Empress Effects Zoia

After its introduction at NAMM 2018, it took Canadian builder Empress Effects more than a year to finalize their noteworthy modular stompbox Zoia, but it was worth the wait: this is a pedal like no other, with truly infinite potential.

This page gathers all the news about the Zoia in reverse (older news at the bottom). It’s a complex device that allows you to create and connect separate modules of effects, oscillators, samplers, sequencers, input/outputs and so on – there is really no way to summarize what this pedal can do in a few paragraphs, but the bottom line is that it puts the user in charge of creating his or her own effects by connecting different modules to each other.

Therefore, as usual, we’ll let the pedal’s video demos speak…

April 1st, 2019 Update

The following is the humorous video (with our humorous comments at the bottom) that was released on April 1st 2019 to announce the shipping of the Zoia – after a veeeery loooong wait.

It’s April 1st, folks, is this for real? I guess you’ll have to spend that $499 and see if Zoia shows up to your door!

To support our optimism, a bunch of videos came out also on April 1st, see below. You can find more about the Zoia’s birth process under the videos.

Previous update: February 4th.

If mind-blowingly original pedals are your kind of thing, you should be literally dying to get your hands on the Zoia by Empress Effects, since the Canadian builder has been teasing us for more than a year with demos of this bizarre device without a shipping date in sight yet.

Steve Bragg from Empress Effects came up with the idea of a guitar pedal that worked like a modular synth in 2016; at NAMM 2018 he shot a video at our booth and introduced us to it(at the bottom of the post); at this year’s NAMM he came over again to update us about new developments in the pedal’s software. There’s no date announced yet for the Zoia, but this baby is getting more and more interesting…

Sandwiched between the two videos, the gorgeous one by Knobs from early 2018.

See more of our pedal demo shot at NAMM 2019 with 60 Cycle Hum here. We also have a list organized by kind of effect in two pages here and here.

First Videos of the Zoia (NAMM 2018)

Here’s the video Steve shot in person at our NAMM 2018 Stompbox Booth.

The ZOIA is basically a modular synthesizer in pedal form. Instead of being a delay effect or tremolo, the ZOIA provides the modules necessary to build a delay or tremolo from the ground up. But since you’re the one building it, you can make it do whatever you want. With the ZOIA you can build your own custom effects, synthesizers, midi controllers, and virtual pedal boards. And to make life a little easier, we’ve created modules for all your standard guitar effects. So for instance, if you want a phaser, you can just plop down a phaser. You don’t have to break out the textbooks to learn that they’re built out of all-pass filters. (Of course, if you’re a nerd like us, you can use the ZOIA to build them out of all-pass filters).


  • 80+ Modules and Growing – ZOIA comes packed with a vast collection of modules to create just about anything you can dream up. With ZOIA the only limit is your imagination!
  • Create your own effects, synths, control devices, and more! – Oscillators, LFOs, filters, bit crushers, envelope followers – these are just a handful of the included modules that can be connected in almost any way imaginable. If you can dream it up, you can create it!
  • 20+ Ready-Made Effects Modules – Pre-built effects modules such as reverbs, delays, chorus’, flangers, overdrives and more.
  • Up to 64 Patches – Create and save up to 64 patches that can be easily recalled during live performance.
  • Swap and Share Patches – Join the community of ZOIA users on patchstorage.com to try out other users patches, or upload your own awesome creations to share with the world.
  • SD Card Included – Load and save patches to/from ZOIA. We’re also continuously improving the firmware by adding new modules and features, and fixing bugs. Download the newest firmware from empresseffects.com and load onto the ZOIA with the included SD card.
  • OLED Display Screen for Easy Editing – View all of ZOIA’s module and parameter information on the high resolution OLED display screen.
  • Control Port and MIDI Connectivity – Dedicated control port and MIDI 1/8″ in/out jacks allow you to connect a huge range of external devices to control any or all of ZOIA’s functions and parameters. 1/8″ to MIDI dongles included.
  • Customizable Patch Recall System – The on-board stompswitches can be used in either scrolling- or bank-style preset modes, for quick on-the-fly patch recall that suits your workflow.
  • Built-In Help – Almost like having a built in manual, the dedicated help function will give you quick information at a glance about ZOIA’s various modules and options.
  • High-Quality Audio – 48kHz sampling, with 24 bit conversion and 32 bit internal processing.
  • Low-Noise Signal Path – Features extremely low noise operation with a signal to noise of >105dB


Interface Modules
Audio Input
Audio Output
Midi Notes In
Midi CC in
Midi Pressure
Midi CC out
Midi PC out
Midi Note Out
UI Button
Cport Exp/CV in
Cport CV out
Analysis Modules
Onset Detector
Env Follower
Pitch Detector
Audio Modules
SV Filter
Delay Line
Audio Panner
Pitch Shifter
Audio Balance
Audio Mixer
Audio In Switch
Audio Out Switch
All Pass Filter
Audio Multiply
Bit Crusher
1 Buffer Delay
Stereo Spread
Bit Modulator
CV Modules
Sample and Hold
CV Invert
CV Rectify
CV Flip Flop
CV Delay
CV Loop
CV Filter
Clock Divider
In Switch
Out Switch
Slew Limiter
Tone Control EQ
Delay w/Mod
Ping Pong Delay
OD & Distortion
Plate Reverb
Hall Reverb
Room Reverb
Reverb Lite
Env Filter
Ring Modulator
Cabinet Sim