signing on to this thread as I'm in the same boat as Twc...
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I went for the first time this past October and had a good time, didn't get to see everything in two and half days though, so I would try to make all three days. I arrived Friday morning about an hour after it opened, I think that was good thing because I heard there were big lines when if first opened. I sort of had a plan on what rooms to see but I could have done a better job of researching who and what was there. The most frustrating thing was waiting to see what others said about the rooms after the show, but it seemed more often than not the rooms they talked about I didn't get to! Don't get your hopes too high for good sound though, many rooms are challenged by the unfamiliar space, especially on the first day. I would recommend bringing some familiar music if you want to seriously compare components, otherwise you'll get a wide range of music, most of it geared to make the eqipment sound it's best (but it could be musical dreck).
As for accomodations the show hotel is definitely convenient, but it is a high end hotel so it's not cheap. I stayed at a Marriott Courtyard about two miles away, mainly because I didn't have enough Marriott Rewards to stay at the show hotel. There are quite a few hotels in the area, but you'll need a rental car. There is a public shuttle to the show hotel so if you stay there you don't need a car. I would make reservations early to get the best selection and rates.
Things to avoid are a little harder to pin down. I wasted two hours in a seminar that was supposed to be about computer audio/servers and it was mostly a couple of panelists pontificating about their product. I didn't learn anything about the intended subject! I would also not waste time in a room if it is crowded, it's hard enough to listem when two people are talking behind you, it's impossible when ten are doing it! You can always come back later.
I'm sure there is lots more to pass on, but that's what comes to mind right now.
Went in with the wife in 2007. Had a wonderful time. Stayed at the Hyatt and got a sweet on line for $99 a night.
Try to avoid the rooms that seemed to be over run by dorks. Those guys that the dealers let monopolize a room because they bought from that dealer or company, or acting like they will make a big bucks purchases. A lot of these rooms will be playing bird calls, tap dancing, etc. If you go into a room where you can't get a seat or they are not playing music, go to the next room and save those rooms till the end. You won't have enough time if you wait too long at certain rooms.
Hang around the bar at night when the showrooms are closed. These guys are the greatest source of knowledge. What's good, what's bad. What the best parts are, just sit and listen and learn.
I have just booked my flights to come from the UK, this year. For anyone else coming from the UK, there are very good flight deals at the moment. There are certain speakers I will be looking for, but otherwise, this thread is very useful.
Last year, Audiogon members got together in a bar each evening, any idea how that went and if it is going to be repeated?
Finally, any tips on what to visit in Colorado? I am coming for 10 days with my wife and intend to see some of the lovely scenery.
Denver's a great city. There's a new art museum that's an architectural marvel. Check out LoDo and Larimer Square for good restaurants. Rent a car and drive up I-70 west to Breckenridge. Check out Boulder and drive up to Estes Park and Rocky Mtn National Park. In October you probably won't have much problem with snow. Go south to Colorado Springs and see Garden of the Gods, a beautiful rock formation. It's about 5-6 hours by car south to Santa Fe, NM...if you haven't been here before, it's like nothing you've ever seen. Great art, Native American crafts, and the best Mexican food on the planet. Welcome and have a good time.
I agree with Skreich. If you have several extra days and have a car, definately drive up through Boulder to Estes Park and go to Rocky Mountain National Park. October is borderline regarding the weather in the high mountains. You could have spectacular warm and sunny days, or you could have 2 feet of snow (take warm clothing and boots just in case you get caught in a storm). Just pay close attention to the weather and enjoy! There are hundreds/thousands of hotel rooms available in Estes Park as it would be off-season for the tourist trade in October. BTW, when I'm in Estes Park I typically eat (and drink) at Ed's Cantina. Good bar, good food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a very good local staff. Service and convenience always take me back to Ed's Cantina.
I also agree regarding Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is a nice and convenient place to visit. Depending on the weather, you can also drive or take the cog train up to the top of Pikes Peak. At over 14,000 ft it is a very lofty summit. More impressive is the 7400 ft vertical rise from the bottom. Also, being on the eastern edge of the mountain range, it has a spectacular view of the great plains of Eastern Colorado (and beyond!).
Enjoy you trip!
Yes, thanks people. May try to incorporate a few extra days to see the sights. We have done that in the past. Had a nice trip to Olympia national park in Washington by flying in and renting a car. No reservations, just playing it by ear. The "Hall of Mosses" in the park is fabulous. Also thought Cape Flattery was very nice. Paradise Inn at Mt Ranier was very interesting.
Taking in the premier north american audio show and all else the area has to offer, sounds like a great mini-vacation. Can't wait.