Empress Zoia & Euroburo ... modular in a stompbox

I was hoping that there would be some way to hook up the ZOIA to a PC so that there would be an easier way to create, modify, and view patches. Does the lack of USB connectivity mean that we’re restricted to the ZOIA’s screen and rotating knob?

It seems like those are our editing options. There is and SD card slot and I saw they had a patch storage page so I assume we will be able to upload and share patches that we’ve made, but I’m assuming that will be in some uneditable format. Or maybe someone will hack together an editor for the patches?

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Sharing patches is mentioned in the website and manual. I don’t see why they’d be in an uneditable format, an editor seems inevitable.


Keep in mind that this was designed for use with guitar. Synth/Eurorack use will be a kludge. Also, if you’re familiar with the Mod Duo, I believe this box uses the same underlying modules (all open source, IIRC). And again, they are primarily designed for guitar use. I had a Mod Duo at one point and found basic modules, i.e.: delay and reverb to be pretty lacking in overall sound quality. YMMV

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I had installed MODEP on my Pisound-enabled Raspberry Pi but I wasn’t impressed. If it’s the same effects in a different package (I hope there’s some Empress contribution though) AND it doesn’t have an USB port (confirmed) it doesn’t seem as interesting as it was until yesterday.

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I always assumed the modules/fx were Empress’ own creations. Is there a source for thinking it would use the same modules as e.g. the Mod Duo?

I agree. Lack of MIDI USB is a major bummer. Also waiting to hear more sounds. Not terribly impressed so far but it definelty has a lot of potential.

The main draw for me is to make weird multi loopers with it. The rather short looping time of 16 sec is a bit of a bummer, though.

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I hadn’t seen that 16 second limitation! Kind of a letdown. This has got to be expandable by update though? Or would it be a built-in hardware limitation?

No clue, sadly. There is a google doc file on the Empress website which shows all current modules. It also lists the 16 seconds looping time. That’s all I could find out.

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What makes you think that the Zoia uses the modep modules? I would assume that Empress would use their own algorithms since they already do effects of their own…


I thought I read this in the past. I could be mistaken. But looking at the names of the modules and the effects, looks very similar to the Mod Duo lineup.

Steve has only mentioned PureData irt coding. I don’t know if that helps people with what platform ot uses. From what ive heard Zoia sounds a lot better than MOD DUO.

I think hed said earlier that looping would eventually be longer.

They have always been adamant that its a stand alone box thus no usb. Usb/midi interface should work?

I like that its pretty wide open but not too open that i spend more time finding my way around than playing.


I actually love the on-board editing workflow from what I’ve seen of it so far. The fact that there’s no {computer -> device} then {device -> live} compartmentalization makes it stand out from other programmable gear i have/had like Organelle, Norns, and Nord Modular - it’s more in line with an ER-301 than those, in this respect. The device is the device in totality, patching seems easy enough, and the whole thing begs for exploration in a way other boxes don’t (I’m more likely to learn my way around programming this thing than the Organelle or Norns with their PureData and Supercollider/Lua course prerequisites). I’m not too concerned about difficulty in figuring out a patch that’s already been made - I rarely do this with my modular stuff or any synth - most sessions start with unplugging all patch cords or loading up the init preset and beginning from scratch.

My biggest concern so far is watching the CPU % as Cuckoo was going through his tutorial - I think it was already >30% when he simply loaded one of Empress’s reverb chains, then 40-45% when he added a basic synthesizer on top of that. Worried about what limitations/ceiling there might be in building really gnarly, complex patches.


Damn. I bit a bullet. Got 15% off from Prymaxe. :sweat_smile:


Curses. I got 20% off ($399.20), which makes it equivalent to buying used. Couldn’t resist! Thanks for the tip.

We are porting code from our other products over into the ZOIA, but it’s not going to be the same. The ZOIA uses the same processor as the reverb and echosystem. If we ported over the most CPU expensive reverb algorithm, you wouldn’t be able to do anything else on the ZOIA.


If people wanted to take on the effort of creating a computer editor for the ZOIA, I’d love that. I’d provide the code that is required (structure of patch files, structure of module data that gets saved, etc). We could maybe even create a MIDI language using CCs for real-time editing. But I think it would be a huge undertaking. One of the reasons why we’ve stayed about from a software editor is that’s there’s already a ton of great software systems like PD, reactor, Max/msp, etc for doing that stuff. And then you have the Organelle if you want a purely hardware component.


Just out of curiosity are you using some custom DSL that is interpreted/jited on Zoia for modules or things need to be compiled beforhand? I definitely would be interested in files structure etc (maybe you could just post these on github?) because it would allow to write nice utility stuff on computer like patch randomizer etc

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Congratulations on it. It looks and sounds wonderful.