Ten Best Delay Pedals for 2022-23

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Who doesn’t love delay?  A delay pedal is often the first pedal we get as a kid, they can do crazy and wacky stuff, are perhaps the most fun and most elemental effects available to us, and keep evolving exponentially year to year.  We have taken a look at what we believe to be the top ten delays on the market right now and hope we bring a few new pedals and flavors to your attention in the process:

1. Digitech Rubberneck Delay

Sure, there are more complicated and feature-rich delays available, but none will be more well thought out and smart in execution within an apparent simple framework.  Basically, a bucket brigade delay in the vein of the Deluxe Memory Man the designers at Digitech didn’t simply stop there.  Sure, it has the famed vibrato or chorus modulation and yes, it’s an extremely solid, great sound BBD delay, indeed they adopted the grit (gain) of the DMM.  But they weren’t simply content with that and so they added a warping, “rubberneck” feature with the left footswitch that twists and warps your sound and also feedback regeneration via the right footswitch.  Both features are adjustable as well from a little to a lot.  Brilliant.  They also included a send/return loop so you can put other effects in the feedback loop and there’s an adoption for a separate footswitch.  What a masterpiece.  It only does one type of delay but man, they sure nailed it.

2. Alexander Rewind

I know I’m gonna sound like a broken record with Alexander Pedals and the Rewind but I’ve always thought Matthew Farrow of Alexander was a genius for his innovative and forward-looking devices.  His Leap series (which includes the Space Force reverb previously reviewed) IS a giant leap, pun intended.  This Rewind delay is a veritable Swiss Army Knife of delays, anything you need is here: tape delays, digital delays, lofi delays, analog-sounding delays, whatever you need, and in stereo.  The depth of tweak ability is a real highlight, and further, each of the delays sound really amazing.  Again, I love the OLED display even though it’s small and I had no problem at all programming several presets.  I can’t imagine anyone not being able to create what you need with the Rewind and having many mono or stereo presets at the press of a switch. Magnificent.

3. Empress Effects Echosystem

The stereo Echosystem is a tweaker’s delight and the one to get if you want dual engines and many multiples of delay combinations, both in parallel and series.  The character can change drastically depending on which you choose and what combinations of delay are in each preset.  It’s really a wonderland of possibilities.  The sound is clear, pristine, and hifi and a great deal of care obviously went into replicating some of the most classic delays.  It also is one of the rare multi-delays that can do 8 seconds of delay for true sound-on-sound Frippertronics as well as adding a completely different delay engine on top of that in series or in parallel.  Even if you have two delays at once, you can have not only two different delays at once but completely different settings for each.  Presets are also available.  There are so many choices it may spin your head but at the same time, it’s an absolute ton of fun.  It’s not as large in size as some other delays with similar features and it’s also built like a tank.  Very impressive.

4. Meris LVX

The newest stereo entry to our list and easily the most impressive.  This thing is DEEP.  Fortunately, Meris was thoughtful to include a very user-friendly screen with app-like graphic features that make parameter tweaking (and there are a TON of parameters) much, much easier.  Meris also included many of the effects and their attributes from their other special devices so there’s virtually nothing you’ll be left wanting.  Just set a lot of time aside to play with it!  It only has a few delay algorithms at its base (digital, BBD and magnetic) but they sound truly wonderful and really come alive with the myriad of routing possibilities. It also has a looper which is very cool.  My only beef with the LVX is that it could have more than 2.5 seconds of delay as it’s a digital device but that’s a small quibble.  It’s an incredible delay workstation that leaves little to the imagination.

5. Amplitube X-Time

If you’re looking for a lot of different types of delays that are simple to program, easy to use, and uniformly sound great, look no further than the X-Time.  I was extremely impressed with all the functionality of the X-Time and particularly the consistency from delay model to model.  Nothing I dialed in sounded less than stellar and all of them were at least as good as some better-known delay models.  Amplitube also has a very useful app for all their X-series models that’s very straightforward and logical to use. You can also set your preset order here and presets are easily accessible on the front switches of the pedal as well as switching between banks. Overall it’s killer, offers stereo operation, and is definitely a sleeper in this category and very affordable for the number of features. Strongly recommend.

6. Mr. Black Tapex 2

Maybe a bit unheralded amongst its pricier competitors and feature-laded models, the Tapex 2 does simply an excellent job of tape emulation in a compact pedal while also featuring true stereo operation and a preset on the second switch. If simple is your thing and you like tape delays but don’t want the maintenance and hassle of carrying them then look at the Tapex 2. Beautifully voiced and very solid, it’s a real winner that won’t break the bank.

7. Strymon Timeline

I love the Timeline and it’s no wonder it’s been so popular for so long: it offers just about every style of delay you could want, gives you excellent sound, many presets and banks, and a good amount of tweaking options and it’s very solid and reliable. While I prefer some of the delay engines in certain competitors, every one of the delays in the Timeline are at the very least solid and highly serviceable.  It’s also one of the very few delays currently that can be configured to set the delay at up to 20 seconds for really long Frippertronics (there are a few videos on YouTube about this).  I also dig the tape age feature and lofi function.  The Timeline also has a 30-second looper on board which is a great plus.  It’s not the newest in this category but it’s certainly still one of the strongest and most solid.  Let’s hope Strymon gives some consideration to a V2 sometime in the future.

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8. Source Audio Nemesis

The Nemesis is much like the Timeline in that it features just about every delay model known to date and even some features that weren’t available when those classic models were originally released.  This is thanks to their industry-leading and groundbreaking Neuro app which allows you to adjust your sound any way you wish and the only limit is your imagination.  Source Audio really believes in putting the power in the hands of the user and the SA community continues to add an endless supply of shared presets which are via the app.  Every delay engine in the Nemesis sounds terrific and nothing is left wanting.  It’s smaller than some other big box delays and slightly more affordable.  If you’re not afraid of digging deeper and bigger delays won’t fit on your board, the Nemesis could be for you.

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9. Boss DD-200

I chose the DD-200 over the DD-500 because it’s virtually the same unit yet more compact.  I love all of the delays in the DD-200 and it even sounds terrific on acoustic guitar.  You have the options for presets like other big players in this category with of course the classic Roland and Boss delays that we all started out with and know intimately like the DM-2 and the Space Echo among others.  One of my favorite features is the distortion/grit that can be added to the repeats of delays which really adds an extra layer of realism.  Some of the wilder delays like the Tera Echo and SFX are included so you probably will be covered for most of your needs.  It’s built like a tank and a very serviceable, professional delay unit you can count on for years.

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10. Red Panda Particle

Last but certainly not least, the Red Panda Particle is one of the most fun, adventurous and wild delays you’ll ever try.  It may, or may not be your main, number 1, basic delay but I guarantee it will be the most interesting and creative delay you’ll own.  I often find myself creating entire songs out of the Particle which is worth the price of admission alone.  However, it also offers excellent, high-fidelity sound, endless options, presets, stereo operation, and up to 2.5 seconds of granular, pitch, and modulated delay including reverse.  It’s a wild ride but I bet you get lost for hours and create something new every time you use it.

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