Studio Sound Service on designing Italy's first Dolby Atmos studio & a Millennium Falcon room

The team behind Studio Sound Service – a design and consultancy company in Italy working globally in the fields of acoustics and with clients including Andrea Bocelli, George Lucas, Disney and Netflix – explain the company’s services, how it became a Dolby Certified Service Partner and reveal a few favourite projects, including designing a Millennium Falcon-themed room using Genelec monitoring.

Established in 1983 by Fabrizio Giovannozzi, Studio Sound Service has become a point of reference for the world of professional audio by offering various types of electro-acoustic services (including specialised assistance and technical support) and the company specialises in designing environments for critical listening and optimised viewing, such as recording studios, mastering, audio/video post-production and dubbing, television and film studios, radios, movie theatres and residential home theatres.

Donato Masci, physicist and acoustic designer and CEO, Cecilia Torracchi, acoustic and civil engineer and partner, and Giulia Bondielli, acoustic and building engineer and partner give an insight into the company.

we always design something that is not conventional.

Could you introduce the company and how you work together?

GB: Studio Sound Service is a design consultancy company working globally in the field of acoustics and the history is that it was founded in 1983 by Fabrizio Giovannozzi. The studio is now comprised of five acoustic designers and one person that is in charge of communications.

In 2014 Studio Sound Service began a collaboration with the University of Florence which led a series of trainees to get to know the studio, some of whom were even able to do their thesis. We are really lucky to work in a city like Florence, that from an artistic point of view, is very rich. 

We are also immersed in nature; the studio is in the Tuscany hills and there are cats and dogs, roosters and chickens, so it’s a life of wild encounters! This helps with our work and enriches our technical proposals with creativity. Our work is characterised by interior design, and one project is always very different from the next. 

We combine the acoustical and technical design in an integrated way with the architectural design of the place.

Can you explain how the company became a Dolby Certified Service Partner in 2021 and how you meet Dolby’s high standards?

DM: The Dolby Certified Service Partner is a programme that was born in 2021 with the launch of the Dolby Atmos music programme. We have worked with Dolby on Dolby Atmos home entertainment studios for a long time. 

For example, we designed the first Dolby Atmos studios in Italy for Fox International in the centre of Rome using Genelecs. We have since collaborated with them on theatrical cinemas, mixing studios and dubbing theatres. 

In 2021, Dolby wanted to enter the music industry, so they defined this new programme with this new partnership. We were one of the three first CSPs in the world. The other CSPs are more system integrators, we are just designers. What that means for us is that we can use the Dolby logo for all our communication and they trust us because of the valuable design that we employ for the acoustic treatment and the acoustic design of our studios. 

It's a quality certificate, among other things, and it is reevaluated every year by Dolby. It's quite important for us and we are really proud.

we designed the first Dolby Atmos studios in Italy in the centre of Rome using Genelecs.

The company has many impressive clients and projects, and your Music Recording Studio with the orchestral room is one of the company’s many highlights. Could you explain the company’s role in this project and why you are so proud of it?

CT: I was a classical musician in a past life, so to me, rooms where people can play together and record are the best that we design. Our expertise in music allows us to understand the specific needs of the artists in these rooms. Our latest big live room is designed for an important bass player in the jazz music industry, so we had to take this into account. 

We designed a particular live room with a floor that has different acoustic properties, so some parts can reinforce bass and some parts are more dry – so they are perfect for different instruments. This comes from ancient Italian opera houses and my music experience helped me to understand this. Also, walls can have different configurations in this room, so some parts can be detached, they can be moved, they can create a variable acoustics, or as I said, they can be moved to make small, isolated spaces. 

They allow the recording of single instruments in some parts. This kind of design is the most challenging, but also the most exciting for us. In this case, and in many cases, for us, the studio is usually inside an old country house. It's something we're used to because working on existing buildings is quite common in Italy. So we had to fix the acoustics, but we don't want to change the look of the building because it's beautiful.

Another big project the company is proud of is Cinecittà, an Italian Hollywood studio project. Tell us about the Millennium Falcon-inspired room you designed as a part of that…

DM: Within Cinecittà we have the Millennium Falcon room, so for this, we wanted to do something special. We wanted to incorporate the film, of course, and I'm a big Star Wars fan. Sooner or later, I had to do something like this! So why not in Cinecittà? 

We designed this very strange place, and they liked it! A lot of sound engineers enjoy working there because it's a unique place; the room is used for small projects, or for mixes that then will pass to the bigger rooms, or maybe for big broadcast projects for Netflix or Amazon. 

Every time that I go there, it is full. It gets used for TV series and for premixes for theatrical cinema projects too.

with the Millennium Falcon room, we wanted to do something special.

Was this a challenging room to design due to incorporating the millennium falcon design into the ceiling and walls?

It was not so easy. I have to say thanks to the guys that build them, because it's a very strange geometry. But in general, we always design something that is not conventional; it is always artisanal work. 

There are a lot of strange lines that combine together in a 3D model, and of course everything starts from the speaker placement because for Dolby Atmos home entertainment, we have a pre configured system regarding angles from the ceiling and in the horizontal plane for surround speakers, so at the end the angles are quite fixed. 

So you have to match these with the room that you have, so that was quite tricky, but we did it.

What is it about Genelec monitors that gives you the confidence to use them in your unique designs?

We have collaborated with Genelec for a long time – since I started working at Studio Sound Service with Fabrizio. He knows a lot about the Genelec family of monitors. The friendship with Genelec has continued since then because we know the products, we can work with them, and we have collaborated with the team for a long time.

In Italy, we have almost 30 Dolby Atmos studios and probably half of them use Genelec.

For us designers, it is always important to ask the manufacturer how to flush mount big speakers, for example. You can see the difference between one brand and another from the replies you get; some brands only want to sell speakers, but don't give you any support for mounting, which makes the difference at the end because it changes a lot to do with the quality of the installation. 

That's very important because they support us. We collaborate with other brands, but we don't have any kind of contract with anyone because we are independent, but we still have collaborated with Genelec for a long time. 

Also with Dolby Atmos, Genelec has the right speakers that also Dolby uses for a lot of studios. In Italy, we have almost 30 Dolby Atmos studios and probably half of them use Genelec. 

Listen to the full podcast interview below: