The Resurrection of Altar II: A Eurorack Filter Enhanced for Harmonic Exploration

Versatile, powerful, and rediscovered, the Altar II stands as a testament to the innovative engineering of Ritual Electronics. After two years of hiatus, the flagship filter emerges once again, but this time with significant enhancements in its feature set and circuitry, making it an essential module in your Eurorack setup.

The charisma of Altar II lies in its ability to forge unique pathways in sound design and harmonics. By virtue of being a voltage-controlled 3-pole, 18dB/octave state variable discrete filter, it can smoothly crossfade from bandpass (BP) to lowpass (LP) to highpass (HP), thereby unlocking a diverse palette of tonal colors. This unconventional filter configuration evokes distinctive harmonics and nuances, thus providing a sonic playground for sonic explorers.

In terms of control voltage (CV) handling, the Altar II offers generous flexibility with an included attenuverter on its CV input. It is this powerful feature that makes the module prime for CV control and creative automatization.

Resonance is another crucial aspect of the Altar II's design. Equipped with voltage control and an attenuverter, it allows for intricate modulation of timbre. Users can concoct unique accent patterns by boosting the resonance, reminiscent of the iconic 303's squelchy accents. The control granularity provided by the voltage control and attenuverter opens up tremendous opportunities for customization and fine-tuning, ensuring that the Altar II can adapt to any musical context.

Adding to its extensive set of features, the module can fatten up the sound at its input using the gain knob. This enables users to distort the filter core, thereby creating larger and heftier sounds. When pushed, it can flirt with the territory of overdriven analog warmth, injecting life and character into your sonic creations.

Furthermore, the filter tracks 1V/oct effectively over 4-5 octaves, transforming it into a very engaging sine oscillator. This expands the capability of the module beyond filtering, and into the realm of sound generation. When paired with the Miasma, Ritual Electronics’ designation for vicious distortion, the Altar II can function as a versatile waveshaper.

The most significant upgrade in the Altar II is the addition of a second input and the refinement of the resonance and gain circuits. This second audio input lets users blend and manipulate multiple audio sources, thus further broadening the module’s sonic potential.

Aligned with its mission of a smooth user experience, Ritual Electronics provides comprehensive support and a detailed manual to guide Eurorack enthusiasts. Technically sophisticated yet intuitively accessible, the Altar II capitalizes on its inherent strength and versatility to spark creativity.

The rebirth of Altar II signals not just the return of a beloved filter module, but the evolution of it. It pushes the envelope of harmonic exploration while boasting unmatched versatility and an innovative design ethos. Ultimately, it’s a testament to Ritual Electronics’ commitment to push boundaries and challenge conventions in the realm of Eurorack designs. Embrace the evolution and explore the vast sonic possibilities the Altar II provides in your modular setup.

Example Usage

Imagine you have just started your Eurorack journey and are excited to explore different filter modules. The Ritual Electronics Altar II is a perfect choice to begin your sonic exploration. Let's walk through a simple novice-level example of how you can use this module to enhance your harmonic exploration.

Start by connecting your Eurorack audio source, maybe a VCO or a drum machine, to the Altar II's input. Adjust the gain knob to add a touch of distortion and beef up the incoming signal. This will give your sound a grittier and more aggressive character.

Next, take a patch cable and connect a modulation source, such as an LFO or an envelope, to the Altar II's CV input. Experiment with different modulation shapes and speeds to dynamically control the filter cutoff frequency. You'll notice how the Altar II can smoothly transition between bandpass (BP), lowpass (LP), and highpass (HP) filter configurations, each bringing out unique harmonics and nuances in your sound.

Now, let's add some resonance to sculpt the timbre even further. Use another modulation source or your sequencer's accent pattern to apply voltage control to the Altar II's resonance parameter. The attenuverter allows you to control the intensity of the modulation, giving you precise control over the amount of emphasis you want to add to specific frequencies. This technique can be particularly useful for creating those iconic 303-style accent patterns that bring a touch of excitement and energy to your music.

As you experiment with different settings, you'll discover that the Altar II isn't limited to just filtering. In fact, it can transform into a sweet sine oscillator. Patch the Altar II's output to another module, like Miasma, and use it as a waveshaper. This opens up a world of possibilities for creating unique timbres and unusual harmonic content.

Remember, as a novice, take your time and enjoy the process. Start small and gradually explore the vast range of sounds and textures that the Altar II has to offer. Don't be afraid to experiment and let your creativity guide you. Happy harmonic exploration!

One intermediate-level usage example for the Altar II Eurorack filter module is to utilize its crossfading capabilities to create dynamic filter sweeps. By patching a rhythmic sequence into the CV input with an attenuverter, you can modulate the crossfade parameter to smoothly transition between different filter types (BP, LP, HP) over time. This allows you to add movement and variation to your sound, making it ideal for evolving synth textures and melodic sequences. Experiment with different modulation sources and rates to achieve the desired musical effect and explore the harmonic nuances that the Altar II filter brings out.

Further Thoughts

One creative way to use the Altar II Eurorack filter for harmonic exploration is to pair it with a sequencer module to create evolving melodic patterns. Start by patching the sequencer's CV output to the Altar II's CV input, and set the sequencer to a slow tempo with a repeating sequence.

Next, set the Altar II's filter mode to low-pass and adjust the resonance to a moderate level. Begin playing the sequence and slowly increase the cutoff frequency. Notice how the harmonics and nuances of the sequence change as the filter sweeps through the frequencies.

To add even more depth to your exploration, patch a modulation source like an LFO or envelope generator to the Altar II's second input. Adjust the modulation depth and rate to create dynamic and evolving timbre shifts in tandem with the sequence.

Experiment with different sequencer patterns and modulation sources to discover new harmonic possibilities. By utilizing the Altar II's voltage control and attenuverters, you can fine-tune the CV inputs to achieve unique and expressive harmonic textures. Don't be afraid to push the gain knob to introduce distortion and create larger-than-life sounds.

By combining the Altar II with a sequencer module, you unleash the full potential of this filter for generating complex and evolving harmonic structures, transporting your Eurorack system into uncharted musical territories.