Author Topic: Digidesign AudioMedia III (April 1996) supports windows 3.11  (Read 5313 times)

Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • Posts: 9164
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage audio production software + hardware info
Digidesign AudioMedia III (April 1996) supports windows 3.11
« on: September 21, 2014, 03:38:43 AM »

Quote
theres a windows 3.1 driver for this card but i cant find a link to it.. if anyone has it please register + attach to a post!! the disk should be labeled "AMIII WAVE DRIVER 1.1"


http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3681119?sid=21106409387073&uid=3737720&uid=4&uid=3739448&uid=2
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/jul96/digidesignsession.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20150910203432/http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/jul96/digidesignsession.html
http://archive.digidesign.com/support/docs/am3_pc_addendum.pdf
http://akarchive.digidesign.com/support/docs/am3installguide.pdf
http://archive.digidesign.com/support/docs/am3_pc_addendum.pdf
*originally compatible with Win3.1/95 + Mac OS 7*
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/dec96/digiprotools4.html

Quote
Digidesign's Session digital recording software has now made the transition from Apple Macintosh to Windows-compatible PCs, a feat made possible by the simultaneous release of the company's first PCI-format digital I/O card, the Audiomedia III. PAUL WHITE checks out both.

 

As a relative newcomer to PCs (see the Leader column in SOS May 96 for the full story), I've made a conscious decision only to work with Windows 95; vintage operating systems hold far less appeal for me than vintage audio equipment! I've also decided that wherever possible, I'll only deal with Plug and Play hardware, because this relieves the user of the responsibility of working out addresses, DMAs, interrupts and so on -- something no non-anorak-wearing end user should have to endure. The old approach of Plug and Pray holds no appeal for me whatsoever, though anyone who ever spent a whole summer trying to solve Rubik's cube might find it has its attractions.

Session for Windows is the first piece of PC software I've had to write about, but for me, the similarities between its user interface and that of Pro Tools give it a comfortable familiarity (and Session was, of course, originally a Mac program -- David Mellor reviewed it on that platform back in SOS December '95). The software is designed to run using the new Digidesign Audiomedia III PCI card, which, in addition to handling digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital conversion, also includes a 56000 DSP chip -- and this chip removes much of the heavy digital processing load from the host PC (see the 'Trump Card' box elsewhere in this article for more on the Audiomedia III). With this setup, Session can provide up to eight tracks of audio recording, and similar editing and mix automation features to non-TDM versions of Pro Tools. In addition, because the PC is a true multitasking computer, you can use Session in sync with your regular sequencer; I had Session running alongside Cubase Score, using internally routed MTC to link the two, and everything ran perfectly.

To run Session for Windows, you need a Pentium PC running at a minimum clock speed of 75MHz with at least 8Mb of RAM -- and ideally 16Mb or more. Plug and Play BIOS must be installed, and you'll need a 800x600 SVGA monitor and card with 256-colour resolution.

Installing both the Audiomedia III card and the Session software is quite straightforward, and Windows 95 guides you through the whole software installation process, prompting you to insert disks as required. No copy protection is used on this software, which makes installation and re-installation a less worrying experience. At present, Session for Windows is bundled with the Audiomedia III card, but very shortly, the card and software will be available separately. If you have a PC-based Session 8 system, you might like to know that Session software will also be acting as a replacement for the current Session 8 PC front-end software in the near future.
THE SESSION INTERFACE

Session's interface is based on a relatively small number of windows, and before getting down to the interesting stuff, you need to visit the I/O Setup Window, which lets you select the sample rate (11.025, 22.050, 44.1kHz or 48kHz), internal or external digital sync, and which of the inputs and outputs are digital (again, see the 'Trump Card' box for more on this). There's also an analogue gain fader which provides gain adjustment when you're recording from a source with no output level controls.

The main screen for most users will be the Edit window, shown in Figure 1. Here the audio waveforms on the various tracks are displayed, along with a 'Region Bin' on the far right in which all the regions created by editing the original sound files are listed. At the top of the screen are all the familiar edit tools for selecting regions, moving regions and scrubbing the audio, as well as other tools for entering level and pan automation (see the 'Mixing and Automation' box) and one for switching Shuffle Mode on and off. With Shuffle Mode on, audio regions can be dragged to any position on the timeline, whereas if this mode is turned off, region starts can be made to snap to the end of previous regions -- useful if you're working with song segments or drum loops. There's also a 'snap' option, which acts as a kind of quantise, insofar as any regions snap to the nearest line on the time grid. The grid may be set to work in either bars and beats (providing you enter the appropriate tempo information), locators, timecode, or the starts and ends of regions. The bars and beats way of working is useful if you're working with regions that are whole numbers or multiples of musical bars, but there is no way of importing tempo data from your sequencer. Considering the ease with which Session runs alongside a sequencer, this would have been a valuable addition. As it is, it's often easier to use an audio version of your sequencer, so that both MIDI and audio can be viewed against the same tempo reference.

To the left of the screen are the Record Ready, Mute, Solo and Automation buttons, plus a floating transport palette (also shown in Figure 1), which carries the transport controls, the time indicator and 10 numbered buttons which function as autolocate points. These are arranged as 10 banks, giving 100 points in all. There are also icons representing the three main operating screens, so that you can go directly to them without having to enter a keyboard command. Multiple windows can be opened simultaneously, but you have to be careful where you put them, unless you have a very large monitor. In common with other PC software I have seen, I felt the windows were rather larger and chunkier than strictly necessary, giving the interface a sort of 'Fisher Price' Pro Tools look, but this probably has more to do with Windows 95 than Digidesign. As it is, even with a 17-inch monitor, you're continually dragging windows around so that you can see the appropriate bit of each, although in most situations, you can manage with just one window open at a time, plus the transport controls.

Audio is recorded as .WAV files, a format with which most PC users will be familiar, and if you have a CD-ROM drive, you can import .WAV samples or drum loops to use in your compositions, though these are converted into dual mono files on loading. For multimedia users, Session can also import .AVI format movies, allowing you to create sound tracks as you watch. Unless you have a very fast Pentium machine, the movie window should be kept as small as possible, so as to minimise the drain on CPU resources.

When you make a recording, it appears both in the waveform window and in the Region Bin as a mono sound file; stereo recordings or imported files materialise as two mono sound files, so it's up to the user not to let the two halves get separated. For me, this way of handling (or not handling) stereo audio files is perhaps the greatest weakness of the system.

 
"Despite the budget nature of Session, it is every bit as flexible as early Pro Tools systems, and includes some features that even Pro Tools doesn't have."

 

Using the Selector tool, regions of the file can be defined and added to the Region bin, and because editing is non-destructive, you can use the same region as many times as you like simply by dragging it from the Region Bin into the desired track. There's also a very powerful crossfade editor, where you can define the time and shape of the crossfades between regions; the fade-in and fade-out curves may be edited independently. Regions may be moved using the Grabber tool, and you can play a recording back from any point to check what you've done. Regions may also be copied and dragged from track to track, but there's no fancy DSP processing such as reversing, normalising or virtual effects. It's also impossible to do punch-in recording on the fly, though it's very easy to set up auto punch-in/out points, which may be dragged using the mouse if their position needs fine-tuning.

As with Pro Tools, you can overlap regions, but if you do this, only the one on top will be heard during playback. There's also a function called Playlist, which is actually a type of virtual track system, allowing you to create alternate versions or arrangements for tracks. Only the currently selected Playlist appears in the track window, but because Playlist data is really just a list of edit points based on your originally recorded files (not the audio data itself), you can save a number of alternative Playlists without taking up any significant amount of disk space. A useful trick is that if you run out of tracks for bouncing, you can close down a Playlist and use its track as a bounce destination, then move the result back to one of the original source tracks before restoring the original Playlist.

Arrow buttons let you zoom in and out of the waveform display in both horizontal and vertical directions, and there's a nice touch here -- there are four Zoom Presets activated by dedicated buttons, which means you can jump from one scale to another without having to press the Zoom buttons dozens of times.

When it comes to editing, most of this involves changing the lengths of regions or moving regions about, and one very practical feature is supported by this software, which my old Pro Tools II doesn't have; you can now select all the regions to the right or to the left of the currently selected region in one go rather than having to go around 'rubber banding' them or selecting them individually. Also, like Pro Tools, once you've placed a region where you want it, you can lock it to prevent it being moved accidentally.

If you run out of tracks during recording, you can bounce tracks, just as you would on a tape machine, and if you need to archive a session so you can come back to it later, you can dump the whole project to DAT via the digital output port on the Audiomedia III card. Backing up multitrack recordings in this way is always slow, but at least it's cheap!
USABILITY

Despite the budget nature of Session, it is every bit as flexible as early Pro Tools systems, and includes some features that even Pro Tools doesn't have. Session has a decent scrolling display, colourful (if a little PC game-like) graphics and a very professional range of editing and crossfading tools. The automation works reliably (again, see the 'Mixing & Automation' box), and, as already mentioned, I got Session running in sync with Cubase Score without any problems.

If there are flaws, these result from Session's Pro Tools ancestry. Even Pro Tools relies on a bodged track linking system to handle stereo files which have been split into two mono files, but Session doesn't even do that -- you just have to handle the two channels very carefully and make sure each gets the same treatment. Similarly, automation data is related to absolute time, not to the regions it controls, so if someone asks you to open up a gap in some dialogue after you've finished doing the automation, you have to select and move all the automation points by the same amount. Considering the effort that's gone into creating a 'tape and tracks' analogy, this is far less than ideal.

When you record automation data from the Mixer page fader, the data shows up as new break points on the Edit page automation graph, which is fine, but if you go back over a piece of automation, it doesn't seem to replace the original, but rather merges with it. To get rid of automation data, you have to select it and then bin it. A replace mode button on the automation page might have been neater. Even so, the automation facilities provided are pretty impressive, even to the extent of having proper fader grouping, and on the whole, the automation is easy to use.

I don't know if it's because I'm mainly a Mac user, but some of the tools in Session feel rather less positive than they do in Pro Tools; you have to line them up with the target object quite carefully, and the fact that the cursor is often an icon (such as a trash can) rather than a neat pointer makes this tricky to do precisely. It doesn't take too much getting used to, but at first it's like trying to drive a car with a particularly quirky gear shift.

On the sound front, the Audiomedia III card was impressive, with none of the digital background chatter I'd half expected to find on the analogue outs. If you turn up the gain sufficiently, you will hear a small amount of noise, but it's good, honest analogue hiss, not whistles and whines. I'd certainly have no qualms about undertaking serious audio projects using this hardware.
IN CONCLUSION

Viewed as the poor person's Pro Tools, Session offers virtually all the key facilities of non-TDM Pro Tools systems in a similar operating environment -- and some features are actually better than in the current version of Pro Tools. The package is very easy to use, well documented, and there are numerous keyboard shortcuts for commonly-used functions. What's more, these are usually sensible to the point that you can guess at them and come up with the right combination.

I was particularly impressed by the ease with which Session could run alongside Cubase to provide audio capability, and, as commented above, the analogue output sound quality was rather better than I had anticipated for a sound card residing in such close proximity to noisy data busses.

The trouble with software reviews is that you can never paint the whole picture -- the Session User's Guide runs to over 350 pages, and even that's keeping things concise. Having said that, you can learn the salient features of Session in far less time than it takes to read the manual if you're in any way familiar with digital audio recording software or even with MIDI sequencers. As a practical tool for recording music, the Session package is restricted only by the lack of stereo file handling and a real-time punch in/out system. Musicians working alone are used to having a footswitch to punch in with, but with Session you have to set up auto punch in and out points every time, which could prove to be a creative hindrance. To be fair, you only get real-time punch-in on expensive computer-based hard disk systems, because it's not very easy to implement digitally (especially if you want to punch in on multiple tracks at the same time) -- but that won't prevent those of us who were brought up on tape from missing it.

As for other applications, Session is useful for editing existing stereo material (though not nearly so powerful as Sound Designer in this respect), and it can also be used to compile music, dialogue and sound effects for use in multimedia productions, soundtracks or radio programmes. Being realistic, anyone using Audiomedia III will probably have other software such as Steinberg's WaveLab or Sound Forge for handling specialised editing tasks, and those using 'Audio + MIDI' sequencers will tend to use them wherever possible, rather than running two programmes side by side.

Though imperfect in some areas, the Session for Windows/Audiomedia III bundle offers extremely good value and has the potential for high-quality, multitrack audio recording, plus the ability to back up to DAT. There's even a Tascam DA30 setting to get around the problems that sometimes arise when these Tascam DAT machines are used with Digidesign hardware -- not that this was Tascam's fault! With mainstream Digidesign systems becoming so expensive, this package could be just what the company needs to put it back on the 'real world' map.
 
TRUMP CARD: THE AUDIOMEDIA III

The Audiomedia III card is Digidesign's first PCI-format card, which means that it can be used in both PCs and the newer Power Macintoshes equipped with PCI slots -- though of course different versions of software will be required to support the card for each platform. The card and driver software currently provide PCM playback support, and work with any compatible Windows applications, including Cubase/Cubase Audio PC, Wavelab, Sound Forge, Cool Edit, Cakewalk Pro Audio. Logic Audio is expected to follow shortly.

On the PCI Mac front, it is envisioned that the card will shortly be usable from within third-party sequencing software including Cubase/Cubase Audio, Logic Audio, Studio Vision Pro, Digital Performer, and so on.

The card is surprisingly compact, featuring one S/PDIF digital input, (A to D has 24-bit, delta-sigma conversion with 128 times oversampling and 18-bit output), two analogue inputs, one S/PDIF digital output and two analogue audio outputs fed from 18-bit converters. All the I/Os are on phono connectors which protrude from the rear of the PC, and in proper PC tradition, none of them are actually labelled, so you have to refer to the manual! The digital ins and analogue ins can be used at the same time, giving the system true 4-in, 4-out capability, and the noise performance is a creditable 88dB weighted, providing a linearity roughly equivalent to 15 bits. If you select the analogue ins to feed tracks 1 and 2, they also feed tracks 5 and 6, with the digital ins feeding the remaining tracks. If you're only using the analogue input, you have to go to the Input selection page and switch inputs to get the analogue inputs feeding tracks 3,4 and 7,8. When used with Session, the outputs are configured as one main stereo mix and two aux sends; you can select whether the analogue or digital outputs carry the main mix, and the other outputs automatically take on the role of aux sends.

During mixdown, the inputs may then be used as aux returns or to mix in MIDI instruments, though you will either need an effects unit with a digital output or a spare DAT machine to use as an analogue to digital converter if you want to use the digital input with analogue equipment, such as a mixer. This being the case, I would like to see a version of the card available with four analogue ins and outs as well as the digital I/O, even if you could still only use a maximum of any four at once. It's all very well assuming that the end user is going to mix directly to DAT, but if you're running alongside a MIDI sequencer, you're probably going to have to go via a mixer, and there are few budget mixers with digital inputs. Perhaps now's the time for some enterprising company to market a small box full of competent but non-esoteric A/D and D/A converters at a realistic price...
 
MIXING & AUTOMATION

If you're one of those people who prefer to mix using faders rather than mice, and you have a MIDI interface on your PC, you can plug in a hardware MIDI fader unit (such as those made by Peavey, JL Cooper, or Penny and Giles) to provide a real control surface when it comes to a Session mixdown. If you want to automate a mix controlled by one of these hardware devices, you need a MIDI sequencer into which to record the appropriate controller data. To make setting up such hardware interfaces easier, a useful Learn facility is included, which necessitates waggling the on-screen and real faders so that they can recognise each other.

Finished Session tracks can be automated both for level and pan, and for those who like the graphical approach, this can be done from the Edit window by selecting Automation and then choosing level or pan. This system works exactly like Pro Tools, where you create break points along a line, then drag them about, just as you would with the envelope in a synth editing package. Automation points may be moved or erased, and you can also move or erase several at once by marking them with the selector tool, and then performing the appropriate action on any one of them.

The other way to automate the mix is to go to the Mix page (shown in this box), and record the level and pan fader movements, in real time. This page is set up very much like a typical console automation package, and includes the ability to subgroup up to four sets of faders. A small trash can icon may be dragged to grouped faders to ungroup them.

It's also worth mentioning that the two aux sends and the master faders may be automated via MIDI using your sequencer. In fact, you can do all the automation from your sequencer if you want to.
 
pros & cons
DIGIDESIGN SESSION PC/
AUDIOMEDIA III BUNDLE £892

pros
• Good audio quality.
• Four simultaneous inputs and outputs (two of which are digital).
• Flexible software with good editing features and automation.
• Can be run alongside a MIDI sequencer using MTC.

cons
• Poor stereo file handling.
• No punching in or out on the fly.

summary
A good value digital audio package, with relatively few compromises when compared to a basic (non-TDM) Pro Tools system.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 07:39:04 AM by chrisNova777 »

Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • Posts: 9164
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage audio production software + hardware info
Re: Digidesign AudioMedia III (Early 1996) supports windows 3.11
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2015, 01:05:51 AM »
big thanks to "inspector77" for contributing the session software that comes with the audiomedia III pci card
apparently the software works well in windows 3.x

here it is! downloadable!
remember that its reviewed in this article:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150910203432/http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/jul96/digidesignsession.html

Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • Posts: 9164
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage audio production software + hardware info
Re: Digidesign AudioMedia III (Early 1996) supports windows 3.11
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2016, 07:09:17 PM »
if anyone knows where i could get omniflop images of the windows 3.11 driver installer disks (from 3.5" floppy) that shipped with the audiomedia III Pci card, id like to post the drivers here.. i almost had bought a AMIII card with the floppies from ebay a few months ago.


Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • Posts: 9164
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage audio production software + hardware info
Re: Digidesign AudioMedia III (Early 1996) supports windows 3.11
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2017, 05:19:38 AM »
do u know for certain those drivers also work with windows 3.x?
the auction that i saw clearly showed a 3.5" floppy that was labeled : "amIII wave driver 1.1 PC"
im assuming thats the wave driver for windows 3.1x

anyway heres the pdf on installing the am3 card
http://akarchive.digidesign.com/support/docs/am3installguide.pdf

Quote
Audiomedia III Features
• Up to 4 tracks of simultaneous recording,
using both analog and digital inputs
• Up to 24 tracks of simultaneous playback
(actual track count depends on
software and CPU limitations)
• Supports multiple sample rates:
11.025 kHz, 22.05 kHz, 44.1 kHz and
48 kHz

Quote
System Requirements
• Slot requirements: 7” PCI card, slot independent

• Recommended CPU speed: 75 MHz or
greater

the pdf mentions only how to REMOVE the 1.1 wave driver on windows 95 (probably because the driver was only made to accomodate win3.x!!!) but is silent on INSTALLING the 1.1wave driver version

Quote
The Audiomedia III is a PCI DSP audio card first released on 4/22/96.Sample Rates: 11.025k, 22.05k, 44.1kHz, 48kHzA/D Convertor: 1-bit Delta Sigma, 128x Oversampling, 18-bit outputD/A Convertor: 18-bit outputFrequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHzS/N Ratio (A/D/A): 88dB, unweighted, band-limited (22Hz to 22kHz); 90dB, A-weightedTHD: 0.008% @ 1kHzDigital I/O: S/PDIF (2 RCA connectors), IEC 958 format, 24-bit input/output DSP clock: 66mHzPCI power consumption: 6.6 wattsAnalog Input/Output Connectors: 4 RCA jacks, -10dBV, unbalanced. From top to bottom: digital In (yellow), digital out (black), analog in L (white), analog in R (red), analog out L (white), analog out R (red)Physical Dimensions: 7″ PCI card Requires SDII 2.82 for 24-bit recording/playback.

Offline chrisNova777

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • Posts: 9164
  • "Vintage MIDI Sequencing + Audio Production"
    • www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage audio production software + hardware info
Re: Digidesign AudioMedia III (April 1996) supports windows 3.11
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2018, 06:01:54 PM »
http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=257540

not sure if i posted about this before but apparently this card can work in Windows7(32) os
as long as you install
as administrator in compatibility mode
and install the latest pace drivers