Did you ever hear exquisite electronics at a show??

Here’s something that has puzzled me.

Most audio shows are crap sounding. At best, I can think of a handful of rooms I could even sit in. Anyone who goes to these has heard systems in the $100k range or higher, and ... honestly, did you ever hear a system at a show which was so good you bought the electronics after?

No wrong answers. I just want to know who you der... er, perceptive individuals are and how you coped. :-)


OK, so the exception to this, as you may guess, is headphones.

I have hated and fallen in love with headphone amps and DAC combos at shows.
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The speakers always get the  credit or not but I do take note of amps that sound good in systems for future reference.  

The more data points when it comes time to buy the better. 
Its called listening, and evaluating. What we do, being intelligent aware and informed audiophiles, is we look at the room, and the equipment, and the way its set up. This we keep in the back of our minds, along with the music being played, the volume, and where we are in the room. We do all this as a matter of course, that is to say a standard routine. Being as its the exact same one we do no matter whether its a show or a store or a friends system- or even our own. Because it really does not matter. These are the primary tenets of listening and evaluating equipment. 

Then if the system sounds good, or if it includes components we are particularly interested in, or maybe we just like the music, or the people, anything whatsoever, we keep on doing this as they change and play more music. When possible and desirable we politely ask questions or make suggestions- do you have this? Could you play that? 

As space and time and crowd allows we may try and find a really good location near or in the sweet spot. Lacking that we move around, evaluating the sound from wherever we can. 

Being informed, aware and experienced audiophiles we know the prime directive of evaluations is to make one change at a time. Since we are hardly ever at these shows able to have the presenter change out one component, we make do. That's what all the above things are doing. When they change music or when we change positions these are variations on the theme of changing one thing at a time. We can't really know what any one individual component within the system sounds like, but using these techniques we can make surprisingly good judgments of the overall system. 

Of course it will sound better in a different or better room. With different or better power. Everything matters. Being informed aware and experienced audiophiles we know this. That's what we do. 

So what do you do? Sounds like you can hardly ever stand it and just leave. There are no wrong answers. Doesn't mean some ways of approaching the problem aren't better than others- and experienced informed and aware audiophiles are always looking for new approaches to this problem. What's yours?
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@tvad - Was the room especially treated, or was there something in particular you felt helped you listen despite being in a hotel room?
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I can agree with Millercarbon on this one.  

When i hear a setup that sounds good the next task is to ask questions, do some research and try to determine  why that particular combination sounded the way it did. 

Most expensive systems at shows or at dealers do little to wow me to the point where I'd prefer them to my own. 
In fact, I'm amazed for what passes as acceptable.  I understand hotel rooms and noisy power are not conducive to extracting the best from equipment. I have found that with a few exceptions,  rooms using turntables sound better.
Everybody always wants to show with brand spanking new speakers, electronics and cabling. Sure, it looks good. But sounds horrible. Some people try to do the right thing and at least try to break the system in overnight to at least have some chance of getting decent sound before the show ends. What a joke! 🤡 The good news is after an hour of listing to crap sound you kind of lose your hearing so it doesn’t really matter. 🤗 An ordinary man has no means of deliverance.
+1, @millercarbon and @mapman

I approach audio shows as my gateway to keep up with latest trends and more importantly future purchases. Where else you can possibly listen and evaluate so much gear under one venue. Do I buy the gear on the spot...hell NO. I am not a impulse buyer, I do my research and buy a component if it’s going to further enhance my listening experience in the very comfort of my home.
I have heard a few rooms that were extraordinary, but most rooms leave me wondering.
The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. 🤪