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A NYC Record Shop Owner Shares His Home Hi-Fi System

Javi Velazquez, the owner of HiFi Records & Café, a record shop located in the Queens, New York, shares his at-home hi-fi system.


When the people behind record stores and hi-fi shops leave work at the end of the day, what kinds of hi-fi systems are they going home to? And what music are they playing? That’s exactly what we set out to uncover in Hi-Fi at Home.

Javi Velazquez is the owner of HiFi Records & Café, a record shop located in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria in New York City. It opened just a few years ago, in 2015, and offers customers a unique experience; while browsing the 500-square-foot shop that’s home to over 20,000 new and used records, they can grab a coffee (Nicoletti Coffee, to be specific) at the little cafe located in the back of the shop.

“My current system has been with me since the late ’80s, early ’90s and has been pretty much unchanged, besides some re-capping of the amp and a new turntable which I upgraded to about a year ago,” explained Velazquez. “I love its musicality and how it manages to get out of the way and lets me connect with my music in an emotional way. I’m not into huge speakers or equipment that overpowers a room and makes it all about the hi-fi. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy them at the shop or at an audio show; but when I come home, I want [it] to be a space where the music takes center stage.”

Speakers: Shahinian Super Elf


Year: late 80s, early 90s
Price: Learn More (Dejavu Audio, Shahinian Acoustics)

“Dick Shahinian was an excellent engineer, a true music lover and loudspeaker designer in a class all to his own. His designs were unconventional and rarely crowd-pleasers, but no one could ever deny that he built his loudspeakers for music lovers. My pair of his diminutive Super Elfs still play a lovely, pure sound which is great in reproducing natural instruments and highly refined. They are still fun to listen to after more than 30 years. I remember saying “I will keep them forever” when I first purchased them. Well, they say “the taste of the pudding is in the eating”, and here we are at the dinner table. Maybe one day, when I have more space I’ll buy another Shahinian speaker.”

Learn More: Here

Turntable: Rega RP8 Turntable with Apheta 2 Cartridge


Year: ~2016
Price: $3,995 – $4,200 (Amazon, Music Direct)

“Planar 8 can pull musical passages and details from any record with zero distortion and maximum fidelity. It’s the closest thing to a mirror of the original recording that I’ve heard anywhere before under $8,000. My previous decks have been from Clearaudio, Linn and older Rega’s and very few come close to the P8 when it comes to holding on to a songs leading melody, its harmonies, its dynamic swings and how it tugs at your heartstrings with counterpoint! The emphasis is always on the music rather than the sound, this is the characer trait that all Rega products seem to have and it’s helluva addictive.”

Learn More: Here

Integrated Amplifier: Naim Audio Nait 2


Year: 1988 – 1992
Price: Learn More (Zstereo, eBay

“I purchased this 2nd hand Nait 2 from a customer that had barely used it for 6 months – He took my NAD 3020 + some cash. He decided he couldn’t live without a headphone amp and I felt like I couldn’t miss the opportunity of owning my dream amp at the time! Fast-forward 29 years later and this amp is still frontline-center to my musical tastes. I’ve owned other amps and have the luxury of brining the latest and greatest in tubes and solid state to my house, but at the end of the day this little (barely 12 watts/ ch) amplifier is so musically involving and sonically convincing, that you loose yourself in the records and forget all about this audiophila-nervosa syndrome.”

Learn More: Here

Records on Repeat


Radiohead, In Rainbows (XL Rec)

“A far more guitar-oriented album that had been seen from Radiohead at the time. It takes a few listening sessions to get into, but the stark and somber In Rainbows is in many respects Radiohead’s most complete. An album that’s hard to pin down, because every track works best when taken as a whole, although ‘Nude’ is a fine and very typically Radiohead song. Sonically, the 45rpm vinyl version is pretty damned excellent and it’s still one of the best albums of the last decades.”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal

Lightnin Hopkins, Lightnin’

“This is pure Texas blues! If you possess a turntable and you enjoy stripped-down, punch-you-in-the-innards, blues-singing then you need look no further. This record was a gift from a friend and to-date, has been the best gift ever! The recording is excellent and sounds like one man, his guitar and a dude with drum kit are front and center, between your loudspeakers. This music is so tasty you could dip it in hot cheese and feed your family with it.”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal

Arne Domnerus, Jazz at the Pawnshop

Jazz at the Pawnshop is widely regarded as one of the best analog jazz recordings of all time. I can’t count how many systems I’ve sold just by demoing this record. Purchased my first copy back in 1993. What I like most about that album is that it is a performance. Its a jazz band playing together in one-take, and not multi-track record/re-record till it is perfect. Jazz at the Pawnshop captures the feel and atmosphere of a small jazz club and the audience’s reactions to the performers like no other recording I know.”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal

Damien Rice, O

“One of my favorite records from top to bottom, hands down. Damien Rice’s finest work in my opinion. I had to wait a long time to get my hands on a pressing since the original release was only available in cd format. Damien waited long enough to get the sound quality of the original DAT tapes suitable for analog master, and boy the wait was worth it – this album does not disappoint. Sound quality is top-notch. Highly recommend this record!”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal

Percy Sledge, The Percy Sledge Way

“The title really says all you need to know about the record: it’s a collection of 11 songs made famous by other soul and R&B stars, done in that oh-so iconic Percy Sledge way. It’s majestic and effortless, infusing each with the heartache conveyed in apparently every note he ever sang. This is one of my favorite hand-me-downs slash family heirloom albums that I own.”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal

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