20. Call the tune - Issue 140 - Magazine | Monocle

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Hear here, the listening room

Raffaele Costantino (on left), Ana Gugic and Crescenzo Abbate

Not all of us possess dulcet tones or operatic potential. But if the podcast boom has taught us anything, it’s that people love the sound of their own voice, especially if it’s professionally recorded. So if you’ve had a burning desire to get that six-part investigative series on the airwaves, or you want to belt out something more lyrical, all you need is a studio that will make it sound like the real deal.

The new Studio 33 in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood might be just the ticket. Outside, the buzzing of mopeds, the lively chatter of residents and the clanging of bells at the church of Santa Maria are typical enough. What’s being heard inside, however, is something less ordinary: musicians’ experimental tracks come to life, podcast hosts get professional treatment and audiophiles simply enjoy their favourite albums in a dedicated, high-end listening room.

“We’re all 40-somethings,” says Crescenzo Abbate, founder of the team that, back in October, launched this facility. “One morning I woke up and thought: let’s pool our knowledge and share it in one space.” The result of a mid-life creative spark (rather than a mid-life crisis), the project brings together Abbate, his designer wife Ana Gugic and an old friend, record producer and DJ Raffaele Costantino. They are supported by a multi-skilled technical crew, who provide discerning ears for all kinds of recordings – be they spoken-word or instrumental.

“It’s a factory with music as its engine,” says Abbate. “But there are many offshoots.” These tangents range from producing podcast series to recording internationally famed musicians who happen to be in town. Separate podcast  and music recording suites, a kitchen-cum- catering area, a dressing room and a shower have all been impeccably installed to Gugic’s designs; the mood is suitably industrial. Gugic also worked on a range of wooden horn-shaped loudspeakers made in collaboration with New York’s oma (Oswalds Mill Audio), stocked exclusively in southern Europe by Studio 33.


Studer master tape player


1930s curtains

Podcast suite

“If you count all the things that are coming out of here, we already have a packed broadcast programme,” says artistic director Costantino. As well as all manner of ad spots and voiceovers, the studio also produces long-play audio for the studio’s own channels and for commercial and institutional clients. Also in the pipeline is a 10-part series on niche music, including “Syrian psychedelic” from the 1970s. “We are a musical supernova,” says Abbate, referring to the studio’s tagline. “We’re exploding with energy and ideas – sometimes too many!”

Abbate’s day job is running a digital communications agency that he set up almost 20 years ago in neighbouring Testaccio. However, it’s hard to believe that Studio 33 could possibly be just a side hustle. In the impressive listening room, adapted to deliver the best acoustic experience, Abbate unpacks a box that resembles a large CD case. It is a master tape made by hyper-specialist, Perugia-based Hemiolia Records. “This is for audio extremists,” he says with a hint of melodrama. As he places the tape onto a reconditioned, Swiss-made Studer player (also for sale, to order) the sound feeds through the mixer and speakers. The sublime voice of Luciano Pavarotti begins to fill the room. By offering moving aural moments such as this, as well as a raft of services, Studio 33 is a venture whose praises deserve to be sung. 

Monocle comment: Booking in time at a professional studio gives your ideas the legitimacy – and treatment – they deserve. Reserve a slot to focus your efforts: having a deadline will help you to kick-start your project in earnest.

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