Making Beautiful Music
HiFi House turns in-home entertainment into an art form
by Phil Gianficaro


Dave Stafford was 18 when his ongoing love affair with HiFi House began.


Right after high school graduation, this music junkie from Lower Bucks County needed a fix. So he spent that entire summer saving money to purchase top-of-the-line speakers for his home music system.


“They call it ‘the bug,’” says Stafford, now 30. “I got it at an early age. I just had to have the best speakers around—Bowers & Wilkins—and when I saved enough for them, I knew exactly where to go for them. I went to HiFi House because they had a reputation for carrying only the best.”


Twelve years after Stafford filled his pockets with enough cash to fill his ears with sound produced by superior equipment, little has changed. When music junkies such as Stafford won’t settle for anything but the finest home-audio equipment, they know there’s only one place—HiFi House, of course—to get what they need.


After a 10-year focus on selling large flat-screen televisions, HiFi House is returning to its sound-system roots at its 20,000-square-foot location in Broomall, 10,000-square-foot store in Jenkintown and 6,000-square-foot location in Wilmington, Del. The company is, in more ways than one, going back to the future.


“We’ll still be selling TVs, but we’re putting our energy back on audio,” says Paul Sandquist, 44, chief operating officer and part-owner of HiFi House. “We realize there’s a whole generation of people who don’t realize what good audio is all about.”


HiFi House is smartly refocusing its retail presence away from TV sets because nearly every retail outlet now sells them—and at dramatically lower prices than when they first hit the market. For example, a 55-inch, flat-panel TV that HiFi House sold in 2003 for $10,000 now costs about $2,000, according to Sandquist—meaning the company would have to sell five times as many TVs as it did before.


“We learned we needed to broaden what we do,” he says. “We also realized that people are listening to good music now more than ever before, what with Pandora, Rhapsody and iPods. So we’re revamping all our stores and kicking off an entire ad campaign targeting the 20- and 30-somethings—young and up-and-coming business people—who have no idea how good the sound can be.”


HiFi House carries the cream of the crop of high-end audio equipment, including brands such as Wilson Audio, Audio Research, Meridian, Air Acoustic and Sonus Faber.


Sandquist assures customers that HiFi House will continue to recognize its core business clients while simultaneously exposing young adults to a never-before-experienced sound quality.


“Going back to audio was only a matter of time,” Sandquist says. “The iPod introduced and reintroduced so many people to music. Now there are more headphones sold than ever before. We want to show people that the iPod is not the end-all when it comes to great music. We can show the next generation that top-of-the-line speakers are expensive, but that you get a lot for that; for a grand, you can buy a pair of speakers and another device that will make your iPod sing.”


The Song Remains the Same

HiFi House has been producing audio magic in the homes of music devotees since its founding in 1955. But this privately held, family-owned, nationally recognized leader in home audio systems is by no means a one-trick pony. It has branched out into three complementary businesses.


Twenty years ago, the company recognized a need for corporate video systems and created a separate entity—now called Commercial AV, a full-service audio-visual systems integrator that specializes in the design and building of videoconferencing systems, boardrooms, and distance learning and training facilities.


Six years ago, HiFi House launched its award-winning Elite Home Technologies division. From home entertainment and lighting, to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and security, to shade and drapery control, every complex electronic technology in a luxury home can be at the homeowner’s command with the touch of a button.


Also, with the recent bankruptcies and closings of nationwide audio/video giants Tweeter and Circuit City, in 2008 and 2009, respectively, HiFi House has picked up the slack by beefing up its service division. Everything anyone needs when it comes to music and audio/video services—residential or corporate, modest home or mansion—can be found at HiFi House.


“All we have to do is get people to sit down in our stores and listen to music through the best equipment available and they’ll hear music in a way they didn’t believe existed,” Stafford says.


Did Stafford say “our” stores? Yes, the “bug” he caught so long ago never went away. From that day as a teen when he bought those B&W speakers at HiFi House, he kept returning to make future purchases, and in January he joined the company in sales and design.


A long time ago, a teenager wanted the best speakers available to turn his music into an experience. He bought them at HiFi House because of its sterling reputation of carrying only the best. After all this time, it seems, nothing has changed.


HiFi House


1001 Sussex Road, Broomall



509 York Road, Jenkintown



2304 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del.



Phil Gianficaro is an award-winning writer based in Doylestown.

Rob Hall is a freelance photographer based in Plumsteadville.