Top 10 Best Analog Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW 2021


We’re currently living in the age of digital audio, and in-the-box mixing within a digital audio workstation is commonplace. Plugins are, therefore, invaluable assets for the modern audio engineer. The sound of digital audio is often called “sterile” or “clinical.” A great analog/BBD delay plugin can combat this cleanliness and give our productions that warm, gritty analog character. With so many analog delay plugins on the market, 10 stand out as being top performers.

What is the analog (BBD) delay audio effect? Analog delay is a delay effect that utilizes bucket-brigade devices (BBDs). The BBD is a network of capacitors connected in cascade that, when controlled by a clock, will effectively delay the signal by a set time. The quality of each successive delay is degraded, giving a warm sound.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top 10 best analog delay emulation plugins.

The top 10 best analog delay plugins for digital audio workstations are:

  1. Soundtoys EchoBoy
  2. Waves H-Delay
  3. D16 Group Repeater Delay
  4. Valhalla Delay
  5. U-He Colour Copy
  6. PSP Audioware 85
  7. Softube Tube Delay
  8. Line 6 Echo Farm 3
  9. Valhalla FreqEcho
  10. UAD Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay

It should go without saying that any “top X” article is subject to bias. I would expect the next person’s top 10 to be different than mine but hope that there would be plenty of overlap.

That being said, I believe these plugins to be the best analog delay plugin options today. The criteria I used to judge these plugins include the following:

  • Sonic performance: how does the analog delay plugin sound subjectively/objectively?
  • Graphic user interface (GUI): how does the analog delay plugin look when loaded in the DAW?
  • Ease-of-use: how user-friendly is the analog delay plugin?
  • Functionality: how many different functions does it serve and/or how many parameters are available for the analog delay effect?
  • Accessibility/compatibility: how easy is it to acquire the analog delay plugin, and what are the system requirements?

Let’s discuss each of the top 10 best analog delay plugins in greater detail to learn why they made this list.


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Soundtoys EchoBoy

The Soundtoys EchoBoy (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) packs decades of delay/echo devices into a single plugin with expertly modelled precision.

Soundtoys EchoBoy

The Soundtoys EchoBoys is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, AU and VST formats.

The Soundtoys Echoboy is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW.

With such modes as Memory Man (Electro-Harmonix emulation), DM-2 (Boss emulation), and even the CE-1 chorus (another Boss emulation), we can see how serious Soundtoys is about packing the best-of-the-best analog/BBD delays into this plugin.

Whatever vintage delay style you’re after, the Soundtoys EchoBoy will happily oblige. With a sleek yet powerful user interface, users can quickly get into the details of whatever BBD delay style they choose, fine-tuning it to their specific needs.

We can choose to keep the delay simple in Single Echo mode or add complexity with the Dual Echo or Ping-Pong modes. Taking things a step further, the powerful Rhythm mode and Echo Style editor give us ultimate control over otherwise limited analog delay hardware units.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Soundtoys EchoBoy user manual.

Soundtoys is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.

Electro-Harmonix is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
Boss is featured in the following articles:
Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use
Top 11 Best Guitar Amplifier Brands In The World


Waves H-Delay

The Waves H-Delay (link to check the price at Waves Audio) is a powerful and versatile “hybrid delay” plugin (hence the name), combining the sound of analog and tape delay into a single plugin.

Waves H-Delay

The Waves H-Delay is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

The Waves H-Delay is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW.

Waves’ H-Delay does not emulate any specific BBD delay hardware, nor is it a dedicated analog delay plugin (though it does have several authentic BBD-style presets). Rather, this plugin offers a full range of controls that allow the user to dial in the appropriate style of delay.

This powerful plugin offers all the standard tap tempo, tempo sync and manual delay time control along with a virtual knob for feedback. The Lo-Fi mode emulates the vintage character of old hardware units (both tape and analog), while the Analog mode can be set to one of five positions (including off).

Modulation and Filter control sections complete this plugin, affording full control over the style and sound of the delay. Sure, the H-Delay may not be an apparent analog delay plugin, though the BBD sounds we can achieve with proper tweaking give it a dedicated spot on this list.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Waves H-Delay user manual.

Waves is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.


D16 Group Repeater Delay

The D16 Group Repeater Delay (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a vintage modelled delay offering a variety of classic delay options including, of course, analog/BBD designs.

D16 Group Repeater Delay

The D16 Group Repeater Delay is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

The D16 Group Repeater Delay is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 10 Best Digital Delay Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW

D16 Group has a wide range of excellent plugins. The Repeater Delay is one such plugin. This delay features 23 authentically modelled modes from real hardware, of which 8 are analog emulations:

  • DM-2: early bucket brigade analog delay with a warm and rich tone, reminiscent of the Boss DM-2
  • Mellow Delay: smooth, subdued delay based on several vintage analog topologies
  • Memory Guy: lush analog delay with fat vintage tone, reminiscent of the Electro-Harmonix Memory Man
  • Mirky Delay: early bucket brigade analog delays with a dark and thick tone
  • New Radio: delay tone with FM radio style scooped hi-fi tone
  • Old Radio: delay tone with AM radio style grainy lo-fi tone
  • Pitchy Delays: 3 delays with slight pitch modulations for extremely spatial and deep effects
  • TelRay: analog delay classic made original from a tuna can, reminiscent of the Tel-Ray Variable Delay Echo Reverb

More than just a stereo delay plugin, the Repeater offers independent re-panning and dry/wet mixing for each of its two stereo channels. This effectively doubles the plugin as a double delay and stereo delay all in one effect unit. Each channel has its own controls, including all the standard delay parameters, phase inversion, audio clipping module, dual (high-pass and low-pass) filter, wet/dry mix and re-panning.

To learn more about high-pass and low-pass filters, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
Audio EQ: What Is A High-Pass Filter & How Do HPFs Work?
Audio EQ: What Is A Low-Pass Filter & How Do LPFs Work?

This plugin offers beautiful analog delay (among other delay styles). Its straightforward user interface and controls make it easy for users to dial in the perfect delay for any application.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the D16 Group Repeater Delay user manual.


Valhalla Delay

The Valhalla Delay (link to check the price at Valhalla DSP) is an incredibly versatile yet easy-to-use delay plugin. It offers 14 different delay modes, including, of course, analog BBD delay.

Valhalla Delay

The Valhalla Delay is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

The Valhalla Delay is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 10 Best Digital Delay Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW

Valhalla’s Delay brings everything from the classic echoes of the past to the futuristic delay designs of modern-day DSP. Set the mode control to BBD for a superb analog delay.

The BBD Delay of this Valhalla plugin offers a dark, lo-fi delay with authentic compander artifacts, analog noise and natural high-end roll-off. Control the time-varying pitch/vibrato with the modulation parameters. Dial in the right amount of noise with the Age control and choose between different levels of darkness with the Era switches.

To learn more about vibrato, check out my article The Complete Guide The Vibrato Audio Modulation Effect.

Adjust the Style control to dial in the relationship between the left and right delay channels and the number of voices in each channel. As the style is changed, only the relevant control parameters will be available, making this plugin easy to use regardless of the setting.

The immaculate sound of the Valhalla Delay can be fine-tuned even further with advanced controls such as beat sync, age and era controls, diffusion and ducking.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Valhalla Delay at ValhallaDSP.


U-He Colour Copy

The U-He Colour Copy (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a virtual analog plugin based on the BBD-modelled delay module of U-He’s Repro-1 virtual synthesizer.

U-He Colour Copy

The U-He Colour Copy is compatible with Mac OS, Windows OS and Linux OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

U-He’s Colour Copy has a digital look to it, though the delay is distinctly modelled on classic analog BBD delay paths. The smooth sound of the Colour Copy is made possible in the way the DSP alters the internal sample rate (mimicking the speed of analog “buckets” passing on their content).

BBD delay units are cherished for their inherent colour. The way they alter the harmonic content, frequency response and pitch of each passing delay is a big part of their allure. U-He pushes this idea even further with the Colour Copy by featuring five finely-tuned colour macros: Resonant, Sparkle, Fuzz, Snap and Dusk. Further feedback colouration is made possible with a switchable noise floor (vintage/low) and virtual knobs for brightness and saturation control.

In addition to the classic character of analog delay, this U-He plugin offers flexible routing options for its comprehensive ducking, modulation and mix modules. This effect takes analog delay to the next level, earning it a certain spot on this list.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the U-He Colour Copy user manual.


PSP Audioware 85

The PSP Audioware 85 (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is an excellent delay plugin that models BBD delay by offering variable sample rate delay lines.

PSP Audioware 85

The PSP Audioware 85 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU, VST and RTAS formats.

PSP Audioware’s 85 looks a bit intimidating at first glance but is very well laid out and intuitive in its functionality.

Each of the stereo delay lines can be panned across the stereo field and gated to cut off the delay below a certain threshold. Set the timing, phase and range of these delay lines independently for a flexible stereo effect.

The sound of the delay can then be processed through a 12 dB/octave resonant filter, modulated via a synced LFO or manually set control and ducked to an external sidechain signal.

To learn more about sidechain signals, check out my article The Complete Guide To Sidechain Compression In Audio.

Whatever it takes to make the delay sit perfectly in the mix, this highly versatile plugin addresses. As functional as the PSP Audioware 85 can be, it never loses that distinct analog sound of a top-notch BBD delay.

In addition to the superb delay possibilities, the 85 offers beautiful diffusion possibilities with the inclusion of spring and plate reverb effects.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the 85 at PSP Audioware.

PSP Audioware is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.


Softube Tube Delay

The Softube Tube Delay (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a vintage-style analog delay plugin that comes in both a modular synth-style and a stompbox-style user interface.

Softube Tube Delay

The Softube Tube Delay is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

Softube nails the subtle distortion and darkness of renowned BBD delay lines with its Tube Delay plugin. From clean doubling effects to seemingly endless dub delays, this plugin gets it done in style.

As the name would suggest, the Tube Delay also models tube amplification stages. In fact, there are 3 modelled stages to choose from, each with its own authentic analog warmth/drive.

The controls are standard with this delay. It offers a 1 to 1,000 ms delay time with the option to sync to the host DAW tempo along with feedback and mix controls. A vintage-style two-band passive EQ is at the end of the chain, helping to dial in the perfect balance across the frequency spectrum.

To learn more about passive EQ, check out my article The Complete Guide To Passive Equalization/EQ.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Softube Plugins user manual.

Softube is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World


Line 6 Echo Farm 3

Since 2001, Line 6’s Echo Farm delay plugins have been used in professional and amateur productions around the world. The Line 6 Echo Farm 3 (link to check the price at Plugin Boutique) is a compilation of 12 fantastic hardware delay units (including analog options) modelled with precision in an outstanding plugin.

Line 6 Echo Farm 3

The Line 6 Echo Farm 3 is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

The Line 6 Echo Farm 3 is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 10 Best Digital Delay Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW

There are two analog delay emulations in the Echo Farm 3 that give this plugin a dedicated spot on this list. These emulations are of the famed Boss DM-2 and legendary Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man.

Set the mode to Boss DM-2 and have yourself the warm, distorted tones of legendary bucket-brigade devices within your DAW. Add chorus to the mix with the distinct character of the Memory Man Deluxe mode. Either way, the analog delays sound perfectly authentic.

To learn more about chorus, check out my article The Complete Guide To The Chorus Audio Modulation Effect.

Use modern features such as automation and tempo syncing to modernize the vintage character of the DM-2 and Deluxe Memory Man.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the Line 6 Echo Farm 3 user manual.

Line 6 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.


Valhalla FreqEcho

The Valhalla FreqEcho (link to check it out at Valhalla DSP) gets the top freebie analog delay plugin award in this list.

Valhalla FreqEcho

The Valhalla FreqEcho is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS and comes in AAX, AU and VST formats.

Simple yet effective, the FreqEcho is like a stripped-down version of the aforementioned Valhalla Delay.

Choose between sync or free delay times and stereo or mono output. Dial-in the mix, delay time, shift, feedback and filters (low-cut/high-pass and high-cut/low-pass) for a quick and dirty analog-style delay effect.

This plugin sounds great and is super easy to use. Whether you’re on a budget or not, this plugin will get great results without any extraneous options to draw our attention away from more important parts of the mix.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the FreqEcho at ValhallaDSP.


UAD Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay

The UAD Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay (link to check the price at Universal Audio) is a digital recreation of the unique, garden hose-based mechanical delay device from 1971.

UAD Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay

The UAD Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay, like all UAD plugins, requires UAD hardware to function with your DAW. UAD hardware is compatible with Mac OS and Windows OS, and the plugins are available in AAX, AU and VST formats.

UAD’s Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay recaptures the spectacular sound of the original 1970s Universal Audio device. The short delay and doubling effects of this plugin seem to fit perfectly in the mix with minimal effort on the engineer’s part.

I should note that this emulation is not based on bucket-brigade device delay circuits. Instead, the original passed the original signal down a length of pipe, using dynamic mic capsules at each end as the speaker and pickup. In doing so, a delay of a few milliseconds was achieved, allowing for the thickening of the signal via doubling.

The novel vintage character is improved with modernized controls. Though the original was limited to doubling or “fattening” due to its short delay times, the Cooper Time Cube MkII Delay plugin offers twin A and B delay lines of up to 2.5 seconds. We can effectively keep the famed character of the original and use it as a modern analog delay emulation.

For more information on system requirements and authorization instructions, check out the UAD Plugins manual.

Universal Audio is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Audio Interface Brands In The World
Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World


Other Top Audio Plugin Articles

Here are additional My New Microphone articles regarding the best audio plugins by type:
Top 11 Best Distortion Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Saturation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Digital Equalizer/EQ Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Digital Parametric EQ Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Dynamic EQ Plugins For Your DAW
Top 8 Best Graphic EQ Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Linear Phase EQ Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Parametric EQ Emulation Plugins For DAWs
Top 8 Best Passive EQ Emulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Digital Compressor Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best FET Compressor Emulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Optical Compressor Emulation Plugins
Top 10 Best Multiband Compressor Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Variable-Mu Compressor Emulation Plugins
Top 11 Best VCA Compressor Emulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Limiter Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Channel Strip Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Chorus Modulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 9 Best Flanger Modulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 9 Best Phaser Modulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Tremolo Modulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Digital Delay Plugins For Your DAW
Top 10 Best Tape Delay Emulation Plugins For Your DAW
Top 12 Best Reverb Plugins (Spring, Plate, Algorithmic, Convolution)
Top 9 Best Stereo Imaging Plugins For Your DAW
Top 11 Best Guitar Amp Simulator Plugins For Your DAW
Top 7 Best Noise Reduction Plugins For Your DAW

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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