Audio Friends Don't Let Audio Friends ...

Your fellow audiophile who always had a system you enjoyed

makes a significant change in gear. You find it to be a major

downgrade in SQ in one way or another.


You know the person does not have a trial period covering the new purchase. 



Do you tell them exactly how you feel about the change

or simply smile thinking- everyone hears differently so 

you should not provide a true statement of your feelings?


How have you treated this situation in the past?




Are you asking a hypothetical question,  or have you actually experienced this in a friend's system?

I’m of no help … I’ve always been a Stereo Lover Loner, and my small network of friends / coworkers are the “music matters most” type.

Actually I am of some assistance @chorus … tell them your feelings and never sugar coat a friend.

@chorus  quote: ..."You find it to be a major downgrade in SQ in one way or another". 

How do you know its a "downgrade", have you heard the change first-hand demo in your audiophile friend's system?

Depends on a number of issues. If it's a good friend, with plenty of budget, and a top tier sound system, I'll say what I hear but I'll also ask what he/she thinks. . For someone with a lessor system I might say...Have you thought about maybe getting a (fill in the blank) or trying (fill in the blank). But if it's truly awful and just not different, yeah I'm going to say exactly that.  


Naturally I would have heard the "New Gear" in his system in order to have an opinion. 

I have made a point of visiting several people's home systems over the past year or so. Usually it sounds very good in some particular way but not always. Some really miss the mark even when these people had the funds to do it right.

One thing I have learned is the amount of money spent frequently has no relation to the quality of the sound.

Really kind of sad too. This is when I feel unsure what to say to the owners



I would give my opinion if asked. If the person is unsure about his choice and is seeking validation in what others think then perhaps he needs to hear the painful truth. But if the person is enjoying his latest upgrade, why ruin it for him? Also, the choice of words would depend on how close of a friend the person is. My best audio buddy and I have polarized opinions on what type of amplification we prefer (among other things) but that doesn't stop us from supporting one another and enjoying each other's system.

Let me turn this around. I had a good friend over last year who I had not seen in years. Thing is, I DO value his opinion in audio since it is one of the things that we have in common. So, after listening to my set up, I simply ask what he thinks of it. 'Sounds good." As in what, sounds good? No more to say than that? He didn't give me a straight answer, so I shot him. Well, I didn't shoot him, but I talked about it. This guy who is my friend has no real observation about what he heard? I LIVE in the audiophile desert of the USA. I wouldn't ask anybody around here what they think of my 'waste of time.'

Tell him nicely and then whip out a pair of magical cables and convince him that that will fix everything

If they are happy, then keep it to yourself, why deflate the bubble....

There is a possibility the situation is actually the reverse and friend is not appreciating the improvement.

I would hope my buddy would tell me the honest truth. I actually ask them too, good or bad I want an honest opinion. If something I change has a negative impact and I don't realize it for some reason. I would hope my buddy would speak up. It might keep me from making the next mistake! 

It is a ticklish situation. I agree about not popping balloons.

Calz lays it out in a way I agree with. 

Pedro proposes another aspect I had not considered but

it quite valid. 

Nome- I do not follow your statement. Can you rephrase it for me?



Sometimes it isn't so much what you say but how you say it. Honesty with a dash of kindness and humility can go a long way. Say what you think but be helpful. 4krowme I can certainly feel your pain. I live in the ruralest of the rural Oregon and audiophile is AC/DC on the boom box. Stay strong my brother. This site has put me in contact with some awesome folks.

Chorus how you doing looks like spring has finally come to the valley, shorts and a tee shirt today. If Its my opinion that he’s done the wrong thing I prefer to keep my mouth shut after all he’s the one who laid out hard cash and he’s the one who’s got to listen to it, if he likes it who am I say he made a mistake. I try to keep my opinions to myself unless it’s so obvious like bass traps behind speakers. 😁

If you are a true friend, you respond as a friend. You are honest, respectful, and acknowledge you may hear things differently.  Our ears are all different. That's why there is so much equipment designed for different environments and financial situations..  His may be different from yours; doesnt mean you're right or wrong. Doesnt mean he is right,,,or wrong [even though you/he may be😏].  Respect your differences, share your experiences and opinions, and have a couple beers 😉  Enjoy!

It's a difficult query to reply to: "So, how does that sound?"

It's comes down to situation and any sort of familiarity with what you've been presented.....the room, the level of equipment, and what was just played.

"Sounds good..." is the soul of basic diplomacy. :)
Beyond that: Smooth road with pitchforks, ;)

Tread careful, J beverages at a 'indulgences at ones' preferences...*G*

I would hope my buddy would tell me the honest truth. I actually ask them too, good or bad I want an honest opinion. 


One person's bright enough to make me run screaming from the room is another's nice detail so ask what they think of it and are they happy first.

If they're truly is a friend and asks your opinion regarding a specific aspect of the sound I see no problem with providing a truthful answer within the parameters of taste but only if they ask.

Your friend knows how it sounds much better than you do and unless you live together and if that's the case keep your mouth shut and simply find different aspects to enjoy.  

If it's a competition of their stereo vs your's and you want to trash talk and he / she / they are into that go for it but realize that you have opened the reciprocal door  and be man / woman / non binary enough to take it for what it is... Trash Talk.

I kinda miss all the robot references.

You didn't say if they asked for my opinion.

I have experienced this. Although nowadays I wouldn't say any change is "major". Most equipment is good. They asked. I told the truth with the caveat that some people prefer different things. But if they hadn't asked I'd let them enjoy whatever they thought.

Be honest! if he asks your opinion, tell him how you feel. Remember, it’s just a feeling you have. Nothing else!



If you are invited to listen to someone's system and finish the 1st song

I feel like the host is waiting for some sort of an expression

of your impressions. Maybe they aren't but I always am. 

So regardless of whether they ask  or not the dilemma still exists.

In the end your suggestion is to follow Bambi's mother's proclamation 

that "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". 

Still makes for an awkward moment for me.

This is not about truth or lies this is about your opinion and it would not be inappropriate to state that it sounds different to your ears. We bought a tube integrated amp and a knowledgeable audiophile suggested that we upgrade the tubes, so after spending $500 on upgraded tubes we were disappointed in the new sound. We called the tube store and they said it would take 80-100 hours for the tubes to break in and now that they are seasoned the change was more then worth the wait. . Maybe the new components just need  break-in time. FWIW!


I don't make that assumption. But I  suppose it depends on the person. I had one audiophile friend who was excited by the music with the equipment being a hobby. I had another who seemed like his equipment was his focus and the music was a hobby. The latter always seemed to be waiting for my opinion. Which unprovoked was usually a "Sounds good", which was never a lie. But if he asked which I preferred, which wasn't often, I'd tell him.

Personally, I don't care what someone else thinks of my system, so I don't ask or expect an opinion. I didn't buy it for them.

Real friends tell it how it is.

You can roll a cat turd in sugar and tell me tastes great I am going to tell you it tastes like cat crap.

If it walks like a duck.'s probably just had a 'Depends Moment'....😏

If friend is a 'phile that you've 'experienced' his array multiple times AND been queried "What'ya think?" before (and not come to blows over it) is a place where a succinct analysis is expected.

If friend is not of the above....a little trepidation on your part on resorting to details of the ducks' walk may make for repeated sessions...or not.

I haven't been asked for an detailed opinion for nearly 2 decades now.
Currently, I seem to live in an area that lacks 'obvious 'philes' ( if such exists; there's a bit of 'pro audio' about, just as 'clannish' as 'philes in some ways...).

Nearest 'audio club' seems to be in Raleigh, a 4 hr. r/t...and doesn't answer emails when last attempted....I suppose they've all gone deaf or dead...*L*

Can someone answer this proposition?

Does room characteristics have a bigger impact on sound the louder it is played?

What if the owner wanted to show off the system by playing it much louder than usual and the end result was it sounded horrid?


Yes louder will make effect or room more noticeable. 

If the owner is playing the system at levels above your

preference, reach into your pocket and insert your earplugs 

immediately. Then grab your coat and leave!!

Always begin a critique with as many Positives as you can come up with. Romance them. Then, when you smack them with one negative (phrased very carefully) the impact is not only softened but it carries more weight.