CanJam@RMAF: The Newbie's Guide
What to pack (for out-of-state travelers): 1 or 2 pairs of headphones/IEMs (at least if your headphones are uncommon, as the show will have the most popular current headphones), and your own music and/or DAP. Comfortable clothes (t-shirt, jeans, etc) & shoes. Clothing should also include preparation for possible rain (as in a rain jacket) or even snow (however unlikely it may be in early October at low-lying city elevation). And a camera or other photo-taking device! Don't be that guy we blame for not posting pics!
What to bring: just yourself and your enthusiasm! If you're interested in possibly buying stuff, I also recommend spare cash. There are CD & LP vendors who fill up a large room near the hotel entrance for those looking to buy music. And the custom IEM vendors usually offer free ear impressions + show discount pricing! There's also Moon Audio, who always looks to sell their stuff at the show too - so come prepared if you want to buy any of their display headphones, amps, or cables at show discount pricing.
Where to stay: there's the obvious venue Marriott DTC (DTC is short for Denver Tech Center). The Marriott will let up to 4 people sleep in the same room (see the show's Web site at audiofest.net for more on this). Literally a skip across the street is the Hilton Garden Inn DTC. A further short walk away are the Hyatt Regency DTC and Hampton Inn DTC. A 10-minute walk away is the Hyatt Place DTC. I highly recommend booking a hotel ASAP, as they always fill up early and fast! The Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, & Hyatt Regency are guaranteed to sell out well in advance!
How to get from the airport to the venue Marriott: Because the DTC is sort of far away from the airport (which us locals call DIA, short for Denver Int'l Airport), none of the DTC-area hotels offer a free airport shuttle. The transportation alternatives are, in order of increasingly expensive cost & efficiency: (1) RTD light rail to downtown first, then to the DTC (it'll take at least two transfers), (2) SuperShuttle, (3) taxi, or (4) your own rental car. RMAF provides a SuperShuttle discount, see their Web site for more info here: http://audiofest.net/new/americas-audio-show/2013-accommodations/
And here's a previous post of mine that details the info on using RTD to get from DIA to the Marriott: http://www.head-fi.org/t/556674/start-making-your-plans-for-2011-canjam-rmaf-rocky-mountain-audio-fest/165#post_7785070
What is CanJam@RMAF? Think of this event as being something like an expo for all things headphone-related, with a very large room stocked full with all kinds of headphone-related gear - from the headphones themselves to amps to cables and portable sources! The full list of vendors is back in post #1. Every vendor will be displaying their products (or products that they sell, in the case of the retailers) for demonstration at your leisure. If you've wanted a chance to hear the most-talked-about headphones on Head-Fi, this event is that chance to hear all those headphones in one place, from the Senn HD800 to the Audeze LCD and HiFiMan models to the Stax SR-009, plus way more. And if you have any burning questions for a vendor, you can ask them there too!
In terms of formalities, CanJam@RMAF is the only (inter)national, annual event/show officially affiliated with Head-Fi and has been running since 2009. By its nature it's above the scope of any regional Head-Fi meet, as this is THE go-to event for vendors who consider Head-Fi as a big part of their business or customer base (or both). New products have even been launched at previous CJ@RMAF events. Before the independent CanJam joined RMAF (although the word "CanJam" was coined in 2008, the event it refers to started in 2006), it was considered the premier international meet for Head-Fi members the world over. Although it's no longer technically a meet (as Head-Fi meets are organized by members for members - and the independent CanJams fell in that category, as they were organized by teams of Head-Fi members for Head-Fiers everywhere), it's still Head-Fi's official, annual, must-attend event and features all of the gear that any Head-Fier would be interested in hearing! If you're remotely interested in going beyond just reading about stuff on Head-Fi and actually hearing gear for yourself, I highly recommend attending!
How big is RMAF? It's huge! It's seriously so big that you probably won't see everything that there is to see in even 3 days, so plan accordingly. You could spend all weekend just in the Head-Fi room alone and never listen to a single pair of speakers. But I highly recommend stepping out of the Head-Fi room to go check out speakers. There are also so many floors of the speaker show that I recommend just taking the elevator to the top and slowly working your way down using the stairs, so you don't have to wait for the elevators, which always have long lines.
How much does it cost to attend? $25 for a standard 3-day adult pass, or $20 for 2 days. Students & seniors can get in for 50% off. Register on the RMAF site here: http://audiofest.net/new/registration/
How will I know who's a Head-Fier and who isn't? Short answer: you won't. The best way to find out is to just ask. However, I've found that the younger the person looks, the more likely that he (or she) will be a Head-Fier. Some intuition will also go a long way - for example, if you see a random person familiarly calling a vendor by their first name or in a casual conversation with one that's not about anything in particular, chances are good that person is a Head-Fier!
What else is there to see/do in the Denver area? This depends on if you have a rental car or not, and how much time you have. In the immediate proximity around the venue Marriott, there's not that much - it's the DTC which is basically an employment area, so it consists mostly of companies, restaurants, & apartments. Expanding to the greater Denver area, there's downtown with all of its tourist attractions (accessible by RTD), the city of Golden (the home of Coors) plus Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and the city of Boulder (the home of NCAR, NOAA, the University of Colorado, and many breweries). For those who will have a car and have never been to Colorado and like the outdoors, I'd highly recommend a visit to the mountains. The best spots within a reasonable driving distance are Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park (about 1.5 hours from Denver, and early October will be prime for the elk rut!) or up until about Frisco along I-70 (about 1.5-2 hours). Note that the "fall colors" in the Colorado mountains will be gone by 10/11 though (they usually peak by the end of September). The only fall colors remaining in Colorado by 10/11 will be at low-lying city elevation.
Edited by Asr - 7/31/13 at 3:02pm