Shows or Road trip?

Since there is an ongoing discussion around the Octave and what shows it will land… I thought I’d throw this pondering out to the community…

I’ve never been to a Hifi show. '19 was the point I got interested and right as I started lining up what shows I’d fly out to pandemic hit. So, conventions are not a new thing for me and there are specific things I hate about them… like too many people to actually accomplish my reason for going to the show.

My main reason for going to the show is I’m in the market for new speakers and the local shops here have very limited selection. Additionally, there are some things I’m seriously interested in which are mail order only.

Now, the pondering and my dilemma. Is 2021 the right time to go to show? I feel like the shows are going to be overcrowded from lack of shows last year and people just needing to get out. I also fear limited manufacturer participation (for various reasons).

My alternatives… wait another year to shop or take my budget on the road and go visit the manufactures directly / showrooms outside my local area.

Community, what you think? An audio road trip would be great fun but the logistics and how much time I’d have (I still work full-time) would limit it to maybe 4 or 5 manufacturers.

I think '21 might be not the year because there may be international manufacturers who won’t be able to make them. Also it might depend on how easy it is to get to them versus how easy it is to go to a large City like NY or LA where you might find enough showrooms to make it worthwhile. Lastly I have never found shows to be the best place to judge equipment especially speakers due to room features and while showrooms have similar challenges I have had better luck judging in them to get even a vague idea of what it’ll sound like in my room.

Good points. I guess there is a third option and, from a technical perspective the right option, is to take my demo budget and pay shipping back and forth on a bunch of speakers so I can hear them in my own “showroom”. There are a few manufacturers where this might be difficult (specifically those that still 100% rely on dealers).

Some of the big dealers might do trials as well

A couple of thoughts as shows can give one a jump start on selecting components. While not ideal they can convey the component manufacturer’s or shop’s values, allow you see and experience the sound as well as get an idea of the build quality. I must say it will not be the last say in a component’s sound, but should give one a pretty good idea of what the “house sound” is. The down side of a convention is with all the displays and demos it can be overwhelming. I’d evaluate what will be presented at the show that you are interested in, what the how’s cancellation policy is should COVID rear its ugly head in September, and have a bail out plan should the show not meet expectations. I loathe crowds, so for an audio convention I have at least one, if not more, bail-out plans. Best of luck with your search.

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I agree with @weedeewop. Going to the show is almost like an interview. You’ll get to meet owners, and key people within the companies you have interest. That alone can influence your decision a surprising amount. You’ll get to hear the gear, will it be ideal? Probably not. But you’ll get to see the gear, touch the gear, etc…

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And don’t forget, it will help develop lust, lust, LUST!


Yup, audio porn. :japanese_ogre: :clown_face:


Need not want.

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Thermionic Lust, Need…
170Watt SET Mononblocks.
NAT Magma


Audio shows wont ever be the same. They will be much more sanitary. Testing on headphones for example.

When the shows get back up to speed…my suggestion is to know what your looking for and spend time with it. It will either confirm your purchase decision, or help move you in another direction.

There is never enough time to look at everything.

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I’m heading to AXPONA this year (provided it doesn’t get cancelled AGAIN). It will be my my 1st Audio Show as well (and I’m 51).

I’m excited but based on older show Video’s, it should be a lot to take in on the ears and eyes. Meeting folks as crazy as me will be worth it though.

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And should it not be cancelled check out the jazz shows in Chicago, or blues for that matter. Need ideas for venues, just ask.

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My local dealer has one of these. I do not have one of these. I’d like to correct that some day. Even if I don’t plug it into anything. It’s one of my favorite designs.

Heard one at a local dealer, Audio Experience. Clearly beyond my mean$. Fun to hear it though. Heard the NAT Magmas as well, great sound, totally impractical.