Delay is an integral part of the mixing process, whether you’re mixing vocals, guitar or anything else. There’s no shortage of options out there and finding the best delay plugin for your needs can be tricky.
To make the hunt easier, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite delay VSTs on the market in 2020. Here you’ll find everything from tube to tape delays and even some unique innovations you may never have thought of.
H-Delay is one of my go-to VSTs when I just want something quick and not overly complicated. It’s one of the best delay plugins for vocals, especially if you’re going for a longer ping-pong style delay.
It’s simple layout doesn’t allow as much customization as you’ll find in other plugins. However, the abundance of features is often what turns me off from other delay VSTs. So it’s a pro in the case of H-Delay.
The LoFi button is a nice added bonus and does exactly what you think it would do. Check out the video below to see acclaimed engineer Greg Wells discuss his favourite Waves plugins, including H-Delay.
Opposite to the simplicity of H-Delay is the feature ridden plugin by Slate Digital and D16, Repeater. With 23 delay emulations, this is one of the best plugins for when you want a one size fits all VST.
It goes as far as to give you the option to customize the sound of the individual left and right signals. This allows for plenty of possibilities in terms of tweaking the sound exactly to your liking.
Check out the video below for a more in depth look at what makes this delay VST so great.
If you’ve heard any rock & roll from the 1970s, chances are you’ve heard the tape delay effect on vocals, guitar and everything else. One of the best units to create this sound was the Roland Space Echo.
Over time it’s gone up in popularity and value, making it difficult to get ahold of a hardware unit. However, thanks to the team at UAD, this famous delay sound is now available in a plugin format.
It’s more expensive than other options on this list, since you need a Satellite or Apollo to run the VST. However, if you’re able to get your hands on it you’ll be extremely pleased with the results.
Where UAD’s Galaxy Echo is the delay of the 1970s, SoundToys’ PrimalTap plugin takes you forward a decade as one of the best recreations of Lexicon’s Prime Time hardware delay.
Used extensively in the 1980s by the likes of Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel this unit’s quirky character served as more of an instrument than a delay. Now you can own all these sounds and more, thanks to the innovations that SoundToys put into this VST.
This is the second iteration of the Fab-Filter plugin Timeless. It’s one of the best options when you’re looking for a tape delay plugin with a wealth of customizability.
It’s design is actually very similar to that of a module synthesizer. There are plenty of modules that allow you to go beyond delay and create countless other sounds from chorus to phaser.
It’s definitely a VST for the creatives who enjoy spending time dialing in a unique sound with their delays.
The Cooper Time Cube is a hardware delay unit originally designed Duane H. Cooper and Bill Putman. UAD recently captured the essence of this unit in all its nuances, adding a healthy amount of additional features.
It’s one of the best plugins out their when you’re going for a truly unique sounding delay. Check out the video below for a more in depth look at things.
Described by SoftTube as “a marriage between analogue and digital,” this VST is the best when you’re also looking for a saturated, lo-fi sounding delay.
It’s definitely unique in character and won’t necessarily fit every situation but it’s got an unmatched tone. This plugin is perhaps best used for adding a warm delay to lo-fi vocals or electric guitar.
Similar to the simplistic design of Waves’ H-Delay, Replika by Native Instruments offers a streamlined interface without compromising sound. Alongside the three delay algorithms, Replika also includes a phaser and resonant shelf making it quite versatile.
The sleek design also makes Replika one of the best looking delay plugins on the market. Although this isn’t an important feature, it reflects the time and effort put into designing this VST.
If you’re a fan of bucket brigade delays, such as MXR’s Carbon Copy then Colour Copy by U-He is the best plugin for you. This option is relatively affordable with far more features and flexibility than the classic guitar pedal has.
It’s got a unique interface for routing the delay along with a multitude of delay “colours” to choose from. All of this makes it an awesome VST delay for vocals, guitar and everything else in between.
This is perhaps the most (and maybe the only) intelligent delay plugin on the market. It works to stop a track from getting overly busy by responding to the dynamics of song.
By looking at this it’s able to adjust it’s delay parameters accordingly, making it the best VST for someone who doesn’t know what knobs to turn. It’s certainly one of a kind and also allows plenty of customization to create unique sounds.
For those who don’t have a big budget, Voxengo is one of the best free digital delays available in both VST and AAX format.
It’s a little bit dated and the interface is nowhere near as pretty as the paid options out there. However, it offers a fair amount of flexibility and for the price one can’t complain.
You may be surprised to see Waves’ VST model of the Abbey Road reverb chambers on this list. However I was excited to see that the plugin also featured a very cool delay module.
It’s a complete recreation of the Abbey Road Studios’ original S.T.E.E.D. setup (Send. Tape. Echo. Echo. Delay.). When combined with the sound of the chambers you’re left with the best delay and reverb plugin for recreating that classic Beatles vocal sound.
This delay plugin is a relatively new one to the music production scene but it’s well worth checking out. Created by Baby Audio, Comeback Kid combines retro sounds with modern-day capabilities, all tied together with a sleek UI.
The shaper section offers controls like attack and sustain for precise control over the delay’s response. Once you’ve got your delay dialled in, the flavour section adds exactly what the name entails, with creative names like “sauce” and “swirl”.
Being so new to the market, it’s definitely on the cutting edge of delay plugins in 2020.
This is more of a matter of opinion but if I could only have one delay VST, EchoBoy is the plugin with the best bang for your buck in 2020. With 30 different delay and echo styles to choose from, this is basically every other option on this list rolled into one.
You can choose exactly the tone of delay you want, then specify precisely how that reacts. This allows the flexibility to create sounds no other unit can.
The creative implications of the unit are awesome. Just when you think there couldn’t be anything else to change, the “tweak” button reveals even more customizable options.
This leads me to the one downside of the plugin, which is that the amount of features can be hard to wrap your head around.
Thankfully however, EchoBoy comes loaded with tons of presets to help you quickly find just the sound you’re looking for, until you’re comfortable enough to create your own.
Whether it’s vocals, guitar, drums or anything else, the EchoBoy plugin delivers the best options for all. Check out the video below for a better look at all of its features.
Conclusion: The Best Delay Plugins Out There In 2020
By now you’ve probably realized that there are endless options out there when it comes to the best delay plugins for guitar, piano, vocals or any other instrument. The complete list of delay plugins discussed in this article are:
- Slate Repeater Delay
- UAD Galaxy Tape Echo
- Soundtoys PrimalTap
- Fab-Filter Timeless 2
- UAD Cooper Time Cube MKII Delay
- SoftTube Tube Delay
- Native Instruments’ Replika
- Colour Copy
- iZotope DDLY Dynamic Delay
- Voxengo Tempo Delay
- Abbey Road Chambers
- Soundtoys EchoBoy
Each VST has its own characteristics and optimal uses so there’s not really any “best delay plugin.” It’s all relative to the individual situation.
However, if I was to use only one delay VST for the rest of my life, it would be EchoBoy. The wealth of flexibility makes it more like 30 delay plugins than one. After spending time learning all of its features you’ll have a tool that can fit almost any scenario.
If you found this article useful be sure to check out our other plugin guides to learn about things such as the best reverb and EQ VSTs on the market. Check out the rest of the Sundown Sessions Blog for more tips on home recording and mixing music.