Do You Allow Anyone Else To Operate Your Rig?

No one touches my system...period.

At a dinner party about a year ago, I had a cd playing in the background. When the cd finished, I was busy in the kitchen and entertaining guests. After about 15 minutes of no music, a guest felt that he should start the music up again. I looked up and saw this guy pushing buttons and turning knobs trying to figure out how to get the system going. I must have given him a frosty stare that would have made Medusa proud. My 11 year-old son saw my expression and felt sorry for the guy and went over and told him, "sir, no one is allowed to touch my dad's stuff".

Do other family members play your rig? Do you allow guests to operate your system?

Sorry, but no one is allowed to touch my stuff and I don't apologize for it. I don't even allow anyone to dust it off. Once the housekeeper dusted off my turntable and bent the stylus, ruined it....$500 bucks gone just like that. I never said a word to her about it, I just told her not to ever dust of my equipment again.

In another incident someone tried to play an LP while I was not watching. He got the turntable going but couldn't figure out how to get sound from the system. When I went over to see what was going on, he had the volume turned all the way up to maximum but still had no sound...of course he had no idea what a phono preamp was and of course it was not turned on. Had he turned the source knob one turn to my tuner which was switched on, he probably would have done serious damage to my speakers and scared the heck out of all of my guests with a loud blast. I politely told him not to ever touch my stuff again.

I've never had a guest over that was an audiophile.
Neva! I explained to my super cost-conscious wife that just turning the components on/off in the wrong order can cause damage. She has yet to ask what the proper order is and apparently just prefers to use the portable boom box if I'm not around to supervise, lest she blow something up forcing me to purchase yet another audio gem. Fine with me.
If a stranger so to speak wants to see the light of day tomorrow they or who ever will not get within 5 feet of my set up. This is told to them up front. DO NOT TOUCH !
I do have my audio friends over and they can pretty much do what ever they want.
Having a dedicated room is a real plus. Other then I have to do all the cleaning, but that's my choice and I will keep it that way.
Did you ever think of educating people on how to operate the system properly? You have a very nice setup, but I would think the average human could understand how to run it with less than 10 minutes of instruction. It ain't rocket science.
If someone comes over & wants to have a listen, I have them sit in the sweet spot & hand over the remote. A 12 second tutorial on operation & they're having fun.

My wife isn't interested in the stereo but my boy likes to run his computer or game gear through, so I leave input #1 open for him. He's learned over the yrs. about audio & has a decent computer based system.

As for the nuts & bolts of operation, only a few trusted audiophile friends and my boy can do whatever.
Audiophiles are a dying breed. The population will be gone quicker with that kind of attitude. Education is key.

Your post raises a corrolary question. Would you ever touch another audiophile's system without first gaining permission to do so? I know I would not. The risks are too great. The person who did so at your party was rude and deserves a polite but stern reminder that his monkeying with your system could have caused it to self destruct potentially leading you into financial ruin, deep depression, etc.

I would allow other people to use my system after I have instructed them how to use it and they have demonstrated the ability to do so.
I am in the process of teaching my girlfriend only because she shows a real interest in stereo. And she knows how costly everything is and fully respects it.
in the nearly 30 years i've been married, my wife and my daughter have been subjected to music and movies, which they both love. they also have no clue why i covet equipment. they would both rather have a bose tabletop than anything they've ever seen or heard go through my 'cave'. ironically, they both understand completely my desire to collect music. as far as having a party and using a high end rig to fuel the music...i don't think so. education is important, but a party is not the place to show friends how we treat our stereo like its an alter. pack it away, and enjoy the party with a boombox ipod,or whatever.
I prefer to not have anyone touch my gear, especially anyone who does not have a stereo system themselves.

That being said, I do have a couple of friends whom I have turned into budding audiophiles, who have their own systems now. They have operated my system occasionally, usually with my permission, while I am out of the room, cooking, mixing drinks, etc. (Although the last time one of them did, he almost damaged my cartridge. As he was returning the arm to the rest, he pushed slightly down on the arm, and the stylus was dragged across the record. Needless to say, he got evil eye for that one, and he no longer is so quick to touch my system!)

My wife used to use the CD player on occasion, but as my system got more complex (i.e. monoblock amps, remote controls, etc.), she seems to have lost her desire to use it.

If I train someone to use the system, I am okay with them operating it, as long as they understand my policy is "You break it, you bought it!"
Dude, if I had your rig, no one would ever touch it, either. Awesome!!!!
I always invite inept adults or very young children to experiment with my systems.- Right! Only my wife who understands the system using an integrated and my audiophool friends play with my gear. I don't have to prohibit the naive, they are naturally bewildered by my systems, they fear audio gear.
The average person would be intimidated to touch it. Four different components need to be powered on just to play anything. All of my friends are adept with hi-end audio, so not a problem for me.
Your corrolary is interesting. I allow myself to mess with my friends systems, but do so only if I am certain of what I am doing. The Hippocratic oath is a good place to start with anything that is not yours: "First, do no harm."
My Ht systems is for anyone-but I have a 1 touch remote which pretty much takes of the any problems before they start--other then volume of course, my 2 channel rig that cost a tenth of my HT systems is strictly off limits!!
If it's somebody I know that knows about audio equipment and has asked my permission, probably. But in general, No.
My wife couldn't power up my system if her life depended on it! She doesn't care about it however so it's not a problem.

Strangers, absolutely not unless they too have nice gear and are trusted.
My whole system has one volume knob and one switch selecting either TV or DVD sound. Amplifier has max of 100W and speakers can take it. In addition amplifier has soft clipping. The worst thing that can happen is just loud sound that might scare somebody. Keep it simple people!
Its not uncommon for non-audiophiles to try and turn a high end system into a juke box epecially at parties, sometimes the results surprise me. The average person don't understand the time, money & effort that goes into these rigs. Letting these people know in advance that nobody touches it but yourself is a good practice. It is a great fear of mine as well as others that we are one push of the wrong button away from destroying speakers. Even in some rigs where someone in the household tries to turn off a system in the wrong sequence can result in serious problems.
Absolutely not, the small system perhaps but not the dedicated system. There is just to much money and effort put into it. The turntable would be the biggest concern since very few people even know what it is now days. No one has ever touched the controls on my system and never will.
Good thread.
Excluding turntable/cartridges, what's with all the comments about serious harm coming to your system from pushing the wrong button? I've seen quite a few systems in my time, but never one with a "danger Will Robinson" setting. Why would anyone design a system that would self-destruct with the push of a wrong button?

Just to make it clear -- I'm talking about turning knobs and pushing buttons, not pulling out cables or opening cases.
No one in my house knows how other than me!

Would you let someone borrow your Harley, or 'Vette that you weren't absolutely sure and totally convinced that they knew what they were doing in operating said vehicles? For many people they have a lot invested (and not just dollars and time) into their "audio rig", as it's says something about their "personal taste" and how they like to listen to their music. Indeed it's often a reflection on who they are, and how they see themselves.

Perhaps someone should turn lose their "peanut butter and jelly sandwish" eating 3 year old, and let them turn the knobs and push the buttons on your system, as I'm sure you would appreciate that. Just kidding. Truth be told, there are many adults who haven't progress much further than the 3 year old, in the regards to handling other people equipment. Myself, I would never touch anyone else's system without their expressed permission, as I would think it would be a extremely rude thing to do so. It's that "respect" thing.
I've lent out my Lotus and even let one friend take the controls of my Lear. . . but touch my rig??? You've got to be kidding! Okay, I'm awake now. . . I guess I must've been dreaming there for a moment (and it sure was nice!).

Seriously, I've encouraged friends and even a couple of house-sitters to use my gear after brief instruction. So far, no casualties. Maybe I've just been extraordinarily lucky!

Along the way I've created a few "converts" so I feel good about spreading the love and having old friends enjoy a new experience. I get a vicarious lift whenever they get a fine piece of gear or discover a great piece of music, and enjoy the discussions we we get to have around our common interest. I guess for me it's kind of a karma thang to share. I'm a bit selective about who I think would be interested in, and respectful of my gear, although I probably err away from the side of caution. I hope my luck (or Karma) holds out.
Onhwy61....the systems were designed with instructions on how to handle them. Systems have no inherent design to self-destruct. In the wrong hands without proper training is where the problem lies. Things don't self-destruct....people destroy them. Gas stoves abound in this the wrong hands, you can easily blow up your house if you don't know what you're doing. Automobiles are built safer than they've ever been...but people still run into trees and into each other....while sober. All of you have gotten into an unfamiliar car and couldn't find the switch for the lights, the emergency brake release, cruise control unless you took out the users manual to find out where stuff was. But, you got into the car witht the knowledge that you knew how to drive and found out that it was not exactly the same as your car and you had to familiarize yourself with the new doodads.

My system has nine monoblocs amps, a preamp, phono preamp, tuner, pre/pro, turntable, cd player, a servo control, 2 dvd players and six remotes. Some guy with a reciever at home walks up to my system and wants to be a smartass and thinks he knows what he's doing. I think not. No way he can know how to operate it any more than one of us knows what to do in an airiliner cockpit or with the equipment in a hospital room.....wer're out of our element in those situations and we keep our hands off.

Sorry, but I just don't let anyone touch my stuff. If an audiophile ever stops over, I'd be glad to hand over the reins.

Recently, I went over to a guys house that had a set of $40k speakers for sale at a big discount that I was considering purchasing. He had killer equipment all the way around. I knew better than to touch anything without his permission. Whe he handed me the remote for the preamp to turn up the volume on the system....I was very careful, almost reluctant. I just had a lot of respect for his equipment. I could see the time and money he'd spent assembling it and I didn't want to assume or presume anything. I know my way around an audio setup....but this was NOT MY SETUP and I was not about to go fiddling around.

Someone mentioned it's not rocket science...of course it's not. But it aint riding a tricyle either.

Don't touch my stuff.
Onhwy61 - With all gear powered off, is it OK to power on your giant ss amp first, then your preamp (volume high from last night's party) and then source? Or how about once your preamp is on, minutes later accidentally bouncing the power toggle switch (off/on) on your tube amp? Is this OK to do? Or how about during the party, as it gets louder, friend A pushes the volume up. Then later, party louder, friend B pushes the volume higher. At this point the voice coils are overheating. You don't notice because the party's going strong. Is that OK? Or how about someone less knowledgable flips on your amp without looking and doesn't see a tube flare? OK to just let it ride? I think the more hands that touch the system the more opportunity for accidents. I am not calling all of these people stupid or incapable of following direction. Its just that some people are careful and attend to detail well and some don't. I do, and only I fully comprehend how much effort and cost it has taken me to assemble my system. Therefore, it is likely that no one will take more care of it than me. And since I can no longer afford to replace broken gear I am even more cautious than ever.
Rockaddany - Overheating the voice coil - not likely. Music carries only few watts of RMS power even at 100W peaks. Destroying equipment by fliping on and off power switch? - what about brown-outs?. TT is different story, I agree but with the rest of the stuff I just see people being very possessive, nothing else.
No one would even think of using it, but that is because every member of the family has at least one system of their own to use in additon to the home theater system that is for everyone's enjoyment. The home theater system has a CD changer that we put on infinite repeat so that there is never dead air during parties.
Just to be argumentative, if your system is comparable to a jetliner cockpit, and yes, someone did clearly imply that to be the case, then why would you leave it out at a party unattended? If your system is that complex and that valuable wouldn't it have been prudent to disassemble it and store in a temperature controlled underground nuke proof vault rather than expose it to party goers? If that's too extreme then at least put the system behind a velvet rope with an armed guard.

Cleaneduphippy, I don't own a Harley, but I do let licensed motorcyclist who I know ride my Yamaha or Kawasaki. Doing so involves some risk, but I value my relationship with these people more than I value the motorcycle. It's a trust thing.

Key words in your responds to me is "licensed motorcyclist", that says to me you don't let someone take out your "Yamaha or Kawasaki" without at least a certain degree of knowledge, which is the point I was trying to make.
Cleaneduphippy - Owners of mentioned Harleys wouldn't allow another person, even very responsible and good biker, to ride/borrow their bike. It has nothing to do with the risk of damage - just being possessive.

Most of the people here wouldn't allow stranger/guest to touch their system even if there would be no risk of damage at all.
I bought a SqueezeBox and a Rhapsody subscription. I now pre-program the SqueezeBox to play uninterrupted music all evening long. Now, no lulls in the music and guests are less likeley to 'help me out' and re-start the music.

Before the Squeezebox, my only sources for music were the turntable and a single-disc cd player. The tuner wasn't suitable when guests were over.

It seems a source that could give you 4-5 hours of uniterrupted music like a 5-disc player, a streaming device or a hard-drive based device could alleviate the the whole 'don't touch my stuff' thing while entertaining.
Many years ago,a friend of mine and his girl friend came to my home for a visit. The girl friend walked directly towards my rig in the living room. The Nakamichi 700 cassette deck required the pushing of a button to open the cassette drawer. The young lady tried to force the draw oprn by pulling on it. Before I said anything,my friend told her not to touch the equipment.
Has anyone had the experience of someone removing a record from the jacket,then the sleeve and handling the playing surface? The information is on the jacket,why is this necessary?
Simple answer, NO!
Are you guys for real???

My main rig is easily operated by my wife and two step daughters (and has been since they were 10 and 14) thanks to a good universal remote.

My rig is to be used and enjoyed by all, friends at [parties usually don't know how to operate it manually, and that's fine, so I keep the remote out.

I am really surprised so many of you freak out if someone touches your system!
gee, i just tell them to gently touch a couple of buttons, and the music either starts or stops. BUT... i freak out if people touch the PLAYING SURFACE of my cd's with their smutty fingers. then the dirty cd goes into a transport which doesn't know where the data is anymore. if the dirt gets onto the lens inside, i am instructed to never attempt to clean that lens myself. this is a real conundrum for me. so sometimes if someone wants to play a cd, or try out my beautiful PIANO, i tell them to please GO WASH THEIR HANDS. sorry, but i worked in a HOSPITAL for over 20 years, so these are the Rules. if they can't go wash up, i simply say no, you can't.
I'm not sure how fingerpints on CD can dirty lens, but it's easy to show your friend how to handle CD.

When I visit my friends I never touch their stereo or TV or VCR for the same reson that I don't open their drawers or refigirator but if my guest wants to set music himself I will show him how and politely instruct him not to turn volume knob beyond certain point (and explain why) if there is no sound. My 4 year old daughter was operating my TT doing better job than I did (being more carefull) - it's not rocket science folks.
I generally allow anything that can be done with the remote. The TT is a different since I've found that even adults tend to not understand how fragile the stylus can be and how much it costs to replace it. I trust audiophile friends, but expect them to replace anything they might break, just as I would if I broke something in their system. (I never touch someone else's stuff without asking first).

Another good rule is no cleaning of equipment, including dusting. Speakers can be dusted, but new maids have to be taught not to run the vacuum into the side of the speakers. I assure you, if left to their own devices, they'll scratch the sides of your speakers with the vacuum.

Kenny -

You use a processor as a pre-amp... any monkey can operate one of those!!! :)

I kid.. I kid!!
Let me give you a case scenario. I was entertaining six guests. Some of these people brought over their own CDs. I put on a CD adjusted the volume and left the room for a couple of minutes to answer the phone. One wanted to kick up the volume but accidently touched the rotary input selector (it is the soft touch electronic type). Apparently this person had turned the volume up all the way up trying to get sound. When I returned I pointed out it was on the wrong input, (not knowing the volume was still all the way up) I turned the rotary input selector to CD and was immediately blasted out. I panicked but was able to turn it down fast. Fortunately no damage occured to my speakers because of my immediate action. But this is how too many hands spoil the pot.
Phd......I was one input click away from the same thing that happened to you. Four monoblocs each rated at 1200 wpc uleashed at maximum volume...I still shudder at the thought of what I would have heard and the potential damage that could have been caused.

I feel better now about my hands-off policy. I knew I couldn't be the only person that felt that way.
Mitch4t, hands-off is a good policy. Wow! 1200 watts per channel, that is considerably more power than my meager 125 watts per channel but my speakers are highly efficient. Yes, you would of definately set them speakers ablaze!
Absoutely not. I am on my third cartridge (1 broken suspension, 1 broken stylus) thanks to third parties. So, that is $1,100 down the toilet. CDs, maybe, but turntables? Never!! Amps on, preamp on, phono-preamp on, mute button on, start tt, tt motor on, vacuum cup on, manually place stylus on LP, mute wife can't remember the sequence, so how can a guest know? It's not a reasonable expectation. And no dusting - ever - by a "lay" person.
See - I even typed the wrong sequence - preamps on first,,,,,,,,so if I got it wrong, imagine a guest?
the only other person that uses my system is my wife. She knows how to operate it and that is why I don't have a problem with it.

I once had my buddy over with his girlfriend, who thought that the Nautilus tweeters are karaoke mics and had made and attempt to remove it. Good thing I turned my head in time because I sensed something was going to go wrong when she was hanging around the speakers for more than 30 seconds, and saw her grab a tweeter. Man, I must have yelled "don't touch that!" so hard that she jumped up. I scared the hell out of her, but saved my speaker. Now I just make it a habbit to tell people not to touch the speakers when I see them headed towards the system. For most that also means don't touch any of the components.
Onhww61 I'm gonna make a "Danger Will Robinson!" for my turntable with the label maker. Priceless!
Audphile - Oh my God! When you have such guests you should not only protect your stereo but also TV, microwave, kitchen mixer and perhaps even iron.
Anyone I have over is more than welcome to use my system, with or without my presence. It's pretty well automated with the universal remote.

I did make the mistake of leaving my turntable out during a party once, and afterwards, my Denon 103's cantilever was pointing to left field... oh well, though. It was a fun party.

Other than that, I've never had a problem. I'm kind of surprised about all the "hands off" policies. Other than turntable cartridges, or people turning volume knobs all the way up (common sense?), what's gonna break? Nothing
Audphile....I was rolling on the floor laughing my guts out reading your post regarding your buddy's girlfriend.

That one goes into the hall of fame.

For those of you that suggest removing my turntable when entertaing guests.....I don't think so. It's much easier to say don't touch than to take down and set up again.

No one so far has been offended when I asked them to not touch. If someone does get offended, I probably wouldn't want them back as a guest anyway if they couldn't be respectful and understanding.
My 8 year old boy uses my main system plus he has his own;) When younger he messed about with my loudspeakers so I built a pair of horns he could play in without damaging them...He would sit inside my bass horns rolling his hotwheels. He tried climbing up my Oris 150 horn array his feet got about 3 ft off the ground before slipery car paint made him lose his rock climbers grip. Wont let him touch my TT but he knows tubes and amps are hot and CDs need care or they wont work he learned this the hard way with his costly vidio games and DVDs. I have a local shop buff out the damage ones.
NO NEVER. That's why I have an $1,100.00 system in the same room with my $12,000.00 system. Volume up full with just a click away from full crank? Your foolish guest will probably try to sue you for ear damage, on top of the brain damage he may already have or about to receive. Be careful and have a sign posted just like people have on their classic cars.