Delay is one of the top mixing effects on any producer’s list no matter what genre they are working with. Delay is an essential effect if you are wanting to create space in a mix without it being overwhelmed by reverb or if you are trying to develop complex patterns with synthesizers or guitars, for example.
When it comes to delay plugins, there’s a huge variety to choose from for every style and preference. On one end of the spectrum, there are vintage plugins that offer pitch modulation and distortion effects. On the other end, you have modern plugins with clean, crystal-clear tones, not to mention everything in between.
To help narrow the focus a bit, we’re going to take a look at some of the best delay plugins avaiable so that you can add something great to your collection.
15 Best Delay VST Plugins
- D16 Group Repeater
- Soundtoys EchoBoy
- FabFilter FabFilter Timeless 2
- Audified STA Delay
- iZotope DDLY Dynamic Delay
- Soundtoys PrimalTap
- Boz Digital Labs Imperial Delay
- W.A Production Mutant Delay
- Applied Acoustics Systems Objeq Delay
- u-he Colour Copy
- Eventide H3000 Band Delays
- PSP Audioware PSP 608 MultiDelay
- McDSP EC-300 Echo Collection Native
- Softube Tube Delay
- Pulsar Audio Echorec
Think about the last 80 years of musical history and all the delays that have been developed over that time. It seems impossible to capture all of that in one plugin, but D16 has come close with the Group Repeater. You’ll find 23 distinctive delays on this plugin that represent everything from popular digital delays to classic oil cans and plates.
Its stereo capabilities give you the opportunity to process the left and right channels individually. It’s also a very versatile delay VST. For example, it offers dry/wet mixes for both the left and right channels in addition to individual re-panning. Other features include a feedback loop analog mode, a phase invert function, and more.
- Offers 23 different delays
- Can process left and right channels independently
- Very versatile
- Interface takes some getting used to
Soundtoys has a solid reputation for delivering high-quality plugins, and their delay effects raise the bar for all of their competitors. The Soundtoys Echoboy takes all of the greatest delay sounds from literally decades of musical history and packages them in one awesome plugin. If versatility is what you’re looking for, your search can stop here.
It draws inspiration from a range of vintage gear that you can sift through to locate the exact tone you are looking for. It includes 30 distinct delay styles with classic echo box tones like the Memory Man, Space Echo, DM-2, and EchoPlex. You’ll also find a number of chorus presets developed from the gold standard of chorus pedals, the CE-1.
Take a deep dive into this plugin to find an abundance of delay types and advanced parameters to further customize your mix. These include Ping-Pong, Stereo Echo, Single Echo, Dual Echo, Rhythm Mode, and more. Go a bit further and you’ll unlock the capability to develop insane delay rhythms with a selection of “read heads.” With everything the Echoboy has to offer, it easily qualifies as one of the top delay VSTs currently available.
- Warm analog-style sound
- Impressive selection of effects
- Ultimate customization options
- Takes up a good amount of CPU
- Floating control windows can be irritating
FabFilter is another go-to company when you want to find the best processing plugins out there. Their Timeless 2 offers an impressive selection of filters to help you create the perfect sound for your project. This classic tape delay plugin has everything covered—phasers, chorus, echoes, flangers, and everything between.
Thanks to its unique design, the delay signal passes through multiple filters before it is sent back to the delay section for additional customization of other effects. The Timeless 2 gives you everything you could possibly need for series modulation, including an array of XLFOs, EGs, envelope followers, and XY controllers.
You can also take advantage of all the standard features that FabFilter offers like Smart Parameter Interpolation, MIDI Learn, and finely tuned knobs to optimize automation. Another helpful element is the mid-size processing option, which enables you to target individual sections of the stereo field. The Timeless 2 is the answer to any question you may have on how to create the perfect delay effects.
- An amazing selection of delay options
- Awesome mid/side operation
- Impressive modulation routing system
- Feedback behavior can be hard to figure out
Certain mixes benefit from a lush, warm delay effect, and that’s where the STA Delay is happy to step in. Audified has a reputation for emulating some of the most unusual hardware units in their plugins, and the STA Delay is no exception. STA stands for Summing Tube Amplifier, which explains where this plugin derives its warmth from.
Warm delay sounds are achieved through five distinct valve saturation options. The Vintage valve is ideal for perfecting the highs and evening out the harmonics. The White valve is where you go to find a number of high frequencies. The Brown valve is great for when you want a punch in your higher harmonics and a nearly flat response. Then there’s the Lofi valve, which limits the low and high frequencies to create a natural analog feel. Finally, the Presence valve delivers a number of mid-high frequencies that can cut through the mix.
There are two signal paths in the plugin. The first is not processed at all while the second is processed through modulation to alter the sound. When the two signals are mixed, the result is a rich warmth for even basic effects like phaser and flanger.
- Summing tubes are utilized to produce a lush, warm sound
- Two signal paths create distinctive effects
- A selection of valve types to choose from
- Not ideal if you are wanting cleaner digital delays
The iZotope DDLY Dynamic Delay stands out among its competitors due to its unusual capabilities and features. Users can get creative thanks to the design, which involves two delay lines and a threshold control. Any parts of the audio signal that exceed the threshold are sent to one delay line, and the rest of the audio is sent to the second. This results in the creation of some very unique delays.
The features on the Dynamic Delay will enable you to add layers to rhythmic sections of the audio or enhance a lead part. The DDLY interface may be overwhelming at first, but once you wrap your head around it, you will appreciate everything it has to offer. If you love to experiment with delay effects, this is an ideal plugin for you because there are no presets to be found. You can’t even save presets on the DDLY. This iZotope plugin is awesome whether you want to create a basic delay or unleash your creativity.
- Can create unique delay patterns for rhythmic pieces
- Two delay algorithms to pick from
- Unusual interface
- No presets are available
The PrimalTap from Soundtoys draws inspiration from a 1978 delay unit called Prime Time. You may never have heard of it, but it was popular among a number of artists like Pat Metheny, Brian Eno, and Peter Gabriel.
It’s difficult to describe exactly what PrimalTap brings to the table. Take the processing abilities of a unique vintage delay unit and combine it with modern digital features like freezing and lo-fi capabilities. This is what PrimalTap has to offer with the ability to produce sounds that are truly out of this world.
Turn the rotary knob of the multiply control to either half or double the sample rate. The result will be a distinctive delay that sounds like it’s straight from the 80s. PrimalTap gives you free reign with your creativity whether you’re creating lo-fi delays, insane pitch jumps, or anything in between. If you really want to get weird with it, check out the freeze feature. This enables you to take a short section of audio and manipulate the Freeze, VCO, and Time settings to develop incredibly unique soundscapes.
- An awesome collection of special effects to explore
- Freeze button is a stand-out feature
- Emulates the delay sounds of the 80s
- Could be more user-friendly
Boz Digital Labs set out to create a powerful delay with enough capability to satisfy producers of all genres while also remaining accessible enough for beginners. The Imperial Delay checks all the boxes. All the parameters typically found on delay plugins can be manipulated through the use of single knobs, making it super easy to create the perfect delay for your mix.
The Imperial Delay also provides advanced controls for those who want to go further with tweaking their effects. You’ll find all the typical delay effects along with some additional options like Chorus, Drive, and Modulation to help you shape more distinctive sounds. You can also take advantage of the Duck option, which enables you to compress the delayed output without touching the dry signal, resulting in thicker delays.
- User-friendly interface
- Goes beyond typical delay effect options
- Impressively powerful system
- Not ideal for those who want an analog sound
Mixes of today are often processed with reverbs and sidechaining delays, but it can be a pain getting the ducking set up. Fortunately, the Mutant Delay eases that pain through its built-in sidechaining application, which is ideal for vocal lines. Thanks to this feature, it’s easier than ever to dial-in complex delay effects and ensure vocal clarity at the same time.
One of the most exciting options on the Mutant Delay is the bypass control. This guarantees that clicks and pops are eliminated from A/B testing and bypassing. On top of the interface you’ll find a waveform graph, which provides a visual form of feedback so that you can monitor delay and ducking. If you want to time your delays, take advantage of the host-synched options, which allow you to work with the left and right channels individually.
You get a lot for a little with this plugin from W.A Production, including advanced controls such as hold, attack, and release controls in addition to standard controls like frequency shaping. There’s also a very wide selection of presets to make the process even more straightforward.
- Sidechaining is a breeze
- Right and left channels processed individually
- Crazy amount of advanced controls
- It’s lacking in analog-style sounds
With the Systems Objeq Delay VST, Applied Acoustics introduces a unique delay unit that utilizes acoustic filtering. Acoustic resonances can be produced through the use of beams, drumheads, string objects, plates, and more. These sit on top of the input signal, and you can further develop your delay sound with high and low-cut filters. Whether your goal is a simple delay effect, a multi-layered rhythmic pattern, or a modulated input signal, the Objeq Delay has all the tools you need.
Check out the 35 echo presets if you’re looking to produce rich echo sounds with feedback and modulation. There are also options for creating more basic psychoacoustic effects like space or slaps. If unusual effects are what you’re after, take advantage of the 44 modulation presets, which include tremolo, vibrato, chorus, flanger, and others. Additionally, there are other presets for kick track enhancers, rhythmic loops, drones, snare track enhancers, and many others.
The Objeq Delay is a plugin unit that stands out in the market with its echo generation and physical modeling capabilities.
- Impressive physical modeling
- A wide selection of presets to pick from
- Strong LFO and filter sections
- Delay section doesn’t stand out
- Modulation section is disappointing
10. u-he Colour Copy
Mixers have long been drawn to the Analog BBD delays because of their distinctively dark sound. This sound is achieved by filtering the input signal through a bunch of capacitors, creating numerous saturated echoes that get further and further away. This effect is commonly found in dub music. The Colour Copy also offers flexibility in the timing with a good selection of delay times to choose from.
With every delay you can take advantage of saturation and color morphing effects like distortion and resonance to make your sound even more interesting. Other elements built into the Colour Copy include LFO for modulation and a freeze button that allows you to create an infinite loop. It also offers a ducking feature, which helps you to quickly dial-in the perfect delay.
The u-he Colour Copy is easily near the top of the list of BBD Delay plugins currently available thanks to its old-school look and amazing sound.
- User-friendly interface
- Warm, natural sound
- Tons of customization options
- Not ideal for creating simple delay effects
- May take some time to get used to the central panel
Eventide’s H3000 lives up to the company’s long-standing reputation for high quality time-based effects. The H3000 enables you to split up sounds by frequency bands in order to process specific bands with delays instead of the whole signal. It is based on the popular H3000 Harmonizer plugin, but it offers much more than the original.
When you input your signal into the H3000, you’ll be able to manipulate as many as eight individual voices. There are a number of controls this plugin offers, including frequency, delay time, filter type, resonance, volume, and panning. The Function Generator also enables you to control the modulation of your signal.
These parameters have an automation feature so that you can create movement in real time. The H3000 also gives you the unique option of using MIDI to play filters like an instrument, resulting in rhythmic effects that you can’t get from any other delay. The H3000 Band Delays is a versatile plugin for all of your desired delay effects from basic to advanced.
- Impressive patch system with a number of H3000 elements
- Great selection of special effects
- Algorithms appear somewhat limited
- Sidechaining not an option in certain DAWs
The PSP Audioware PSP 608 MultiDelay could be a little intimidating at first glance, but once you get past that, you’ll be thrilled with everything it offers. The functionality of this plugin is impressive, and it also encourages creativity. There are a number of parameters to experiment with, including drive/tape saturation, selectable feedback, modulation, delay time, reverb, stereo image and position, and multimode filter. The drive and feedback controls offer flexibility so that you can process the signal at either the start or end of the chain.
The interface is user-friendly and easy to understand. Check out the impressive modulation section with its envelope follower and LFO. The saturation section also promises not to disappoint since it’s based on the best mastering processors that PSP Audioware utilizes.
This delay plugin is positively packed with features, making it a dream come true for pro producers while remaining accessible to beginners.
- Insanely powerful delay VST
- Awesome selection of presets to pick from
- Impressive sound quality
- The LCD interface feels a bit outdated
The EC-300 Echo Collection Native is packed to the brim with chorus and echo effects. It offers Digital, Magnetic, and Analog delay types along with a number of parameters to help you create the sound you’re after. With the EC-300 you’ll find amazing visual feedback, an impressive selection of character modes, and a stunning sound.
The Digital format allows for some added character modes to experiment with. In this way you can produce sounds that go beyond the familiar. There are a number of other fun features to play with, including in-loop filtering, wow and flutter, delay output ducking, EQ, and saturation. Input and output operate independently, so you’re able to push your delay further or allow it to fit nicely in your mix.
You can also pick whether you want to work in single, dual, or ping-pong mode, and the host-synch on or off option allows you to change the delay time. The EC-300 has pretty much all of your delay needs covered.
- Offers a range of high-quality delays
- Additional EQ, saturation, and dynamics sections
- Different variations of the available delay types
- Need an iLok if you don’t have an active Internet connection
Softube is known for producing user-friendly plugins that get the job done. The Tube Delay is one of the best they offer with delays in a vintage style with a hint of darkness and distortion. It’s almost magic the way the Tube Delay creates space and size without it sticking out too much in a mix. This delay plugin will help you reach your end goal, whether that’s a dub-style delay with epic feedback or simple and authentic room echoes.
Softube offers three individual tube stages to pick from with distinctive sounds. If you’re just diving into the world of delay effects, you’ll appreciate the user-friendly interface. What sets it apart is the unique sound it produces. Utilize the special drive knob to add some overdrive and grit to your input signal. Then turn to the tone knobs to create the perfect output delay tone.
The Tube Delay is ideal for those who want something that’s user-friendly with an organic sound.
- Exciting interface
- Authentic, warm delay sound
- Pro producers and engineers might find it too simplistic
If your search for a delay plugin drifts away from the mainstream, you might appreciate the Pulsar Audio Echorec. It’s a digital copy of the Binson Echorec, a delay unit that was commonly used in the 1960s. The Binson Echorec was behind the delay effects on iconic records from bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
The original Echorec’s claim to fame was its self-oscillation and distinctive saturation. The Audio version emulates these faithfully. Beyond the typical controls, Pulsar also offers an option to adjust the motor speed with real-time, host-synch, or tap tempo.
This plugin is a combination of three authentically modeled units. You can get everything from gritty grunge sounds to clean magnetic delay. If you want to inject some analog flavor into your mix, the Audio Echorec has your back.
- Authentically emulates the original Echorec
- Incredible tap tempo feature
- Stereo drift creates a unique sound
- Not the greatest Echorec emulation available but a cheaper option
Dive into Delay
There is certainly no shortage of delay plugin options for you to choose from. Each one has its own set of features and capabilities that might help you achieve the goals you have for your mix. As you dive deeper in the delay realm, you’ll want to expand your options for experimentation. For that reason, you’ll want to build a collection of multiple plugins to have at your disposal.