For the ultra high-end home audio rooms it's mostly sit and listen to a demonstration with some of the smaller/shared rooms letting you play around. For the headphone stuff it was all, choose headphones from a stand, pull up a chair and have at it. Someone above mentioned IEMs. I didn't see any at last year's show.
"Sadly, once you actually start listening to them, it becomes obvious that besides the bass, everything else is painfully harsh and piercing, with a shrill, metallic characteristic to the sound."
^This. If you like anything other than bass, don't get the pro 900. I had mine for maybe a few hours before deciding to sell them.
I went last year. If you like audio gear, it will be awesome. It's that simple. Where else can you listen to hundreds of thousands of $ of audio equipment (single rooms were filled with small fortunes), set up by manufacturers/real professionals, all day, for $20? I think I got $20 of free audio magazines the second I walked in, along with a show magazine that detailed exactly what each vandor was showing in each room, and a map of the whole place.
My favorite bands (at the moment) in no particular order: Dream Theater, Symphony X, Mastodon, Animals as Leaders, Katatonia, Opeth, Transatlantic, Pink Floyd.
Any suggestions for similar, perhaps somewhat obscure, bands I might want to check out? Bonus points if the lead guitarist is nasty.
Please don't suggest Avenged Sevenfold.
I listened to both at the event. I actually listened to every model and Mike Dias spent a generous amount of time talking with me about the different models. It's been a while so I'm not going to try and drop a bunch reviewer speak, but to me the UERMs sounded neutral and detailed, as you might expect. Switching to the new custom monitors my first thought was that the music sounded ALIVE. It was really incredible. I'd say at the very least it's worth going out of your...
I think J&R's return policy excludes iems but when I went in and talked to a sales guy he said I could buy a few and return the ones I didn't want. Might be worth asking them what the deal really is. I ended up only buying one and didn't try to return it.