Delay is one of the most important and versatile effects for guitar, bass guitar and any other instrument in the context of tone and the overall musical mix.
In live and studio settings, have a top-of-the-line delay pedal (or multiple delay pedals) can really add to the magic of your sound.
In this article, we'll discuss the top 11 best delay pedals in the world. Of course, there are countless delays out there, and this list could easily be way more than 11.
That being said, the subjective choices on this list should help point you toward a superb choice if you're looking to get an excellent delay for your rig.
The Top 11 Best Delay Pedals Are:
- Boss DD-8
- TC Electronic Flashback 2
- MXR M169 Carbon Copy
- Empress Effects Echosystem
- Boss DD-500
- Strymon TimeLine
- Electro-Harmonix Canyon
- Eventide TimeFactor
- DOD Rubberneck
- Source Audio Nemesis
- Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
Let's discuss each pedal on this list and the reasons why they are the best.
Again, please note that any “best of” list like this is subjective. I stand by my choices and would expect you to have your own top 11. Hopefully, there's plenty of overlap!
Related My New Microphone articles:
• The Ultimate Effects Pedal/Stompbox Buyer’s Guide
• Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use
What Are Delay Pedals & How Do They Work?
Delay pedals, as the name suggests, produce the effect of delay in an audio signal.
The delay circuits act to record the incoming audio and play it back some period of time after the original audio passes. The delayed signal is then mixed with the dry signal at the output and can, in many cases, even be fed back into the delay circuit to add additional repeats.
There are a few different types of delay pedals to be aware of:
- Tape delay: tape delay utilizes an analog magnetic tape to record and playback the delayed audio signal. Each repeat is degraded significantly and the sound is very “warm” in the analog sense.
- Analog delay: analog delay circuits utilize bucket-brigade device (BBD) chips (essentially a series of capacitors) that act to delay an analog signal. The sound of each successive delay is degenerated in a warm analog way.
- Digital delay: digital delay utilizes digital recording and signal processing to repeat the delayed signal. It does so in a very precise and clean way that does not degrade the signal.
- Modeled delay: modeled delay is a delay circuit (often digital) that acts to emulate another type of delay (such as a BBD or tape echo delay).
Other types of interesting delays, such as shimmer and reverse, are often included as settings on delay modeller pedals.
Delay pedals fall into the category of time-based effects (like reverb) and typically sound best at the end of guitar rig/pedalboard signal chains.
Related article: How To Order Guitar/Bass Pedals (Ultimate Signal Flow Guide)
With that being said, let's talk about some delay pedals!
For more in-depth information on delay pedals, check out my article What Are Delay Pedals (Guitar Effects) & How Do They Work?
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First up on this list is a model from one of the world's most famous delay pedal lines. The Boss DD-8 is the 2019 version of the company's beloved DD Digital Delay line of pedals.
This pedal is one of the most feature-rich compact series pedals from one of the greatest pedal brands in the world. It sounds fantastic, has plenty of delay time, more control options, and impressive connectivity. The DD-8 combines superb versatility and a small footprint.
Let's begin with the 11 impressive modes of DD-8, which are selected via the right-most knob:
- Analog: classic analog BBD delay sound.
- Standard: Clear digital delay.
- Tape: vintage tape-based delay sound.
- Warm: digital delay with a softer sound.
- Reverse: backwards delay for cool psychedelic effects and other unique tones.
- +RV: digital delay with reverb added.
- Shimmer: pitch-shifted delay for lush, shimmering textures.
- Mod: digital delay with modulation added on the repeats.
- Warp: unique delay with expressive pedal control.
- GLT: newly developed delay mode that creates glitchy effects when the pedal switch is pressed.
- Loop: loop recorder with overdub capability and up to 40 seconds of recording time with mono input (20 seconds with stereo input).
Yes, this delay pedal has a great looper mode! As mentioned, it offers up to 40 seconds of recording time. It also has unlimited overdub capability and three-pedal operation with the use of external footswitches (via the Tempo/Exp jack).
The DD-8 has support for external control with two footswitches or an expression pedal. An external expression pedal can be used for continuous control of level, feedback and/or delay time. Adding a footswitch or two will unlock even more creative possibilities, including on-demand tap tempo, extended looper control, and a cool Twist effect for soaring echo sounds.
Note that tap tempo is possible with the onboard pedal switch. Up to 10 seconds of delay time is available.
The Effect Level, Feedback and Time can be set manually as well by altering the labelled knobs. Each mode can be affected by varying these parameters.
Many digital delays will cut off the effect as the pedal is bypassed. The Boss DD-8's carryover switch allows us to decide if we want delay trails to continue or stop when the effect is bypassed.
The I/O of the DD-8 is also very versatile. With true stereo inputs and outputs, we can achieve a variety of connection setups depending and how we plug into and out of the pedal (mono, stereo, wet/dry, wet only, and more).
The DD-8 is relatively straightforward; has a small footprint; is highly functional, and sounds incredible on guitar and other electric instruments. For that, it gets a spot on this list!
TC Electronic Flashback 2
Second on this list is the TC Electronic Flashback 2: a superb delay pedal that has found itself on pedalboards around the world.
Though there are several pedals in TC's Flashback series, I decided the Flashback 2 would be the best to discuss in this article. They're all great, and I recommend you check them out!
The Flashback 2 takes all the best ideas from all TC Electronic's delay circuits and packs them into a single compact and affordable stompbox.
To understand the power of the Flashback 2, we must understand the proprietary MASH technology from TC.
MASH effectively turns the footswitch (when depressed) into a pressure-sensitive expression controller. It essentially makes the typically on/bypass switch an expression pedal without the need for a bulky treadle-type pedal.
The MASH control will alter various parameters depending on the delay mode we select.
Now that we understand the basic idea of MASH, let's get into these various modes, of which there are 11:
- 2290: MASH is assigned to raise the feedback and input level, effectively freezing the last repetition.
- Ana: MASH boosts Feedback and turns down Delay time for real-time self-oscillation (and pitch-shifting) madness.
- Tape: MASH controls Delay time and boosts Feedback to a maximum for incredible space echo.
- Dyn: MASH controls the gate threshold, allowing you to increase, decrease and even remove the gate (leaving you with a normal 2290 delay).
- Mod: MASH increases the depth of the TriChorus modulation over the delayed repeats.
- Crystal: MASH raises the Octaver send, the delay Feedback and the spacing of the Octaver's filter bank that controls the intensity of the shimmer effect.
- Rvs: MASH engages the “kill dry”-mode and mutes the dry signal, leaving only a reversed sound.
- Loop: MASH is effectively disabled.
- Toneprint 1: based on a Tape delay with MASH controlling feedback and the amount of soft clipping from the tape.
- Toneprint 2: based on a Crystal delay with MASH controlling the delay Feedback and the tone of the octave.
- Toneprint 3: Crystal delay where MASH controls the input level of your instrument.
TC's TonePrint technology allows us to download additional modes for the pedal other than the stock TonePrints on 1, 2 and 3. These delay modes can be uploaded via the USB connections or beamed to the pedal wirelessly via the TonePrint app (Android and iPhone).
Firmware for this pedal is also updated periodically with new and improved functionality. This pedal continues to improve after the initial purchase!
In addition to the MASH footswitch, each delay setting can be programmed by Level, Delay (time), Ratio and Feedback controls.
Stereo inputs and outputs allow for improved imaging. Plug a stereo modulation pedal into the Flashback 2 with ease and send the output to a stereo input for a larger, wider sound.
The pedal has an analog-dry-through, meaning the direct signal is never converted to digital. As is the case with all TC pedals, the Flashback 2 is true bypass.
In addition to the delay effects, the Flashback 2 also has a looper with 40 seconds of record time in mono and 20 seconds in stereo. Overdubs are easy to include, and an external footswitch can be connected to the stereo input jack (R) to act as a dedicated stop switch (mono mode only).
The TC Electronic Flashback 2 sounds amazing, offers a ton of functionality, has a small footprint, and is reasonably priced. What's not to like about that?
MXR M169 Carbon Copy
When it comes to analog delay, the MXR M169 Carbon Copy is a tough-to-beat poster child.
The Carbon Copy is perhaps the best analog delay on the market. It's a full-analog bucket-brigade delay with up to 600ms of delay time and modulation. It offers that full, warm analog sound we've come to cherish about analog delays in a compact and affordable stompbox format.
This pedal is much more straightforward than many of the digital emulation delays on this list. Sure, there are fewer “bells and whistles”. The Carbon Copy, instead, is focused on superb sonic quality in its BBD-based analog circuit.
The pedal is easy to use. The Regen knob controls the amount of feedback (number of repeats). The Delay knob controls the delay time. Mix controls the wet/dry mix at the output.
Push in the Mod switch to add modulation to the delayed/wet signal. Modulation width and speed can be adjusted internally with a 2mm slotted screwdriver.
Finding your warm, dark analog tone with the MXR Carbon Copy is easy. If you're looking for a wonderful analog delay pedal, this is an awesome choice!
Empress Effects Echosystem
Empress gets a definite mention with its awesome Empress Effects Echosystem dual delay pedal.
The Echosystem, in my opinion, is one of the best delay pedals ever to hit the market. It's easy to use and has everything we would ever need (both practical and impractical) from any type of delay unit.
Empress also puts out firmware updates for this pedal that include new algorithms, parameter controls and more. This is a pedal that continuously improves even after its original purchase.
The pedal has 12 algorithm types, all with multiple variations. The list continues to grow as new firmware is released. Sticking to the whopping 12 “basic” algorithms, we have:
- Digital: clean and pristine digital delay or emulates characteristics of classic digital delays.
- Tape: emulates the characteristics of a variety of classic tape delays as well as our own custom models.
- Analog: emulates some of the classic Buck Brigade Devices (BBD) that were common pre-digital delay
- Multi: tap a pattern that will be played back with feedback.
- Mod: modulates different parameters to give movement to the sound.
- Filter: applies both constant moving filters controlled by an lfo and dynamic filters that can track the volume of your playing in an auto-wah like effect.
- Ambient: a mixed bag of useful sounds for players looking to create smooth sound scapes.
- Delay + Reverb: delay combined with reverb.
- Reverse: takes the incoming sound, chops it up into discrete sections and plays these sections backwards.
- Stutter: emphasizes the sound that's last played and repeats it.
- Lo-Fi: adds distorts, filters and modulation to the delay.
- Whisky: the outliers, the odd-balls and the ner-do-wells of the pedal.
The Dual Engine functionality of the Echosystem allows any 2 of these delays to be used together, routed in either parallel, series, or left/right configurations. Talk about endless inspiration!
Settings can be saved to 35 presets and accessed via bank style or scrolling style preset modes. Either way, the three stomp switches make accessing these presets easy.
The pedal has stereo inputs and outputs along with a Universal Control Port that allows us to connect an expression pedal, external tap switch, control voltage, external audio input and MIDI (all using the standard 1/4-inch jack)!
The right output can be sent through other effects pedals and returned into the right input to route a send/return loop.
This pedal also has the basic controls (delay time | ratio, mix, output, and feedback) along with tap tempo, tone controls and two multi-use parameter controls (thing 1 and thing 2) that control different parameters depending on the delay mode.
The Echosystem also contains a 10-minute multitrack looper available in firmware versions 2.03 and up.
A pedal that sounds this good and has this much functionality is fully deserving of a spot on this list. It's also priced reasonably well, considering the sonic possibilities, design quality, and continuous firmware improvements.
Next on the list is the larger Boss DD-500.
Though the DD-500 and the aforementioned DD-8 are part of the same “Digital Delay” series and both sound exceptional, they are very different beasts.
The 500 model is perhaps the most powerful and versatile stompbox delay ever created. It's rather intimidating (like anything with an LCD screen), but it's well worth the price and learning curve considering the power and versatility it offers.
From the most basic echo to spot-on emulations to outer-worldly creation, the DD-500 has you covered. Deep editing controls, graphic display, patch memories, MIDI functionality, and much more have been packed into this incredible pedal.
Let's have a look at the 12 distinctive delay modes of the DD-500:
- Standard: clear digital delay.
- Analog: emulates classic analog “BBD” delays.
- Tape: emulates the warm sound of tape-based delay units.
- Vintage Digital: emulations of early digital delays from the 1980s.
- Dual: two different delay lines that can be connected in series or parallel.
- Pattern: sixteen different delay lines that can be set independently for all types of unique rhythmic effects.
- Reverse: backwards delay for cool psychedelic effects and other unique tones.
- SFX: “special effects” delay with a highly unique sound character.
- Shimmer: pitch-shifted delays for lush, heavenly textures.
- Filter: delay with a sweeping filter.
- Slow Attack: ethereal delays that fade in with playing dynamics.
- Tera Echo: spacious, animated ambience effect.
In terms of audio resolution, the DD-500 has 32-bit AD/DA, 32-bit floating-point processing, and a 96 kHz sampling rate. These are studio-grade specs.
The pedal has the typical control knobs (Time/Value, Feedback, Effect Level) along with Tone and Mod knobs. Many more mode-specific parameters are adjustable through the menus of the pedal.
The internal memory allows storage and recall of 297 different patches. The footswitches and menu buttons can scroll through banks and patches.
This delay pedal also has looper functionality. Its “Phrase Loop” function allows us to layer new material in real-time while recording and playing back. Looping can be used simultaneously with delay.
In addition to all the parameter control on the pedal itself, the DD-500’s onboard TAP/CTL switch and/or optional external footswitches can be assigned to practically anything (including tap tempo; continuous hold; warp and twist functions; momentary latching; rolling; fading in/out, and more). Assignments made are stored as part of a patch.
Boss also puts out free software updates for DD-500 owners to install on the pedal. Updates include additional control, modes, parameter, and more. Like the delay effect itself, this is a pedal that just keeps on giving!
A “best delay pedals list” wouldn't be complete without the almighty Strymon TimeLine.
The TimeLine by Strymon sounds even more impressive than it looks. From the powerful Sharc DSP comes 12 delay machines, 200 presets, a 30-second looper, and full MIDI implementation.
This pedal has been labelled an “inspiration machine”. With monumental sonic flexibility, the TimeLine can achieve pretty much any delay sound we'd ever want or need. Its sonic quality is also top-of-the-line.
Let's have a look at the 12 different delay machines built into the TimeLine:
- Digital: crystal-clear digital delay that can be endlessly tweaked and enriched with the Filter, Grit, Smear, High Pass, and Modulation controls.
- Dual: Two independent delay lines can be configured in series or parallel (right/left split).
- Pattern: a variety of multi-tap patterns that span from rhythmic to ambient to percussive and everything in between.
- Reverse: playing triggers the delays, producing predictable, repeatable, and extremely useful reverse effects.
- Ice: slices and dices your input and plays the pieces back with a selectable Interval shift amount—from an octave down to two octaves up, and anywhere in between.
- Duck: ducking delay with adjustable Sensitivity and Release Time, along with a switchable Feedback duck option.
- Swell: swelling effect along with delay.
- Trem: a synchronized tremolo with Waveshape, Depth and Speed for cool new sounds.
- Filter: a synchronized Filter that can be placed before or after the delay.
- Lo-Fi: adjust Bit Depth and Sample Rate while blending the results with the full resolution signal.
- dTape: complete experience of sought-after sliding-head tape echo machines, with every attribute relentlessly studied and faithfully recreated.
- dBucket: a deep and nuanced recreation of analog bucketbrigade style delay types.
In addition to the 12 superb engines, we have the 3 key delay controls (Time, Repeats and Mix) along with the following:
- Filter control
- Grit control (a lo-fi process that progressively adds distortion and other artifacts).
- Modulation controls: Speed and Depth
- Value control that gives us complete control over delay parameters, global settings, and fine-tuning of delay time.
Each of these controls will affect different parameters depending on the engine being used.
As mentioned, Strymon's TimeLine has full MIDI compatibility. Connect MIDI controllers via the pedal's MIDI input and output.
The 30-second stereo looper is routable pre- or post-delay and can be controlled with MIDI.
The pedal also has a stereo input and output for improved sonic imaging. The I/O can also be configured to produce a loop insert (stereo output into stereo input).
The pedal's expression input allows further control of parameters by letting us connect an external expression pedal.
The pedal has a robust design and low noise with studio-quality 24-bit 96kHz digital audio resolution with 32-bit floating-point processing. The analog dry path is never converted to digital.
The result? An uber-powerful delay machine that will find its home in any rig or pedalboard on stage and in the studio.
At number 8, we have the compact yet highly-versatile Electro-Harmonix Canyon.
This pedal is compact and easy to use. The Canyon's versatility is beyond what is typically programmed into pedals that share its size and price point. To me, that's worth a spot on the “best delay pedals” list.
The pedal is straightforward and sonically awe-inspiring.
One input, one output and one tap input jack that allows for tap tempo. So far, so easy.
Note that there is also an onboard tap/divide control for tempo matching.
The FX Lvl, Delay (time) and Feedback knobs are what we'd expect from a fully functional delay pedal.
The real versatility comes from the Canyon's 11 awesome-sounding and sonically inspiring delay modes:
- ECHO: digital delay.
- MOD: modulated delay.
- MULTI: multi-tap delay.
- REVRS: reverse delay.
- DMM: the same delay from EHX's Deluxe Memory Man.
- TAPE: tape delay.
- VERB: reverb plus delay.
- OCT: octave delay.
- SHIM: shimmer (pitch-shifting delay).
- S/H: sample and hold-style delay.
- LOOP: looper mode w/max loop length of 62 seconds.
The Canyon also has a superb 62-second looper.
The “Tails” switch beneath the Canyon's bottom cover allows us to toggle between carryover and immediate stopping of the delay as the pedal is bypassed.
For more functionality in the same style of pedal, check out the incredible Electro-Harmonix Grand Canyon (link to check the price on Amazon). This pedal gets an honourable mention as a step-up from the Canyon.
The Eventide TimeFactor is a superb modeling delay pedal with tons of awesome functionality.
Let's begin our discussion of the TimeFactor by recognizing that this unit has a dual delay engine.
These engines operate together in stereo or dual-mono, or straight mono. Each engine can have its own tempo subdivision, offering plentiful options for rhythmic echoes.
There are 9 engines to select from in the TimeFactor. They are:
- DigitalDelay: twin 3 second delays with independent delay time and feedback controls.
- VintageDelay: simulates the sound of analog and digital delays from days gone by.
- TapeEcho: simulates the saturation, wow and flutter of analog tape delay.
- ModDelay: modulated delays – great for creating chorus effects and chorused delays.
- DuckedDelay: the delay levels are dynamically lowered while you’re playing and restored to their normal levels when you stop playing.
- BandDelay: delays are followed by user selectable modulated filters.
- FilterPong: the dual delays ping pong between the outputs with filter effects added for good measure.
- MultiTap: 10 delay taps with controls for delay time, diffusion, tap levels and tap spacing.
- Reverse: reverse audio effects.
- Looper: 12 second Looper with Dubbing and speed control.
Each and every delay in TimeFactor includes an LFO, Filter and a unique Xnob control, as well as an Infinite Repeat footswitch.
The dual engines have dedicated mix, time and feedback controls for the two independent A and B lines.
Eventide's TimeFactor also includes an awesome 12-second looper with variable speed and loop head/tail editing.
There are 100 preset slots available in this pedal, offering quick changeups to pre-programmed settings.
Tap Tempo allows us to quickly alter the rhythm of the repeats. MIDI clock sync/generate allows us to connect the TimeLine to MIDI equipment and greatly improves the programmability of the pedal.
The whopping 10 knobs, 3 footswitches and LED screen, along with the I/O, are built into a rugged cast metal construction.
Along with the stereo input and output, the I/O section offers USB, MIDI I/O, Expression and Aux Switch inputs for a great deal of external controllability.
The Aux Input is something a bit different than the other pedals in this list do not have. It's a dedicated input (separate from the expression input) that supports up to 3 independent momentary footswitches.
We can also switch the input and output levels of the TimeLine between instrument and line. This means we can easily use this pedal not only with a guitar (or another electric instrument) but also with line level sources.
Eventide's H9 Control app (available on Android, iOS, Mac and PC) allows remote control access to the TimeLine (along with all other Eventide pedals). This app allows us to manage parameters, presets and settings with an easy-to-use interface.
If superb functionality, sonic versatility and awesome sound quality are what you're after in a digital delay pedal, be sure to consider the Eventide TimeLine!
The DOD Rubberneck brings us back to the warm world of analog delay at number 10.
This DOD pedal brings improved functionality to a 100% analog BBD delay circuit. It's kind of a best-of-both-worlds, capable of satisfying the tweakers and the purists among us.
First off, the Rubberneck offers an impressive 1.5 seconds of delay time. For an analog circuit, this is remarkable.
The Rubberneck is also unlike most BBD delays in the fact that it offers tap-tempo, subdivisions, and tails. These parameters are all adjustable with controls on the pedal itself.
The pedal also features modulation with adjustable rate and depth via a concentric Modulation knob. Gain and tone controls are also part of the Rubberneck design.
But wait, there's so much more!
The dual-footswitch design offers customizable momentary control of oscillation and momentary control of the pitch-sweeping feedback effect that DOD calls “Rubbernecking,” hence the pedal's name.
On top of that, the Rubberneck offers a send/return loop for additional effects and an external footswitch connection.
This is all packed into a very durable case.
The DOD Rubberneck combines extended functionality with the sonically pure sound of analog delay. This is a must-try analog delay pedal if you're in the market (and even if you're not, though it may make you want to buy one anyway)!
Source Audio Nemesis
The Source Audio Nemesis is a mean-looking digital pedal with awe-inspiring delay emulation from Source Audio's impressive One Series of pedals.
Source Audio makes excellent pedals, and their Nemesis Delay is no exception. The company defines this pedal as “a compact, powerful, and easy-to-use delay pedal with unrivalled tone, flexibility, and style.” This definition is spot on, giving the Nemesis a well-earned spot on this list.
This delay pedal offers 12 factory delay engines and 12 extended engines that can be recalled via MIDI or loaded via the Neuro App.
The 12 engines available stock in the Nemesis are:
- Digital: classic clear digital delay with optional delay time (pitch) modulation.
- Diffuse: a diffusion effect that smears the attack of the repeated signal, softening it and allowing it to blend in more easily with the unprocessed dry signal.
- Analog: reproduces the characteristic dark sound of bucket brigade analog delays.
- Tape: detailed re-creation of classic moving-head tape delays.
- Noise Tape: detailed re-creation of classic fixed-head variable-speed tape delays.
- Degrade: delay with distortion and sample rate reduction.
- Shifter: delay with pitch-shifting on the delayed signal.
- Helix: combines reverse delay with an octave up pitch shift to create an ambient, shimmering delay that disappears into the upper-frequency range.
- Reverse: classic reverse tape sound from 60s psychedelic rock.
- Sweeper: a resonant low pass filter slowly sweeps across the frequency range, creating an undulating synth-like effect.
- Rhythmic: uses 3 taps to create a wide variety of 3-note rhythms (plus a note on the downbeat of the next measure).
- Slapback: short echo based on tape delays, with some minor tweaks.
An additional 14 delay engines are available by connecting your Nemesis to the Neuro Mobile App or Neuro Desktop Editor. These extra delay modes go even further than those listed above. Deep editing functionality is made possible with the Neuro Mobile App.
Up to 128 user-defined presets can be loaded, saved and recalled within the pedal.
The pedal also has full MIDI capabilities with a MIDI in and MIDI thru connection.
Tap delay with ratio control, a hold function, and modulation (with rate and intensity control) are all possible on the front side controls of the Nemesis.
Whether you're going with analog emulation, clean digital-style delay, or something completely novel, the Nemesis has a delay setting for you. The sonic character of this pedal is high-end, and the design is practically perfect. Try it out for yourself, and you'll surely be considering its addition to your rig!
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
I'd be remiss not to add the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man to this list. Perhaps I've saved the best for last on this one?
The Memory Man is one of the most sought-after analog delay pedals ever built. With up to 550 mS of vibrant tape-style echo combined with chorus and vibrato, the Memory Man continually stands out as one of the best analog delay pedals to ever hit the market.
This beautiful BBD analog delay pedal is straightforward with tons of character.
Simply plug the guitar (or another electric instrument) into the input and connect the effect output to the amp. More involved routing is made possible by plugging into the Effect Out for the delayed signal and the Direct Out for the dry signal.
The Blend control mixes the dry and wet signals together. Level controls the output level.
Feedback and Delay control the amount of feedback and delay times (up to 550 ms), respectively.
The “CHRS/VIBR” control added chorus and vibrato to the delayed signal to further add sonic character to the output. The Depth knob controls the depth of this modulation.
The sound of the Memory Man has made it famous among musicians and collectors. Since the first iteration in 1976, the Memory Man has made a name for itself as one of the best delay pedals ever.
Former Top Delay Pedal Picks
Here are pedals that used to be on this list and the reasons they are no longer.
Empress Effects Superdelay (Discontinued)
The Empress Effects Superdelay (discontinued) was a beautiful-sounding and highly functional delay. If you can find one of these on the used market (in good condition), I say go for it! It was out of production before this article was originally published in 2020, but deserves a place regardless, in my opinion.
The Superdelay, as the name suggests, is a super pedal. It's got all the basics covered and everything we didn't even know we needed available in a relatively straightforward unit (no screens or menu scrolling)!
The I/O is very simple with the Superdelay: a single input jack, a single output jack, and a single expression pedal jack. The expression pedal can be set to control the mix or the feedback of the delay emulation circuit.
Speaking of the circuitry, let's have a look at the many modes of this awesome pedal:
- Normal: normal delay sounds.
- Sub-Mode A: short delay times (5.5 ms – 95 ms).
- Sub-Mode B: medium delay times (45 ms – 800 ms).
- Sub-Mode C: long delay times (700 ms – 2.2 s).
- Tap: tap tempo delay.
- Sub-Mode A: delay time = tapped time.
- Sub-Mode B: triplet rhythm: delay time = 1/3 the tapped time.
- Sub-Mode C: dotted quarter rhythm: delay time = 1.5x the tapped time.
- Auto-Set: delay time is set automatically based on the input.
- Sub-Mode A: low trigger threshold.
- Sub-Mode B: medium trigger threshold.
- Sub-Mode C: high trigger threshold.
- Reverse: delayed signal is reversed.
- Sub-Mode A: d time | ratio knob controls length of reversed segments.
- Sub-Mode B: length of reversed segments is set by tap switch.
- Sub-Mode C: reversed segments are played back an octave higher.
- Rhythm: rhythmic repeats with up to four repeats entered by tapping.
- Sub-Mode A: d time | ratio knob scales the rhythm tapped.
- Sub-Mode B: d time | ratio knob stretches or compresses the rhythm.
- Sub-Mode C: first tap is quiet while taps get progressively louder.
- Tape: analog tape delay emulation.
- Sub-Mode A: high-quality tape compression artifacts added to the delayed signal.
- Sub-Mode B: tape compression artifacts with a little bit of ‘wow and flutter’ added to the delayed signal.
- Sub-Mode C: tape compression artifacts with subtle intermittent dropouts akin to an older, shedding tape.
- Misc: miscellaneous operation modes.
- Sub-Mode A: feedback increases as input volume decreases.
- Sub-Mode B: mix increases as input volume decreases.
- Sub-Mode C: press tap switch to start/stop delay and trail off delayed signal.
- Looper: record and loop audio clips.
- Sub-Mode A: normal looper mode (6.8 s)
- Sub-Mode B: long looper mode (13.6 s)
- Sub-Mode C: loop is played back in reverse while audio layered after initial loop is played back forwards.
That's a lot to choose from!
Each mode is further defined by Mix, Delay Time | Ratio, Feedback, and Volume controls. These are standard.
The Superdelay has 8 preset locations where users can store and recall their favourite settings. It also has tap tempo control.
All that without any complex scrolling. Everything is laid out right on the face of the pedal, making the Empress Effects Superdelay exceptionally functional given its relative simplicity!
Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall (Discontinued)
The Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall (discontinued) was one of many fantastic designs from Chase Bliss and sounded absolutely incredible. It was featured in this article from 2020 (original year of publication) and 2022.
The Tonal Recall is another analog delay pedal with the best of modern functionality. Tap tempo, optional bypass with trails, expression control over any parameter, and presets are all available in this awesome analog BBD delay (built around a pair of MN3005 chips).
The signal path is completely analog, giving the pedal an unmistakably “analog delay sound”.
However, each knob of the Tonal Recall is connected to and set to control a digital circuit. This opens the pedal's functionality up to effects and features previously unavailable in analog stompboxes.
In addition to the aforementioned functions, the pedal features an expression | control voltage input and a tap tempo | MIDI input.
An expression pedal can be used to affect the Mix, Rate, Time, Regen, and Depth dip switches. An external stompbox can be used to tap in a tempo. MIDI connectivity opens up a whole new world of synchronization and controllability.
Like many analog delay pedals looking to amp up their sound, this Chase Bliss pedal has built-in modulation. Not only can we adjust the rate and depth of said modulation, but we can also alter the LFO waveform of the modulator (between triangle, sine and square waves).
The tone knob of the Tonal Recall doubles a “Ramp” control. This is a cool feature that works along with the dip switches in the back of the pedal.
Ramp can be set to control any of the other five parameters individually or simultaneously (mix, rate, time, regen, depth). It can be set to either modulate or ramp-and-hold (rise or fall) these parameters via dip switches in the back of the pedal.
The result of the ramp function is a dynamic alteration of the delay signal as it repeats the original signal. In this way, we can keep the beloved analog character while giving the signal something other than a continual darkening of the sound (as is the case with a typical analog pedal).
All in all, the Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall is an amazing analog pedal with a digital brain. Truly a best-of-both-worlds pedal. Try it out for a while, and you'll surely fall in love!
Choosing the right effects pedals for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Effects Pedal Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next pedal/stompbox purchase.