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Sherlock sound specialist opens studio doors

Freelance film and TV post-production sound specialist Howard Bargroff has installed a surround-capable LCR monitoring system comprising three twotwo.6s at his premixing facility.

Freelance film and TV post-production sound specialist Howard Bargroff (pictured) has installed a surround-capable LCR monitoring system comprising three twotwo.6s at his premixing facility. Bargroff, whose film credits include Alien versus Predator and the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, has been in high demand over the past 36 months via his company Sonorous Sound for his television work, which has included Law & Order UK, the BAFTA-nominated Luther, the first series of ITV smash hit Broadchurch, and Sherlock, for which he was awarded a BAFTA in 2012. The twotwo-based monitoring system replaces a similar LCR setup consisting of three PMC TB2 nearfields.

Shrinking budget
Bargroff works regularly at all the major London sound stages, but books and pays all of his studio sessions himself and then has to charge that expense on to his clients, so it has always been in his interest to keep time spent in Soho to a minimum. Now, with his premixing studio and viewing room just outside London, he can do just that, preparing complete mixes at his own facility and taking them into Central London for much shorter client review sessions. “The real advantage,” he explains from his studio, “is that I’ve given myself more time by moving the unattended sessions out of town. On Broadchurch, for example, I did premixing in my room, and took it into Goldcrest for client review. For the first couple of episodes, we spent two days per episode, then we got it down to just a day for most of the rest.

“In the world of shrinking budgets, it gives me more time to present finished — or nearly finished — mixes to my clients. It means I’m not clock-watching in Soho as much. And on jobs where the client requests a rethink on what I present them with, it means I haven’t already spent an enormous amount of budget on mixes that are going to be reworked. On most things, the client listens in Soho, gives me a few notes, and then I just do a few tweaks back here. Generally, the luxury of being able to turn up with an almost-finished product because we’ve mixed it here has been absolutely terrific, and there’s a knock-on effect too; we can pay better rates to freelancers, and so I get to work with the people I want to work with.”

TB2s to twotwos
Broadchurch was mixed on Bargroff’s PMC TB2 nearfields, of which he has been a fan since he worked on Alien Versus Predator when he was at Videosonics in 2003. “There was a lot of last-minute dubbing on that film, and we had to pre-mix some sound effects on a pair of TB2s in a completely untreated room. I was amazed at how well some of those effects mixes translated when we got them onto the sound stage — they were 95 per cent there — so I started listening to music on the PMCs for my own enjoyment during downtime. When I set up my own room later on, I wanted that combination of TB2s and the same amplifier. Once you’ve found speakers that translate as well as that, you want to stick with them, really.”

Bargroff used his TB2s well into last year, when he demoed a trio of the new PMC twotwo.6s and used them on Law & Order UK, before buying the three he now owns. “I had my room here lined up to my satisfaction, and I didn’t need to make any adjustments when I swapped the TB2s for the twotwos — PMC seem to have a sound that just translates across all of their designs. I also like my speakers to be flat, and the twotwos give you exactly what you expect at the bottom end; I did try, shall we say, competing speakers when I first moved in here, and the low end was all over the place.

“I’ve played mixes I’ve done on these back on other speakers, on JBLs and Genelecs, and they still sound good. I’ve just finished work on Saul Dibb’s new film Suite Française on the PMCs — I did premixing here and then took it for a week of attended sessions at Goldcrest. But there were a few more tweaks to make and we had to bring it back here to finish it off; there was no time left at Goldcrest. At the final screening in the Curzon cinema, there was no difference between what we did on the PMCs here and the finished product. Essentially, the PMCs just work in a room, and the mixes you make translate, which is very important to me and to my clients.”

Suite Française is set for release in January 2015, and Bargroff has recently started work on the second series of Broadchurch, which will also be pre-mixed on his twotwo.6s.