ZOIA 2.0 update unlocks more power for complex modular effects

Empress Effect's do-it-all guitar pedal is now even more versatile.

Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

The Empress Effects ZOIA was already plenty powerful if you ask me. Its modular approach to DIY effects design basically let your imagination run wild. But, there are a handful of patches in my library that really push the pedal to its limits and max out the CPU. Sometimes, they'd even cause the pedal to lockup and crash. But, that should be less of a concern now the the 2.0 firmware update.

There are a host of small improvements to the ZOIA, but the headlining feature is the optimized code that the company claims reduces the average CPU load of a patch by 24-percent. That means that crazy granular pitched looper with eight different loops playing at once will no longer bring the ZOIA to its figurative knees. In fact, you'll now be able to build bigger and more complex patches. Maybe you can push it to 10 loops!

Another major addition is a CV mixer / attenuverter module. This allows you to dial in the exact amount of control voltage you want going to various other modules or even combine multiple incoming CV sources and use the average of their output to control, say the rate on a tremolo. So you could have an trem that gets faster over time on a macro scale controlled by an LFO, but the the rate could vary within a certain range on a micro scale based on how hard you pick.

A few modules like the ADSR envelope and audio mixer got some new views. And modules like the ring modulator and delay line have received small functional updates, like the ability to control delay time with CV and accept negative CV signals for lower frequencies.

Sadly there's still no sampler module. The company says they're still working on it, but there's no ETA on when it might finally land.

ZOIA firmware 2.0 is available now as a free download.