Auditioning gear for purchase.. not in town

Especially after hanging out in these forums, one develops some nice "short lists" of good stuff when choosing equipment. Here is my question....

Many of the companies/items that are well regarding/reviewed are not available for audition in my city. My local dealer always lets me take pieces home to demo, but what to do when the piece is not in town? What do you folks do?
Depending on the cost of the item,,it is sometimes worth a trip to an area where there is a facility to at least demo it...Maybe tie in a vacation or a weekend getaway somewhere in the area..I have done it many times and does eliminate some issues of buying unseen and unherd...Also possibly try in Audiogon forum to see if someone locally has the piece you are considering and maybe pay them a visit.......
In Denver we have the RMAF. Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. A great event that will allow you to listen to hundreds of products. We have had a room there since they started the show. It is widely recognized as the best hi-fi show in the US. I believe that to be true after having attended the CES and the Show in Vegas. I know there will be posts on this thread about how you can't tell much in these rooms. I totally disagree. You can tell very quickly if you hate a product. If you like a product, then put it on your list and audition it some more. The guys at positive-feedback said the we had the room they "revistied the most. Sound to die for." That means two things. One they liked our room initially and two the came back again and again. That is what you should do. After all dealers go to these shows to choose products to carry.

Another good thing about Denver is there are at least 7 pretty good dealers in town and about 4 more close by. So if you come to town either for the RMAF or not you should be able to hear what you are interested in.
I agree with Sounds real, at the prices we pay for this equipment most of us can afford a getaway to Denver or Vegas in my case. I happen to go out to CES every year and love visiting the two shows (THE Show and CES). It's a great way to touch, feel and hear hundreds of great new (and some old) products. Although some rooms are less than ideal, most do a pretty good job of showing you the characteristics of their gear. I have ended up buying gear that I first heard at the show, in fact I bought a pair of Totem speakers this year that i never would have even put on my short list if I hadn't heard them the past few years at CES. Getting to see and audition hundreds of companies/gear is something I look forward to every year and base most of my purchases on.
Thanks for the suggestions. I would thoroughly enjoy going to one of these shows.

I'm finding it difficult piecing everything together. I can see that attending a show would at least narrow down the search, and possibly point towards some synergistic combinations.
Use what I call the AudiogoN 'buy n' try' philosophy. I look for a good price on whatever I'm considering, I buy it and try it in my own system with my own ears against the competition. I keep the winner, sell the loser. Again, this is just in my opinion. I've sold many pieces that have pleased many folks. It's all about synergy and personal tastes.

there is no substitute for an in-home audition.
hopefully, you can find some products sold direct that are of interest to you. in that case , you call the manufacturer and listen.

if the item has a decent rtesale, you can buy it used and then resll that item for a small loss.

i do not put much credence in a demo at a dealer or at a friend's house. it doesn't tell you much. i liked the synergy of a tube amp in another stereo system. when i hooked it up in my stereo system, i did not like it.
I agree with John (Jmcgrogan2). If I can't find a friend with the piece that I am interested in (to audition it in their system), then if I really am excited about it, I will just buy it on Audiogon and test it out in my system. (Usually that means that I have researched not only what piece of equipment I want, but that includes researching what the range of prices it goes for (used of course). I then wait until I can get it at a good price, and audition it in my system for my self. If it works great, if not, I usually will have bought it at the low end of the price range, and I can easily sell it and not lose any money, except maybe shipping costs.

One thing I NEVER do, is waste a dealer's time, and put wear and tear on his demo equipment, when I have no intention of buying my gear from him. I consider that to be a violation of trust between me and the dealer. (Ethically it just seems completely wrong to me.)

My two cents worth anyway.
JMc has my philosophy. I refuse to victimize dealers when I intend to buy from A'gon and I'm at a point where I just can't afford most of the stuff that I want at new prices.

Also, Audiogon is the only place where I can check out synergies: unfortunately, it's a "buy it and try it" method. Buy in right, A-B it and keep the one that works. I'm willing to lose $100-200 for that privilege, as I've found some really good stuff that I've heard at shows and in other systems just plain didn't work in my "system".

My so-called system used to be a cludge of nice, expensive parts, limited by what my local three state shopping area had to provide and dependent on my retailers own appropriate motives for price points and margins. Now, with some exposure to poorly or even unmarketed, but excellent, products and tweaking them with what I already have that I intend to keep, I have a "system", where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Sort of like my parents: when they had twins, they couldn't afford to keep both me and my brother. They decided to drown the ugly one. That's how I learned to swim.

I call it Audio Darwinism :). Aren't most Agoners like that?

You are my new best friend, I think. I have been victimized a number of times.

Mr. Tennis, (is he a tennis player?) My shop is in my home. When you listen at my place you will leave knowing that you will keep this equipment for a long time. Or you won't like it at all. Simple.

I know that in most shops you really can't tell much. It is confusing. They throw on these SACD demo's that I couldn't listen to for 10 minutes.

Well I am ranting here. I totally disagree with buying stuff on audiogon just to compare. As audiophiles we can do better then that. At the RMAF a couple of years ago a guy came by shaking his head. I asked him what was the problem. He said he bought all this stuff and then came to the show and listened, and found so many better sounding pieces of gear.

Go to the show first. Narrow it down. Know the type of music you like. My preference for speakers lean toward vocals and instrumentals. Others prefer Orchestral. Beware of looking for bass. Go for midrange, midrange, midrange.
You would think that would be easy but it is not. Get the midrange right. Then decide whether you would pay an extra 10K to get the bigger speakers that go lower. A sub may be the better choice.
hi sounds real audio:

i appreciate your salesmanship and confidence, but there is no way to know in advance whether you will want to keep a component until you have auditioned it in your own system, for some period of time. i don't think this principle is open to discussion. to insist otherwise, is unrealistic.
you should checkout some dealers that work online with money back guarantees on stuff. ...and not full retail prices..

Todd the Vinyl Junkie is one of them.

I've both purchased and kept as well as purchased and returned from him. He provides reasonable discounts on new gear, so at least you know you're not paying crazy new prices for stuff, and the difference between used prices and his prices have proved to be worth the expense for the privilege of the in home audition.

FYI - Other than dealing with him, i have no affiliation.
Mr. Tennis

In a perfect world you would love to have about 3 or 4 of the speakers that you think you might like to hear. Then about 3 or 4 amp/preamp combos, plus a good number of CD players. Then try the different combos until you are happy ( at least for a while ) .

In my shop if someone is serious about a product and they are local I will let try it at home. Out of state buyers are difficult however. You can see the dilemma about long term listening. If I have three sets of speakers out on demo for a couple of weeks. Then I have to open up new boxes for my demo room and break them in for walk in customers. Ouch! Then some speakers come back. Now I have 6 pairs of demo's or used speakers. Then some of those returns are damaged in shipping, and FedEx takes about six months to pay a claim. Ouch!

This is why I suggest that people come to a show or go to a town where there are plenty of dealers and really listen before they even consider what to buy. It has been my experience that you may not be able to choose a speaker to live with for 10 years but you can sure eliminate a lot of speakers that you could not live with for 10 minutes.
i rarely visit dealers, as i realize that a demo at a dealer does not eliminate any risk that i won't like a component in my own system.

thus, it pays either not to buy that component or buy it used, with the hope of reslling it if i don't like it. in either case, a dealer does not get a sale.

there are some exceptions, when a dealer's ears are trusted and there is an attractive discount.

Getting something used is good.

It is also a good way to find a wife. If you don't like her you can put her back on the used market and not take to big a "hit".
Thanks for all the responses.

Sounds-real-audio: thanks for the laugh!