Studio keeps analog alive in digital world
Music has always played an integral part in the lives of Georgetown residents Tim and Terri Dittmar. That’s why they added las olas recording, a private home recording studio with an analog setup—not digital—to their home. The space has become one of the most popular rooms in their Old Town house.
While recording digitally, also known as recording “in the box,” may be convenient, the Dittmars’ analog setup adds a human element that is hard to achieve with the click of a mouse. Making music in their studio is an experience “outside the box.”
The analog recording setup, a vintage two-inch, twenty-four-track tape machine and classic recording gear, creates the studio’s essence. The golden-orange wood surrounding the recording console exudes warmth, while a tape gliding along rollers emits a soothing sound. Treetops outside the room’s three large, square windows reflect in the large glass partition separating the control room from the studio. It’s a kaleidoscope of classic gear, natural warmth, and beauty.
Tim is an audio engineer professor at Austin Community College and studied audio production in the 1980s. “With analog, you have to be able to play the instrument, compared to digital recording, where the performance can easily be altered,” he says. “Analog gives a song color, warmth, and feeling.” Tim’s book Audio Engineering 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Music Production explains that analog is a sound recorded and reproduced as voltage levels that change continuously over time, such as with a cassette tape, vinyl record, or analog recorder.
The Dittmars’ studio is invaluable to them because it offers them flexibility to record their music any time. The couple’s fourteen-year-old band with guitarist Meason Wiley, annabella, has recorded four of the band’s records since the las olas studio was built.
The couple’s musical journey began separately, with Tim banging the drum to MTV and surfing the Gulf of Mexico and Terri singing harmonies at church, playing the flute for Stephenville Junior High, and dancing to disco and rhythm and blues. Friends introduced them in 1995, and they married in 1996. Tim was an engineer at Cedar Creek Recording in Austin. Since 1987, he has recorded over 400 bands, including Voxtrot, Rhett Miller of the Old 97s, The Bright Light Social Hour, and Emily Wolfe.
In addition to annabella, the couple plays with a band called The Hearts & The Minds, and they’ve completed previous recordings with bands such as everything’s gone green, Starry Eyed, and Kristi Rae. “It is difficult to categorize musical genres,” says Terri, but “annabella is influenced by The Sundays and Mazzy Star; parents say our songs make good lullabies.”
Touring is part of the couple’s promotion process. In the early days, Tim missed his wife when he was on tour. “Music is my passion, and I’d rather share it with Terri than with a bunch of dudes,” he says. “Now touring is like a vacation with some rock included. We never disagree about music, but getting to the club is another story.”
Visit annabella.bandcamp.com to hear annabella’s latest album, Green and Silver, as well as their self-titled EP, Songs of Goodbye, and Say Goodnight.