5 Best Delay Plugins For Vocals

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The delay is the ultimate tool for creating space, depth and excitement to any music production. It helps you create dimension around any element in your mix. It does it by repeating the signal one or many times, along with manipulating the repeats in various and unique ways.

One of the best things about delay plugins is that they work in perfect sync with your DAW. There are a lot of delay plugins today and some of them are truly incredible.

Types Of Delay

Tape Delay – The history of delay effects started with the invention of the tape. The signal is being sent to the output and to the recording head of the tape inside the delay box. It is then being reproduced by the playing head a short time after the original signal has been played, which creates the delay effect. The number of recording heads inside the delay box will determine the number of repeats.

Analog/Digital Delay – The first digital delay unit started with a chip called BBD (Bucket Brigade Delay IC). It was originally created to delay signals in the old telephone technology. Over the years the technology got better and found its way to the music world. Years after that, the delay finally arrived to the computer-based music production and it is getting better and better ever since.

The Delay Based Effects Family

There are more effects you can achieve with a delay that does not fall under the definition of “delay”. These effects result from the delay effect playing the repeats a lot closer to the source, few milliseconds, and these are the Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser.

Using Delay To Create A Reverb Effect

A Reverb is practically a delay only with bigger repeats number. Sometimes when using a Reverb on very busy mixes, it creates information overload and gives the feeling of a crowded mix. Here we can achieve the same effect with a delay. The delay is much less dense because the repeats number is a lot smaller. So using a delay instead of Reverb will help you create dimension and space around the mix without overloading it with information.

I found that the most common delay setup is 1/4 note with approximately 5 repeats. It fits most 4/4 productions and it’s always a good starting point. There are absolutely no rules and you should do whatever sounds best to you.


A good plugin is one that’s been designed with a good interface in mind. The interaction with the plugin, ease of use and intuitive layout are very important factors. A good delay plugin is one you’ll find yourself using for years. My favorite delay plugin is the Waves H-Delay. It’s simple to use, looks great and sounds amazing. Works great for me.

Sometimes you would want to have a fancier delay plugin that will allow you to get much more advanced effects. 

The List

This is my list of the best delay plugins for vocals. I’m not going to give you all the technical information about these plugins, only my opinion, and feeling about them. That’s because all of them are doing pretty much the same thing with each one of them having its own twist. So it’s all about the feeling they give.

Waves H-Delay

I will open the list with my favorite delay plugin the great H-Delay. This is a cool hybrid of digital and analog delay. You can get a variety of different sounds and flavors out of it. The most important thing for me is the interface. It‘s very simple and easy to understand. It comes with a lot of nice presets and it works great on most genres. The H-Delay won’t give you the crazy delay effects that you sometimes here in heavy electronic music, it is more suitable for use in traditional genres like Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, and other simple applications.

Sound Toys EchoBoy
This delay plugin is also a classic in the plugin world, you can hear it on countless productions. What I like the most about it is the interface. It’s simple, very well designed and nice to look at. You don’t have to look so hard for every little feature. EchoBoy also sounds great and it gives you both digital and analog flavors.

McDSP EC-300
Now, this is a special one. If you read my blog you know I have a soft spot for McDSP plugins and the EC-300 is no different. It has the best tape delay I’ve ever heard, It actually sounds like tape and you can’t really say that about all the tape delay plugins. The design is kinda retro and based on an old tape delay machine from the 70s. The saturation knob gives a sweet and musical distortion you can probably hear on other McDSP plugins, although I’m not sure about it and it could be specific for this plugin. Either way, it’ll be a great addition to your spatial effects library.

FabFilter Timeless 2
I can’t tell you I’m dying for FabFilter’s graphic designs but I sure have a lot of respect for them, these guys know their craft. Timeless 2 is their take on quality delay plugins. The best thing about FabFilter’s plugins is that they are very detailed, crazy flexible and sound absolutely amazing. With Timeless 2 you can achieve almost any delay effect you can think of, and I can’t say this about all of the plugins on my list.

Slate Digital & D16 – Repeater
This delay plugin is an absolute beast! not only that it is a very flexible and detailed plugin, but it is also everything you can ask in a delay. The guys at Slate Digital and D16 had modeled 23 delay models to give us every style we can possibly think of. From classic tape machines to oil cans and digital delays. One of my favorite features in Repeater is the Analog modeled feedback circuit which sends all the repeats through a sweet analog algorithm. It sounds like the delay repeats are “melting” into the mix. It‘s incredible on vocals.

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