Incus Iteritas Alia#

FM-based wave-mangling additive voice for synthetic percussion and instruments

Overview#

Incus Iteritas Alia builds off our legacy of creating voices that excel at both percussive and melodic sounds. Inspired by our favorite parts of our past voices but built with new techniques and tricks, Incus is the epitome of a diverse parameterized voice in a tiny footprint. Use it to create percussion, sound effects, or melodic instruments – you’ll be rewarded for experimenting with Incus.

Not only is Incus an incredible voice on its own, it’s also part of the Alia oscillator platform. Use the included USB cable to connect to the Customer Portal and swap the firmware to any other Alia firmware, completely free, at any time.

  • Type: FM wavemorphing/shaping/folding additive voice
  • Size: 10HP Eurorack
  • Depth: 1.5 Inches
  • Power: 2x5 Eurorack
  • +12 V: 105 mA
  • -12 V: 10 mA
  • 5 V: `0mA

Incus - anvil, from Latin

Iteritas - repetitiousness - from Latin itero "repeat" with suffix -tas "state of being"

Alia - another, more from Latin for "another"

“I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more anvil”

Power#

Power connector

To power your Noise Engineering module, turn off your case. Plug one end of your ribbon cable into your power board so that the red stripe on the ribbon cable is aligned to the side that says -12 V and each pin on the power header is plugged into the connector on the ribbon. Make sure no pins are overhanging the connector! If they are, unplug it and realign.

Line up the red stripe on the ribbon cable so that it matches the white stripe and/or -12 V indication on the board and plug in the connector.

Screw your module into your case before powering on the module. You risk bumping the module's PCB against something metallic and damaging it if it's not properly secured when powered on.

You should be good to go if you followed these instructions. Now go make some noise!

A final note. Some modules have other headers -- they may have a different number of pins or may say "not power". In general, unless a manual tells you otherwise, do not connect those to power.

Interface#

Illustration of Incus Iteritas Alia's interface

Pitch
Encoder for adjusting pitch. Press and turn for coarse semitone adjustments, or just turn for fine tuning.
The Pitch input is calibrated for 1v/8va tracking.
Weight/Alloy
Weight and Alloy are heavily intertwined.
Weight controls the tuning of the additive oscillators, and can also add saturation to the voice. Alloy controls the levels of the additive oscillators, with only the fundamental oscillator audible at minimum.
With Alloy turned all the way down, Weight is just a saturation control. As Alloy is turned up, the level of the additive oscillators increases. When both Alloy and Weight are set to near maximum, saturation is turned down to retain some harmonic clarity.
Shape
Changes the shape of the oscillator(s) continuously between sine, triangle, saw, and square.
Temper
A reimplementation of the classic Noise Engineering wavefolder. A tuned pulse train is mixed into the signal at high settings.
Attack
Attack is a bipolar control that varies depending on the Grind/Impact/Heavy setting. Above noon, Attack always slows the impact of the sound, similar to the attack parameter on a traditional envelope.
In Grind mode, turning Attack below noon introduces noise to the signal. The noise decay increases as Attack is turned down, and is independent of the envelope used to control the dynamics of the oscillators.
In Impact mode, the Attack parameter changes the amount of envelope modulation sent to the pitch of the oscillators, with the most intense modulation at the minimum Attack setting.
In Heavy mode, turning Attack below noon increases FM modulation between the oscillators.
Time
Controls the overall envelope time of the voice.
Grind/Impact/Heavy
Changes the synthesis algorithm used to create sounds.
Grind is the simplest algorithm, using additive synthesis and wave processing to create timbres. Best for clean(ish) melodic sounds, snares, and other tones that require noise and a stable pitch.
Impact is similar to Grind, but introduces a pitch envelope. Perfect for kicks, big impacts, and zaps.
Heavy is an 8-operator linear FM algorithm. It has a massive timbral range and changes to the Harm, Spread, and Attack controls have a huge impact on the resulting timbre. Great for for ripping bass, abstract effects, metallic percussion, or retro synth tones.
Bass/Alto/Treble
Changes the pitch of the voice. Each switch position offsets the pitch by two octaves.
Trig
Triggers the envelope. The envelope has no Sustain phase, but any sort of gate or trigger will fire the envelope. Try it at audio rates, too! The Hit button manually activates the envelope.
Out
The audio output of the voice.
Env Out
An envelope output that mimics the envelope shape of Manis’s internal envelope.

Getting started with each mode#

Incus’s modes are deceptively similar: despite sharing controls that function almost identically in each mode, we found that each algorithm plays quite differently in a patch, and is best suited to different types of sounds.

In this section, we’ll go over some of our favorite starting patches for each algorithm, and our favorite ways to play them in a patch. Incus’s sound palette is massive, so these are just starting points. Don’t be afraid to explore far beyond what we outline here; you’ll find many unique sounds on your journey!

Patch a trigger signal to the Trig input, the Out jack to your monitor, and copy the suggested settings from the pictures. If you'd like to play a melody, patch a 1v/8va sequence into the Pitch jack.

Wobble kick
This kick uses the Temper parameter to create an impact, and the additive structure of Weight and Alloy to create a wobbling tail.
Try changing the Time parameter to change the length of the tail, Weight to change the speed of the wobble, and Temper to change the impact and flavor of the overall sound.

The Incus settings for this patch

Additive playground

This sound starts as a supersaw stab. Weight and Alloy change the tuning and level of the additive oscillators, and Shape changes their waveform.

The Incus settings for this patch

Snares and snaps

This snare is subtle, and the length of the snare tail can be adjusted by turning Attack down. Try adjusting Temper parameter to change the timbre of the snare body.

The Incus settings for this patch

Big kick

This booming kick will fill up the low end of a patch. Turn Attack up or down to adjust the impact of the kick, and Time parameter to change the kick's decay.

The Incus settings for this patch

FM pluck

This patch explores the FM side of Incus. Try adjusting the Weight, Alloy, and Attack parameters to make big adjustments to the FM interactions and the overall timbre of this sound.

The Incus settings for this patch

Input and output voltages#

Alia’s trigger input has a threshold around +1.8 V.

Its modulation CV inputs have a range of 0 V to +5 V.

Its pitch CV input has a range of -2 V to +5 V.

The envelope output has a range of 0 V to +5 V.

The audio output varies depending on settings, and can reach a maximum of about 14 V peak to peak.

Calibration#

Alia features an autocalibration system. The modules are autocalibrated and tested at the factory, but should you feel you need to recalibrate, just power the unit on with nothing patched to the Pitch CV input. The module will calibrate itself during startup.

Design notes#

Incus was created shortly after Debel’s release. Stephen had been playing with the new code structures that were designed for Debel, and decided to implement a voice that borrowed from some concepts in the original BIA with a completely new synth engine. Tweaked parameters, an entirely new envelope, and a redesign of the sound-generating algorithms resulted in a synth that felt similar to our classic voices but had an entirely new sound.

After a thoroughly enjoyable testing period, a number of refinements were made, and we were about 90% of the way through the firmware day one – which basically never happens. Of course, the last 10% took a few weeks: in particular, the Weight parameter didn’t match the others in complexity when Alloy was turned down. We wanted all parameters to be as tweakable as possible on their own, and eventually we threw a variable saturator on Weight. Such a simple addition was shockingly effective, and sealed the deal on the firmware’s release.

We’ve learned a lot of tricks since we started making voice modules, and we think Incus does an excellent job of showing off some of our favorite techniques.

Warranty#

We will repair or replace (at our discretion) any product that we manufactured as long as we are in business and are able to get the parts to do so. We aim to support modules that have been discontinued for as long as possible. This warranty does not apply to normal wear and tear, including art/panel wear, or any products that have been modified, abused, or misused. Our warranty is limited to manufacturing defects.

Warranty repairs/replacements are free. Repairs due to user modification or other damage are charged at an affordable rate. Customers are responsible for the cost of shipping to Noise Engineering for repair.

All returns must be coordinated through Noise Engineering; returns without a Return Authorization will be refused and returned to sender.

Please contact us if you think one of your modules needs a repair.

Special thanks#

  • Distortion, for being awesome