Empress Zoia users thread

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Jonathanthomas83Jonathanthomas83 Frets: 3023
edited April 4 in FX
EDIT: This is now a thread for everyone to use to share and chat about the Zoia! Rather than just another mundane NPD! :-)

Original NPD post:
So last year I had to sell all my gear and was left with my trusty Strat. I had a bunch of pedals which I miss dearly and would love to buy them again one day. However, the thought of rebuilding kind of made me feel sick for about 4-5 months. So much so that I got an Axe FX in the interim and am only now coming around to the idea of putting it back together piece by piece as and when finances allow. So I've been building up a bit of a pot, ready for when the trigger needs to be pulled!

That said, I've been feeling like I want to try some new things and the thought of building what I call a "weird" board kind of excites me more than rehashing the same old pedals I've been collecting and recycling for years in my hunt for THE tone.

So I put together a list of "weird" pedals to try and get hold of that would eventually form part of a satellite board to compliment my main board (yes, bit weird since that main board doesn't exist yet!)

The opportunity arose to get hold of an Empress Zoia the other day, so I jumped on it, at a superb price and a massive saving, so I was excited. It was top of my list.

This tiny, tiny box of goodness arrived yesterday and to say I'm both inspired and over the moon would be a vast understatement. Yes, it's complicated to get your head around, but it's a delightful package and I'm excited to get up and running with it. Already, the controls are becoming second nature.

For such a complex device with seemingly endless possibilities, it's incredibly well thought out and the UI and interaction is impressive.

The sounds are superb, the right blend of weirdness and musicality that will compliment my ambition for the atmospheric side of things. I've not even started to build my own presets, I've only used the factory presets and out of the 50 available, I'd say that 90% of them are usable within a musical context.

I don't even have an amp yet, but I "needed" this!

Here are a few really simple clips, please excuse the playing, these are just example sounds (Fender Broadcaster > Zoia (stereo out) > RME Babyface Pro > Reaper > Amplitube (blackface model):







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Comments

  • Excuse the rubbish clips, everyone. I got over excited and didn't realise they were as bad as they are!
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  • BintyTwanger77BintyTwanger77 Frets: 1759
    edited March 5
    Sounds amazing. Happy NPD!

    I haven’t gone for one of these yet, but it’s always been a consideration as an alternative to break my cycle of a indecision over the H9 Max (currently don’t have one). How are the pitch capabilities? Specifically arpeggiation and Micro POG-style octaves up/down?
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  • Sounds amazing. Happy NPD!

    I haven’t gone for one of these yet, but it’s always been a consideration as an alternative to break my cycle of a indecision over the H9 Max (currently don’t have one). How are the pitch capabilities? Specifically arpeggiation and Micro POG-style octaves up/down?

    They sound great but are no substitute for the pedal's you mentioned, mate. Although, I'll need to delve deeper. The cabs, for example sound like they've been put through a bit crusher...it's got a definite lo-fi edge to it.
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  • BintyTwanger77BintyTwanger77 Frets: 1759
    Sounds amazing. Happy NPD!

    I haven’t gone for one of these yet, but it’s always been a consideration as an alternative to break my cycle of a indecision over the H9 Max (currently don’t have one). How are the pitch capabilities? Specifically arpeggiation and Micro POG-style octaves up/down?

    They sound great but are no substitute for the pedal's you mentioned, mate. Although, I'll need to delve deeper. The cabs, for example sound like they've been put through a bit crusher...it's got a definite lo-fi edge to it.
    Often an issue with multis: you get it to cover certain effects but you end up getting a standalone like a Micro POG.
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  • Yeah, best not to think of this as your traditional multi effects unit. My reason for buying it was for the synth style powers it has!
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 23299
    Sounds like hours of fun.
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  • I love the ZOIA, have had a lot of fun creating patches. There are some great ones you can download from patchstorage. I upload any I've made mostly so I know they are backed up somewhere (and for those sweet sweet likes).

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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 6878
    Sounds great mate - love the first clip
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    Having decided quite early on that I was unlikely to buy anything much this year, I glanced at this thread and almost immediately went and bought a Zoia :)

    I've taken a couple of weeks to get my head round just a tiny amount of its complexity, and have narrowed down around 60 patches from the patchstorage site to settle in with and make some music with - before I start trying to make patches of my own.

    I've now learned how to balance the volumes so that they're roughly similar in output - as one or two were a bit loud or quiet. The next thing is to learn how to "play" some of the patches by turning parts on and off, starting and stopping loopers etc.

    To begin with I was wondering if it was going to be worth the expense, but the more time I've spent with it the more impressed I am, even if it is a bit of a faff to operate :)


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  • Paul_C said:

    I've taken a couple of weeks to get my head round just a tiny amount of its complexity, and have narrowed down around 60 patches from the patchstorage site to settle in with and make some music with - before I start trying to make patches of my own.

    I've now learned how to balance the volumes so that they're roughly similar in output - as one or two were a bit loud or quiet. The next thing is to learn how to "play" some of the patches by turning parts on and off, starting and stopping loopers etc.


    Congrats, it's a fantastic pedal and one which for the lovely reverbs alone is worth it, and then you add all the crazy stuff you can do: even controlling other pedals using midi. There's some great run throughs of the modules which helped me get a hang of it:



    Making a synth from scratch (which I think is covered in the Benn Jordan video) is a lot of fun. Beware the loopers! They can be fiddly when you start building your own stuff - worth doing a bit of research on their nuances to save yourself a headache.
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  • AntonHunterAntonHunter Frets: 271
    How are you all using it? Creating patches and then playing with that as it is, or is there much scope for tweaking on the fly?
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I've not had it long enough to answer that !

    I downloaded all of the patches I liked the look of (mostly loopers, delays and glitchy nonsense) and today narrowed them down to 64 (the number the Zoia can store internally).

    I've deliberately kept to patches which don't need a lot of fiddling to get working for now, but all parameters can be tweaked on the fly if you want (though you'll need to know how to get to them). I'm not sure you'd want to do it across a lot of patches in one session though.
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    My current patch list is:

    Orbitors
    Zoiahuasca
    Temporal Anomale
    Wolf (all 5 of them, as without touching anything they all seem to make slightly different sounds)
    S_lodg3_v
    Two Grains
    Tether
    yaleD
    Broken CD
    Syntholith
    Mr Foxtrot V2
    Reverse Thermae
    No Memory
    Floopers
    Halocline
    Aliadelaly
    Overgrone
    Moody Bloopy
    Our and Are
    Trig Loop
    Weathered
    Tesla Tower
    Tesserae
    PLLish 2
    Reverseneath
    856 Wannabe
    Rainbowzzz
    Grotto
    9n2 Break Enter
    Tape_ish
    Polyoctavous
    Comb Sweep
    Lofi Charm
    ARF
    Grime Space
    Pitch Pong
    Multi_i_i_i
    Memory Boy Tap
    Broken Clock
    Pensive
    Bit Amp
    The Houseplant
    Shallow Water
    Ambient Glitch V2
    Lofi Bliss
    Parts
    Naphtali
    Space Frogs
    Dual Shift
    Rommy
    The Monolith
    Soft Focus
    Candied Pecans
    Thru Zero-1
    Pretty Years
    Melange
    Apsidal Looper
    Bipedal Delay
    Dweller V2

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  • How are you all using it? Creating patches and then playing with that as it is, or is there much scope for tweaking on the fly?
    There's two kinds of tweaking with the Zoia:  value tweaking like changing the depth of a flanger or patch tweaking like adding a pitch shifter where there wasn't one. Both are relatively easy to do if you understand a patch. I always find changing someone else's patch harder than one I've built myself. If you know a patch, both those examples will only take a few seconds.

    Some patches dedicate the first page to all the values you want to be able to tweak. However as it's just blinking lights, it can be a bit like trying to make sense of a computer from a 60s sci-fi set at first. Once you know which blinking light represents which value you can often change parameters almost as easily as turning knobs on a standard pedal.

    You can also 'favourite' values, which adds them to shortcut menu for easy access.

    As with all madness, there's a step beyond: everything you have favourited can be set up to be controlled by midi. I sometimes set stuff up to be controlled by a separate midi footswitch or the encoders on my midi keyboard. You also have expression pedal inputs and the footswitches on the Zoia itself which can be setup to control any value in a patch.





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  • AntonHunterAntonHunter Frets: 271
    Thanks for the response, I had talked myself out of one because I'd thought on-the-fly tweaking wouldn't be possible/easy. Guess I'm back on lusting after one now!
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  • Paul_C said:

    My current patch list is:

    Two Grains
    Tether
    Floopers
    Halocline
    Aliadelaly
    Grotto
    Bit Amp
    Naphtali
    Space Frogs

    I made those! Happy to answer any questions on them as far as I’m able to (there’s always some happy accidents). 
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    Nice work :)

    Space Frogs was a bit loud compared to the others for me, but otherwise there's lots there I really like.

    I will return with questions, I'm sure, but I'm going to enjoy what I have before I start delving deeper.
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  • Paul_C said:

    Nice work :)

    Space Frogs was a bit loud compared to the others for me, but otherwise there's lots there I really like.

    I will return with questions, I'm sure, but I'm going to enjoy what I have before I start delving deeper.

    Thanks, I've just updated Space Frogs to be a little less loud. 1.1 has a filter to take out some of those aggressive spikes. Space Frogs was a bit of a fever dream when I made it
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I see you've made some new patches to try too :)
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  • DesVegasDesVegas Frets: 3858
    That's my kind of music @Jonathanthomas83 nice !!
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  • Paul_C said:

    I see you've made some new patches to try too :)

    Had a couple of ideas I wanted to play with - often when I see a new pedal release I'll get curious about using the same ideas in Zoia. As I never play the originals I never get close, but it gives me a good launching point. The new Eventide Micropitch pedal sound interesting for instance, trying to work out how to do that in Zoia. My two attempts so far have resulted in a chorus and Scratch n Sniff (which sounds like a DJ scratching a record).
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I've finally got round to trying the new ones (apart from Cockle as I hadn't realised it was there) and like them all :)

    I love that the Glooper stops and starts as you play, it adds another layer of weirdness to it :)

    If you haven't tried it, the Saxobone is a lot of fun too !

    So now I need to make some choices to make room for the new ones - I was going to be happy to end up with 20 - 30 patches and I've already hit the 64 patch limit !
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  • Thank you, they were fun to put together! Always lovely to hear other people enjoy them too. I've been in a mood for churning them out recently; it's a bit like Lego for me - a nice way to relax.

    Saxobone sounds really cool, I need to pull some new ones down and put together a new list. Check out the 1978 Plate patches, I've enjoyed them for lovely sounding reverb. I'm currently working my way through some of the synth patches, which is another great use for the Zoia if you have a midi keyboard.

    I know what you mean about the 64 patch limit, I've started having multiple folders on the SD card to get around that. At the moment one for the synths, one for guitar and a 3rd for stuff I'm working on. The Zoia Librarian program helps a little with that, but I think it is a bit confusing at the moment.
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I've redone my Top 64 list now, removing one or two that weren't as fun as the rest and getting rid of a couple of the fuzz sounds as they mostly sound the same unless they do something fun.

    I imagine making patches for you is a bit like me and my ridiculous number of Bandcamp albums, I have so much fun making them that it seems pointless stopping.

    I will start making some patches at some point, as I do like the idea of mixing things up - the fact that you can have multiples of the same effect appeals - doubling effects etc.

    I haven't looked yet, but can you split a mono signal into stereo and merge it back into mono ? That might make for something interesting if it's possible.

    I assume you can input guitar on the left, then run the output left into the input right (with or without other pedals) and then take the right output to whatever you want next ?


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  • Dude, that's a lot of albums! Super impressed, will have a listen.

    Splitting the signal is easy to do, connect the output of any module (including pedal inputs) to multiple modules. You can go beyond stereo: Multi Cockles splits the input signal into 6 (5 delays + clean).

    The reverse is true when summing, connect all the modules to the same module input. With Multi Cockles I connected the 5 delays to a VCA so I can control the delay volume without changing the clean volume. I think that when combining the outputs of lots of modules is when you can get volume increase. You can mitigate against this by using a VCA or connection strengths.


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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I've discovered a major flaw with my Zoia.

    There are so many cool and wildly different sounds in there that beg to be mixed together, and that can't be done with just one Zoia.

    I did think with the purchase of it I was done with pedal buying for quite a while, but somehow I doubt I'll reach the end of the year with only one on the board.

    :) 
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  • Yes, it'd be great if they made a some add on device for Zoia which gave it the power to run two patches at the same time. What I may do is get a Poly Effects Beebo, which looks like it is similar, but different enough to open up even more avenues. The ability to make your own IRs sounds cool too - it looks like you can get reverb for really weird places.
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 9303
    Yes, it'd be great if they made a some add on device for Zoia which gave it the power to run two patches at the same time. What I may do is get a Poly Effects Beebo, which looks like it is similar, but different enough to open up even more avenues. The ability to make your own IRs sounds cool too - it looks like you can get reverb for really weird places.
    I have this combination. I can confirm it is very much an excellent thing
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • Yes, it'd be great if they made a some add on device for Zoia which gave it the power to run two patches at the same time. What I may do is get a Poly Effects Beebo, which looks like it is similar, but different enough to open up even more avenues. The ability to make your own IRs sounds cool too - it looks like you can get reverb for really weird places.
    I have this combination. I can confirm it is very much an excellent thing
    Very jealous! Are you using them in the same way as Paul_C mentioned, or are there specific things you turn to one for over the other?
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  • Paul_CPaul_C Frets: 5553

    I did briefly consider the Beebo, but a second Zoia appeals to me more - for one thing I have a folder full (64) of patches I definitely like, a second (53) of patches I need to spend a bit more time with to find the sweet spot for me and a third folder (41) of bits and pieces I might like once I understand how they work.

    So there's a lot of things to do before I start making my own patches (and I very much want to do that), and I really don't have the energy to learn another pedal's intricacies right now :)

    So while I might pick one up one day, I don't think the Beebo is for me right now.
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