Best Delay VST Plugins – 2020 Round-up

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If you have been in a canyon and shouted, you would notice the echo following your voice. You probably weren’t aware, but at that certain moment, nature has been “a studio producer” that applied a delay effect to your voice. Let’s find out more about this effect in the VST world!

Comparison Chart of the Best Delay VST Plugins

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • The most versatile delay on the market
  • 30 different vintage echo styles
  • Rhythm Echo mode with up to 16 taps
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  • Flexible editing features
  • 23 hardware delay units modeled
  • Separate delay modules for the left and right channel
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  • collection of all BBD delays
  • Delay time range 1ms - 1sec
  • Dynamic ducking options
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  • Virtual analog multi-head tape delay
  • Reverb with 35 Impulse Responses
  • Chorus, Flanger and Phaser modulation effects
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  • inspired by the Lexicon Prime Time
  • Delay time up to 2.5 seconds
  • New Feedback Algorithms
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  • Multi-effect plugin
  • Randomizer feature with the locking function
  • Minimalistic user interface
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  • 9 modulation effects modules
  • Delay unit with 7.1 surround support
  • Only 30MB of installation size
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What is a Delay Plugin and What Does it Do? 

Delay is an effect that releases a certain amount of audio signal after the time specified. The released signal may be repeated several times, panned across the stereo image or modulated. They put the signal in a certain space environment. The number of the repeated times is controlled by the feedback amount and the time after the signal is played back can be defined in milliseconds or in note resolution based on the predefined (BPM) tempo and the overall level of that sound is usually controlled by the Mix parameter which blends the original source with the produced one.

Types of Delay VST 

Let’s cover some of the most typical delay categories:

Tape (Analog) Delay

Analog delay used recording tape for creating such effect. The source track was sent to a tape recorder and played back with a certain editable delay and applied tape saturation. 

Bucket Brigade Delay (BBD)

Its name is based on a firefighting technique of passing a bucket of water in a human chain. Likewise, it features hundreds of capacitors that pass a snapshot of the audio signal at the external clock rate. The repeated signal had some aliases due to the lower sampling rate but this feature eventually became an iconic trait of these units.

Digital Delay

Unlike other delays that colored your signal, digital delays were a complete revolution as you could get the same features as an analog delay but with the repeated sounding exactly like the original.

Slapback Delay

Slapback is a single echo that comes right after the original signal. It’s very fast, somewhere between 70ms and 110ms, and should not be mixed with Doubling Delay that ranges from 20ms to 70ms. Unlike the reverb effect, it keeps the overall mix clean while delivering similar energy. It will work best on vocals and guitars.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Delay VST Plugins

Let’s review the current products on the market:

Best Overall:
Soundtoys Echoboy

PROS

  • 30 different vintage echo styles
  • The most versatile delay on the market
  • Tape saturation control for extra analog warmth
  • Interesting Rhythm Echo mode with up to 16 taps
  • 3-band EQ for echo tone with dedicated decay knob per band

CONS

  • Not compatible with 32-bit systems
  • We would prefer less menu-diving tabs

Features and Specifications

This delay comes with 30 various delays modeled upon some of the most famous vintage hardware models such as EchoPlex, Memory Man, DM-2, and so on. It has emulated even a chorus pedal CE-1 just in case you need some modulation effects.

You can also set it in stereo mode and pick either dual or ping-pong mode. It can be synced to the project tempo but you can readjust the timing of the feedback to the finest details so it can match the song vibe you’re working on - more laidback or rushin’. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Echoboy is probably the best delay for vocals and lead instruments out there. We love the tape saturation feature and the warmth it produces on the track. 

Rhythm Echo mode is also an incredible feature that allows you to design advanced delay repeats with up to 16 taps by changing its loudness. And if you want to sculpt it further, you can either apply Echo EQ and treat each band decay and gain separately. This way you can make your own unique delay that will have shorter decay on bass and longer but not so loud high band repeats, for example.

PROS

  • Advanced preset browsing
  • Detailed stereo imaging options
  • 23 hardware delay units modeled
  • Stereo delay processor with flexible editing features
  • Separate delay modules for the left and right channel

CONS

  • Basic preset collection
  • No stand-alone version

Features and Specifications

This stereo delay contains the emulation of 23 hardware delay units that cover the range from lo-fi quality to pristine studio clarity. Every delay has a standard control over hi-pass and low-pass filtering, phase inverting, amount of dry/wet mixing, and channel re-panning with the simple but very effective two-stage stereo imager. In case you prefer, stereo delays can be linked so that parameters remain identical to both channels.

In case you don’t want to synchronize delay with the project tempo you can use the tap tempo feature. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are so many hardware units emulations found in this software that it’s a breeze to pick one suitable for your tracks. It’s safe to say that it may cover all-in-one delay needs and that retro digital user interface is a spot on for this type of emulator.

We also really dig how they resolved stereo processing. While providing typical options such as Ping Pong, Repeater treats left and right channels as two independent delay instances. Also, having an option to lower delay quality for real-time and offline modes can make some CPU-resource savings for other more demanding VSTs.

Best for the Money:
u-He Colour Copy

PROS

  • Resizable user interface 
  • Dynamic ducking options
  • Delay time range 1ms - 1sec
  • 100 factory presets, .nks compatible
  • Affordable collection of all BBD delays

CONS

  • Not our first choice for typical delays
  • Slightly more complicated than other VSTs

Features and Specifications

This plugin combines BBD delay behavior with several modern options such as ducking compressor. It provides you an extended variety of iconic coloring found in BBD units organized in 100 presets and it allows you to shift between certain color blends by turning the knob between five types and applying a different brightness and saturation. Delay time can be both timecode and musical and it covers the ranges from 0.001s to 1s or 1/32 to 2/1 note length. Those changes are displayed in a vintage display in the center of the unit.

Why it Stands Out to Us

As its name says this plugin can give you any kind of aliasing you would like to hear from BBD-styled delay. We love that they decided to include a knob instead of a switch for Feedback Colouration panel so you can dial in the perfectly tuned mode.

Also, the compressor comes with a very interesting feature - you can apply duck only to the feedback signal which will leave the very first delay unaffected, and prevent later high regeneration - quite a useful feature for the crowded mixes. Also, if you get carried away with experimenting, there is a Panic! Button that will break all the current repeats.

Best Tape Delay VST:
Surreal Machines Modnetic

PROS

  • Vintage multi-effect software
  • Virtual analog multi-head tape delay
  • Reverb with 35 Impulse Responses included
  • Chorus, Flanger and Phaser modulation effects
  • 2 reverse delays including a hold mode for looping

CONS

  • No dotted notes available
  • Basic reverb parameter options

Features and Specifications

Modnetic is an emulator of analog tape delays. It comes with a minimalistic user interface so all effect modules are placed in a single panel. Modulation panel provides you with the classic Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser effects with four distinctive circuit models. Echo is built from seven head options providing tap combination with a reverb module. Repeat ranges from 1/8 to 1/64 including triplets while the feedback is regulated with the Intensity knobs. Playback is digitally enhanced so it can be reversed and the Hold will do the usual function necessary for looping.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you’re looking to get the effects from the 1970s, this is your unit. Delay will have a real analog signal coming from the tape delay units, but without artifacts that are generated in real hardware. Every module has an off switch so you can even use it as a spring or plate reverb unit that will work marvelously on guitar tracks. Routing can be customized so effects can come pre or post-echo or even parallel. There are four distinctive characters available and a dedicated noise knob so you can achieve the exact analog saturation you were looking for. 

Best Digital Delay VST:
Soundtoys PrimalTap

PROS

  • Delay time up to 2.5 seconds
  • Create pitch shifts with the Multiply knob
  • Sample, loop and warp audio with Freeze feature
  • Hybrid delay inspired by the Lexicon Prime Time unit
  • New Feedback Algorithms and expanded modulation VCOs

CONS

  • Doesn’t go well for basic delays
  • Not a complete emulation, more “based upon” unit

Features and Specifications

PrimalTap is a plugin that’s inspired by the Lexicon Prime Time unit. It’s both digital and analog and comes with many features of the original hardware while expanding the delay time from the original 128ms to 2.500ms and providing us with four additional algorithms. Multiply doubles the delay time by halving the sample rate. Modulate allows you to add motion on your echoes so you can make your own choruses and flangers. Freeze will take a chunk of the audio and loop it back in a project tempo.

Why it Stands Out to Us

PrimalTap is not your generic delay plugin. And you got to love its 80s lo-fi character. It seems to us that it sounds cool no matter how you turn the knob. Modulate features will work perfectly with any kind of 80s guitar, especially with those that have electric clean sounds. 

However, this type of delay excels when used creatively. That’s why experimental music or creating artificial soundscapes can benefit a lot from the PrimalTap plugin. And just in case this delay is overwhelming to you, there is a Little PrimalTap that may help you to get to the core faster.

Best Slapback Delay VST:
AudioThing Space Strip

PROS

  • Custom effects ordering
  • Minimalistic user interface
  • Multi-effect plugin with slap-back delay
  • Vibrato, Chorus, and Stereo imaging effects
  • Randomizer feature with the locking function 

CONS

  • Might feel basic and not so versatile
  • Dedicated level control for every module would be nice

Features and Specifications

The interface of this unit is quite basic. It has a single panel with 6 rows with up to 3 knobs and they are all colored corresponding to which effect it belongs to. The order of effects can be rearranged if needed. There is a basic 2-band EQ, Vibe that acts as a stereo vibrato effect, Ambience covers the short reverb presets, while Ensemble handles the multi-voice chorus effect. Stereo widens your track to both channels and the Master row controls the general volume level and the amount of effect applied.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This unit is a multi-effect with a single delay type - slap-back. With the given configuration of effects, this plug was intended to work with electric guitar sounds because it has other effects used frequently with this type of instrument that add a dimension to the overall sound, especially with the stereo spreading of the trebles while leaving bass in the center.

We also like that order of effects can be rearranged and that they have included a Randomizer feature with the locking function that will put all parameters at random values and create something totally unexpected by maybe very sonically interesting.

Best Modulation Effect VST:
u-He Uhbik Bundle

PROS

  • Only 30MB of installation size
  • Flanger, Tremolo, Chorus, Phaser
  • Delay unit with 7.1 surround support
  • Granular reverse tape delay included
  • Complete modulation effects bundle packed in 9 plugins

CONS

  • Interface could be organized more intuitively
  • Surround delay effect craves for more parameters

Features and Specifications

This bundle provides you with the nine effects that cover most of the modulation effects you would need - chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, frequency, and granular shifter are all here. On top of that, it also provides you with the semi-parametric EQ, decent algorithmic reverb, and five-head delay module. Modules are organized in a rack-like interface and each one comes with a unique set of options. Every delay tap has the same knobs so you can adjust volume, pan, and the timing organized in 1/16 steps. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Delay unit somehow always demands modulation options. Even if you don’t need it in a very specific situation, the idea that you can have it in your arsenal when needed is more than welcomed, especially for a guitar player. This bundle has them all and it will take only 30MB of your storage space so it can load instantly no matter how demanding your song project is.

Uhbik bundle is probably your best choice for creating three-dimensional effects. It’s also one of the rare plugins that provide you with the native 7.1 surround support for delay effect and Runciter.

How Do I Choose the Right Delay VST? 

Delay can cover a huge array of production demands. Let us help you out in defining what kind of effect you’re really looking for:

Delay Effect Type

Delay can work both as an “always-on” layer of your sound or as an effect that’s turned on in a specific situation. But, you have to decide because one delay type excludes another.

Music Genre

Slapback delay will work great for country music while rock guitar leads and themes will need medium analog or digital delays. Slow songs will approve the use of longer and saturated delays while using the same on a fast-paced track may create muddiness in the overall mix.

Artistic Mindset

Some delays work the best covering basic needs. But if you’re feeling experimental, long and modulated delays will create a unique texture for your track. This kind of effect can even change the complete tonality of the track so that the guitar may resemble more to the synth pad sound.

You could also apply a ping-pong delay that will travel through the left and right channel of your track or create a sliced and groovy pattern that will create a rhythmic element for your song.

Conclusion 

Investing in a premium Delay VST is always a wise choice. You can use it on so many different instruments and in so many ways that it will eventually justify the price it asks for. Delay is simply the kind of effect that you’re going to use sooner or later. 

People Also Ask

Stay with us to find out more about some of the most usual concerns people ask about delay

Is Delay the Same as Echo?

It’s pretty safe to answer “yes” to this question. But, if you want to go into details, echo is just a type of delay placed in time in a manner so that you can hear a clear repeat of the original audio source.

Are Delay VST Plugins Hard to Learn?

The most regular use of delay is easy to comprehend. You need to understand the importance of the feedback knob and then use your ears to match the timing and the number of repeats. However, some advanced delay usage requires certain music production skills that won’t be so easy to apply if you’re a newbie.

How Much Are Delay VST Plugins?

Depending on the features certain delay has it can vary from $40 for the basic delay affect up to $250 for professional-grade level with various vintage hardware emulations and advanced features such as color saturation. However, the most frequent price for the delay VST is somewhere between $99 and $149

What Types of Music Are Delay VST Plugins Best For?

It will certainly go nice with the atmospheric music, but any kind of rock music (hard rock, indie rock, etc.) including heavy metal goes pretty well with the delay, especially regarding lead vocals or lead guitars. Some of the famous guitar rockstars made their signature sound based on the long musical delay.