Hello Audiogoners, I could really use your advice...

I have some visitors from Europe that will be staying at my apartment for 1 week. They also have a 6 year old. Can anyone give me any advice on how I can tell them not to touch the stereo without offending? All I can envision are curious 6 year old fingers (i.e. dimples in tweeters, pushing ten buttons at a time, etc.)

I would ask the parents ahead of time to ask the child not to touch, but instead to ask if he/she would like to listen to some music.

If they are interested and end up touching your stuff the best approach is just to remind them to please come get you if they want to listen to music.

If you feel that the child in question is unlikely to obey (and I'm not judging the child here .. some kids are more inquisitive, and push the boundaries more than others) then I'm afraid the only answer is to move your gear temporarily into a room that is designated as off limits.

Watch out for small toys going in bass reflex ports as well. A friend of mine had to have his Kef reference speakers dismantled at the Kef factory to remove toy soldiers.
Me??---I would disassemble the system,place it in a closet,speaker drivers facing a wall---this way you don't have to repeat the "don't touch".
I had a babysitter snap the cantilever off of my cartridge while playing LPs for the kids. It's a difficult situation. Our home was more or less 'child-proof' where the knobs, and TT were well off the floor.

Would it work to just unplug some of the gear, say the amp/pre-amp. If you have a TT that is within reach of little fingers, you would be better off to put it away. No parent is going to let their child ruin something, but why take a chance with a whoops? Make sure speakers have grill cloth on, and are solidly placed. It hard with stand mounted speakers. Kids could knock them off the stand.

Use whatever precaution is available, just asking might not be enough, and there is no sense loosing a friendship over a week without the system. Good luck.
Its simple tell the kids parents that the stereo is off limits
The key is to avoid to tell them DON'T TOUCH. No matter what way you mention it they would feel uneasy to stay at your place.
Disassemble the whole system and put them in the corner with drap cover it.
Put the kid up for SALE on Audiogon !!!!
George has it right! Fageddabout diplomacy or psychology or instruction-giving. UNLESS YOUR VISITORS ARE ALSO AUDIOPHILES, lock off the living room, or lock up the equipment in a closet.
I think the demo is a good idea. I would consider movers blankets over the speakers. Better yet keep the kid out of the room unattended. Remember some 6 year olds may be too young understand don't touch. I was fortunate that my kids never damaged my systems. My cleaning lady did rip the stylus off of two turntable! while dusting. I never wanted to freak the kids out over the equipment I always want them to feel more important then the stereo. I do joke with them all the time that the stereo is my third child # 1 of 3. My son blew a fuse when he was very little turning the volume to Max by accident. He cried but I laughed and told him not to worry just be careful. He now composes classical music in high school that is amazing and knows classic rock like an enclyopedia. And loves his awesome vintage Music systems a/d/s, Revox , Tandberg, Linn LP12 etc.! Lastly kids need activities like going to the park or being envolved in stuff or they find things to do like drawing on walls or "playing" with your stereo. Keep them busy!
It is often harder to be the guest than being the host. Guests who are very appreciative of the hospitality will not be a problem. That being said, your guests might also be more sensitive than you think. Do remember that even though the child is six, there are parents who still have not gotten over issues being about the child and your belongings and not them and their own sensitivities. I suggest you pack away the most precious and just enjoy your guests and keep your items out that can withstand the odd fingureprint.
If you have pets expect the kid to chase them at full tilt around the room with the usual consequences. Without pets watch for the peanut butter sandwich in the CD drawer routine. It's hilarious!
Simplest solution is a straight-jacket for the kids and if the parents complain, crank up the volume till you can't hear 'em. Truthfully a six year old should understand the word "NO" but in a new envirment anything is possible. Unless your freinds want to hear your system and share your passion I would dis-assemble it and lock it away.
at 6 kids are like magnets for disaster. put your system away in a safe place. even a well behaved child might have an accident.
I would recommend a combination of what has already been said. First, unplug the power from everything. Second, turn the speakers to face against a wall, plugging any ports, and draping cloth over them. Third, disconnect any turntable and hide it on an upper shelf in a closet. Fourth, drape cloth over remaining components. Fifth, tell the parents that your rig is out of service and in a fragile state and you would appreciate it if no one touches it, urging them to communicate this to the child. Good luck.
Well, I have been in this situation, and what I did was this:

First, be completely honest with the parents, and let them know that you are very concerned.

Second, let them know that you are aware that kids will be kids, but if something gets broken, that as the parents of the child, they are responsible for the child's actions, including any damaged or broken equipment.

Third, and this is the most important advice I am giving, let the parents know the exact cost of the components of your system. (Yes, this might seem like bragging, or it might make them think you're eccentric at best, and nuts at worst, but you will get your point across that if their kid breaks it, they will be out a very large sum of money!)

At this point the parents will be very concerned that they will now be on alert and will be quite aggressive towards watching the child.

FYI, I've done this a couple of times, and one time, (my wife's friends), actually said they changed their minds and ended up staying at a local hotel with their two children. (Didn't break my heart in the least!)

My two cents worth anyway!
Good Luck to you and your equipment!

PS If you have a turntable, make sure to:
A. Have a dust cover,
B. Always have it in place,
C. If possible, put something heavy on top, so they kid can't lift it up!

FYI: At one of my BBQ's, my friend's kids strummed the exposed cantilever of my Benz Micro Glider 2 like a guitar string so they could hear it make funny noises! (My friend (obviously a true friend!) came through with most of the money to replace the cartridge. I got a Koetsu next time, as the cantilever is hidden under the body of the cartridge and it has a stylus guard to boot!!)
this is a hard thing to do! Having 2 boys less than 6 yrs old that are curious kittens, I can empathize w/ your situation. Little boys love buttons to push! :-) The more, the merrier for them!

well, if you have speaker grills, then deploy for sure. They can protect the drivers unless the child does something drastic. You can also mark the speaker position on the carpet w/ tape. Then move the speaker against the wall w/ the drivers pointing into the wall i.e. the child can only play w/ the speaker binding posts. This ain't so bad.
Another thing you can do is, unplug the equipment so that it does not respond to the button push. The little fingers want to push the buttons & see the equipment light up. when it doesn't (it's unplugged) their enthusiasm wanes rapidly & they leave that equipment alone. Also, know that buttons on stereo equipment are designed for many pushes before it actually fails.
3rdly, if you have spare bedsheets, thrown them over the gear (much like you would over furniture when you paint the walls).
Remove all doubt, pack it away & not have to be offending to your friends. It'll sound that much better to you when you fire it up after they vacate. peace of mind
Better yet tell your freinds you will meet them for coffee at a local coffee shop
If they are people you have to *tell* them, then they should not stay with you...

Sad but true.
rather than have hard feelings or even worse lose a friendship sipmly pack the system away for a week,kids that live in homes with high performance systems know all the rules about staying the hell away from papa's rig,kids who dont live in homes with high performance rigs find them captivating & cant wait to twist all the knobs & poke their little fingers through all the dustcaps on the speakers.

you could even end up with a peanut butter & jelly sandwich shoved inside your transport,not a pretty picture.
Get one of those invisible fences they use for dogs, except make the 6 y/o wear the shock collar. Put the barrier field three feet around your system. Every time the kiddo tries to cross the line....ZAP!! Or you could use mousetraps.

OK, maybe not. On second thought, maybe you'd better just put the thing away or cover it with a blanket or unplug it or something......
this interesting question & its answers/suggestions by the various members certainly brings to light the attitudes of citizens of the Western world - material wealth reigns supreme & human relationships are -w-a-y- behind! A country filled w/ such poor people! :-(
just let your "Audio Geekness" shine for a good half hour, speak all technical and long winded, the will get so bored with it and not want to encourage you!
that was a cheap shot Bomb, just because we cant afford to replace broken electronics does not mean we dont care, so we love stereos and showers...whats so bad about that?
Bombaywalla, I think the point is that this stuff represents a significant investment, and that children will naturally want to explore it because it looks cool. Should we just let them break something, then laugh it off? How does it build a relationship to see a $3000 oops coming and not do anything to avert it? If Portugall did nothing, and something broke, everyone would feel bad - the guests, hwo may not be able to afford to pay for something which they had no idea was so expensive, the owner, who might feel uncomfortable asking for compensation, and taking what could be a multi-$1000 loss.
I do understand your point, though. If a material posession is going to cause such strife, is it worth it? I would not want to own something that I think would reasonably expect to be broken, for exmple, I don't have expensive glasses. If someone served me a sandwich on the deck on a $500 Noritake plate, and it fell off the arm of the chair, and he wanted me to pay for the plate, I'd be really annoyed; not for owning such a plate, but for setting me up for disaster. By the same token, the owner of a very expensive system should take precautions when he sees an event in which it is likely that damage could occur. Parents should also control their children. just like crossing a street. The pedestrian should only cross when safe to do so. But if he screws up, the driver can't run him over
There are also a lot of opportunities for kids to fry or phyically injure themselves, depending on the type of gear you have. I'd recommend stashing it away.
Dude you must be too far away from knowikng kids.
6 y.o's usually understand speach correctly but first you should see if there any attention to your rig.
My wife and I now life in a child free zone. After several bummer incounters with various friend's kids, we now no longer welcome most of them at our home.

It is unfortunate, but most parents are used to their children and accept their behaviour. In a new enviornment, behaviour that is cool at home may be disruptive, destructive or even dangerous.

We have had a 6 year old start a tractor and an eleven year old drive a golf cart into a pond. Over the years, kids have destroyed art, stolen money, colthing, jewerly and collectables, broken heirlooms, hurt our pets and defaced our home and its furnishings.

Most of our friends understand and accept our rules. A majority even like haveing a place to visit without their kids.

You can take the risk, but I can tell you that it will destroy your friendship if a kid ruins your stuff.
I want to thank everyone for all of their insight! I am not in the financial position to absorb the cost of repair or replacement. I'm going to follow some of your advice and dismantle the system entirely for 1 week. That way, nothing gets damaged and I won't offend anyone. This will also allow me to clean IC's, the rack, etc. when I reassemble the system.

Thanks again!
Portugal ... I think a very good move.

After reading the thread I agree with Bombaywalla's statement that as a society we are wedded too closely to our posessions.
Hey Portugal11, another positive in the dis-assemble and re-assemble of a system is that it affords a great opportunity. To clean all connections and re-arrange cables and etc. And Bombaywalla we in the western world also shamefully share a sense of humor and do not judge an entire social hemisphere by what we read on a website forum.
Theo, Chadlinz,

I have lived in Germany, my home country & now the USA. Spent a -l-o-t- of time in Western Europe. If I add up the years spent in the Western world & in my home country, it works out to be a 50-50 split. With that experience in mind, I wrote my original comment. I did not pass my comments by merely reading "what we read on a website forum".
The suggestions made by people here are EXACTLY what I wrote in my original post. It mirrors the society at-large even tho the sample in this thread is really very small.
Bombay, I agree that we, in the west, are too wedded to our material posessions (and I can only speak of us westerners having only lived in Europe (27 years) and the US (10 years)).

However I am firmly of the belief that people the world over are fundamentally the same, and the only reason that westerners appear to be more materialistic, is because we have the opportunity to be materialistic. As the opportunity opens up in India and China so will those people become more materialistic and fall into the same trap as us westerners.

Westerners spend their entire lives surrounded by advertising, that, from a young age, is devoted to persuading you that you are defined by what you buy. Is it any wonder that we're a bit screwed up !?
Hi Seandtaylor99,
you seem to be the only one to openly acknowledge this. The others seem confrontational &/or in denial (to various degrees). Yes, this audio gear is expensive. Yes, this audio gear is expensive to fix if it breaks accidently or otherwise. Yes, this audio is our obsession. But, hell, don't put a piece of eye-candy metal above a human relationship! That's all I'm saying. Put the whole thing in perspective & realize what's of higher importance (it's not audio gear!).

It is true that advertising here is very, very strong & they get you when you are very young & condition you to give material wealth the highest pedestal. Somewhere along the line, I hope, that mature adults will be able to keep that advertising influence in check. Maybe this is occuring but at not a high enough rate?
"Somewhere along the line, I hope, that mature adults will be able to keep that advertising influence in check."

There's a whole ad. industry dedicated to making sure that doesn't ever happen. We are so immersed in advertising that, and the advertising industry is so manipulative that is very difficult for folks to step back from it all.

Recognize also that there's a difference between being wedded to ones posessions, and simply not wanting to be put in the difficult situation of having to pay a lot of money (which we all have to work for) to get something fixed. When we goof and break something we feel stupid, but if friends or family break something expensive it is quite an arkward situation.
Bombaywalla, in the words of an old rock star "there ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's just you and me and we just disagree"
Why would a reasonable person invite a child anywhere near his audio system....I had a friend bring his child over to my home for a visit and I met them at the door and wouldn't let them in.....The kid was known to be death on speakers.....
Some people think that the tweeters atop my B&W N803s are karaoke microphones and attempt to remove them to start singing. I have my 1911 .45 ACP for those and I prevent the removal of the "microphones" beforehand.....just kidding.

No really, the suggestion to put the components in closets or their original boxes and turn the speakers towards the wall is the best one.
Wifes friend has two boys, between 4 and 7 years old. They are rough, very hyper, and their mother's attitude is "let them grow on their own." Obviously, they are plants.
Example of roughness: they were playing soldier, the older one threw a "bomb" (plastic) at the younger one and then proceeded to kick the life out of him, (and I do mean really kick the life out of him) thus having "blown him up." Mom? Ha-ha, aren't they cute? Flipping idiot.
This mother actually gave me sh*t when I asked her to keep her boys out of the living room, saying "Why are the speakers so far away from the wall anyway, why are the cables off the floor where a kid can trip on them, blah, blah, a blur of mommy blah....."
Obviously, mom is more intelligent than I am, & I have irrational tendencies.
What did I do? There's now a lock on my living room door.
Knock, little wolves, but this piggy aint letting you in......
It all really comes down to that our society has lost it's grip on what a parental responsibility is. It turns out that involves more than buying Nike shoes and driveng them to Soccer practice. It seems as thought the word "no" is slowing being ommited from the english language. The phrase "respect for others and their belongings" is not far behind.