It's been a while since we last compiled ten of the Gearslutz community's favourite delay plug-ins, but as technology and DSP moves forward and improves, a new round-up was all but inevitable - so here we go - please forgive the slight, uh, delay! Listed in alphabetical order, these are the tools that the GS membership are talking about the most:

Conveniently, all of the plug-ins on this list are offered in AAX, AU and VST formats for Mac or Windows.

 Lemon

Acustica Audio Lemon

Acustica Audio's foray into the delay universe comes with a big bang, bringing no less than 40 distinct delay and tape programs to the Lemon Delay's plug-in palette. As with most of AA's work, this is all about emulating analog hardware with the utmost fidelity - even though Lemon is not 'directly' based on a particular unit, instead it brings many of the best aspects of many famous boxes together into one. It comes sliced into three versions: a "complete" multi-tap variant with up to six taps, a stereo version with two taps and a stereo 'lite' edition that takes away the complementary effects module.



 D16 Repeater Delay

Slate Digital D16 Repeater Delay

D16's second delay plug-in looks much more streamlined than their previous effort on Sigmund, but it offers considerably more delay modes - for a whopping total of 23 distinct options. It also offers stereo filters and 'colour' controls to round out the rather concise feature set tweakable through the slick interface - but make no mistake, all those delay modes make for a very capable plug-in and you might have a hard time repeating yourself with this one! Also available via the Slate Everything bundle.



 Replika XT

Native Instruments Replika XT

Initially offered as an upgrade from a freebie, Native Instruments Replika XT instantly captured the attention of our community with its elegant design and superb sound. Replika XT brings five delay modes to your DAW, including reverb-esque diffusion, seven effects (including pitch-shifting, filtering & time-based modulations), a number of interesting presets from many highly-regarded artists, and to top it off it’s all neatly organised into a simple yet effective interface. Certainly a great pick for instantly-gratifying delays.



 Echoboy

Soundtoys Echoboy

Some regard this as "the classic" delay plug-in, and this 15-year-old relative dinosaur arrives in 2019 relatively unscathed & unchanged - and it's still a GS community favourite, which is a rare feat for a plug-in of this age in the ever-changing world of DAWs & DSP. Soundtoys have done a great job in keeping it updated to support all formats, and in 2015 it received a mild overhaul that certainly helped it to keep its relevance. A "Junior" version was also introduced a few years ago, but instead of simply cutting features out to save $, it actually offers a few new elements as well - and if you have the Soundtoys Effects Rack you can have it alongside the "senior" version for a family reunion!



 PrimalTap

Soundtoys PrimalTap

Based on the fabled Lexicon Prime Time series of hardware delays, the Primal Tap plug-in was so well-received in our community that it often splits the Soundtoys vote with Echoboy on our users' "favourite delay" lists. The original units were true pioneers in the world of digital effects and are still sought-after by many top engineers, and with prices going for a few thousand bucks in online auctions, it seems rather strange that it took so long for a plug-in version to arrive. Thankfully, it finally did, and here it is, in all its quirky early-digital glory. A "Little" version is also available.



 Colour Copy

U-He Colour Copy

Softsynth and software creator extraordinaire Urs Heckmann presents his take on the subject of delays with Colour Copy, a plug-in that sets its target on classic bucket-bridge devices (BBDs). This particular technique of repeat generation has captivated many with its unique characteristics, and besides bringing that sound to our DAWs U-He also seized the opportunity to further expand the options with modulation and tone controls - resulting in what is perhaps the definitive take on analog-style BBDs.



 Sandman Pro

Unfiltered Audio Sandman Pro

Rising developer Unfiltered Audio has fast been building a reputable record, and adding to their resumé of quirky effects units is the Sandman Pro, a wild delay that follows their 'modular' approach to effects processors. It's hard to think of a delay that favours creativity as heavily as this one, and sometimes it feels more like playing with a modular synth than a regular delay plug-in, but beyond the interface it is one amazing delay with an almost unimaginable depth to it. Definitely worth checking out if experimentation is the order of the day. A smaller version with fewer features (and at a lower price) is also available.



 EP-34 Tape Echo

Universal Audio EP-34 Tape Echo

As hinted by the name, the EP-34 emulates the legendary Echoplex EP-3 and EP-4 tape echo units. This early form of analog delay presents a lively, vibey character that has thrilled engineers and musicians across generations, making its way into many hit records from the 1970s right up to the present day. This exquisite plug-in is a staple of the UAD-2 platform, and it comes up on nearly every discussion about DSP-powered delays. As we expect from Universal Audio it's a faithful emulation that captures the vintage flavour like few others. A must-have for UAD-2 or Apollo owners.



 ValhallaDelay

ValhallaDSP ValhallaDelay

ValhallaDSP's first 'proper' delay plug-in was released less than a month ago, but it's safe to say that it deserves a spot on our list given how well it has so far been received by this community and the developer's stellar track record. 'Delay' follows the Valhalla blueprint down to the letter, bringing many repeat modes, an uncluttered NASA-inspired interface, a preset system that greatly facilitates sharing and as icing on the cake, a super friendly price tag of just fifty US bucks, which certainly places it in the 'no-brainer' category.



 H-Delay

Waves H-Delay

Wrapping up our list is another long-time community favourite. H-Delay is arguably one of the most popular plug-ins to ever come from Waves and that says a tonne when we look at their immense back catalogue of products! The "H" stands for "Hybrid", so this one is all about merging the grit of units like the Lexicon PCM42 with the precision and ease of use of modern plug-ins. The results speak for themselves, it has garnered lavish praise over the years and it's rightfully featured on this and many other best-of lists.


A few notes:

• There are not many "specialists" or 1:1 emulations on our list. EP-34 and Primal Tap are obvious exceptions, as they are emulations of specific devices, and Colour Copy is devoted to a particular chip style. All the other plug-ins have multiple “modes” that can, ahem, replicate a variety of delays, potentially enabling a wider range of uses.

• Are developers sleeping on any particular hardware that is yet to be transposed to a plug-in? Do we hear "Ursa Space Station"?

• Honourable mentions go to iZotope DDL, TC Electronic TC2290-DT and UVI Relayer.

For more on delay and effect plug-ins, visit our Music Computers forum.