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The Press Desk 16th May 2019 02:35 PM

Ten of the Best Delay Plug-Ins
 
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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.

uptown jimmy 19th May 2019 07:37 PM

I'll take Audio Damage Dubstation over any of these, except ValhallaDelay. Dubstation deserves the title of "best plugin nobody ever mentions".

Notheorem729 28th May 2019 03:20 PM

This is a very strange list in my opinion. It has most of the heavy hitters plus a couple surprise entries but the order is surprising. Lemon is obviously great but it isn't as widely used as some of the others largely due to CPU. I need to finally get around to trying replica. Although I don't need any new delays at this point. I personally retired H-Delay about a year ago. It's a good plugin but there are so many great plugins now I didn't use it anymore.

I personally would have put ValhallaDelay at number 1 but that's just me.

HSi 28th May 2019 10:28 PM

H-Reverb? I recently re-installed some really old stuff, Albino, DiscoDSP stuff, honestly, some of sounded great, but H-reverb?

Valhalla is really special, I'm not really into their other stuff, it's good, but it's more about the control for me and there are more options for that. I ignored it when I saw, then I was working and I heard it, couldn't believe it, I'd payed for it 10 mins later. The ghost algo is great.

The bx one is interesting, it has a transient section thats really good, just for the wet obviously. It was $29 the other day too.

Mikey MTC 29th May 2019 02:08 AM

I would strongly recommend McDSP's EC-300 in here too. Three distinct delay approaches and their "digital" mode lets you use all the IRs from the FutzBox plugin. So echoes going through kids' walkie-talkies, etc. Tons of control with regeneration and built-in ducking/compression, etc.

Notheorem729 29th May 2019 02:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mikey MTC (Post 14007836)
I would strongly recommend McDSP's EC-300 in here too. Three distinct delay approaches and their "digital" mode lets you use all the IRs from the FutzBox plugin. So echoes going through kids' walkie-talkies, etc. Tons of control with regeneration and built-in ducking/compression, etc.

EC300 was my go-to delay until ValhallaDelay came out. Now I mostly use echoboy and ValhallaDelay but still use EC300 whenever I can. It's hard because I love all 3 of them so much that I feel bad when I don't use one of them. Echoboy is so flexible it's hard to pass up but ValhallaDelay just works so easily every time and I know the EC300 so well I can always get the sound I want really easy. By the way I'm pretty positive it doesn't use impulse responses. It uses the same coding as futzbox which they make a point of saying are a unique process which is why they call them SIM's.

Notheorem729 29th May 2019 02:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HSi (Post 14007504)
H-Reverb? I recently re-installed some really old stuff, Albino, DiscoDSP stuff, honestly, some of sounded great, but H-reverb?

Valhalla is really special, I'm not really into their other stuff, it's good, but it's more about the control for me and there are more options for that. I ignored it when I saw, then I was working and I heard it, couldn't believe it, I'd payed for it 10 mins later. The ghost algo is great.

The bx one is interesting, it has a transient section thats really good, just for the wet obviously. It was $29 the other day too.

The bx_delay is great. I paid around $150 for that and the 2098 on top of my voucher shortly after they came out unfortunately. I've never really found the transient shaper useful. I imagine it could be good on something percussive but everytime I try it I end up turning it off.

I have to disagree a little on ValhallaDelay though. I think it is deceptively simple but far more flexible than it seems. Most of the controls change the effect behind the scenes based on the mode and then you have the era control for each as well adding up to a huge number of possibilities. Plus the style control pushes things a little further. It has beat out everything I have compared it to but I will admit that at first I was a little unsure until I got used to it and learned what to expect out of everything.

Mikey MTC 29th May 2019 02:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Notheorem729 (Post 14007846)
By the way I'm pretty positive it doesn't use impulse responses. It uses the same coding as futzbox which they make a point of saying are a unique process which is why they call them SIM's.


Ahh, my bad! I put the two processes together in my mind as being different flavours of the same thing.

Either way, I agree with you. I haven't bought Valhalla yet but I feel like I'm just putting off the inevitable. I tried the demo and I agree with everything you said.

Notheorem729 29th May 2019 02:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mikey MTC (Post 14007858)
Ahh, my bad! I put the two processes together in my mind as being different flavours of the same thing.

Either way, I agree with you. I haven't bought Valhalla yet but I feel like I'm just putting off the inevitable. I tried the demo and I agree with everything you said.

Their goal with futzbox and then EC300 was to basically emulate the process of convolution without all the downsides like slow load times and high CPU. I think it largely uses dramatic EQ curves to achieve its results.

I almost immediately bought ValhallaDelay. Largely out of trust of Valhalla but also because the 5 minutes I spent with it confirmed for me it was everything I expected. When I first used it in a actual mix though I immediately wanted to swap it out for the EC300 or echoboy because I was taking longer to get the results than I was used to. I kept at it though and spent a few hours just testing it on random sources. What I found was that it really behaves in an analog way most of the time. I found that starting with the era on future, the age at 0%, and the modulation off gave me results that met my expectations then tuning those things after added the extra character I was after. Now that I know it better I don't start with them off but it is a delay that I can completely understand not being immediately excited about and think it is a plugin that makes a better lasting impression for some people than it does a first impression.

fuzulu 25th July 2019 08:34 PM

Great list, that lemon is a beast, colour copy is super too, h delay is the biggest workhorse, delay is my fav audio effect by far, few more that i really like: bionic delay, logic's delay designer, audio damage dubstation2, supertap by waves, the ones on the cla fx plugin, so many awesome ones out there rockout

dovin2 26th July 2019 12:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Notheorem729 (Post 14006683)
This is a very strange list in my opinion. It has most of the heavy hitters plus a couple surprise entries but the order is surprising. Lemon is obviously great but it isn't as widely used as some of the others largely due to CPU. I need to finally get around to trying replica. Although I don't need any new delays at this point. I personally retired H-Delay about a year ago. It's a good plugin but there are so many great plugins now I didn't use it anymore.

I personally would have put ValhallaDelay at number 1 but that's just me.

I'm pretty sure the list is in alphabetical order and not best to worst

Diogo C 31st July 2019 01:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dovin2 (Post 14116101)
I'm pretty sure the list is in alphabetical order and not best to worst

That's correct, list is in alphabetical order. kfhkh

Diogo C 31st July 2019 05:05 PM

On a side note, I wish NI updated/revamped Spektral Delay at some point. That was a cool plug.

Eric Stravinsky 1st August 2019 03:19 AM

H-Delay is still my favorite

TMOQuantity 3rd August 2019 01:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 14125526)
On a side note, I wish NI updated/revamped Spektral Delay at some point. That was a cool plug.

Same here!

Fleer 3rd August 2019 04:01 AM

Sandman Pro

PhaseLinear 3rd August 2019 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uptown jimmy (Post 13991633)
I'll take Audio Damage Dubstation over any of these, except ValhallaDelay. Dubstation deserves the title of "best plugin nobody ever mentions".


Agree with this... Dunno about ValhallaDelay (probably, quality is very high as their other plugins.)

Audio Damage Dubstation is most mojo in a delay plugin. Sometimes unpredictable...

0e0 8th August 2019 07:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 14125526)
On a side note, I wish NI updated/revamped Spektral Delay at some point. That was a cool plug.


+1

GrammynOut 9th August 2019 04:53 AM

Remove every delay off the list that doesn’t have ducking. It is 2019 for goodness sake’s. All delays should have ducking feature.

Then put the McDSP delay near the top..after you put it on the list.

spambot_2 30th August 2019 09:39 PM

My current go-to is the PSP85, definitely worth a look if you like more extreme and full, funny, warped results bumpkin

Blackdog128 1st September 2019 08:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 14125169)
That's correct, list is in alphabetical order. kfhkh

Except for the Slate Digital D16 in the second position - should be between Native Instruments and Soundtoys by my reckoning.

Diogo C 1st September 2019 05:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blackdog128 (Post 14178013)
Except for the Slate Digital D16 in the second position - should be between Native Instruments and Soundtoys by my reckoning.

Good point, that's kind of a tricky one actually. D16 deserves the props because they have actually developed the plug-in, but Slate also deserves its fair share for being the "publisher", so I can see it going both ways. Will ask for it to be reordered it. Thanks for pointing that out! kfhkh

ZangTumblyTumble 1st September 2019 07:17 PM

D16 sells it directly, in any case, under their own name. It's not just offered via Slate.

phantompower9 1st September 2019 07:51 PM

1.Acustica Lemon - Absolute Beast, no need for hardware. You will have to pry this plug from my dead hands.
2.Eventide H3000 - Go to for Pop, Country, Rock and Alternative sessions
3.Soundtoys - Echoboy - Very modern, the sound of this plug is ingrained in my head and on the Billboard Top 100:lol:
4.PSP 85 - I get exactly what I want 95% of the time after I instance this using presets with a little tweaking. Lexicon heritage.
5. Boz Imperial Delay
6. Nomad Factory Echoes - My sleeper, this is 6th man off the bench. No one talks about this one.

thehightenor 1st September 2019 08:08 PM

I have All the UAD delays, Soundtoys 5, TC 6000 delays, Fabfilter Delays, Eventide delays.

The one I cannot stop playing with is the UAD Korg SDD-3000!

Boy I love that plugin.

NekstMusick 1st September 2019 08:14 PM

McDsp EC-300 is sonically the best for me compared at least to echoboy, it's such a fun delay to use and listen to.

breakline 2nd September 2019 03:13 AM

Lemon and Colour Copy are the only ones which sound anything like my hardware delays.. There is a lot more to this topic than just repeating audio digitally. Echoboy is a great tool for small/background things too. But yeah, Lemon feels like a delay, the rest feels like toys, except Colour Copy, that thing is super beautiful and lush.

funkycam 2nd September 2019 11:04 PM

Echoboy , D16 Repeater & Relayer are on every mix I do.
Echoboy is an ambiance tool in a league of it's own really.
D 16 tons of mojo
Relayer is the only one to offer control of the volume of each repeat
Valhalla delay & EC300 are great but just seem to get used less.

honorable mention to fabfilter timeless, a very innovative plug with a super fun and useful gui

Diogo C 3rd September 2019 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ZangTumblyTumble (Post 14178736)
D16 sells it directly, in any case, under their own name. It's not just offered via Slate.

Alright, it looks like the best way to go then. Will ask for an update. Thanks for the heads up! kfhkh