Empress Zoia


Ha! Right. forgot about that option.


I have an Organelle and a Zoia. It’s hard / unfair to compare something that’s had years to gestate with something that’s still shipping out to early adopters. BUT, I already see myself using the Zoia far more than the Organelle. I came to grips that I just won’t learn PureData - no time, baby, not instantly gratifying. Orac fixes some of this, but with limited control. I’m not building something from scratch, I’m just connecting a Braids module to a sequencer. Zoia is instant - amazing how quickly I can build something complex - and to my ears, it sounds better than anything else out there - DSP and synth engine sounds better than Nord Modular, which was my criteria before I made the bold statement that it improves on the NM :slight_smile:

My first patch was a crazy insect chattering unruly, unstable thing with 3 oscillators and wildly modulated effects. That was before I really knew what I was doing. Not bad for a “hello world”!


Also, I made a keyboard page for it, with each key triggering something completely different within the patch. With that kind of flexibility, I’m not concerned about Zoia not being synth enough.

I’m curious about the sequencer. Need to see if I can program per-step probability, etc. If so, then the sequencer can be Elektron-ish.


I’m really surprised by the synth examples i’m hearing. I have both Nord Modular but im gasing for the Zoia. I think the big difference between the Zoia and something like the Organel is the building block algos. I assume the modules offered by Empress are top quality.


Is there anything Zoia can do different or better than an effects rack in Ableton? I get the desirability of hardware, though trying to figure out if this is a waste of money for me, since all my instruments already run through my DAW (Ableton is essentially my FX box/mixer).




Better for chiptune sounds, or better in general :grinning:

Sorry, I’m thinking of our man cuckoo and his propensity for video game tones - love ya cuckoo!



Cuckoo is the absolute best at tutorials but his music tastes aren’t my cup of tea all the time! Don’t assume you can only sound like Cuckoo. Nothing I’ve made has been chiptuney yet, just unabashedly experimental. Insect chatter from Mars, turned a tame Mother-32 sequence into blown out harsh noise, etc.


I have a fondness for experimental sounds and noise as well.

Just taking the piss regarding Cuckoo. :grin:


Cannot wait to connect it to my M32. Whatever the Moog sounds perceived faults, you can do anything to it FX wise and it’ll stand up.


I’ve done this a bit with the ZOIA. You could combine a sequencer, random module, and a comparator to get per-step probability. The sequencer could send out CV values (that represent probability of an event happening). The sequencer could also send out gate signals that trigger the random module to create a new random values. Then you’d use the comparator module to determine if the probability value is greater than the random value created. You’d then use the comparator output however you want. Sorry if that sounds complicated, on paper it’s a lot easier to follow along.


I ask this question often when I pick up a piece of gear. For me it comes down to stage vs. studio - which are both big pieces of what I do on a regular basis.

re: Different? Absolutely. There’s a workflow that gives it a certain charm. However, I think most of it can be done in Ableton, especially with M4L stuff like envelope followers, lfos, rack macros, etc. I don’t use a computer on stage, and I’m on stage often with multiple acts, sometimes in very different genres… to the point where I use a very different mouthpiece for one in particular.

I think you really nailed it with your statement:

That’s really the crux. I have different senses of discovery with hardware and with software… I think many of us are fortunate to have the options. If you’re going for end result, I’d say, stay with Ableton. If you have a desire for the experience of such things (that, admittedly have little to do with “playing” music), I think Zoia is a killer addition to the toy box.


That’s exciting. Clever solution, and not hard to implement at all. It sounds like the sequencer alone is going to provide endless surprises!


Just posted a new firmware version 1.01 which uses around 10% less CPU for hungry patches: https://empresseffects.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/1000275389-updating-firmware-on-the-zoia


I think they made a critical mistake in the industrial design --its so small they are bypassing an entire market of guitar players that like substantial looking pedals
I don’t think people realise how small this pedal is!

Height (enclosure only) 1.75”
Height (including controls) 2.625”
Length 5.7”
Width 3.75”
Weight 1.5lbs


fwiw (hope I’m not overposting) I couldn’t love the form factor more. Small and chunky, I can hold it in both hands and play it like a gamepad. I wish more desktop units came in this size. Buttons and knob are plenty big, screen is excellent and conveys plenty of information in a small space, LEDs are top notch and show the modulation that’s going on at a glance. Once my ripcord comes in the mail, it’ll be fully portable, I can throw it in a backpack and go.



But you mean 10% less right?

I read that and my brain started to hurt: “need more pages. So many more pages.”


Comparison to Digitakt (bonus, I can use the Digitakt stand to prop up both Digitakt and Zoia side by side)


Oops yes you’re right!