The 10 Best FREE Delay Plugins Ever (Updated 2021)

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.

In this article we’re going to cover the best free delay plugins around right now.

While we’re on the topic, check out our huge list of the best 250 free VST plugins.

Here is the complete list of the best free delay VST plugins available updated for 2021:

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

1. Valhalla Supermassive

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, 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 however, 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!

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2. TAL Dub Delay

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, 32-bit, 64-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 delay free delay vst plugin

TAL Dub I is the simplest of these, with straightforward controls and a simple interface. It’s a “vintage” modeled 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 labeling 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.

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3. kiloHearts Delay

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

kilohearts delay free delay vst

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.

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

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4. Smartelectronix AnalogDelay

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

analog delay smartelectronix 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.

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5. Valhalla FreqEcho

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, 64-bit

free delay vst plugin valhall freq echo

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 list.

That being said though… 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.

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6. GSI Watkat

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

GSI watkat free delay plugin

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.

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7. Glitchmachines Hysteresis

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, 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.

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8. AirWindows Tape Delay

Compatibility: Mac, AU

airwindows tape delay plugin

“In music, nobody can hear your screen”, is the mantra behind the AirWindows line of plugin. Tape Delay features a very generic and stripped-back GUI, that’s focused on sound and stability, rather than looks.

Tape Delay is an awesome classic effects unit, perfect for sound design, exceling in weird frequency shifting, feedback and other effects. Anything from simple quarter note delays, to terrifying feedback screeches, can be made with the Tape Delay.

Unlike other digital delays, the feedback on Tape Delay doesn’t break up, which gives you more flexibility to create unique sounds in your mix.

Lastly, Tape Delay is available only as a VST plugin, which means that it might not work as expected on DAW’s such as Pro Tools.

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9. Cocoa Delay

Compatibility: Windows, 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.

Available as a “Name your Price” download, cocoa delay isn’t the flashiest or the most versatile free delay on the market. It’s awesome for getting a warm, clean and lively delay signal.

You get 3 modes, static, ping-pong and circular pan, as well as delay time drift, for slight flutter effects. 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.

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10. Rhythm-Lab Twin Delay

Compatibility: Windows, 32-bit

rhythm lab twin delay

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. The Analog delay algorithm has gotten special attention, which in turn can create beautiful and unique delay sounds.

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.

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.

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What Is A Delay Plugin?

Delay at it’s core is a very simple processing technique. Essentially, it’s storing the incoming audio signal and then playing it back, after a set period of time.

The signal that’s delayed, can be then played back multiple times, to create longer delay tails, as well as fed back into itself to create quality delay feedback.

Delay can be super powerful, allowing anything from echo, to fast chorus effects, to rhythmic modulation. Create some massive pads, or take your “one-man-band” to greater heights, with a good delay effect.

How Do I Use Delay In My Music?

While Delay is quite a simple effect, the variety of uses for it are anything but. You can use it to add rhythmic interest to boring synth channels, make your mix more exciting, or even use as a chorus to add more depth to your audio.

Let’s look a few of our favourite ways to use delay plugins!

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.

Finishing Up

Here is the essential list of the best free delay VST plugins updated for 2021:

  1. Valhalla Supermassive
  2. TAL Dub Delay
  3. kiloHearts Delay
  4. Smartelectronix AnalogDelay
  5. Valhalla FreqEcho
  6. GSI Watkat
  7. Glitchmachines Hysteresis
  8. AirWindows Tape Delay
  9. Cocoa Delay
  10. 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: