It was 1980 and my Dad took me to a Hi-Fi/stereo show of some type in downtown Milwaukee.
There, for the first time, I heard Toccata from Fresh Aire III being played on what was for the time a rather high-end turntable with really good speakers, and I was hooked. The song and the sound combined to give me an aural experience I would never forget.
It took me years of searching afterward, and in 1983 by pure accident I stumbled across Toccata again, as I had remembered the record label “American Gramaphone” but had never seen one of their records until I saw their 45 RPM Sampler EP in, of all places, Musicland.
It was ridiculously pricy for a teen, but I bought it anyway. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound right, it didn’t live up to that sound in my memory - when played on either my family’s Magnavox console system with record changer or my personal JC Penney MCS series “rack” system with linear tracking turntable with Audio-Technica P-mount cartridge.
More years passed, and I even purchased all the Fresh Aire albums on CD as soon as they were released. They still sounded incredible, but something was missing.
Then a couple events happened in rapid succession.
At CES in 1988, I heard my first Wadia CD player, and for the first time a CD sounded like… music.
Oh sure, I had become used to CD for not having pops and ticks and sounding good, but until I heard that Wadia I realized I had never heard a piano sound like a piano like it did from an LP.
At that same CES, I heard my second pair of Apogee Divas, and I was completely hooked.
When at a local high end dealer in 1988 I heard a pair of Apogee Divas playing Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car… I cried.
I had never known that music could invoke such an immediate and visceral reaction in me, despite listening to thousands of hours of LPs and CDs. When I heard the Divas it transcended audio to become… magic.
Eventually I was able to play Toccata on a pair of Apogee speakers and… there it was. That same feeling, that same magic I had heard at that stereo show in 1980, made real again.