While the word “delay” in real life is perceived as something bad, the musical delay is among the favorite effects of musicians and sound engineers!
There are so many out there that it is really hard to pick one… unless you keep reading!
Here, you will find out all the best delay plugins currently on the market, to save you time and money from searching hopelessly!
But why do engineers and musicians like them so much?
Here’s the thing! Delay effects are crucial ingredients in audio production.
Not only do delay effects act as the basic building blocks for many other effects, but they also have multiple uses in mangling the sound of a track.
These include creating space and ambiance while mixing, vocal doubling, slapback echo, and so many others!
Delay can actually deliver a transformation that is almost impossible to do without it.
To say the least, delay is not just a mere effect in itself but a versatile tool for musical creativity.
Are you curious to find out our top picks? Let’s dig in already.
The 11 Best Delay VST Plugins of 2021 include:
Starting us off, the EchoBoy by Soundtoys is a do-it-all workhorse designed to concentrate on all corners of a mix.
A wrap up of decades of classic devices all morphed up into a futuristic and versatile effect, and you could easily put this on every channel in a mix.
Although it delivers some of the best recreations of classic delay units, it comes with its unique sound and control set.
For instance, its algorithms can be freely pressed into other effects besides performing ambiance treatments.
More specifically, it features up to thirty delay models all put in one pack.
Think about vintage units such as EchoPlex, Space Echo, Memory Man, and more.
And all of them are adaptable to varying situations without losing the authenticity of the sound.
The best part is- you can alternate between any of the models to fine-tune the sound.
Other than the models, you have buffet-style controls with deep and powerful details.
For example, you can exploit the settings to change distortion types, create custom echo tone, among others.
FabFilter Timeless has a reasonably simple design yet quite functional.
Just crank it up, make slight adjustments on the mix and boom!
You have polished sound.
Well, simplicity has always been a strength of FabFilter plugins- so this merely keeps to the tradition.
Of course, that’s but the surface.
The kick actually lies in the avalanche of settings accessed from expandable modulation tools.
As you might expect, with the tools you create flangers, phasers, chorus, and more.
Beyond that, it has exciting inclusions including all delay filters such as XLFOs, EFs, and XY controllers.
All these are set beneath the main plugin window.
Ideally, the combinations you can exploit by dialing the settings are so many, meaning you can engage different filter modules, shapes, and knob assignments on the fly.
To top it all, the interface is inspiring, thus you can enjoy all the liveliness as you mangle your sound.
As a mainstream delay unit, the Cooper Time Cube is a fantastic bang for the buck.
Although it keeps the utilitarian sound of revered hose-based mechanical delay hardware, CTC comes with enhancements expected of a contemporary VST tool.
It recreates the legendary hardware units with precision- bringing with it not only the original sound characteristics but the functionality too.
One impressive element is the two delay lines which can be set independently and manipulated with delay, decay, pan, and volume controls.
To add to that, it features Treble and Bass controls, High Pass Filter, Wet Solo, and Analog-style metering.
While it functions exclusively on UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card or Apollo Interface, you’ll love its efficient delivery of short delay and doubling effects.
Overall, the simplicity and thoughtless ability to sit perfectly in the mix make everything about it intriguing.
Creative, warm, flexible are perhaps the three befitting words that can best describe Replika XT.
But, what exactly makes it worth any audio engineer’s attention?
In the first place, it is a multi-mode delay featuring five modes offering digital repeats, analog warmth, and smashing textures.
Along with that, it offers seven time-based and pitch effects to boost your repeats.
By combining the various modes and the effects- adding shimmer, dimension, and motion to your mix comes easy.
Beyond the infinite dimensions, the straightforward interface makes it easy to leverage the vast sonic flexibility.
Don’t forget, it has an incredible artist preset collection as the icing on the cake.
Getting inspiration in different situations is a touch away.
And with possibilities for single and full mixes and everything in between, you can’t possibly ask for more.
If you are looking for an analog-style delay plugin, perhaps this would tick your boxes.
While it is anchored on the memories of old classics, the convenience of its digital form is an obvious hit.
Featuring wide-ranging vintage -style effects like filters, flangers, phasers, slapback echo, ping-pong delay, and tempo-sync with modulation, H-Delay leaves nothing to chance.
With its rich dimensional tone and flexibility creating everything from simple slapbacks to expansive dub-style echo effects comes naturally.
But, perhaps the icing on the cake is the sensationally intuitive interface that allows on the go operation.
Talk about simple knobs and buttons and the ability to automate with full MIDI support, this plugin is easy to use for veterans and newbies alike.
And that’s not all, H-Delay also features high-pass and low-pass filters which gives unparalleled creative control over the audio effects.
Check also this article about Best Waves VST Plugins
Now, the Audiothing Outer Space is a digital recreation of Roland's classic RE-201 space.
Like the original model it emulates, its highlight is a tape echo section.
Basically, it features three tape echo modes, including original, modern, and old mode complete with a spring reverb with short/long decay.
Central to it Outer Space’s functionality is the mode selector which allows adjustment of the Echo and Reverb.
Interestingly, all the modes can sync to the host tempo providing flexible functionality.
Each tape will affect the sound in a subtle but different way, particularly at higher intensity settings.
And if you want to dive deeper, you have additional features on the drop-down menu.
Talk about controls for each of the tape heads, a limiter, a mono L+ R switch, noise controls, stereo delay, and preamp on/off switch.
To help users get started, Outer Space has sufficient built-in presets that sound great and offer unique echoes and delay to your mixes.
All in all, this plugin ideal for a variety of purposes and would complement other popular effects perfectly.
Whether you wish to create dub effects in tracks or create beautiful delays, it has all it takes to deliver.
With links to the classic Lexicon PCM 42 hardware which PSP has emulated, PSP 85 takes things a notch higher.
To begin with, it includes enhanced filter and reverb sections as well as a convenient built-in side chain that enables ducking of delays around an external key source.
If you desire highly compressed-sounding rhythmic effects, you will find this particularly handy.
Besides, it performs exceptionally well for crafting unusual time-based effects.
Talk of wide moving soundscapes to generating sound signals that would otherwise take multiple tools to create, PSP fits the bill.
What's more, the interface is relatively simple.
Accessing controls such as settings for time, pre-delay, mix, and feedback are at the heart of it.
That way, it is hassle-free to create captivating sound or echo.
Of course, that’s not all. It also features an LFO, a modulator, and built-in reverb.
The combination of these adds extra functionality, including creating responsive echo or lush soundscapes, to mention.
So, by taking a little time to manipulate the controls, you’ll be on your way to the perfect sound.
Finally, although the UI is not as intuitive as its peers, the sound quality and flexible functionality make it worth having in your VST toolkit.
A favorite of many audio engineers, the Ohm Force Ohmboyz is by many standards an excellent addition in any plugin collection.
Maybe you are wondering why you should check it out.
First and foremost, it comes with its own characters.
Secondly, it features all the ideal controls and parameters to allow near-effortless creation of wild effects.
Don't forget, it possesses the subtle yet musical tone ideal for contemporary musical needs.
You can basically think of it as a hybrid plugin that offers more than the basics.
Because, beyond the above, it features an advanced stereo multi-tap delay, elaborate resonance filters, distortion high shelf, and up to 39 dedicated LFOs.
It gets better- Ohmboyz further thrusts users to a world of creative sound mangling with an impressive range of possibilities.
Whether you are looking for something special on drums, keyboards or any other instruments, achieving highly precise delays is like a walk in the park.
And if that’s not enough, you have the auto-bind feature allows thoughtless management of any parameters via a MIDI controller.
To crown it all, Ohmboyz comes in two modes.
You can switch between classic mode (perfect for familiarizing) which presents settings in neat analog-rack like UI and funky mode which bears the overall spirit OhmForce.
To be honest, very few plugins can alter the direction of mixes like the Objeq Delay.
As a creative delay unit with unique filtering options, it goes outside the limits of traditional delay duties.
In application, it delivers modulator type effects, drum track layering, one-shot crafting, and dynamic loop mangling, and more.
It also features low and high-cut filters for advanced sound shaping.
But, perhaps what makes it a real deal is an LFO module that presents extensive modulation destinations to the filter, resonator not forgetting delay parameters.
Similarly, Objeq Delay shines when it gets to presets.
With up to 35 echo presets, 44 modulator presets, 36 rhythmic loop mangers, 25 kick track enhancers, 20 snare track enhancer presets, and up to 24 drone presets, a lack of ideas won't stop your quest for evocative sound.
It caters to almost every other delay possibility from psycho-acoustic effects, super-lush space-out echoes, vibrato effects, tremolo effects, snap attacks, and so much more.
The end game is that- you can enjoy real-time control over any parameter via automation, host tempo synchronization for effects and modulation, and flexible editing thanks to absolute undo/redo functionality.
Looking to get into a world of precise and creative delay?
The UVI Relayer is a reliable pick to this end.
As a modernized classic, it offers a smooth and inspiring workflow allowing users to crack everything with speed, accuracy, and natural sonic boom.
Featuring variable multi-tap delay with sweeping sound-shaping controls, this plugin opens the door to endless effects possibilities.
From creating anything from simple to profound rhythmic multi-effects, nothing is too far to call.
Given the flexibility, you can explore and experiment over each section with controls over gain, pan, time, and other two variable multi-effect units.
You can choose to craft your own sequences for each parameter or seek inspiration from available presets and work your way to the desired taste.
And despite its versatility and diverse capability, you’ll be glad to know it is housed in a clean and easy to use interface.
Just a single screen presents global, modulated parameters, and a dynamic patch visualizer.
That only means users have a clear time-based graphical display of settings.
To say nothing of dynamic feedback, which makes it pain-free to master and create complex sounds.
That’s not all; the Relayer has a natural-born shifter with a unique color section that allows further sound processing across a broad array of premium custom IRs.
So with this plugin, you can take control when you need it.
The PSP 608 is yet another fairly straightforward plugin but with a unique touch in its features.
It comes with eight distinct delays with each equipped with its own delay time, feedback, panning, and mix settings.
And there is more.
Exploring each of the options further opens possibilities of creating extensive delays with an exclusive stereo spread.
As such, one can create unusual or semi-random rhythms.
At the same time, each band boasts of its own filter shape selection with handy modulation controls.
That allows modulation of any of the single delays up to three octaves in either direction, which in effect opens up vicious echo effects.
Admittedly, PSP 608 is designed to deliver smooth sound such vintage tape-style delays to wild experimental effects with the same touch of efficiency.
Starters will particularly find the presets section fun to search through for the perfect inspiration.
Tape Delay fans will highly appreciate the Echo Cat by Waves Factory.
This plugin is based on Copicat, a popular analog tape delay, that has been modeled meticulously to be turned into a plugin.
The Echo Cat comes with authentic tape simulation and three playback heads, along with sleek, vintage-looking design that really makes it look like a tape machine.
You can control each of the heads separately, with volume, pan and LP/HP filters, as well as sync time or set it in milliseconds.
Another set of controls that allows you to adjust the hiss, wow, flutter, tape age and signal loss is available, if you want to experiment or make delay as realistic as possible.
Moreover, you can add or reduce hum, and even tweak the varispeed knob to change the speed of the digital motors.
In short, the Echo Cat is a really flexible tape delay that has all the perks of both analog and digital delays.
The Primaltap by Soundtoys is a digital recreation of the original Prime Time unit that was first released in 1978. The original unit was a hybrid of analog and digital technology, and this is what the plugin is trying to emulate.
It comes with a multiply knob that lets you adjust the delay time by halving the sample rate, resulting in interesting audio quality and colours the higher you go.
If that is not enough for you, there is also the modulation option!
You can use the VCO section to create chorus effects, flanging and pitch-variant echoes. Plus, the freeze function lets you easily create sci-fi soundscapes, especially if you also tweak the modulation and rate controls.
Although these were also the functions of the original unit, Primaltap uses digital technology to go beyond them.
Added features include new feedback algorithms, upgraded memory, expanded VCO that lets you create effects such as ring modulation and of course automation and syncing capabilities.
Do you like experimenting with different delay effects, but you wish there was a single plugin that could provide you with various kinds of delay?
The EchoBoy by Soundtoys has brought the dream of many musicians to reality, by providing the user with 30 different echo styles including Echoplex, Space Echo, Memory Man, DM-2, and many more. Plus, the rhythm echo mode lets you design your own delay effects!
All premade effects are modeled out of analog gear, while the “Studio Tape” style lets you add warm analog saturation to your tracks.
As you can probably guess, a sophisticated plugin like Echoboy is made to give you as much flexibility as possible. That’s why it comes with a 3-band EQ with separate gain and decay controls for each band, so that you can tweak them to find your tone.
Finally, additional options include saturation, tape flutter and diffusion controls, as well as the creation of stereo delays with dual and ping-Pong modes.
What about a dual delay that would feature as much as 23 different delay models?
The Repeater by D16 is a whole workstation: it comes with space delay, various types of tape delay, radio and telephone delay emulators and more effects to be discovered.
But what makes the Repeater really stand out is its dual delay function. In fact, this plugin lets you control independently the processing of each channel (left and right), allowing you to be really flexible in the stereo mix.
Advanced features per channel include a phase invert function, an audio clipper module with color parameter, dual equalization filter (high-pass and low-pass), dry/wet mixing and of course channel re-panning, which is the highlight of this delay VST.
Tempo-sync and tap functions are also available, along with ping-pong mode and analog feedback mode.
Summing up, if you want a dual delay that you can fully customize and pan, the Repeater is the plugin you need.
The Colour Copy by U-He is a delay plugin that has been modeled based on bucket brigade style analog delays and it comes with lots of capabilities for demanding musicians.
First of all, it allows you to add delay times that range from under a millisecond to several seconds, having 1 ms to 1 s or host-synched time base, scaled via rate control from 25% to 400%.
What makes it shine though, is the ability to switch between five different styles that have been colour-coded. It also lets you blend between different styles, along with saturation and brightness controls.
LFO modulation along with MIDI note tracking and freeze let you create exactly what you need.
In general, its user interface is very intuitive and you can scale it from 70 % to 200%, so that it fits your screen better.
Last but not least, it comes with a number of useful presets that you can easily search for and use.
In a nutshell, these are simply good old hardware effects reinvented but with some exceptional enhancements.
Over to you.
Did any of these pique your interest?