Is the effects loop on the Quad Cortex suitable for long-term effects loop routing?

I’m hoping that the Quad Cortex’s effects loops can solve my routing problem.

On my pedalboard, I’m planning to get the ZOIA by Empress Effects and use its generative synthesizer features to create the background music over which I would improvise. However, I want to keep my guitar tone clean without the ZOIA affecting the guitar playing. So, I’m trying to figure out how to output both my guitar tone AND the ZOIA’s generative synth sounds out of the stereo outputs of the Quad Cortex. I may also in the future use the ZOIA to add or change effects to the guitar tone.

Is it possible for me to do this with QC’s effects loop?

If so, I’m concerned I may want to use the effects loop for something else other than this in the future. How often do you change the pedals in the effects loop of your Quad Cortex if you’re using a pedalboard?

Fellow QC + Zoia user here. I have a clarifying question:

Are you trying to get mono or stereo signal outputs with the guitar, the Zoia, both? If you’re doing mono for both, then hooking it up and using an effects loop is easy. If you’re doing stereo, that’s a bit more complicated.

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Thanks for the clarifying question. Yes, I’m looking to do stereo, and I have a stereo pedalboard. I’m using a DPA 4099 and piezo pickup into a Felix 2 preamp, which then sends at line level a stereo pair throughout my pedalboard. So, I would use both input 1 and input 2 on the QC, and I would also output in stereo to a JDI Duplex DI box. So, I would also need it to go into the ZOIA in stereo. What steps would I need to take?

Edit: Added further details

Sorry to bug with another question.

You want a stereo line going from your guitar, through your QC, and out stereo. Simple enough; you’d probably just use Inputs 1&2 and Outputs 1&2.

However, does the Zoia need to be in line with the guitar signals? Are you using it some of the time as an extra guitar effect here and there, or are you only using it for the external generative synth sounds?

What I’m picturing in my mind is that you will need to use FX Loops 1 & 2 and Outputs 3 & 4 for the Zoia. But how to set it up in the grid may depend on how you plan to use the Zoia.

Not a problem at all, please ask all the questions you need!

Yes, I think I would use send 1&2 and return 1&2 to make the connections.
I would use it for both external generative synth sounds (constant) as well as for extra guitar effects (intermittent).

Edit: Send&Return

OK, let me figure out a way to do this and I’ll try to post tomorrow.

Thank you, @DiffractionCircuit!

Okay, here is a method to use Zoia as a stereo guitar effect using both FX loops.

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…And here are a couple of methods to route Zoia as an independent stereo sound source.

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A few things I should mention:

  • Obviously these various settings imply that you would have different presets to implement everything you want to do. But you should not have to physically change any wiring once it’s hooked up.

  • Watch your inputs and outputs, including the Sends and Returns, in the I/O Settings screen.

  • Zoia itself has an input gain setting. You can choose 0 dB, -6 dB, or -12 dB input. You may need to choose based on what your guitar / amp / FX send settings when you’re using it as a standard guitar effect. -6 dB is the sweet spot for what I do.

  • Look at page 119 in the manual to compare the max output levels of Outputs 1 & 2 (XLR) versus 3 & 4 balanced (TRS cables) versus 3 & 4 unbalanced (TS cables). You may need to adjust your sound system accordingly.

I hope this helps. Cheers.

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@DiffractionCircuit – This was extremely helpful! I don’t even own a Quad Cortex or ZOIA yet, I was on the fence about it all, and if proven that it would work, I would go for it. You’ve illustrated to me, without doubts, it’s possible, and now I feel confident enough to make the purchase and dive deeper. I will do as you suggested, and I think I can try to use the MIDI controlling on my pedalboard with an RJM PBC/6X to switch these changes per piece/song in my setlist. Thank you so much!!

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I thought you already had both units! It’s all good. The ZOIA is an incredible piece of gear, but trust me when I say that the learning curve is much higher than QC or any other pedal in existence. It will test your patience, but it’s very rewarding once you get your sounds (and lights!) dialed in. These two belong together.

Make sure you get a thorough lookover on what QC’s MIDI capabilities are right now, because it’s not 100% to a lot of users’ liking. I don’t use MIDI myself, so that’s irrelevant to me, but there are a lot of discussions in this forum about it.