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Top 5 Best Delay Plugins That You Need To Know About

July 7, 2023 
BY DAN SPENCER
Last Updated on July 7, 2023

Welcome to the world of audio production! Whether you're an established music producer or an aspiring audio engineer, having the right tools in your digital toolbox is key to crafting the perfect sound.

One such essential tool is the delay plugin - a magical bit of software that can add depth, richness, and intrigue to your tracks. But with the multitude of options out there, it can be a daunting task to find the right ones for you.

Some mixers prefer the all-in-one picks. Others prefer tools modeled after famous hardware. Maybe you really want something that can provide analog coloration? Or perhaps you’d like a pick that you can use as a reverb-only tool whenever the time calls for it?

Either way, you’ll find something on our list. Read on to discover which delay plugin is perfect for you!

1. Waves H-Delay

Top Pick
Waves H-Delay
9.6/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

H-Delay is one of four plugins in the H-Series by Waves, and it’s highly praised by many icons in the industry. Think Grammy winners like Neal H. Pogue, Tony Visconti, and Alan Moulder. In fact, it’s also one of Dave Darlington’s go-to effect plugins.

It’s no surprise that pros of this caliber love this tool so much. After all, it’s versatile enough to get the job done, whether you lean towards smooth, warm effects or want more unhinged and bright vibes.

Plus, its analog controls (with four modes) add a great sonic character, and you can hear it for yourself on the “Run the Jewels 3” album. One thing you’ll want to watch out for is setting No. 2 on the dial. Although it’s the default setting, some people find it a little “noisy” for their liking.

Features

Compared to SuperTap (another delay tool by Waves), H-Delay produces dirtier and more LoFi sounds. H-Delay’s knobs and switches are also more in-line with what you’d expect of a typical delay plugin.

Let’s take a look at some of the nifty controls and features that the hybrid plugin offers:

  • LoFi button for a vintage, low-fidelity sound
  • LFO modulation controls to add variance to the output (ex. slow modulation on short delay creates a flanging effect)
  • Link switch for the Hi/Lo pass filters
  • Access to a guide for preset loading and undo/redo steps via the WaveSystem Toolbar

2. Baby Audio Comeback Kid

Top Pick
Baby Audio Comeback Kid
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

Next up, we have infamous mix engineer Chris Sheldon’s favorite delay plugin: the Comeback Kid. Baby Audio's goal was to create a plugin that was warmer sounding and more inspiring than others out on the market. They wanted users to be able to create their own custom delay sounds for a more unique experience.

Comeback Kid may seem overwhelming initially, but the process to dialing in a good tone isn't as complex as you might’ve imagined. Still, to explore the tool’s full potential, you’ll have to mess around with the effects. Like any plugin, you need to familiarize yourself with its user interface.

If you don’t have the time and energy to keep toying around with the knobs until you find that sweet spot, use any of the 61 presets. Some were designed by Mick Shultz and Anthony Saffery! Remember to gain stage the incoming signal to somewhere around -18 dB.

Features

Right in the center, you have the main delay controls (feedback and time). That said, the plugin offers more than delay—it’s chock full of flavors.

In fact, you can switch to off-mode (by double-clicking on the logo) and use the plugin as a delay-free FX/color box. However, we assume you’re not picking the Comeback Kid just to use it as a color box.

So, we want to focus on how the 14 shaping knobs affect the delay. Ready for a quick rundown of the sound-sculpting highlights? 

  • “Sauce” control adds a shimmery algorithmic reverb to the signal
  • The “Swirl” knob gives subtle movement on low and a full-on phasing effect on high
  • “Wider” and “Richer” modulation duo control the timing and pitch to create lush sounds
  • “Destiny” throws a bit of humanization into the mix
  • The “Ducker” knob is perfect for keeping the vocals clear

Related Article: Reverb Vs Delay: Understanding The Differences To Choose The Right Effect


3. D16 Group Repeater

Top Pick
D16 Group Repeater
9.6/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

The Repeater is marketed as an all-in-one delay effect processor, and we always find ourselves going back to it. After all, the presets can give us a bit of everything, from the 40s tape delay tone to 80s Japanese cassette mid-fi sounds.

No matter which way you go, you can count on the Repeater to create warm delays—at least, that’s how the award-winning mixer, Matthew Sim, sees it. He even found that the two-stage spread is reminiscent of the lush chorus effect on the Juno synth.

On a final note, we want to point out that the Repeater is a collab between Slate Digital and D16. So, if you plan on getting Slate’s Full Access Pass anytime soon, it might be a waste to purchase the plugin separately now.

Features

Repeater gives you some room for size and skin color customization. Using the "Screen Fit" option, you can scale the plugin size to your liking.

But let’s focus on the performance-related features for now:

  • 23 unique, built-in delay models
  • Tag-based browsing system for easier flipping through the presets
  • Ultra-low digital aliasing audio output
  • Channel link LED-style displays for all parameters

4. Universal Audio UAD Galaxy Tape Echo

Top Pick
Universal Audio Galaxy Tape Echo
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

Back in the 70s, Roland released the now-legendary Space Echo machine series. But one engineering masterpiece towered over the rest and quickly became a favorite among pros—that’s the RE-201, with all its gritty and warm glory.

Lucky for us, Universal Audio captured the machine’s lush effects in the Galaxy Tape Echo plugin. You’ll be surprised to find how well it emulates the original hardware’s distortion and sci-fi pitch shifting.

Interestingly, Universal Audio even limited the delay time values to what was physically possible on the RE-201 Space Echo. If you go beyond that range, the LED-style readouts will flash to let you know that you need to readjust the delay parameters.

Features

The UAD Galaxy Tape Echo is missing the basic time knob you see on most delay plugins. Instead, you get a “Head Select” control with 11 positions. Each position activates a head (or more), while the “Echo Rate” knob changes the value.

You can turn the select knob down for reverb only, but odds are, you’ll rely on the four echo-only positions or the seven echo+reverb settings most of the time. The five-time Grammy winner, F. Reid Shippen, likes using the latter to turn a mono synth into an out-of-this-world soundscape.

So far, the bulk of the features and controls mirror the RE-201 Space Echo. Still, Universal Audio took things to the next level and added some features that weren’t available on the original machine, including:

  • Two separate pan knobs for echo and reverb
  • Tape age selection controls to mimic “new, used, and old” tape cartridges
  • Switches for at-will tape splice triggering

5. Soundtoys EchoBoy

Top Pick
Soundtoys Echo Boy
10/10Rating

Interested in getting this plugin? Click the link below.

The EchoBoy is a bit pricey. However, it’s a total powerhouse, and it’s what Declan Gaffney used to add delays to U2’s “No Line On The Horizon.” Although Gaffney used Ping-pong for the lead vocals, we can’t deny that one of the coolest features here is the “Rhythm Echo” mode.

It gives you the freedom to be nit-picky with the repeat numbers (up to 16), see them laid out on a line representation, and tweak their shapes. For instance, you can get a swelling delay with fade-ins and outs or use “Reverse” to create repeats that grow over time rather than die out.

Yet, the cherry on top of the already impressive mode is that you can manually sculpt the pattern. To do that, pick the “Non-Linear” shape selection and drag the individual repeats up and down to adjust their volume. Neat stuff!

Features

Now that we’re done swooning over the “Rhythm Echo,” we can go back to the two controls that stand out right away. Those are the “Groove” and “Feel” knobs.

Depending on which way you turn the “Groove” control, you’ll either add a swing to your tremolo sounds or put some shuffle into the rhythm. Meanwhile, the “Feel” can force the echoes to drag behind the beat (or rush over it to create a sort of negative pre-delay if that floats your boat).

With that said, let’s check out other noteworthy features of the Echoboy.

  • 30 echo styles including, EchoPlex and DM-2 
  • Tape sounds modeled on the two-track Ampex ATR-102
  • The collapsible “Style” editor lets you tap into wobble effects, diffusion, and saturation
  • Editor features a nifty 3-band EQ section

Related Article: The Top 5 Best Reverb Plugins for Creating Space in Your Mixes


Final Thoughts

Each of the five plugins on the list shines in one way or the other. For one, the H-Delay’s highlight is its versatility, but Comeback Kid’s strong point is its sound-sculpting controls. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tape Echo is modeled after a masterpiece that speaks for itself.

As for the EchoBoy, its deep customization is what stood out to us the most. However, we found that the Repeater comes on top when it comes to all-in-one performance.

No matter which plugin you choose, try to resist the urge to add delay to every sound. Keep your effects purposeful and don’t be scared of leaving some parts dry!

"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."

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