Empress Zoia


Spent last few days in Zoia land (if not playing with it, thinking about what I want to do next with it, and how.) It’s the pedal / effects processor / modular undefined THING of my dreams. It’ll go in every Eurorack patch I make for the foreseeable future. Amazing, game changer. It’s finally the proper spiritual successor to the Nord Modular, cuter, more accessible (i LOVE that I can do everything including patching outside of a computer, turns out), with usable world-class effects and a brilliant UX. Hype is legit. (Oh, and I love watching the pulsating light show once my patch is finished and I’m zoning out to it.)


Patchstorage already added a ZOIA Archive.


I was gonna buy an Organelle. But, no I’m starting to ask myself if ZOIA is interesting enough to compete for the spot.

What are your thoughts on this?


Got an Organelle a year ago, but it’s too heavy on the menus IMO.
In the end you only have 4 pots and one menu switch. I sent it back.

With the ZOIA, you can choose to have a “page” dedicated to UI and use every pad as a way to change the sound.

Now ZOIA is more of an FX (although it can do synth) while Organelle has a keyboard.
Depends what you’re looking for.

I know I’ll have a ZOIA in my life at some point ^^


Yesss, thanks that cuts to the point. I’d use it rather as a synth, than for processing audio generated elsewhere. Zoia is marketed as jacked up effects padel rather than a portable modular synth groovebox thing, which I get. Empress is a pedal company and it’s smart to position the product as a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way round. It got the flexibility I guess, but I’m not sure how well it’d sound using the builtin sound sources.

Your remark regarding Organelle is equally interesting. The tiny screen and the 4 pots interface, how much do they impede you from getting out of it what you want on say a scale of 1-10. (;

I guess what I’m looking for is hybrid between Organelle & Deluge …and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.


Thomann has begun shipping ZOIAs in Europe, should have mine in a week or so. Can’t wait, the community around this is already putting out amazing stuff.


But these are single FX units as opposed to multi. I imagine it’s much easier then to implement it (for example the H9 doesn’t nor do I think those sweet Zooms do) but considering that it’s become pretty common, maybe that’ll push Empress’ hand.

Great write up. Thank you. I would very much like to see a comparison bt nord and Zoia. Not that it would affect my excitement for Zoia in any way.

Yah this looks sick in videos.

Yeah I think modular fx unit as opposed to modular synth is important to keep in mind for buyers going in. Where Empress is going to prioritize future work.

Better off than me: won’t have mine until late June. :frowning: which is why I appreciate all these posts!

@mr_bernard any tips on printing this Google doc of modules? I’m having a helluva time getting it to fit.

Steve confirmed on FB CPU optimization coming


Didn’t realize you were talking about multi FX boxes only. I haven’t encountered one with spillover or the equivalent of it either.


“Now ZOIA is more of an FX (although it can do synth) while Organelle has a keyboard.
Depends what you’re looking for.”

Zoia has a keyboard too :] you can turn all the blocks into keys of any note you want!


@Brockstar I just wanted to emphasize that ZOIA is more conceived as an FX stompbox that does it all, whereas Organelle (that can also do crazy FX as well btw) is more conceived as a synth…


Zoia over Organelle for me. Could never really get on w/ Pure Data or other modular softsynths on desktop, kind of do ok on IOS devices.

Cuckoo seems fairly focused on using Zoia as a compact synth, based on his vids. But he seems to have a particular taste in synth tones.


Don’t hate, but I have a 27" iMac on my studio desk, so it’s nice and in my face when I’m tinkering with Zoia.


Just my opinion. I think this product has really too many ideas, on a very limiting form factor. Is it a stombox or a tabletop unit? I don’t understand it… so complicated, and the lists, clicky encoder and foot switches annoy me a little…With 550 Rothschild’s paper you can express yourself with products that have better interfaces for fluent creations.


Using a computer while working the Zoia?? Blasphemy! :slight_smile:

Since you’re using an “actual” instrument maybe you know the answer to this: if I went to send the zoia signal out to a for example instrument level distortion pedal do I need to reamp the out and DI the in? I can’t imagine I would but I don’t want to presume anything.


The encoder doesn’t seem nearly as clicky to me as I thought it was going to be from the videos (esp cuckoo’s).

Personally, I think it’s as complicated as you want it to be, or it can be straight forward. As the community grows the user-made patches are going to be enough for many people. I will say, this is not for everyone, nor does it have to be.


I thought was the name of a device I hadn’t heard of, :smile:

Out of curiosity: which devices are you thinking of that are “better”?


Not in my experience. It behaves like a regular pedal in that regard. In my videos (though they aren’t on for the demo), the Zoia is after my H9 and before my Avalanche Run.


What do you want to do with it? :joy:


That brings up a related question - is the process of setting the input (gain) and output level as straightforward as other patching operations on the Zoia, as depicted in videos by Cuckoo and others?


I think the default input gain is -6dB. I haven’t touched it, but you can adjust it in the settings (shift and bottom right pad). Output, I manage through whatever the connection is before the audio out module, or in between modules if there’s any kind of overload. You can also put a VCA anywhere you’d like if you need more control.


Output gain is easy. When you’re creating an audio out module, there’s an option for gain control or not. By default it’s off. I’ll have it on pretty much always - if anything, it’s the quickest way to a volume knob.