My understanding is that many tube pre-amps and amps roll off the highest frequencies, which might be one reason why the speakers sounded so good in your friend's room. Other reasons would involve the room's acoustics. If you don't already have absorbers at the first reflection points and/or the back wall, they might help a little, although not, of course, with the directly-radiated sound. If WAF is a consideration, some companies provide them with silk-screened artwork.
If you want full control over the acoustics provided by the electronics, you might consider external amps. Then you could insert equalizers (analog or digital, graphic or parametric) between the AVR's pre-amp outputs and the amps driving the speakers.
Edited to add:
Quite often people have problems with the results of an Audyssey calibration because of an imperfect calibration procedure. The instructions in the AVR's manual are woefully inadequate. The guidelines provided in the AVS Audyssey 101/FAQ can help. http://www.avsforum.com/t/795421/official-audyssey-thread-faq-in-post-1/51750#post_21782993
Recent discussions in the Audyssey thread (or maybe they were in the REW thread) revealed that sometimes Audyssey gets the distances to the main speakers wrong, placing one slightly farther away from the primary listening position than the other. This can do unfortunate things to the soundstage. Manually adjusting that distance setting in the receiver so they're both identical does not invalidate the Audyssey calibration. Of course, you also have to make sure that the speakers themselves are properly positioned and oriented.Edited by Selden Ball - 10/4/13 at 12:53pm