Empress Effects’ Zoia stuffs countless tools in one box

The Zoia is much more than a multi-effects unit—you can patch together synth modules, arrange loops, build ‘pedals,’ and sequence oscillators.

It’s a pedal, it’s a sequencer, it’s… the new Empress Effects Zoia. Fresh from the workshop of the Canadian pedal makers, the Zoia is a box of tricks that the boutique brand says is like “LEGO for musical instruments.” Similar to a modular synthesizer, you’re meant to piece together modules to build guitar effects, instruments and utilities.

The Zoia is completely open-ended, and can be programmed however you wish. You start with an 8×5 grid of ‘blocks,’ which each control a single parameter: It could be anything from a reverb effect to a low-pass filter on a VCO to a step within a sequence of synth notes. The possibilities are almost endless.

These blocks can be routed into one another in any order you like. The Zoia even lets you create ‘super modules,’ which are essentially groups of blocks. Those super modules can then be strung together to build a pedalboard’s worth of effects. And, yes, you can save all your set-ups as presets, and even download presets created by others.

The Zoia retails for $450. For more information, check out empresseffects.com.

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