The Best Delay Pedals To Buy in 2023

Rockabilly slapback, Dub echoes, Pink Floyd’s rhythmic repeats, thousands of solos and riffs in every genre: delay has been an important production effect for voice, guitar, and other instruments throughout most of the recording era. The core concept of delay effects has changed little in the past few decades, and many current delay pedals imitate some of the earliest delay devices. However, companies continue to evolve the possibilities and usability of delay effects.

Now is probably the best time ever to be shopping for a delay pedal. There’s an outstanding diversity of delay pedal styles, sizes, price ranges, and additional options. In whatever category of delay pedal you're shopping, there are multiple options to compare and choose from. Here are a few of our favorites.

MXR Carbon Copy

mxr carbon copy

The Carbon Copy is a compact analog delay pedal that’s been around for decades in the same form factor. It’s hard to find a delay pedal that’s any simpler or that sounds better. The Carbon Copy has only three knobs: mix, or the volume level of the repeated sound; regen, which controls the number of repeats from one to distorted infinite oscillation; and delay, or the amount of time between the input sound and first repeat. Despite its simplicity, the pedal has a variety of uses, such as classic slapback, a subtle longer repeat for solos, or complete sonic destruction with the repeats dimed.

The Carbon Copy is recognized for having repeats that are darker in tone for a vintage flavor that doesn’t overpower your dry tone. It also features a mod button to add a subtle vibrato to the repeats, which can be adjusted via internal dials.

Players interested in the Carbon Copy can also consider the Deluxe model, which adds tap tempo and a jack for expression control. MXR also offers a mini version of the pedal with all the same functionality as the standard model.

Boss RE-2

Boss RE-2

For a different, but equally classic delay sound in a familiar compact form, Boss’s recently renewed Space Echo line is worth a look. Based on the Roland Space Echo tape delay units, Boss first digitized the effect in a twin footswitch pedal, the RE-20, in 2007. Finally, the company has compressed the functionality and sounds into their trademark compact pedal format.

To replicate the original tape delay, the Space Echo models multiple tape heads that create repeated sounds at different times. When used in various combinations, they can create simple or more rhythmic patterned delays. There’s also a spring-like reverb and control over the tone and tape-warble modulation of the effect.

The RE-2 is mono or stereo in and out, and offers a jack for expression or external footswitch control. Since the pedal is digital, the onboard footswitch can also operate as a tap tempo input or send the effect into oscillation when held, activating the Twist mode.

For those wanting even more control over the Space Echo’s variety of sounds, Boss also offers the expanded RE-202, with three dual-function footswitches. Along with memory recall of presets, the RE-202 boasts a line-in mode, MIDI and USB ports, two tape age settings, separate bass and treble adjustments, and a LED display of the tape heads in use.

Electro-Harmonix Canyon

Electro-Harmonix Canyon

For those in search of a compact digital delay with a larger variety of sounds and more functionality, the EHX Canyon has established itself as a solid contender in the current delay pedal market. The Canyon offers 10 different delay types, from classic echo and analog styles to reverse and pitch-shifting modes, as well as a looper with more than a minute of recording time.

While the interface for the Canyon is simple, deeper adjustments can be made through secondary knob functions and the tap divide button. Tap tempo can be controlled using the onboard switch or via an external footswitch. The pedal can process up to three-second delays.

Electro-Harmonix also offers an expanded delay, the Grand Canyon. Although not much larger than the original model, the Grand Canyon has stereo output, a more powerful looper, and the ability to save settings for each delay type.

EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master

EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master

Next on our list is another digital delay, the Dispatch Master. It doesn’t get much simpler than the DSP-based delay from Akron, Ohio’s EarthQuaker Devices. Along with the normal controls for delay time, effect mix, and number of repeats, the Dispatch Master also offers a Reverb mix, making the pedal a perfect solution for compact boards that need some space at the end of the effects chain.

EarthQuaker pedals are known for being high quality and reliable. The current Dispatch Master (V3) uses the brand’s flexi footswitch feature, which means holding the switch will momentarily activate the pedal, which could be useful for a quick riff or burst of ambience.

EarthQuaker Devices also offers an expanded version of the pedal with tap tempo, reverse, and other features called the Avalanche Run.

Demedash Effects T-120 Videotape Echo

Demedash Effects T-120 Videotape Echo

Over the past few years, one of the breakout boutique pedal companies has been Demedash Effects out of Winnipeg, Canada. Their trademark pedal is the T-120 Videotape Echo, a digital delay that replicates the pleasing quality of tape—but the kind that works with VCRs and giant camcorders. To accomplish this, the T-120 features a set of modulation controls, along with the standard mix, time, and intensity (number of repeats).

On current builds of the delay pedal (V2), Demedash added secondary controls over the randomness of the modulation, allowing for lo-fi vibes that are even more true to frequently watched VHS cassettes. All Demedash pedals are well built, and the T-120 includes an LED that shows the delay rate—up to 1200 milliseconds.

Demedash Effects also offers a Deluxe model, which adds a second footswitch for tap tempo and swell (self-oscillation).

Strymon Timeline

Strymon Timeline

Although it’s been around for over a decade, the Strymon Timeline is still one of the most powerful and popular delay pedals. The 12 different modes include algorithms similar to Strymon’s great standalone delay pedals, including the El Capistan tape-style delay. There are also less traditional delay styles, such as Reverse, Pattern, and Ice—a pitch-shifting delay.

The Strymon Timeline features stereo ins and outs that can also be used as a loop for adding your own effects to the repeats. The Timeline has MIDI in and out ports and can be synced with other time-based devices. The deep controls allow for multiple adjustments over each mode, and the pedal stores up to 200 user presets.

Line 6 DL4 MkII

Line 6 DL4 MkII

After 20 years as a go-to unit on pedalboards and desktop rigs, the DL4 finally received an update from manufacturer Line 6. The pedal now comes in an upgraded big green box with plenty of connectivity and the ability to save loops to a MicroSD card.

The Line 6 DL4 features 30 different delay types, all of which are tweakable via five different controls. Favorites can be saved to one of three footswitches, with the fourth footswitch controlling tap tempo. The DL4 MkII also includes reverbs through secondary controls.

The DL4 is best known for its powerful looping ability, with the four footswitches controlling different functions in looper mode, while delay can also be used simultaneously.

Chase Bliss Audio MOOD

Chase Bliss Audio MOOD

If cutting-edge audio experimentation is your goal, it’s hard to find a more unique pedal than the Chase Bliss Audio MOOD. The MOOD is actually two effects in one: a delay/reverb and a short looper that’s always recording.

The compact pedal is impossibly deep, featuring three modes for each effect, expression and MIDI jacks, and several tiny switches to customize your experience with the pedal. The MOOD can create everything from simple delays and classic reverb to glitchy repeats and stacks of stretched and reversed notes for ambient soundscapes.

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