Our History

Our History

More About New England Hi Fi

Derek R. Burt opened New England Music Company, now known as New England Hi Fi, in July 1965, with a simple and effective philosophy. That being value for the dollar, backed up by a guarantee, and in store service. Derek was already working in high fidelity equipment sales at the time, and he had a vision. He wanted his own store and to do it his way, the right way. Derek's passion was music, being a highly regarded classical trumpet player, thus the store name. However, when customers asked him where the musical instruments were upon entering his new store, and seeing none, Derek had a very logical answer. "The music comes out of the speakers I sell, and will play any type of music you prefer." Derek also often said that more people listen to music, than play musical instruments.

A man with a vision indeed.

That first store was located on Center Street in Portland, Maine, with a premiere product line up led by the new 1965 KLH line. That original Henry Kloss Hi Fi product line (the K in KHL, is for Kloss) consisted of three models. The model 11, model 14, and the model 20. Each set included a pair of KLH speakers, an amp and radio in the suitcase like box, and a Garrard turntable built into the same box. Derek himself hand delivered and set up countless KLH sets all over Maine.

It's said that someone from outside an area can see what needs are missing from an area more easily than the natives who are accustomed to the local landscape. Derek originally immigrated to Canada from England while still in the British Royal Air Force, and from Canada moved to Portland Maine. Derek's fresh perspective saw what was missing in Portland, specifically high quality high fidelity reproduction equipment, and he was determined to fill that void. Dual turntables, Dynaco amplifiers, and then in '67 McIntosh amplifiers, preamps, and tuners were added to his line up of brands. For a while, he even did add some musical instruments to his floor space, and the expanded line up, with more employees needed, required more room.

In 1972, Derek moved to upper Congress Street, into what was once a large A&P grocery store. By then he had an expanded line of products, including the highly regarded Advent speakers, and an expanded staff, including in store service technicians that New England Hi Fi is still famous for. A custom installation department was added for the more complex equipment offered, such as the stylish Bang and Olufsen early remote controlled set ups, utilizing ultrasonic photo cell technology. Remote controlled electronic gear so common now, was new and unique in the seventies. It wasn't until the early eighties that the more effective I.R. (infrared) remote technology was introduced.

New England Hi Fi had many firsts in Maine, including the first in home CRT video projectors available to the public, speakers from Advent, the first audio/video receivers (from Jensen, of all companies), and then in 1983 the first compact disc players from Sony, the model CDP 101.

Times change, but the New England Hi Fi philosophy for quality does not.

From the complex to the sweet and simple, New England Hi Fi will guide in the expertise of audio and video sales and service, and lead the way in the future, just as in 1965. New England Hi Fi's custom install department, full in store service, and knowledgeable sales staff shows the old saying is still true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. A quantum leap in digital technology has taken place since Derek sold those first KLH sets, to the new incredible high definition wide screen displays and surround sound systems sold by New England Hi Fi today. None the less, that original core philosophy still stands. Value for the dollar, backed up by guarantee, and service.