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David Royko Psy.D

Music Ramblings: Jan 9, 2004, Stereo vs. Mono (WFMT-Jim Unrath story)

Stereo vs. Mono (WFMT-Jim Unrath story)

Jan 9, 2004

Dontaitchicago wrote: "Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and others would never have written their interlocking 'across-the-stage' string passages if they hadn't meant them to be heard just that way: stereophonically."

Mazzolata wrote: "Yes, but there's a big difference between live and recorded music... I have CDs that are mono, and CDs that are stereo, and I honestly don't really notice the difference when I'm playing them at home."

To each his own. To me, it's instantly noticable most of the time. I recently bought the Yedang/Pipeline CD transfer of Rozhdestvensky's Mahler 10 adagio, and immediately noticed that it was in mono, whereas the LP (which I hadn't heard in maybe 15 or 20 years) had been in stereo, and not even very wide stereo.

Years ago I worked at WFMT (this would have been late '70s/early '80s), and I started at about 5:00AM. Jim Unrath (one of main guys at the station back then, and my direct boss) was arriving as I got there, having just flown in from NY with the reels from the night before's CSO/Carnegie Hall concert, which the station had taped for broadcast. We went to one of the studios and put the tape on a machine and began to play it. As the applause began (prior to any music), he looked at me and said "something's odd," and I agreed, and as the first notes of music began, we looked at each other and simultaneously said "Mono!" He reached over and hit the stereo/mono switch on the amp (which had been left on mono by the previous user), and Ah! Sweet stereo!

Like Don, I adore, and own, many, many mono recordings--the most important thing is the music. But all things being equal, stereo, to my ears, is a huge advantage. It removed one more veil between me and the music.

Dave Royko


POSTSCRIPT: Jim died in May, 2015. Robert Feder's obit: