The Best Free Delay Plugins Ever (Updated 2022)

Delay is an essential tool in a music producer’s VST plugin arsenal.

Delay is responsible for creating space, and an almost echo like effect when applied to your sounds.

It’s a fantastic sound design tool, and especially great to use when creating things like build-ups, or when you just want a bit of ambience in your recordings.

Whether you want to fill out your stereo image, create massive pads, or dive into distorted sound design, a free delay plugin is a must have, and can often offer just as much possibility as premium ones.

However, premium delay plugins can set you back a fair bit, which is why in this article, we’re going to cover the best free delay plugins around right now.

We’ve made sure to include the most feature rich free delay plugins, and a wide range of options to choose from. So, whatever your delay needs, there’ll be something for you on this list.

We’ve also included helpful compatibility tags, and options for both Mac & Windows, so you don’t have to spend ages scouring the internet for the best free delay plugins – they’re right here, all in one list!

What is A Delay VST Plugin?

A delay VST is software that’s used to create space, and ambience in your music productions. Delay takes your original signal and repeats it based on your time settings. They create an echo-like effect, but provide a more unnatural, spacey sound.

Delay plugins do this by storing your audio momentarily, and then repeating the audio after it has played, depending on your time settings.

You can set delays in milliseconds, or you can use beat divisons to sync your delay to the beat.

There are many uses for delay such as, creating FX, adding space to tracks, creating wider sounding, fuller vocals, adding stereo width, and a tonne of other awesome mixing possibilities.

Delay vs Echo – What’s The Difference?

Delay is an audio effect that repeats copies of audio one or more times. A delay effect can range from simple repeats, to ambient washes, reverbs and more. Echo is an effect that repeats audio, but is designed to sound like echoes found in nature.

They both repeat copies of audio to a user set time, so are very similar. However, the main difference is found in the sound.

Delays can sound much cleaner, and provide you with more unnatural, spacey ambiences. Echoes provide a more natural, resonant and even vintage/warm repeating effect.

This is why they are separate effects – they provide a distinctly different sound.

What Should I Use Delay On in A Mix?

There are many uses for delay, and we’ll list some of our favourites below:

  1. Ambience & space
  2. Reverb
  3. Rhythmic excitement
  4. Stereo widening
  5. Modulation effects (like chorus, phasing etc)
  6. Track doubling (mixed in lower volume for wider, bigger sound)
  7. Creating FX & Tension
  8. Sound design (through resampling & automated time changes)

Delay is a fantastic tool to use in your music productions, and can create the space and ambience that sounds often need to feel alive. It can also work in your favour to push sounds back in a mix and create a sense of depth and widen a stereo field.

You can use delay on sounds that need space, depth or a wider stereo image. It’s especially good for creating FX, tensions and builds, but can also be used to widen vocals, instruments, thicken sounds, and even for sound design purposes.

Anything that needs depth, rhythmic excitement, space or ambience – use a long delay.

If something needs to be wider and sound thicker, you can try shorter millisecond delays which help create a stereo doubling effect.

Rhythmic doubler

First off, you can easily add a lot of rhythmic modulation and interest, by experimenting with different note values and delay lengths as well as feedback. If you use a ping-pong delay, you can even set your right and left channels to delay at different rates, to add even more excitement to your tracks.

Rhythmic effects, that can be accomplished with delays are almost endless, anything from vague echoes, to lush delayed triplets, using delays is extremely fun.

Another great thing to use with delay is a filter. Filtering out different frequencies, to delay certain bands individually, can be awesome to make your delay effect even more interesting. (Don’t use a low-pass filter)

One of the best examples of delay is Rob Scallon’s piece “Rain”, which is essentially made with clever use of reverb. Check it out below, to see what we’re talking about!

Chorus

Setting your delay time to be super fast can start to create an awesome chorus effect.

When your delay time is that fast, any small movement with the dials or sliders on your delay plugin will affect the characteristics of your chorus a lot.

This is awesome for really thick and lush chorus effects. Add some feedback and you’re on your way to audio with a lot of depth and sonic interest.

Bass Delay

Using Delay creatively can completely change the way your audio sounds. Delay is easily one of the most powerful sound design tools out there.

One of our favorite tricks to do with a delay, is adding a tail to basslines. Usually using a delay or reverb on your bass just serves to muddy your mix.

What we want to do is put a high-pass filter on a return track, followed by a delay right after. Set your delay to ping-pong and adjust your delay time.

Lastly, filter out the bottom end, only leaving the mid to high-end information in the return track. Route your bass to this, and you’ll have a crisp and clean delay effects for your bass, that adds to the stereo mix, rather than making everything boom-y.

The Best Free Delay VST Plugins

Here is the complete list of the best free delay VST plugins available updated for 2022:

  1. Valhalla Supermassive
  2. TAL Dub Delay
  3. Valhalla FreqEcho
  4. Glitchmachines Hysteresis
  5. kiloHearts Delay
  6. Smartelectronix AnalogDelay
  7. GSI Watkat
  8. Cocoa Delay
  9. Rhythm-Lab Twin Delay

1. Valhalla Supermassive

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, AAX, VST, VST3, 64-bit

Valhalla supermassive free delay plugin

If you’ve ever been in the market for a delay, or reverb effect, you’ve probably stumbled onto the name Valhalla before. Valhalla is famous for providing extremely high-quality plugins at a fair price.

The actual worth of their plugins, becomes clear when you start using them. Supermassive is no different, being an extremely powerful delay and reverb machine.

The creators decided to throw caution out of the window, and instead of opting for realistic sound spaces, decided to create bigger and better sounds, not bound by the limitations of physics.

You get 8 algorithms and a lot of controls with Supermassive. The sonic qualities of both the reverb and delay makes Supermassive our go-to delay plugin, period. Not go-to free delay, just, our main delay, that’s it!

It’s Valhalla, and it’s free, you should really get it asap!

In fact, it’s so good, we’ve included it in our roundup of the 5 BEST Free VST Plugins ever, you can watch the video below!

How Does Valhalla Supermassive Sound?

Valhalla Supermassive is the best-sounding free delay plugin we’ve ever used. You can create incredible lush, long reverbs that feel like they never end, or swirling, morphing delays that create depth & texture.

If you’re looking for a plugin to add ambience to your music, then Valhalla Supermassive is for you!

Although Supermassive suggests the reverbs & delays are, well… super massive, the plugin is also capable of creating some of the most incredible short delay, and wide, small reverbs. We personally use the small + wide preset to add some depth to clap sounds during drum sound design – it’s great!

To show you how great Supermassive is, we’ve left some audio examples below:

Huge Reverb

sample from our Purple Slush Lofi Pack

Delay (automated in places)

sample from our Purple Slush Lofi Pack

Valhalla Supermassive just sounds incredible. The above sounds are 2 of hundreds of presets you can slap on your audio and use for creative, pulsing atmospheres. This this is a beast for sound design.

Valhalla supermassive presets

Supermassive Quick Verdict

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Features

Presets

2. TAL Dub Delay

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, VST, 64-bit (Windows only), 32-bit

TAL are an awesome plugins company, offering anything from free delays and effects, to easy to use high quality emulations of classic studio synthesizers.

At the moment, TAL offer 3 different free delays, Dub I, Dub II and Dub III.

TAL Dub I is the simplest of these, with straightforward controls and a simple interface. It’s a “vintage” modelled delay, which means that it adds some odd harmonics as well as noise to your delay, creating a sort of lo-fi feel.

TAL Dub II is probably the more versatile of the three, offering a 4x oversampled distortion section, as well as panning, modulation and chorus. The labelling of the controls is also a bit more simple, than the other two.

TAL Dub III simplifies on the concept of Dub II, removing the modulation section, but adding pop-up delay time values, as well as a saturation section. The saturation on TAL Dub III is more “tube-y” than the other two, which sound closer to unique tape delays.

If you’re using Mac, it only comes in 32-bit meaning you’ll have to use a 32-bit plugin wrapper like 32 lives for it to work. If you’re on Windows, you won’t have this problem.

How Does TAL Dub Delay Sound?

TAL Dub Delay sounds exactly like you’d expect it to – a dub delay. It’s all kinds of resonant and wonky, and can create some incredible, creative delay effects in a few moments.

Slap it on anything to add wickedly resonant and wonky atmospheres. Perfect for electronic music especially!

Like we said above TAL Dub Delay has 3 versions, and each one sounds similar, but has a slight different sound to it. Dub Delay 1 sounds a lot more resonant, and has more basic control. Dub Delay 2 is much more wonky and dissonant. Dub Delay 3 is more precise, but gives less of that resonant, saturated feel.

So you can hear what each sounds like, we left 3 audio examples below:

TAL Dub Delay I example
TAL Dub Delay II audio example
TAL Dub Delay III audio example

TAL Dub Delay Quick Verdict

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3. Valhalla FreqEcho

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, VST, VST3, 64-bit

valhalla freq echo free delay

Another free delay plugin from Valhalla, FreqEcho is more situational than supermassive, but it sounds awesome, and is definitely worth adding to the free plugin collection.

Unlike standard delay units, FreqEcho’s UI is centered around a large Frequency dial. Essentially, this adjusts the frequency of every repeat in your delay.

Shorter Delays can create awesome metallic effects, while longer ones can make large, floaty echoes. In general, we tend to find less use for FreqEcho when compared to other Delay plugins, which is why it’s lower on the lists.

That being said… sometimes FreqEcho is what saves the day, because there’s not many plugins around that sound as good as FreqEcho for specifically Dub sounds.

It’s also an extremely interesting tool to try out when designing sounds. Pop it on a channel, resample some changes in delay, process that sample, resample again, and you’ll get some totally unique sounds.

At the end of the day, it’s one of the better free plugins. Anything from Valhalla is always good.

How Does Valhalla Freq Echo Sound?

Valhalla Freq Echo sounds incredible. It uses a frequency shifter, alongside an echo to create some of the wonkiest delays you’ll ever hear.

Freq Echo is fantastic if you’re going for a weird dissonant vibe, and sounds absolutely incredible when you automate the beat division sync, and the frequency shifter.

It can also be used as a somewhat chorusing/ring modulation effect, when you have the rate on something like 3ms, and play with the frequency modulation, it causes an amazing detune sound to be applied.

We’ve left some sound examples below so you can hear how Freq Echo sounds:

automating the beat sync, using as a delay
short ms delay causing chorusing/ring modulation effect

Valhalla Freq Echo Quick Verdict

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4. Glitchmachines Hysteresis

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, VST, VST3, 32-bit, 64-bit

glitchmachines hysteresis free glitch delay plugin

Glitchmachines are known for their incredibly interesting free plugins, Hysteresis is one of them.

While Hysteresis can be used for classic delay effects, what it’s actually meant for are glitchy stuttering effects.

The input signal is fed through a delay line, which then goes on to a stutter processor, and low pass filter, before it goes into another delay line, which can be separately modulated. Finally, the output of the second delay line is pushed back through the first, and then through to the output.

This routing allows for a lot of creative processing capabilities.

Everything from pitch-shifting, granulation, to reverse delays and more, can be accomplished by Hysteresis.

If you’re looking for the best free delay plugin for sound design, hysteresis is definitely one you should add to the collection.

Something to also note is their Fracture delay unit, which is another free delay plugin that is incredible. We’d recommend getting both.

How Does Hysteresis Delay Sound?

Hysteresis has an amazing glitchy sound, and can give an almost granular-like sound to your samples/recordings. It’s one of the more in-depth free delay plugins, with filter, mod FX, stutter and delay units.

The mod FX and stutter alone sound incredible and create very dissonant and wonky effects.

There are also a huge range of presets that range from nice, swirling delays, to totally smashed, bitcrushed, glitch-like effects that make your want to screw your face up.

We’ve left a couple audio examples of Hysteresis so you can hear how it sounds:

Hysteresis audio example 1
Hysteresis audio example 1

Hysteresis Quicker Verdict

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5. kiloHearts Delay

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, 32-bit, 64-bit

kilo hearts free delay

A great little utility plugin, from the kiloHearts’ Block line, Delay can be used as both a standalone plugin, or a snap-in module for the kiloHearts Snap Heap.

As with all other snap in modules, Delay is stripped back, giving you all the basic controls, without any fluff. Delay is amazing, when you just need to get a quick way to set up a delay, for some quick results.

You get standard note value delay times, as well as dry/wet controls etc.

But our favorite is the damp control, which will duck the delay while there is dry signal incoming. Essentially, this lets you push the delay further, without affecting your original dry source signal.

Also what’s cool about KiloHearts Delay is you can choose any sync beat division value. So you could have something like 64/4 if you wanted.

Lastly, just like other snap in modules, you get an awesome randomize button, for even faster sound design.

How Does Kilohearts Delay Sound?

Kilohearts Delay is a very simple delay plugin that is great for getting a quick, easy delay sound. The results you can get out of it sound fantastic, however it’s not something that’s going to jump out at you and make you go “whoa”.

It’s a simple delay unit that can be used for mixing, and less for creative effects. Nonetheless it’s a fantastic little unit.

We’ve left an audio example below to show you what Kilohearts Delay is capable of:

on 3/4t setting, with mix up 70% so you can hear.

Kilohearts Delay Quick Verdict

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6. Smartelectronix AnalogDelay

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, VST, 32-bit

analog delay free plugin

AnalogDelay by Smartelectronix is a lush sounding, analog delay, that will help to warm up your sounds and take you back to the old school.

With AnalogDelay, you get a second order lowpass filter section with saturation, as well as precise delay times. You can also sync both tempo and delay, to your global tempo, for a more on-time feel.

While the UI might feel dated, the sound certainly does not, offering all the awesome analog tape delay effects you might need. An awesome control section, while limited, allows for a wide variety of sounds.

Our favorite part about it, is the saturation, which sounds incredible when boosted with a lot of delay, layered on a return track.

All in all, if you’re looking for analog vibes, the Smartelectronix AnalogDelay could be the answer to your calling.

One drawback of this plugin is that it’s only available in 32-bit, which means, if you’re on a 64-bit DAW host like Ableton, you’ll need jBridge (windows), or 32 lives (Mac).

How Does Analog Delay Sound?

Analog Delay, despite looking pretty dated actually surprised us with the sound it produced. The delay sounds lovely, warm and analog like you’d expect.

One cool thing we personally love to do with all delay plugins is change the rate using automation. Analog Delay sounds really awesome when you play around with these settings, and sounds exactly like an analog delay would when changing the rate.

Something like Kilohearts delay which is precise & digital, doesn’t give this same pitchy effect.

The saturation sounds good too, but is difficult to hear working and the resonance doesn’t seem to do much to change the sound.

We’ve left an audio example below for you to check it out:

analog delay settings
the settings used for the above audio example

Analog Delay Quick Verdict

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7. GSI Watkat

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, AU, VST, 32-bit

gsi watkat free delay plguin

The Watkat by GSI is an awesome tribute to the legendary engineer, Charlie Watkins, who, in 1958 created the Copicat delay unit.

The Copycat quickly became one of the most popular delay units in the world, mostly due to it being the first delay available as one compact unit for your studio.

After the Mk.1 and Mk.2 Copicats had sizzled the market, the Watking “Custom” Copicat was born. Featuring a very noisy and irregular lofi sound, it was the perfect echo to add character and life to your audio.

The Watkat by GSI is a clone of the “Custom” Copicat, replicating it’s signature sound as closely as possible. Offering three switchable playback heads, for different delay characteristics.

The Watkat is a simple, light-weight free delay plugin, designed solely, to show the world, how awesome a Watkins tape echo really is.

How Does Watkat Delay Sound?

Watkat delay sounds fantastic, and just like the Copicat delay unit that it attempts to replicate. It’s a very short, punchy delay that has a lot of swirl-like sound to it. Unfortunately there’s no control over how the delay syncs, and there are no longer, drawn out settings, which we think would sound amazing.

It’s a pretty simple delay and is useful to have in your collection, if you want that analog Copicat sound.

However there’s not a lot to it. So, if you’re looking for a feature rich delay – this is not the delay for you. If you’re looking for an analog modelled delay, then grab Watkat.

We’ve left an audio example of Watkat below so you can take a listen:

GSI Watkat Quicker Verdict

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8. Cocoa Delay

Compatibility: Windows, VST2, 32-bit, 64-bit

cocoa delay free delay vst plugin

Cocoa Delay is an awesome, open-source delay plugin focused on clean design, easy operation and a pleasant, warm sound. It’s actually one of the more feature-rich delay plugins on this list, but has been placed lower due to Windows only compatibility.

Available as a “Name your Price” download, Cocoa Delay is completely free, and it’s fantastic for getting, warm, vintage delay sounds.

You get 3 modes:

  • Static
  • Ping-pong
  • Circular pan

On top of that you get delay time drift, for slight flutter effects, included LFO control that injects crazy wow, warping style delays, and a delay time control with tempo sync.

Below that you’ll notice there’s options to change feedback amounts, and change the 3 modes we listed above. Next to that there’s a ducking section, which can duck your delay while there is a dry signal incoming.

The UI of the Cocoa Delay is nice and clean, reminiscent of a GoodHertz plugin, with a lot of dials and settings, to play with.

All in all, CocoaDelay is definitely one of the best free delay plugins available. Sadly though, this is another plugin available only in a VST plugin format, meaning that if you use AU or AAX plugins primarily, this won’t be for you.

How Does Cocoa Delay Sound?

Cocoa Delay sounds nothing short of incredible, especially for a free delay plugin. There’s so much you can do with Cocoa Delay to warp and bend your recordings. From chill, ambient delays to wonky, warping, detuned madness, Cocoa Delay can do it all.

Where Cocoa Delay really shines, is getting a warm, lofi style sound. The drift and LFO modules allow you to get a real, hardware tape delay sound, and we’re all for it.

And, when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there’s a drive module that adds a wickedly good saturation/distortion to your delay signal. Unfortunately though, there are no presets.

To give you and idea of how Cocoa Delay sounds, here are some audio examples:

Warm, detuned settings
Really detuned settings, lots of LFO & drift
Clean, no LFO, drift or drive. Still sounds warm, and lofi-like.

Cocoa Delay Quick Verdict

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Presets

9. Rhythm-Lab Twin Delay

Compatibility: Windows, VST2, 32-bit

twin delay free plugin

Twin Delay by Rhythm-Lab is a VST plugin designed to emulate both digital and analogue delay effects. While Twin Delay isn’t an exact copy of any real hardware, it can still produce a lot of popular delay based effects, as well as modulation.

You also get some unusual effects, such as Flanger and Metalizer, to round out this versatile little plugin, as well as type selection setting that gives you options to choose from 3 different delay styles:

  • Digital
  • Tape 1
  • Tape 2
  • Tape 3

The UI s a bit outdated and there’s no presets whatsoever, but Twin Delay still excels with it’s sound quality.

You don’t get too many knobs and settings to play with, so you’re never lost in your options, but Twin Delay is still versatile enough to cover a lot of your delay needs.

It gives you most of what you need with separate delay channels for right, left and an entire channel control in ms. This can give you a stereo/ping pong effect to your delay sound, and then give you overall control to offset the channel delay by a few ms, creating awesome wonkiness.

You’ve then got feedback, your classic Low-pass, and Hi-pass filters for shaping the sound of your delay, and a drive knob that adds beautiful saturation.

Twin Delay can be synced to your Global DAW tempo as well as on it’s own. Add to that a high and low pass filter, as well as saturation and feedback, and you get an awesome little free delay.

While it may not be one of the best free delay plugins, it’s certainly got a lot of character and soul to add to your music.

How Does Twin Delay Sound?

Twin Delay is a great-sounding free delay unit, even if it is a little outdated. It’s a weird mix between a digital and an analog delay unit, meaning you can create quite clean sounding delays and crazy, twisted analog ones too.

The delay itself sounds brilliant, and the different modes add a lot of character to the delay. Digital gives a clean sound, while tape will give you a classic tape delay.

Driving the signal is where this delay unit really comes alive in our opinion, and messing with the feedback, and sync using automation alongside this, is where you’ll create some of your most interesting sounds.

We’ve left some sound examples of Twin Delay below for you to hear:

tape 2, no drive, mostly wet
tape 2, drive, mostly wet, high feedback
digital, no drive, lower feedback, mostly wet

Twin Delay Quick Verdict

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Finishing Up

Here is the essential list of the best free delay VST plugins updated for 2022:

  1. Valhalla Supermassive
  2. TAL Dub Delay
  3. Valhalla FreqEcho
  4. Glitchmachines Hysteresis
  5. kiloHearts Delay
  6. Smartelectronix AnalogDelay
  7. GSI Watkat
  8. Cocoa Delay
  9. Rhythm-Lab Twin Delay

Whether you’re looking to spice up a vocal or design larger-than-life, feedbacking atmospheric music, delay is one of the most useful effects to have in your arsenal.

Whether you’re looking for free plugins, or the top-of-the-line stereo delay, there’s something out there for you. We hope that after reading this article, you’ve found that perfect free classic delay plugin you were looking for.

Check out some of our other free VST articles: