Sound Bites

Sound Lounge: Two Mixers, a Sound Designer and 25 Years

Sound Designer and COO Marshall Grupp reflects on the evolving industry as the company celebrates a quarter century

I can vividly recall the day I visited Tom Jucarone’s studio at East Side Film and Video as if it were yesterday, asking him if he’d be up for creating a unique audio post space unlike any we had seen before. Once he agreed, Peter Holcomb joined the team, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Sound Lounge was born with a clear vision – to establish studios that offered a welcoming ambiance with lots of natural light, high ceilings and top-notch technology. Our belief was simple: We wanted our clients to feel at home while we helped them showcase their stories in the best way possible.

Our paths to this venture were unique. Tom and Peter had years of collaboration on top-tier advertising projects and Super Bowl spots, whereas my journey into 30- and 60-second commercials started after being a sound editor for feature films and TV shows. Our paths serendipitously intersected during a project for a Coke campaign, marking the inception of our collaboration.

From the outset, my partners and I made a point of recognizing and nurturing talent, a key factor in our lasting success. Numerous artists who took their first steps in the industry at Sound Lounge have gone on to become some of the most successful audio mixers in New York City. Reflecting on my 40-plus years in this industry, I have always believed in the importance of versatility as an audio engineer. For example, Pete Crimi, one of our mixers, has demonstrated this by contributing to both Super Bowl commercials and the HBO series How To With John Wilson.

Throughout our 25-year journey, I have often reflected on how we evolved from simply mixing commercials to providing extensive audio production services for television series like The Bear and The Crowded Room, as well as movies such as The Place Beyond the Pines, RBG and Theater Camp. It was always my belief that Sound Lounge was meant to handle all things related to sound.

I was determined not to limit us to being seen as solely a facility for commercials.  Over the years, we started new divisions and added services to our portfolio. In 2002, we introduced radio production and a casting division, assisting clients in voice-over talent selection. Drawing from my experience in long-format content, we took another significant step in 2005 by constructing a Dolby-certified theater. Seeking to extend our reach beyond New York City, we created the technology used to establish Sound Lounge Everywhere, a remote studio located in Boston. This technology allowed us to swiftly adapt when the country faced a sudden shutdown on March 13, 2020. Our expertise in remote services enabled us to resume operations almost immediately, which is a testament to our long-standing leadership and adaptability in the field.

In our line of work, it’s undeniably a “relationship” business. While possessing the creative and technical chops is crucial for handling the caliber of projects we undertake, it is equally important to recognize that we are entrusted with the creative visions of art directors, copywriters, film editors, directors and showrunners. These individuals invest months of effort into crafting their work, and we embrace opportunities to create and collaborate with them.

At the onset of my career, I wasn’t particularly inclined toward the technical aspects of audio post. My career goes back to the days of Steenbecks, Moviolas, film splicers and 35 mag dub machines. Remember the days of videocassettes and DATs? Fortunately, Sound Lounge had Tom Jucarone at the helm. In addition to being an incredible audio engineer, he is always exploring and staying current with the latest technologies in the audio post world. From the very beginning, we focused on constructing a facility and have consistently invested in upgrades to maintain our position as an industry leader.

But our journey has not been without its trials, having weathered the real storms of 9/11, the 2008 recession, the impact of Hurricane Sandy, an unexpected steam pipe explosion on 5th Avenue and the multitude of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, a few lessons learned: Employees first! Listen, learn and foster a culture that values your team. Success breeds from the inside out. Take chances! Not every new division or collaboration will be successful, but the majority of the time, the benefits outweigh the risks. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

It has been an incredible journey, and we are eager to embrace what lies ahead. Our primary focus moving forward is to safeguard the legacy we built, ensuring that, in another 25 years and beyond, Sound Lounge will still be serving our industry.

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