Finally! The Empress Zoia

If it seems like years since Empress introduced what appeared to be the ultimate pedal effect at NAMM that’s because it has been—almost two to be exact. Apparently, Zoia has finally started shipping and is already sold out. Here is a short video of how it can be used with guitar. Read more for a longer one and specs. Still more videos are on the Empress site.

The Zoia is basically a modular synthesizer in pedal form. It comes packed with over 80 modules like oscillators, LFOs, filters, bit crushers, and envelope followers, with more to come.

Using these modules, you can create your own effects, synths, control devices, and more. Instead of being a delay effect or tremolo pedal, the unit provides the modules necessary to build a delay or tremolo from the ground up.
If that seems more tweaky than you would like, Empress has created more than 20 modules for all your standard guitar effects. That way, if you want a phaser, you don’t have to learn they’re built out of all-pass filters. If you prefer to, however, you can use the Zoia to build just the kind of phaser you want. You can create and save up to 64 patches that can be recalled through scrolling or MIDI during live performance.

The long demo

Joining the Zoia user community on, lets you try out other users’ patches, or upload your own creations. Patches can be loaded and saved to and recalled from an included SD Card.

Downloading the newest firmware from lets you add new modules or features, and fix bugs.

All of Zoia’s module and parameter information is viewable on a high-resolution OLED display screen. The unit has a dedicated control port and MIDI 1/8″ in/out jacks to allow connection to external devices to modify any or all of its functions and parameters. 1/8″ to MIDI dongles are included. The on-board footswitches can be used in either scrolling or bank preset mode, for on-the-fly patch recall.

A dedicated help function offers quick information about Zoia’s various modules and options.

48kHz sampling, with 24-bit conversion and 32-bit internal processing.
Signal to noise of >105dB
Input Impedance >= 1MΩ
Output Impedance 100Ω
Frequency Response (-3dB) 10Hz – 23.4kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion0.22%
Dynamic Range 105.5 dBA
Input Headroom (no pad) +0.5 dBu
Input Headroom (6dB pad) +5.7 dBu
Input Headroom (12dB pad) +10.8 dBu
Output Headroom +16.2dBu
Power Input Connector2.1mm Barrel Connector
Power Input Voltage 9V DC (center negative)
Required Current 9V 300mA
Height (enclosure only) 1.75”
Height (including controls) 2.625”
Length 5.7”
Width 3.75”
Weight 1.5lbs


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