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best delay plugins

Best delay plugins

Delay effects are one of the best ways to add depth and dimension to tracks. Along with reverb plugins, you can give your productions the perfect amount of space. The best delay plugins for your library vary based on your needs. Are you looking for a clean, modern delay or something vintage and darker? Do you want something simple or a large control set?

They can be complex to dial in depending on how many controls and parameters they offer. But no matter what your needs are, the perfect delay plugin is out there.

These are some of our favorite delay plugins!

Best delay plugin overall: FabFilter Timeless 3

FabFilter Timeless 3
Best delay plugin overall
FabFilter Timeless 3
This versatile delay plugin offers any type of delay you can imagine. You can further customize by adding effects.
Pros
Extremely versatile
Onboard effects
Cons
Dialing it in can be daunting at first

Modern delay plugins don’t get anymore versatile than this. Looking for clean? Done. Need something vintage with some dirt on it? You got it. It can do everything from simple echo to full blown modulation effects.

The signal gets routed through six filters and five effects, the routes back to the input so you can adjust the feedback. The modulation has a few different parameters like the wow and flutter of analog tape and dynamic diffusion.

FabFilter plugins are known for their extensive control parameters, and the GUI of Timeless 3 can be a little daunting at first. Especially if you’re in the beginning stages of your audio journey. But considering how wide-ranging the sounds in Timeless 3 are, it’s hands down one of the best delay plugins.

Best tape delay plugin: Universal Audio Galaxy Tape Echo

Universal Audio Galaxy Tape Echo
Best tape delay plugin
Universal Audio Galaxy Tape Echo
This combined delay/reverb is a fantastic emulation of one of the most famous units of all time.
Pros
Spot-on recreation of Roland’s famous unit
Tones go from warm to insane
Delay and reverb combined
Cons
Only does tape sounds

The Roland Space Echo is an effect that managed to obtain legendary status. It’s been reimagined, shoved into a tiny guitar pedal, and cloned many times before. And if you’re looking for a delay plugin that recreates its unique sound, Universal Audio has you covered.

What makes this circuit unique is that it’s a tape delay and spring reverb that can go from warm echoes to all out chaos. The control set it unique considering it’s a delay and reverb combined. There are multiple parameters to adjust each effect as well as onboard EQ.

It only works with Apollo and UAD-2 hardware, which obviously won’t work for everyone. But if you happen to be using Universal Audio gear, you already know why their plugins are worth purchasing.

Easiest to use delay plugin: Waves Audio H-Delay

Waves Audio H-Delay
Easiest to use delay plugin
Waves Audio H-Delay
H-Delay is easy to use, sounds great, and comes with four different analog sound flavors and tempo sync.
Pros
Easy to use
4 analog colors
Tempo sync
Cons
Some might need a more robust option

If you need a delay plugin that’s simple to use, H-Delay is one of your best options. Two large knobs control delay time and feedback, and there are high and low-pass filters. You can dial in the dry/wet blend, modulation, and choose between four analog colors as well.

You can sync the repeats to the session tempo or a specific BPM. Each side of the stereo field can be disabled if you only want to delay one side. Visually the GUI is somewhere between modern and vintage, but it’s all about how it sounds.

It’s really affordable, but don’t think that means it sounds cheap. Waves Audio creates some of the best plugins in the world and H-Delay is no different.

Best vintage-sounding delay plugin: Soundtoys EchoBoy

Soundtoys EchoBoy
Best vintage-sounding delay plugin
Soundtoys EchoBoy
Multiple different circuits were analyzed in designing this vintage-sounding plugin.
Pros
30 vintage delay sounds
Onboard effects
Cons
GUI is a little confusing at first

Soundtoys took the best of multiple delay and echo units when designing EchoBoy. They analyzed the Roland Space Echo, BOSS DM-2 pedal, EHX Memory Man, even an “oil can” delay and EchoPlex!

All of these put together give you a warm, analog-sounding effect with modern day versatility. They even analyzed the holiest of grails when it comes to chorus effects – the BOSS CE-1. They even have some tape emulation built in. 

That said, the GUI might take some getting used to. But with 30 different types of echo, tape emulation, saturation, modulation, and the great starting presets are the reason you’ll hear it on professional mixes everywhere.

Most affordable delay plugin: Valhalla Delay

Valhalla Delay
Most affordable delay plugin
Valhalla Delay
This affordable delay offers a good amount of sounds in an easy-to-use interface.
Pros
Affordable
15 delay modes
Intuitive interface
Cons
None
Buy From

This plugin is modeled on a variety of delay types like BBD, tape echo, and 80s digital delays. 15 modes let you find the perfect feel, and you have five delay styles to choose from. Ghost mode adds pitch shifting 

The interface is arranged in vertical rows, so even though it has a good amount of controls it’s easy to dial things in quickly. If you need an affordable delay plugin with a good amount of sounds and controls, this is it. At just $50, there is a lot of value in this delay from Valhalla.

Most unique delay plugin: Eventide H3000 Band Delays

Eventide H3000 Band Delays
Most unique delay plugin
Eventide H3000 Band Delays
This unique dynamic delay offers eight voices that let you manipulate the delayed signal in interesting ways.
Pros
Great if you’re looking for a unique delay
8 voices
MixLock makes A/Bing sounds easy
Cons
Too complex if you want a simple delay
Learning curve

If you’re looking for something left of the normal, this is one of the best delay plugins. It works by separating the source signal by frequency bands. You then set the filtering, and the plugin delays the chosen bands. The eight voices can all be changed by resonance, frequency, filtering, volume and panning.

Since this plugin is considered a dynamic delay, Eventide offers multiple ways to adjust how it reacts and behaves to the signal. A Function Generator lets you adjust different parameters and adjust how everything “moves”. If you prefer to work more visually, there is a beat grid that lets you really get your hands dirty.

A unique MixLock feature maintains the wet/dry balance while you scroll through presets and adjust settings so you can A/B properly. You can even route the filters through a MIDI keyboard and play the effect in real time.

FAQ

What is a tape delay plugin?

This kind of plugin is designed to emulate the sounds of using an analog tape machine to delay the signal. Doing this in the analog world was a gamble on whether it would fit into the groove and tempo of the track. But tape delay plugins give you vintage sounds with modern options.

Which is the best delay plugin?

We went with the FabFilter Timeless 3 as our choice for the best delay plugin. It’s got a great amount of presets, intuitive controls, and great metering and visualization within the interface.

How does a delay plugin work?

In the simplest terms, a delay creates a copy of the signal and plays it back at the set delay time. It gets mixed with the original signal and creates the sound.

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