Looking for the best delay plugins? This Icon Picks roundup features a selection of delay plugins that will transform your mixes or live performances.
What Are Delay Audio Effects?
Delay is an essential tool for creating space, dimension, and expression in your mix or live performance. It is a time-based audio effect that records an input signal and then repeats it back over time. Delay times can be a few milliseconds or several seconds long. The delayed signal may also playback once or multiple times to create a decaying echo. Moreover, delay is the primary building block of modulation effects such as chorus, phasers, flangers, and more.
There is a vast selection of delay effects, each with distinct characteristics and applications. These versatile effects also come as hardware units or software plugins. Moreover, each type provides there own unique features to manipulate the echoes in creative ways. The results range from subtle analog slapbacks to complex digital rhythms delay lines.
This buyers guide features some of the best delay plugins available. They range from vintage emulations to advanced creative tools for the studio or the stage.
1. Soundtoys | EchoBoy
EchoBoy is one of the best echo/delay plugins available! It combines 30 echo styles modeled on iconic vintage gear with a heap of advanced features. It also provides deep editing options and expression tools that let you create any delay sound. This versatile plugin is even capable of creating chorus effects. EchoBoy also features various types of analog saturation to give your echoes some attitude. This boy does it all and sounds amazing at the same time!
2. FabFilter | Timeless 2
Timeless 2 is a creative delay plugin that fuses classic tape delay sound with advanced features. Its unique modulation features, high-quality filters, and creative options make this delay the ultimate sound-mangling machine! Create echo, chorus, flanger, phaser, scratch effects, and much more. The possibilities are limitless, design and customize any delay sound. From basic to vintage to crazy and complex, Timeless 2 delivers.
3. UAD | Cooper Time Cube Mk II
The Cooper Time Cube is a unique, garden hose-based mechanical delay device. The original hardware was designed by Duane H. Cooper in 1971. It has since achieved cult status as the most unique delay ever made. Famous for its spectacular short delay and doubling effects. UA perfectly captures the sound of the original while offering modern delay features. The Cooper Time Cube is versatile, fat-sounding, and adds a ton of character!
4. D16 Group and Slate Digital | Repeater
Repeater is the result of a partnership between D16 Group and Slate Digital. It’s not your typical stereo delay effect processor. It features 23 authentic modeled delay units ranging from classic oil cans and plates to iconic vintage digital designs. This versatile delay plugin also sports several controls to manipulate the signal flow at various stages. Moreover, Repeater provides a host of modern controls to manipulate the signal. The grouped processing blocks follow the signal path for both left and right channels, making it a flexible dual delay. You’ll appreciate all the creative possibilities this approach can offer over the typical delay plugin.
5. Native Instruments | Replika XT
REPLIKA XT is a creative multi-mode delay. Five modeled delay modes bring digital repeats, analog warmth, and unique textures. There are also advanced options that offer pinpoint creative control. Moreover, REPLIKA XT makes it easy to create wild rhythms. It also includes seven time-based and pitch effects to add to your repeats. Combine the delay modes with various effects to add shimmer, dimension, and motion to your music. This thing is quick to use and sounds amazing!
6. UVI | Relayer
UVI Relayer is an advanced multi-tap delay housed in an intuitive and easy to use interface. Relayer enables you to create everything from simple delays to radical rhythmic multi-effects. Whether you want a warm, tape-style slap or something more complex, Relayer is your one-stop-shop. It also delivers outstanding sound quality, a unique combination of features, and an intuitive interface. Moreover, Relayer excels as an essential delay tool for both live and studio work.
7. Softube | Tube Delay
Softube’s Tube Delay brings vintage vibe and modern convenience. This simple delay plugin gives your tracks that rich, authentic analog character that sounds great every time. Take this echo effect from clean to rude by overdriving its three modeled tube stages. Also, create anything from warm vocal slap backs to hypnotic dub echoes. Moreover, you’ll dig how easy it is to work with this plugin’s controls.
8. Surreal Machines | Dub Machines
Dub Machines is a bundle of two analog inspired delay plugins. The pair brings vintage character, extensive control, and deep sound-shaping capabilities.
MODNETIC emulates a classic analog tape delay hardware from the 1970s but with a few digital twists. It features a variety of echo types, a reverb section, tonal controls, and a modulation section with chorus, flanger, and phaser effects. It also provides several routing options for blending the three effects in unique and creative ways.
DIFFUSE is an analog/digital inspired by classic hardware delay and reverb effects from the 1970s and 1980s. You can morph between delays and reverbs to create smooth tape-style delay changes.
9. Waves | H-Delay Hybrid Delay
The H-Delay is a widely used delay plugin. This versatile tool features filtering, phasing, flanging, slap-back, ping-pong, and tempo sync modulation effects. H-Delay also gives you a rich, dimensional tone and plenty of flexibility. You can create everything from simple slapbacks to expansive dub-style echo effects. It also has an intuitive interface that lets you get right down to business.
10. Unfiltered Audio | Sandman Pro
Sandman Pro is a Swiss Army knife delay plugin with a ton of advanced features. This delay plugin does everything, as well as a myriad of things you never imagined. Unlike many other echo effects, Sandman Pro provides a patchable modulation system. This advanced way of transforming delay opens a wormhole to a universe of infinite possibilities.
Bonus: AudioThing | Outer Space Tape Echo
Outer Space is a faithful emulation of the iconic Roland RE-201 Space Echo introduced in 1974. This delay plugin captures the famous vintage tape echo vibe of the original hardware unit.
Outer Space features a tape echo section with three playback heads and a spring reverb tank. AudioThing also modeled all the analog imperfections of tape recording/playback. They also captured the ballistic response of the delay rate, one of the classic tape echo-based sound effects.