Empress Zoia

Sorry, original diagram had an error. Now revised.

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oh snap this is way clever! looks lean and I will happily take this little detour. Very generous of you to share/illustrate. i now understand the comparator better
… cheers !


I meant for the dual delays mainly…

well you can certainly create dual delays with the zoia (or triple or quintuple or whatever really). some might sound like the echosystem too.
what I like about the echo, is the interface though. which you won’t achieve with the zoia as slick as the echo has it. the zoia has only one knob and swapping delays, switching between serial and parallel etc will always require repatching or some real clever placement of switch nodes on the zoia - so the user experience will be completely different

Edit: bottom line is that you won’t get to interchange all the possible variations and combinations of delay engines. Each combo will require its own patch - more or less. And tweaking won’t be as much fun without external controller

Let me just rephrase that :
Are the Zoia’s delay algorithms as good as the same ones from Echosystem?

I think I should be able to build in it dual delays… just don’t know how good they would sound…

No but that doesn’t mean it can’t be.

If I understand it correctly all the pieces are there to get the Echosystem (or Reverb) they just haven’t been put together. You would have to do that yourself.

Again if I understand it corrrectly the “effects” section of the zoia are basic, premade patches allowing people to access standard reverb delay etc.

I remember @empress_effects once stating that if they loaded the patches from the Reverb unit you wouldn’t be able to do anything else on the Zoia. And thats not the point of the Zoia.

But bottom line the delays provided in the Zoia are excellent. This is Empress we’re talking about. If it’s straight delay you want get the Echosystem. If you want to get weird and customizable get the Zoia.


This video (at 3:22) walks you through building a dual delay with pitch shifting on the Zoia, FWIW.

Based on what I’ve heard so far (just unboxed mine yesterday) the Zoia delays sound really good.

But if you need a delay pedal, just get a delay pedal. Being able to tweak delay time, feedback, etc. by simply reaching for the appropriate knobs is a much faster workflow.


Looks like I need to get another MIDI interface for my iPad - not Zoia’s fault btw.

It would be handy to have this basic setup:

Keyboard -> iPad -> Zoia

Then I can use the iPad to record MIDI input from the keyboard while writing parts for a Zoia polysynth. But my current iPad MIDI interface lacks the MIDI Thru jack. I didn’t plan for this scenario because it didn’t occur to me that peeps have been making polysynth patches for Zoia.

I hope I’m not asking something that’s already been covered a lot here, but I have a couple ZOIA questions.

  1. For example, if I wanted to replace a combo of Polymoon / Mercury 7 with just a ZOIA (thinking minimalist), would I be able to put together a good string of delay and reverb with just the ZOIA? I know this isn’t taking full advantage of ZOIA’s capabilities, but I would plan on expanding the usage as I get familiar with it. Which leads to my next question:

  2. How big of a black hole is ZOIA? i.e. if I get one, will I get stuck spending a lot of time learning how to use, building patch after patch, tweaking, etc. when I should be spending my limited time making music? I’m already learning Octatrack/Digitone/OP-Z, I don’t know if I want to commit to another device with a learning curve (despite how interesting that device is).


my half educated 2 cents:

  1. i doubt you’ll reach the sonic qualities of a Meris product (let alone 2 combined). polymoon has many many cascading delays and the mercury is as top shelf as they come. you will be able to re-create a delay/ reverb combo with the zoia though. reverbs are maxing the CPU quickly and the interface after you’re done with your patch wont be as intuitive as dedicated solutions.

  2. i had the same concern and it is surprisingly intuitive. in fact, the ui is rather genius and there’s something about this that makes it very focused and contained. you’ll have functional patches in no time. like anything, to unlock it’s real power you need to invest time to even grasp what can be done.

I use it as looper, midi processor and experimental sequencer for now and am absolutely in love with it. II always shied away from buying a dedicated tremolo for example and for little things like this it is invaluable . lots of little helper things in there too (my yamaha digi piano doesn’t output full midi velocity for example and I use the zoia to remap it)

hope this helps

  1. So, the ZOIA can do a lot of things, but it can’t do them all at once. Putting together a good string of delay and reverb is absolutely possible. Replacing all of the extended functionality of the Polymoon and the Mercury 7 (multi-tap delay, pitch-shifting reverb and delay, delay diffusion, phasers, flangers, vibrato, volume swells, all in stereo) in one patch is well beyond the ZOIA’s limits. Doing specific aspects of those sounds in one patch is certainly achievable. My own Polymoon isn’t going anywhere; its strengths complement the ZOIA’s, for me.

  2. Which I think leads to my response for the second part: despite its format, ZOIA is a platform not a pedal, an environment (whereas a specific pedal, such as the Polymoon, is designed with a specific task, allowing its functionality to be catered to that end). It can be an enormous time suck, although I think the learning curve depends a lot on your familiarity with synthesis in general but modularity more specifically; your understanding of how signal paths work in other effects, sound design, synthesizers, etc.; and your willingness to spend the time learning its UI and modules. I will say that unlike the OT (I am not familiar with the other devices), you can learn while doing in ZOIA. Try stuff, create weird sounds, follow the signal paths back to figure out what made the weird sound weird, etc. whereas with OT, at some level, you need to follow some specific procedures in specific order.

I’ve… committed to the time suck, which means I can go from point A to point Q pretty quickly at this point (provided I have a point Q in mind), but that definitely came at a price (in time and attention). That price, however, I think depends a lot on those factors I listed, and what you want to get out of ZOIA.


Agreeing with the above, and also offering the following - I bought it knowing it would be a time suck, looking forward to that (I geek out on modular stuff, I guess), and hoping it would be a very rewarding time suck at least. My ideal situation was that it would replace or improve upon all the other major time sucks that I could potentially devote my time and attention to instead: off the top of my head, that would be Organelle, Norns, Axoloti, Nord Modular G1/G2, Octatrack, Nebulae v2, ER-301, and Rebel Technology Owl/Wizard/Magus. Not to mention a large number of single-purpose effects pedals and eurorack modules. And in software, VCV Rack, Reaktor, and Audulus. It actually does handily replace or improve upon all of those things for me, with the exception of VCV Rack which is free and seemingly always going to have some cool stuff I can’t live without. (I’ve owned Organelle, Norns, and Nord Modular G1, so I’m not saying this stuff lightly!)

Having one piece of gear that I can focus on and say “this will be the ONE longterm project and experimentation device that I can dive deep into and always make interesting stuff with” instead of a multiplicity of boxes that I only end up using in shallow ways feels very satisfying to me. My gear acquisition is fading and I know I want to spend many years with the Zoia, which allows me to focus and want to learn and be okay with that taking time. But, as I said, I’m already deep into modular addiction, and my main problem is limited free time and attention, not willingness. Your mileage may vary for any number of reasons. :slight_smile: The key thing I want to emphasize is that you can make music and record very satisfying stuff with it as you learn, and that knowledge will just keep growing your toolbox of techniques. There’s no reason you can’t make music on Day 1 with it, after going through one of the tutorial videos online.


CooL! Thanks!

I had the empress echo station for a while. Amazing tape echo among others. Zoia will surely have some of those algorithms available

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I appreciate it.

For the record, I should have clarified that I wasn’t intending on directly replacing what the polymoon/mercury7 combo can do, more wondering if ZOIA could act as a suitable delay / reverb chain (among other things). One of the reasons why I’m enjoying the meris pedals is that you can pretty quickly dial in your settings with the knobs and get to work. ZOIA only has the one knob, but I suppose with patch storage, you could save a few “presets” and recall various setups as required.

Overall, I think I have my answer for now - basically enjoy the setup you have and if time/money frees up later on, give ZOIA a try. It’s more of an addition, than a replacement.


Yeah, 100% agree you can start using it on day 1 to do cool, useable things if you watch one of the tutorials and follow along.

But you have to jump in–the people I see struggle the most seem to be the ones who want to know exactly what will happen when module A connects to module B. Just connect them and find out! It goes much, much faster to learn by doing within ZOIA.

Like you said, vaporlanes, you’re just building your toolbox every time you do.

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Yeah, absolutely. With all things modular, I find it very beneficial to be “comfortable with chaos” and have a certain anarchistic strain to your patching philosophy. There might be a temptation to thoroughly learn exactly what patching X into Y will do before you actually patch X into Y, but where’s the fun in that? Instead just try it and see what happens. On some level, it’s great fun simply to see how much of a “spaghetti tangle of virtual wires” you can get going to make the craziest, gnarliest stuff possible. You can always try to figure things out later when you’re sober. Patch audio where CV should go, patch CV where audio should go. Use modules in completely unintended ways. Throw a bunch of logic and math at a patch haphazardly. Just go for it, you can’t break anything.

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I think I found my first patching mission on the Zoia.

Learn how to adjust the sensitivity of the excellent LoopDelayErVerb patch so that it interacts more with my electric violin.