Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?

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bside123

Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« on: 19 Oct 2012, 03:23 pm »
Greetings Everyone! I attended the 2012 RMAF in Denver this year. This was my first Audio Trade Show, and I picked RMAF, because I thought that, "It's the premiere Audio Event of the year... and that "everybody" would be there." That being said, I had a really difficult time "getting into it" all and found the whole trade show environment rather daunting and overwhelming. I came away thinking that perhaps trades shows are not my cup of tea. Not to worry, as this event didn't damper my love for audio or music... it was just the scene at the Marriott Convention Center.

I preregistered a few months in advance under the belief that it would facilitate a smooth entry into the show, only to be met by a disorganized, 45 minute line at the opening door. Attendees that were not registered, and were paying for the day, walked right in. Speaking of lines... there were 10-15 minute lines at every elevator waiting to go to the show floors. Consequently, I did use the stairs.

I looked for AC members in the rooms that were posted on the various AC threads, but as my bad luck would have it, whenever I entered those rooms and asked for a fellow AC member, they were either not there... or had just run out! This happened repeatedly. I even went back to some rooms to try again. It's understandable, as there were so many people to meet and so much gear to see and so little time.

I really empathized with the vendors. It seems as if a hotel room or a convention ballroom's gotta be the WORST place to show off good equipment. I can't count the amount of times that I witnessed technical difficulties, or that the vendor was frustrated and apologizing for bad sound due to equipment failure, feedback, lack of room treatment and bleed-over ambient noise from other rooms, heating & A/C fans, hallways as well as street and highway noise. It had to have been incredibly frustrating for vendors who were excited about their equipment, innovations and contacts.

On the other hand, I hope that the vendors could empathize with us, simple attendees, as the prices were so astronomical that they blew my mind... let alone the thought of spending that kind of money. I'm not one to gripe about money so much, as I'm fortunate enough to be able to buy most anything I would want, should I choose, BUT the price of the gear was stupid expensive. I believe the most expensive system I heard totaled in excess of $400,000. It sounded interesting and precise, but it didn't make my whirly gig whirl, and I really, really wanted it to.

I have to confess that the most fun I had was listening to a simple iPod, plugged into a HRT iSteamer, going through a pair of Conrad Johnson Preamp and Amps, and being output to a pair of $1,500 Silverline Speakers. Although this little system couldn't nearly keep up to the hi-fidelity of the "big boys," it had "boogie factor," and made me smile and stick around.

Considering the whole mashup of RMAF, and for the limit of what I saw and heard, my favorite speakers were John Devore's Orangutans and a pair of speakers from an Austrian company that builds pianos called "Brodmann." I couldn't make sense of nor discern all of the variants in electronics and cables. Just too much gear and too many variables. Otherwise, I got a bad case of listening fatigue, burnout and impatience with the: lines, hallways full of people, small rooms with too much gear, big rooms with SUPER EXPENSIVE gear, bad sound, glitchy equipment and not being able to find my online friends.  :(  Also, I could tell that the devoted vendors were tired and trying real hard, too hard in some cases, to be a good vibe and impress people with their goods. In other cases, things were just too serious.  :|

This rant isn't aimed at anybody, and I'm not a hater. I really think at this point that a BIG trade show might not be for me. I've really enjoyed audio get togethers in AC members homes, meeting new people, sharing equipment and audio knowledge... and all of the good things that go with this hobby in-person and online, as well as in correspondence with AC members. Maybe I need to try a teeny weeny, itsy bitsy audio show, where it's easier to connect with the people.

Thanks for letting me vent, but here's a different experience of a big audio show.

PS. If price was no object, I'd love to actually listen to some of that equipment in the peace and quiet of my own home. I know that there were diamonds at the RMAF, it was just hard for me to find them in that Convention environment. This is all my personal experience, FWIW... YMMV. Thanks.  :thumb:


lowtech

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #1 on: 19 Oct 2012, 03:35 pm »
The original intent for the original audio convention (The CES) was not to demonstrate the sound of the equipment.  Rather, it was a means for industry members (dealers) to meet with manufacturers and distributors to conduct business.  The CES was never open to the general public although many people did find ways to bend/break the rules to attend.  In more recent years, and with shows like RMAF (and others), the objectives and expectations have changed, and now good sound is expected.  Sorry to disappoint, but venues like these are never going to be optimal to evaluate how equipment sounds.  This is why retail dealers should always be your friends.  Only they will be able to arrange you to evaluate equipment in your own room in your own home.  My 2¢, FWIW.

michaelhigh

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #2 on: 19 Oct 2012, 03:47 pm »
I generally felt this way after seeing the Vandersteen event at St. Louis Stereo recently. Disillusioned? Maybe. Overwhelmed? Probably, at least at the amount of money needed to throw at the myriad things that can make a system any less than inadequate for whatever reason (unless you have a product endorsed by the manufacturer/promoter organizing the event). The two things RV and I have in common is that we both love music and tube topologies. He hates horns (understandably) and I don't. Therein lies the rub.

I'm interested in new products despite my vintage (cost-fueled) leanings, and am already planning to travel to RMAF next year for my first trade show. I believe that starting at the top (as you did) is a good way to see if the trade show thing is a good thing given your opinion of audio in general, and I'll be excited to see the offerings, meet people I've followed online, and form opinions that will inform future purchases. I just have to learn (more and better) how to live in the moment with my current system without succumbing to upgradeitis as I usually do after reading some glowing review of some newfangled approach to reinventing the wheel.

What am I missing? Little. We know that the last 5% improvement can be rather costly, and I need to learn how insignificant the last 5% can be when it could ostensibly cost tens of thousands to achieve. It's hard when the bling starts blinging, even more so at a show where bling is king! :green:

jtwrace

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #3 on: 19 Oct 2012, 04:00 pm »
If one goes to any trade show for the intended purpose you will find how helpful it can be.  I've done many trade shows (personally & professionally) and always come away with much learned.

rjbond3rd

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #4 on: 19 Oct 2012, 04:07 pm »
Hi bside123,

Next time, try going on a Sunday, after attendance has peaked.  At that point, the technical issues are worked out, and the sound is vastly improved.  Even the elevator lines are shorter and the hallways are easier to navigate.

Tyson

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #5 on: 19 Oct 2012, 04:47 pm »
Yeah, if you go to a show the size of RMAF, you'd better have a plan or you're gonna be overwhelmed and most likely frustrated.  Picking specific vendors to hit ahead of time and understanding the layout of the place is important to make sure you are not wasting tons of time. 

Re: price of gear.  I've been several years now and the stupid expensive stuff just isn't worth the $$, IMO.  I've heard a few (very few) expensive setups sound good but most sound mediocre and some downright bad.  But even when they sounded good they have never, ever blown me away and made me think "I need to sell my car post haste!".  This is actually very useful information to learn at shows, and should be kept in mind next time you read a professional review of any of this stupid expensive gear. 

ArthurDent

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #6 on: 19 Oct 2012, 04:52 pm »
Hey big D, sorry to hear it wasn't the enjoyable trip you had hoped. I suspect from your feedback it probably wouldn't be my cup of tea either, though I might give a try as a bucket-list item for the heck of it. Not big on crowds. You might check with some of the folks about the AudioKarma show north of you, sounds like it may be smaller and more manageable, just a guess.

But next time you're going to be in the Seattle area with some time to burn drop me a note ahead of time, you can come by and sample my system(s) and a tipple. I plan to drop you a note when next I head back to Indy, see if I can drop by for a meet & visit. With a little luck & economic relief next year. Am hoping I can even work something out with the PumpkinKing, and a few other ACers for hookups as well .  :thumb:   JD

Daedalus Audio

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #7 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:01 pm »
hi B-side,
you raise many good points and even as a vendor I have to agree on most.  while RMAF is the very best of the big shows and I enjoy seeing all the old friends, in many ways I prefer the smaller shows. I would recommend the Capitol Audio Fest in DC, much more manageable and relaxed if only by being half the size. 
as for the astronomical pricing of many rooms, an interesting aspect is that the press (and the attendees) seem to pay the most attention to the really high prices and over the top bling. 
so the pressure is on the manufacturer to introduce more expensive and extreme gear just to get noticed. I succumbed this year with a new model designed more for shows than the average audio listener, (and it was fun building it and I love it but still....)
yes the vendors are tired, it is a LOT of work putting on these shows (same for the organizers) but I know for most of us positive interactions with the attendees is a big payoff!
 thanks for coming to the show,
lou

bside123

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #8 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:16 pm »
Thanks so far for the feedback, also thanks for the forum to discuss different experiences and points of view.

I can see how I contributed to my disappointment and bad experience:

1) I did not have a plan;
2) I did not have a working understanding of trade shows or what to expect;
3) I did not adequately review the layout or identify, in advance, which vendors where showing where as well as what are the best times to meet them;
4) I don't like hanging in large crowds
5) Yada, Yada, Yada

I was just stoked to go see and hear hi-fi gear and to meet the "man behind the curtain." I approached going to RMAF naively, like a kid going to a candy shop. I ended up with a belly ache instead of the yummy tummy that I had projected. This is NOT to say that I was entirely miserable or that the whole thing was a bummer. A lot of it was pretty cool, and I did learn somethings.

Nonetheless, my inadequacies or lack of experience and planning, doesn't make up for outrageous prices, bad sound, equipment glitches and failures or too many people. Hey... I take the whole thing on myself. Maybe trade shows are great for the trade, but it didn't work for me. Maybe if I knew what I was doing or had a specific plan and purpose, I would have felt different. Overall, I'm not sorry I went; as a matter of fact, I'm glad I did. Though, I'm not sure I'd repeat the experience in the same way.

SoCalWJS

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #9 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:21 pm »
2011 was my first trip and I ran into several of the problems that you listed (I shared them afterwards as well).

It prepared me better for this year though, and if I make it next year, I know I'll have an even better time as I will plan better.

As far as meeting up with AC'ers there, you have to plan in advance. Until you know some faces, it's next to impossible. Sometimes you can go to a pre-event meetup or a dinner is planned, otherwise, you have to reach out and say "I'm going be at X location at X time" to get together.

RMAF is a very large event and can be overwhelming the first time.

Tyson

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #10 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:24 pm »
Maybe next year we can use one of those "Where are my friends" apps on our phones to figure out when we are in close proximity to each other.

bside123

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #11 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:26 pm »
Maybe next year we can use one of those "Where are my friends" apps on our phones to figure out when we are in close proximity to each other.

Yea, if I had thought this through a little better, I could have collected phone numbers and meet-up places in advance. That would have helped.  :duh:

vortrex

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #12 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:32 pm »
I went to the CA Audio Show, my first one, and was amazed at how average (or worse) most the rooms sounded.  I visited the multi-$100k VAC/Magico room, with the turntable a crane had to lift in, and was shocked how unimpressive it was.  I stopped by 3-4 times thinking I was missing something.  Also, 99% of the rooms play the same un-listenable music.  It felt like one really long dentist appointment.
 

DaveC113

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #13 on: 19 Oct 2012, 05:52 pm »
I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but my expectations may have been (a lot) lower. Many speaker manufacturers don't understand room acoustics and/or don't know how to set a room up to best showcase their product. It seems strange, but then again it seems strange to me that most speaker mfg'ers can't build a speaker without some kind of major flaw, and for that reason I don't like about 9 out of 10 speakers anyway. Even if the room acoustics sucked, it is still possible to get a vague idea of what the system is capable of sounding like. And it's nice to get a broad perspective of what's available.

Also, there were some gems (that were priced reasonably) for sure... for example dc10 audio's speakers were excellent and available for under $5k, the amp was a Tektron SET available for about $3k.

Douger

Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #14 on: 19 Oct 2012, 06:01 pm »
This was my third RMAF, and I had learned from the others. This time I saw about 2/3 of the exhibits and was able to manage my time more efficiently. A great number of pre-printed badges were lost,  previously preregistered people would walk right in.
I have my system generally finalized, so it is just a nice party with good and lesser sonic experiences. I love it and am very grateful to go!

stvnharr

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #15 on: 19 Oct 2012, 06:10 pm »
Greetings Everyone! I attended the 2012 RMAF in Denver this year. This was my first Audio Trade Show,
Thanks for letting me vent, but here's a different experience of a big audio show.


You've been too late to the Show. The first two or three RMAF's were quite different, not as large and not filled with the over the top expensive gear that has become the whole show in the past 3-4 years.
The first shows featured small internet vendors and was a chance to show their goods in a physical presence, rather than just showing them on the internet.  By 2005 the show began to be noticed by the mainstream high end audio press, and the rest is history.
I don't know if the prices for exhibitors has risen thru time, but a lot of the small exhibitors from the early shows have dropped out in the past 3-4 years.  I think Danny Ritchie is one of the few to have exhibited at every show. And now he's doing the high dollar stuff too.

DaveC113

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #16 on: 19 Oct 2012, 06:14 pm »
I'm not sure $20k even qualifies as "expensive" at RMAF...

Russtafarian

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #17 on: 19 Oct 2012, 06:47 pm »
My strategy for dealing with crazy gear prices?  Ignore them. 

Last spring a friend of a friend, a single retired lady asked for help putting together a music system.  I asked her to attend the The SHOW Newport and listen to everything she could and tell me what she liked.  But I told her up front IGNORE THE PRICES because I didn't want her to get intimidated.  She has a $5k gear budget and once her home remodel is complete we'll start putting it together.  And her feedback as to what she liked and didn't like at Newport will help us decide how to best use that $5k.

jarcher

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #18 on: 19 Oct 2012, 06:56 pm »
Its useful to me to get a 1st time RMAF visitor perspective as I've not gone to one yet and was considering doing so this year.

Overcrowding would definitely keep me from any show - what's the point if you can't get a seat to listen?  Any comments re RMAF from attendees on this aspect?

For other shows the first half of the first day, and the latter half of the last day of course offer the best off peak moments. As for meeting up w/ people - does seem that pre-planning is key.

I'll say I've greatly enjoyed & gotten a lot out of the Capitol Audio Fest & have attended almost every day of every year.  Great people, often great gear regardless of price, and I for one have always ended up buying something as a result of the show - which is what I assume the vendors want!


stvnharr

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Re: Did Anyone Else Feel This Way, or... Only Me!?
« Reply #19 on: 19 Oct 2012, 07:09 pm »
Its useful to me to get a 1st time RMAF visitor perspective as I've not gone to one yet and was considering doing so this year.

Overcrowding would definitely keep me from any show - what's the point if you can't get a seat to listen?  Any comments re RMAF from attendees on this aspect?

For other shows the first half of the first day, and the latter half of the last day of course offer the best off peak moments. As for meeting up w/ people - does seem that pre-planning is key.

I'll say I've greatly enjoyed & gotten a lot out of the Capitol Audio Fest & have attended almost every day of every year.  Great people, often great gear regardless of price, and I for one have always ended up buying something as a result of the show - which is what I assume the vendors want!

Well, the show is popular and a lot of people attend, otherwise it is kind of dead. It's only really noticeably crowded on Saturday afternoons.  It is also quiet on Sunday mornings.  Don't get rushed or get in a hurry. Browse around and have a quick look see at everything and then find rooms that have interest for you.  Some rooms are quiet all the time, others always seem to be rather busy.  It's supposed to be a fun time and not a chore.