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Simon Franglen installs Ghost Acoustic treatment at Air Studios

April 1, 2008
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Simon Franglen is one of the UK’s most experienced producers having learnt his trade on both sides of the Atlantic. Before producing, he was programming for some legendary names including Trevor Horn, Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson), David Foster, and Quincy Jones.  “If working with those guys doesn’t rub off on you, then you have to pretty thick!” he laughs. Fortunately it did rub off and during a 15-year stint in the States and his current residence at the mighty Air Studios, Franglen can now list some huge artists on his CV – including Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton and Barbara Streisand – plus one of the biggest songs of all time…

“My career built up in LA,” recounts Franglen, “and I ended up doing a lot of film work with the likes of John Barry and James Horner who was working on Titanic. James gave me a piano sketch of a tune. He said: ‘I’ve got this tune and I’d like Celine [Dion] to do it’. I’d worked a lot with her over the years so I demoed up the tune, James played it to Celine who liked it and sang on it. It became My Heart Will Go On. I produced that with James and 30 million albums and a Grammy later, the ship sank!”

Franglen has two main studios, one at the Old Tyne Tees TV studios (“where they shot The Tube”) plus a preproduction suite at Air. It’s in this latter space that he has recently installed the Ghost treatment…

“I was unhappy with the sound – it just didn’t work,” he says. “Air is a beautiful old Methodist hall with some preproduction lofts at the top of the building. There are three rooms containing Giles Martin (The Beatles Love Album producer), David Arnold (Bond Composer) and me. The problem with my loft was that it had sloping ceilings with no installed acoustic treatment. I do a lot of 5.1 mix preparation so I needed to get that room sounding right.”

“I read about the Ghost Acoustic panels and realised that they might do the trick,” he continues. “We tried them out as the aesthetics were important as was the ability to control the sound without major restructuring. We didn’t have the space to build enormous traps or reshape walls. We’ve got about 14 panels in there: the bass traps, the ceiling panels, pretty much everything. Putting them up was unbelievably easy. It’s made a massive difference to the sound. First of all the bass is controlled, which is great. Secondly the imaging has improved 100%. Because I’m doing so much 5.1 work you really need a focussed sound. There’s so much more control now.”

“It’s really made my pre-prod room into an environment that I can actually use and feel confident about what I’m hearing. I always take tracks downstairs into the big Air rooms as I still like mixing on the big old desks. Before [installing the Ghost panels] the work wasn’t translating properly but now it is infinitely better. We tried other treatment systems and they were rubbish compared to the Ghost panels.”

Simon is currently working a lot in the pop/classical crossover arena. “It is one of the few areas in which people still buy a lot of CDs. I’m currently working on tracks for Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins and others. It’s varied life and career - I’ve done everything from writing the Direct Line jingle 20 years ago to working on ‘Moulin Rouge’. Last year I produced the Rugby World Cup theme for the worldwide networks which involved getting some of the best opera singers in the world together for a big shout-up – great fun and about 90 tracks of vocals!”

Simon’s next mix projects involve doing several 5.1 remixes including some absolute classics like I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Thin Lizzy’s Live & Dangerous.  “I’ll be doing quite a few surround projects this year. Conversely, as a producer, I am scheduled to deliver and mix 53 songs by the middle of May!”

With that much work lined up, at least Franglen knows that, with the help of his Ghost Acoustics treatment, he will get the right sound every time…

Further information from www.sonic-distribution.com

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