Delay plugins are essential to every mixer’s toolbox! It’s one of the most common effects we use all the time to give instruments dimension and energy. The great thing about delay is that it can be subtle for a little bit of space and groove, or totally over-the-top for some very special effects.
However you like to use it, these delay plugins are some industry favorites engineers use everyday. Which are your favorite? Don’t hesitate to let us know!
Best Delay Plugins
H-Delay is one of the most popular plugins out there. Its interface is completely intuitive making it easy to dive into and get tweaking. “From old school PCM42-style effects like filtering, flanging, and phasing, to slap-back echo, and ping-pong delay,” this plugin is definitely one you should have on standby.
One of the great things about H-Delay in particular, besides ease-of-use and sound quality, is that it doesn’t add any latency. This means it’s perfectly suited for tracking when your artist needs a little encouragement from their cue mix. Give your client just a hint of 1/4 note delay in their headphones to give them an extra push to capture the perfect performance.
The built-in filters are pretty handy as well, so you don’t have to add an EQ after H-Delay to pull off the Abbey Road trick.
On the other end of the spectrum from the very easy to use H-Delay is EchoBoy by SoundToys. It isn’t so much that it’s difficult, but it has a lot of features you’ll want to get comfortable with.
EchoBoy is an amazing delay plugin with vintage vibe. SoundToys studied some of the most popular hardware delays of all time and modeled them for EchoBoy. Classic sounds include the EchoPlex, Space Echo, Memory Man, DM-2, and the TelRay oil can delay.
One of my favorite features on EchoBoy is the Saturation section. You can instantly add some classic tape vibe to your delays with this really handy design. Some people skip the delay on EchoBoy altogether (feedback and time at 0) and only use the Saturation side! That’s how good it is.
Waves is great at producing quality plugins which are easy to use, and the Manny Marroquin Delay is no exception. One thing great mixers do all the time is add extra effects to their delays to spice them up. This might include sending the delay to a reverb, adding a bit of saturation, or even modulating it with a phaser or flanger.
Manny Marroquin Delay has reverb, distortion, a doubler, and phaser built straight into the plugin. It’s a one-stop shop for really cool sounding delays without a ton of extra plugins.
The OG Lexicon 224 came out in 1978 as a hardware digital delay unit. It almost immediately became a classic, defining the sound of an era on huge albums by Talking Heads, U2, and more. UAD’s plugin uses the same algorithms as the original hardware for faithful reproduction of that sound.
Since it’s based on hardware, this is one of those delay plugins that does that sound really well. While it isn’t as universal as something basic like H-Delay, it’s definitely a great plugin to have in your arsenal if you’re a UAD user.
FabFilter established its reputation as one of the highest quality plugin developers with the incredibly popular Pro-Q equalizer. At face value, Timeless is a perfectly modeled tape delay—under the hood, it’s the “ultimate sound-mangling machine,” with the ability to create echo, chorus, flanger, phaser, scratch effects, and more.
If it looks a little intimidating, that’s perfectly normal. As always, the best way to figure something out is to get your hands dirty! Or, you can load one of over 300 included presets to get delays going quickly!
Valhalla is perhaps best know for their incredible line of reverbs. The interface is cool, the sound is top-notch, and the price is completely affordable. What’s not to love? Valhalla’s digital delay plugin is super versatile and does it all: tape delay, ’80s digital, BBD, hi-fi, lo-fi…just choose from one of 14 modes and get the delay flavor you crave. Sounds range from standard and predictable delay to wild pitch shifting and very unique effects.
Roland launched the Space Echo hardware unit in 1973, and it can be heard on recordings by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and countless others. It was a tape delay and spring reverb unit capable of virtually any style of analog echo. As is the case with most delay plugins or hardware, it could sound quite reasonable and subtle, or it could go into complete chaos at the twist of a knob. UAD painstakingly captured all the magic of the original hardware in this phenomenal delay plugin!
Best Free Delay Plugins 2022
Lucky for us, Valhalla generously offers this cool effect for free. Now, it’s definitely not your average stock delay that works for a ton of different purposes. This guy is definitely best suited for psychedelic stuff and full-on looping repeats. Still, this could be a very fun creative effect to have in your back pocket for sound design and production—not necessarily a mixer’s go-to.
Downloader be warned, these plugins do not offer 64-bit support on Mac OS X. That means if your machine is running anything after Mojave, these plugins will not work. Many of us with working studio computers refrain from any major updates as long as we can, so if you’ve managed to hold out and run an older OS (or work on Windows, for that matter), these free delays from TAL are awesome!
This is pretty simple free delay plugin, but it has one really cool feature. Duck is a way to let only the delayed sound through when there’s no dry input signal. You’d use this for longer delays where you don’t want to muddy up the dry signal over the delays. Apart from that, this is straightforward free delay plugin that sounds great!
Conclusion: Best Delay Plugins
Amongst the various tools we use as mixers, delay is one of the most fun. It’s one of the best ways to spice up vocal tracks with creative repeats that carry the listener on a journey. These are a good handful of some of the best delay plugins we’ve come across. Feel free to share your favorites as well!