My first visit to AXPONA

I took the 2 hour drive from Milwaukee today to check AXPONA out. What an overwhelming experience. I posted a couple weeks ago about my system that I love but after being on this forum for a while I was wondering what I'm missing. This was my first chance to hear some really elaborate and expensive set-ups. After a 2 hour drive home and analyzing what I heard, I decided to give a hug to my system. My Infinity Kappa 8's and the rest of my $8000.00 system will work for me. Don't take this wrong, I would love to upgrade but with my financial situation I will live and enjoy what I have. If by chance I win some lottery some day I know where $100,000.00 would go. 
That's a great and positive story. I've only gone to one audio show, eleven years ago (the '07 RMAF). I also thought I might suffer from disappointment with my then system when I returned home. That didn't happen, and it caused me to realize to improve much upon what I then had would have required much more in resources than what were available to me. That situation hasn't changed much, but my satisfaction with my system has gone up.

As Martha would say, "happiness is a good thing".

Best regards,
freediver, I think I was in every listening room, didn't care what type of music they were playing, but most showcased their best. No idea what the top of the line whent for but they had some versions that were a 1/4 of the size going for $10,000. I'm happy with my Adcom GFA 555 II amp as it handles my Infinity Kappa 8's just fine. I paid $800.00 for the pair ten years ago from a down and out friend. Reconed the woffers and replaced one back side tweeter. Didn't bother to ask prices on amps, you could tell just by looking that they cost some change. Some looked cooler than an old split window Corvette. Had a great time with the Thorens turntable rep. My first system purchased in 1974 included a TD 160. Just got back into vinyl recently and was shocked finding out it's considered a vintage classic. I found a service dude that knows Thorens really well. The tune-up costed $350.00, new wires, lubrication, and a new cartridge, Grado Red  II. It was his suggestion and I'm happy with it. Just so you know my current lineup is a new NAD C 165EE pre amp replacing my old Adcom GTP 500 II that developed balance issues but still use it as a tuner, a new NAD C546BEE CD player as I was getting better sound I thought I'd replace my old Technics SL PD-8. Please no bashing me on this one because I didn't know until joining this site I terminated my ancient Yamaha equilizer. With the newer components I didn't need it, however I bought a Shiit Loki, very simple and for $149.00 it gives a little tweaking. I also shocked some of the LP cleaning people with their big buck machines. A couple even agreed that the $300.00 I spent probably does a great job. One even asked where I bought one of my $20.00 components. Message me if interested, my system works great. After cleaning 10 albums the liquid in the tank is full of crap. This is after using my old better type Discwasher.

Agree with the OP. Even allowing for the challenges of setup in such a venue, its apparent that system synergy and performance isn't a given above some price point.

We didn't visit every room this year, but for me the highlight in the sub-mortgage range was the Gingko Audio room. 

The only new gear/tech that caught my eye is the VAC Sigma 170i. VAC refers to integrateds as a "lifestyle choice", which I am going to steal and use to explain why i went with the 1/2 ct. Diamond earrings for my wife instead of the full 1ct. "Baby, it's a life style choice". Worth a shot anyway.

Seemed like a major shift this year where lots of rooms where demoing with Tidal, versus 4 years ago when all the rooms were spinning vinyl. I think this is a good change, we heard a much wider variety of music.

JBL was conspicuously missing this year. Too bad, always enjoy that room
"If by chance I win some lottery some day I know where $100,000.00 would go."

Be prepared...
I always enjoy RMAF, but never plan to buy anything but LPs and maybe small items. I could not bring myself to make a major purchase based on 30 minutes in a hotel room. The unfortunate is that a lot of the gear I find desirable at the show are not available at local dealers. Although that is a presidense for a dilemma I still would hate to find that once placed in my home that I am not happy. But the show to me is great as I always learn something of value and enjoying new music always being played in the rooms. Parking does suck though🙃
I heard some JBL's- I think the LM100's ? Cool orange grills with what looked like a 15" main driver. A little wooly for my taste but at least they were playing Steely Dan! I found the choice of music in general was sleep inducing....
Most all "uber" expensive audio systems at shows, never held up to my $50K system at home.

These systems are sold to very rich, delusional, people that want "snob appeal" to their friends.

I quit going to shows the last few years.

Great thread.  I would particularly agree with the general concept that higher prices DON'T have a linear correlation with performance.  There is certainly correlation in many cases, perhaps even the majority, but exceptions abound.  For example, I've seen two or more cases where the most expensive speaker in a manufacturer's line was certainly not (to my ears, anyway) the best sounding speaker in that manufacturer's lineup.
The room with the Magnepan 3.7i (6K /pair) sounded excellent.  Also the Neat speakers at $5K pair and the Whammerdyne room. (speakers about $6K pair, tube amp a couple of thousand)
There was a mention of the Vanatoo speakers on the other AXPONA thread, and I thought I would give them a shout out here.  I've owned the Transparent One's for a couple of years, and they are the best small active speakers I've heard, actually, to me ears, beat out my LS50's in some ways.  I'm very excited about the  new speakers coming this year which are larger than the T1's.  Check them out if you get a chance (and now with remote!).
I’ve gone to Axpona consistently for years.  I decided not to this year because I’m finished with abusing my hearing.  Restaurants are bad enough.  I don’t get why all the reps insist on ear-splitting sound levels in those small hotel rooms.  If that’s the way one listens these days, then by all means encourage young people to go into audiology.  Very soon there will be more work than they can handle.
Quintessence Audio had a room where they had many pieces of equipment displayed but they were using an Aurender A10 directly into a SimAudio Moon amplifier (might have been an integrated amplifier) into the small Wilson speakers.  Seems to me that the entire system with cables was well under $50K (perhaps, less than $40K... I don't know what power treatment and cables cost) and it sounded really, really great.  Yes, the more elaborate and expensive systems were better but it showed that ultra high end performance could be achieved without a 6 figure budget. I would never have known without asking that they weren't using the high end SimAudio Moon DAC and preamp with the 860 amp also being displayed which would have probably exceeded $75K.
High end audio is similar to many extremes of any hobby or sport. There is always a place where price and performance meet. For us that price point is higher than people who don’t appreciate systems like ours. There is a point where doubling price doesn’t add appreciable performance. To be truly elite is crazy expensive and is always on the cusp such as high jumpers, many collegiate jumpers can jump 7” but only a handful in the world can jump 7’2” plus, millions of dollars are spent to get milliseconds faster per lap on Indy and F1 cars, many examples abound. It is satisfying to know you don’t have to break the bank to get world class sound. Especially if you’re creative and patient. 
I went to Axpona for three days, The Expo hall has many good products to sell, especially CDs , vynil, headphone, cables, For me this year the place is way much larger, much nicer, plenty of mezzanine to rest...convenient parking. Rooms are also nicer....plenty nice expensive set up.But I like best is the GINGKO room and Elac B6 2.0...both musically organic....The Yg acoustics set up, where Lyn Stanley is, also sounds very good...steinheim set up gave me and Markr real goosebump...Its really a blessing living 35 minutes from that venue ....this year it’s more wife enjoyed it too...

I haven't been to tons of shows, but I've done Axpona twice, RMAF once, and most recently last year's Capital Audio Fest.  Each show venue is different, but each offers entertainment and a great deal of education if you limit evaluations to things you can hear a difference with.   The best expectation is to have fun, learn about a product type you may be considering (headphones, ultrasonic cleaners, room correction, music servers, etc) and maybe buy some music or accessories.

If you go to a show to hear speaker XYZ hoping to be really impressed, don't write it off if it sucks at the show.  I absolutely love my speakers despite less than good initial exposure to them.  I did hear the qualities I was looking for and knew they would do better in my room.

Most rooms won't come close to your room, not by a long shot so everything you may actually like will sound different at home, usually better unless you have a challenged room.  

Managing crowds so that people can year things at their best is also nearly impossible.  There are limited speaker types (Omni) and setups that accommodate people all over the room, both standing and sitting.  Many systems need their sweet spot for best sound.  How many of us have entered rooms where getting the sweet spot just isn't worth the wait?

You just need to know shows won't give you all the answers.