper in depth audition), where my set up sits vs. what else is out there.

I also think it is very interesting to meet the people/brains/souls behind the products and have the chance for an exchange with them. I believe this informs also quite a lot in terms of what i can expect from their creations.

Set up varies quite a lot. Listened to a number of sub par set up’s as well as really good ones. But in general i feel they are above what the usual dealership provides in terms of set up and sound (and information as well as insight and enthusiasm about the products).

What would i like to see (more). Really useful a/b between different products/levels of the manufacturers if applicable.What is the difference of moving one model up or down etc.

For example i feel Innous missed a good opportunity last year in Munich with their comparison as they were running different tracks on the different models. Soundsmith though was running the same disc with different pick ups’s which provided a good view on the differences in presentation by the different technologies (MI vs. Strain Gauge.

Hope that helps.

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I love shows.

I love meeting other audiophiles, discovering new music, meeting manufacturers (who are almost always sweet people,) and getting to audition more gear in one weekend than I could in a year of traveling to bricks and mortar stores.

I love the after hours socializing, all of it! (maybe most of all!)

The next best thing about them is getting home, turning on my Hi Fi, and still being happy with it. I find shows to be very reaffirming regarding my own path through the hobby.

All in all, they are a true bargain.

I stopped CES a few years ago, but kept with THE Show and the California Audio Show.

The Stereophile shows in L.A., San Francisco, and New York were fantastic. I was sad to see them stop, but it’s a business decision for them and simply recreation for me.

A friend and I spent a decade+ exhibiting at THE and it really helped us become facile at dealing with room issues, putting disparate gear together, working fast, etc. I keep hoping more clubs will spring for demo/hospitality rooms and keep growing the social connection aspects of these shows.

My only complaint about shows is that they never last as long as I want them to!

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I have been to 2 CAFs and 2 RMAFs over 3 or 4 years and honestly find the shows a bit exhausting and exasperating.  But I go because there is utility for me.  (And also, splitting my time between DC and Denver already makes the attendance of those two easy.)

For years, I lusted after Zu speakers, for example.  But after three shows where I found myself consistently gravitating toward Spatial Audio instead, I made a purchase of M3 Triode Masters.  (This in spite of being still a fanboy of the Zu vibe, ethos, and particularly show music — I make a beeline to their room frequently during the day when I need to recharge.)

I do my best to skip the rooms I can’t afford (I will never have a setup that costs more than $10k, all in) and focus on products that I already have some familiarity with from previous research.

Because I enjoy the music selections and general chaos so little, generally speaking, going in to random room after random room is not a very good way to enjoy myself OR be productive in terms of discovery.

That’s why pre-show coverage (and to some degree mid-show coverage) is so valuable to me:  A brief note from a favorite reviewer saying ‘these are the rooms I’m looking forward to’ really would help me get more out of the experience.

As for suite presentation, I’ll echo the previous comment that “useful a/b” comparisons in a given room would be hugely helpful.  Zu does a good job of this, but honestly the most impressive room experience I’ve ever had was Isotec’s.  Forty seconds of A/B demo of their Gaia isolation feet was both conclusive and compelling.

Other than that, there is not much in the way of “knowledge” that I’m there for.  I have found some of the lectures/panels interesting … but have ingested those after the fact on YouTube!  For me, the show experience is primarily tactile and hands on, not an opportunity to learn.

I will say that meeting some of the designers is a nice bonus.  Vinnie Rossi, Sean Casey (et al,) and Christopher Hildebrand are truly nice and fascinating guys, I’ve found.  And not the least bit sales-y, which I appreciate.

Edited answer


So just got room pricing for the Gaylord today from RMAF. Looks like pricing for sleeping rooms is going to be about $100-$150 more expensive than the options last year (i.e. in the complex: Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton etc…).

Now if you want to stay outside the Gaylord there looks to be a number of places at the airport that are less expensive and 10 minutes away.



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