Tips for a First-Time Show Attendee?

I just confirmed my attendance at RMAF 2008, which will be my first audio show despite being in the hobby for over 10 years now. I haven't booked hotel or made any other arrangements yet, nor do I really know what to expect other than hearing a lot of different equipment.

What tips would you veterans give us newbies? Advice on any aspect of the experience (saving money, transportation/logistical issues, how to meet people, what is to be learned and how to learn it, how to assess gear - you name it) would be very appreciated.

Wear comfortable shoes.
Suggest you book a room at the hotel if you are flying in. It is very nice and they have a special rate for RMAF. The restaurant in the atrium has a great flatiron (skirt) steak and mashed potatoes and some excellent microbrews. Try to bring a compilation disc of music you would like to have played. Most of the pros that are there are very open to playing what you have. Go with an open mind and just have fun. It takes at least 2 days if not 3 to see everything.
I've only been to one show, but it was RMAF 2006. I second the notion of taking your own compilation disc - that was my one regret of my visit, as most rooms were very willing to play whatever I wanted.

There's an airport shuttle to and from the RMAF hotel. Use it and save the time, gas and expense of a rent car.

I would also suggest you book a room at the Marriott (RMAF Hotel) so you can walk out the door of your room each morning and listen to music on the way to breakfast. Sleeping this close to the demo rooms makes RMAF the easiest of all audio shows and a fraction of the problems encountered at CES.

There's live entertainment in the lobby during the show. Hearing musicians up close and personal is a great way to "reset" your standards after listening to electronics all day. I make it a point to stop and enjoy the live venue, regardless of what they're playing.

Last, have fun and look at the badges when you pass people in the hall. It's as much fun to meet fellow Audiogon members as the manufacturers who are putting all this on for us. One year it was suggested that everyone put their Audiogon name on their badge along side their registration name.

Wonder if Audiogon has ever thought about supplying second badges or a stick on for RMAF badge?
You can stay at the Marriot or the Hyatt across the street where RMAF is also having some exhibits. Both are in the Denver Tech area. I rent a car as I like to spend my evenings in downtown Denver eating and playing. Not much activity in the Tech area per se .
To add to the suggestions above , I would get a map of the rooms and vendors and plan accordingly to what interests you . You cannot spend quality time in all rooms so pick and chose your rooms in an orderly manner so you are not bouncing all around and forgetting what floor you have seen . The lower floors have the larger rooms and you can often find the mega systems like Wilson , Acapella and Jonathan Tinns Evolution Acoustics as well as Ray Kimbers Iso Mike room { which is tucked away in the corner behind the Reference Recordings booth} . There is a tower that's easy to miss and rooms off to the right of the lobby but all in all, its easy ... just follow the people with bags . Take a credit card because there is dedicated room for cds , vinyl ect and its all audiophile stuff and you will spend 5 times what you think going in so be warned .
Take comfortable shoes , dress casual and light , take a water bottle with you and get your ears professionally cleaned prior to arrival. The air is thin and you can get a headache so you may want to bring pills for that.
I also like the relaxed atmosphere of RMAF . Its not uncommon to see some of our mentors stopping to chat with us no bodies : Jonathan Valin , Robert Harley , Jason Serinus and Clement Perry come to mind as those gracious enough to stop and be respectful enough to say hi . You will see the legendary mastering engineer Steve Hoffman walking the halls as well as so many you have come to know through the pages of your favorite magazines and webzines. Its a thrill if you ask me and RMAF is where you can mingle in peace . CES is such a madhouse.
I don't know what you are looking for but year after year , there are some reliable rooms to awe you . Wilson usually has a couple of great rooms and MBL had 2 last year and is always a delight . Whatever Audio Limits or GTT Audio is doing is worth hearing as well as Avatar Acoustics and Matrix Audio rooms . I would not pass up the Hansen room either . The Symposium speakers last year were amazing and for bang for the buck , see the Reference 3A room if they are showing the Grand Veenas. Rives Audio room last year was stellar as was the Audio Space room. Everyone should experience the Vandersteen 5 A s as well Dynaudio speakers . Hear the YG room while you are at it .

Sonics are the Achilles heel of the Marriot so understand this is a hotel and not your dedicated listening room so temper your expectations . Digital glare is the main culprit thus vinyl rooms tend to sound better . Take your favorite , best sounding discs . RMAF is known for the hospitality often missing at CES but don't embarrass the room by asking to play Ratt at 105 db at 10 am in the morning. The sonics improve Saturday and sound best by Sunday fwiw .
The room service is not bad and the breakfast fruit , yogurt , orange juice choice is very good and not over priced. For steaks, Brooks Steakhouse is 5 mins away by cab and is good . I however suggest going into Denver to eat but there are too many good places to list . Meet a buddy or two , split a cab and make a night out of it . I also encourage everyone to respect the Hyatt for joining RMAF and stop by and support the exhibitors there .
Once you go to the RMAF , you do not have to do CES anymore for the most part. CES will survive but RMAF will not without our support . See you all there .

Brent Rainwater
Comfortable shoes, a game plan to see what you are serious about and an easy going attitude about a demo of your music on the disc you bring, I see folks get mad when they cant listen to 8 songs in a the guy is the only one at the show. A pen to jot down new music you are surely going to be exposed to is also a good idea. Last I would add not to grab literature your not really interested in for two resons, first it piles up quick and its a hassle to lug around, second that stuff costs those guys alot of money so dont waste it. Those are my thoughts after a few shows under my belt.
If by chance you purchase some sensitive gear there to take home, don't check it. Carry it with you on the plane. Homeland Security, the airline, etc. will NOT assume responsibility for any damages. Make dinner reservations at the local steakhouses such as del Frisco's, Elway's, etc well in advance. Bring a sturdy cloth sack or bag for product brochures. Copy everything in your wallet ( both sides ) in case of loss. Enjoy the best show in North America.
Great advise here -- I've made plane & hotel reservations months ago & am looking forward to not only the gear -- but the "kiosks" too (for music, tweaks, etc., which I've heard are numerous). Going with my best audiophile friend and a few others. Looking forward to seeing some of you there (at least maybe nametag/moniker recognition).
I'm also interested in one (or two) of the seminars -- & will sign up on arrival.
Bring lots of $$$$$ to buy what you like.