We can all agree that delays are one of the most important tools in modern music production. If in the past engineers had to resort to all sorts of methods and quirky boxes to achieve satisfactory effects then nowadays with plug-ins, we have lots of choices readily available at our fingertips - many capable of delivering excellent results with ease. In order to help you swim across this vast ocean of options we have asked our members about their favourite delay plug-ins - here’s what they said!
There are few plug-ins that can be called “classics,” but Soundtoys' Echoboy is most certainly one of them, racking up recommendations over the past decade and showing up as a recurrent choice amongst our community when delay plug-ins is the topic du jour. Echoboy can do so much, from pristine digital delays to characterful "echoes from the past," and it does it all with an immense degree of tweakability. Echoboy can generate mono delays, dual echo, ping-pong or rhythmic feedbacks, all with a plethora of options for recreating the character of other delay units, saturation, HP/LP filtering, stereo placement and it can even add some swing/shuffle to the delayed signal. Recently updated with a new (but familiar) interface, Echoboy now shows more parameters at a glance, ditching the floating windows that would get in the way of other controls. Most importantly, it’s now integrated to the Soundtoys 'Rack' plug-in, which puts all of their awesome devices under the same roof for even more creative possibilities - and paves the way for many more years of great service. Read our user reviews.
Waves are one of the top recommendations with their H-Delay plug-in, a unit that combines all the grit and vibe from vintage analog delays with all the ease of use that you’d expect from modern software. H-Delay is as straightforward to use as possible - just pick a mode (mono or ping-pong), dial the desired time (in ms or beats), set the feedback, apply modulation and filtering to taste, and that’s it. Achieving the desired setting should be quite a breeze, so it’s really a matter of finding the right character through the “analog” knob and “lofi” button - it will probably sound awesome. H-Delay can also stay clean but hey, we have our DAW's stock delays for that, and H-Delay is best used for bringing some of the soulful sounds of old delay units to a mix rather than just doing 'plain vanilla' delays. With such a lovely sound character and immense ease-of-use it’s quite easy to understand why our community likes it so much.
Native Instruments made quite an impact when they offered (for a limited time only) the lovely Replika delay plug-in for free - the paid “XT” version takes it to the next level by bringing a considerable chunk of interesting new features to the software. Replika XT features five delay modes, from vintage tape to modern clean delay and a brand new “diffusion” algorithm. There are also seven additional effects that can be applied to the feedback path, such as filters, time-based modulators, frequency and pitch shifters, which enable a lot of possibilities that aren’t usually available on hardware delay units. Everything is neatly tied up in a slick interface and for greater ease-of-use it also comes with a handful of presets, including some from the electronic music master Richard Devine. It will be quite hard, if possible at all to 'replicate' (pun intended) the sounds you can get out of it with other tools, so make sure you demo Replika XT next time you’re shopping for delays!
Universal Audio recreates the legendary Echoplex units with the EP-34 plug-in, bringing to our computers the sound of these iconic tape effects processors. The EP-3 and EP-4 are tape-based analog delay units with plenty of character which were used on many classic records, and the UAD2-powered version merges both into a single plug-in that meticulously emulates everything that went on inside those boxes, including wow & flutter, that wonderful distortion obtained by clipping the input and also the self-oscillation from the original boxes. Besides all the analog glory, the EP-34 also incorporates some digital goodies such as tempo sync, selectable input (for more grit or a cleaner sound), a wet signal solo switch and panorama mode. With such a recognisable and 'vibey' character the EP-34 is definitely an enticing ticket into the UAD2 universe that will make those extra bucks spend on dedicated DSP very much worthwhile for the delay fanatic. Read our users reviews.
Exponential Audio was created by former Lexicon designer Michael Carnes and has built quite a reputation with their reverb plug-ins, but it’s not only about the reverbs as proven by the impressive Excalibur plug-in. This is quite a different delay with very sophisticated functionality. It works by splitting the signal into four “voices," each of them with a fully-featured effects unit with a delay at its core but also capable of making other effects such as chorus, different kinds of distortion, ring modulation and many others. Voices can be mixed freely with their respective controls and each voice can also serve as an input to the next voice, which opens up a lot of sonic options. Excalibur also features an extremely flexible modulation system where all the parameters are 'modulation-capable' with a clever macro functionality through the morphing knob and switch. Excalibur is almost mind-boggling in terms of how it can do what it does, but it's easily one of the most innovative plug-ins in the effects department in recent years. Definitely worthy of its many recommendations.
FabFilter is a name synonymous with innovative products and it’s no different with Timeless 2, a delay plug-in that primes us for a wide range of possible modulations via its slick interface (a FabFilter trademark). It all starts with two delay lines that can be tempo-synced or set freely (from 5ms to 5sec), each with its own 'panorama,' a dedicated multi-mode filter with variable resonance and sound character that can go from clean sounding to distorted in a few different ways. On top of that FF adds envelope generators, LFOs, X/Y controllers, comprehensive MIDI support and a great workflow with easy assignments through 'drag and drop'. Since basically any parameters can be controlled & modulated in a multitude of ways this plug-in could easily be called Endless, because it's that deep!
The virtual instrument specialists at UVI also have some great coding talent in the effects department. Relayer is forward-thinking delay that presents quite a unique feature set that adds many other effects to the feedback path. At its' core is a highly configurable multi-tap delay that feeds gain and pan modulators along with two slots for filters, wave shapers, bit reduction and distortion effects. Everything can be applied only to certain taps and setting it up is quite easy with the good references provided by Relayer’s very slick interface. Relayer also provides an LFO, HP/LP master filters and a cool “color” function that applies an IR-based effect, which can be a reverb unit, a telephone, a guitar cab or many other things ranging from subtle to extreme. “Color” has its own mix parameter so you can dial in with ease and there are additionally two big dry and wet knobs for controlling the output signal. Overall this is a very distinct delay plug-in that breaks some new ground and presents a very interesting alternative for anyone looking for some fresh ideas. Read our users reviews.
Valhalla DSP’s FreqEcho is a simple to use plug-in that does the basic delay duty but adds a frequency shifter to the feedback path, enabling some cool effects possibilities outside of the vanilla delay realm. FreqEcho is capable of mono or stereo operation, its delay can be set in musical notes or freely in milliseconds (up to 1000ms) and it comes equipped with fully-sweepable low/high cut filters. It also features Valhalla’s uncluttered size-scalable interface, which makes it very easy to use. Considering that FreqEcho costs no more than the time required to make a few clicks required to obtain it you should definitely give it a try, and if you’re after a cool delay but can’t spare anything other than your bandwidth look no further - head over to Valhalla DSP’s website and grab it right now!
The veteran coders at PSP have rightfully earned our users’ respect over the years and Echo is yet another standout in their distinguished portfolio. Echo is a highly configurable plug-in that offers two delay lines with a good amount of controls over the feedback path, presenting flexible filters, distortion, dry/wet balance and stereo placement controls. It also features a separate “ping-pong” type path and a ducking option on top of the main delay lines, which adds a lot of flexibility. Echo also comes with tape-inspired effects such as wow and input distortion for a very thick sounding character. Given PSP’s proven track record of delivering great plug-ins you can’t really go wrong.
Boz Digital has been quickly building a solid reputation in our community with great plug-ins and part of that can be attributed to the Imperial Delay plug-in. This flexible and feature-rich delay can do almost everything from short mono slaps to evolving stereo ping-pongs, but it also adds some interesting features to the table such as independent L-R pitch shifting, chorus & modulation along with the unique “smear” and “color” controls that furthers its sonic options. A very capable delay that will excel both on traditional and on creative tasks, Imperial Delay has all the tools needed to earn its place in our increasingly crowded plug-in folders.
So many great options to choose from! What are you using lately? Planning on acquiring anything from our list? Please share your thoughts, without delay! Wait a minute... uhhh...
Valhalla Ubermod and IKMultimedia Tape Echo should be on this list. Maby 2 of the best sounding ones imo.
Valhalla got major props on the Top 10 Reverb list (1st place and 3rd place, for VintageVerb and ValhallaRoom), so I'm not worried about this. I'm happy to see that FreqEcho made the delay plugin list!
Lots of amazing delay plugins in this list. Echoboy is around 10 years old, but continues to impress. I really like the organization scheme of Replika XT as well. I need to try out the UAD EP-34 one of these days (I just got an EP-3 a few weeks ago, so comparing the two will be fun).
echo boy all the way. it's the only delay plug in with it's own unique sound IMO. call me crazy, and I have a ton of hardware delays from digital to analog to tape. the same way the pcm42 just sounds "right" with it's own swing and groove the echo boy is the same.