It is no secret that a set of right pedals will completely change the quality of your performance. The difference they make is so profound, eventually they become integral part of our musical gear. For me, delay pedals are the ones that should be on every pedal board. They let you add texture to your sound, make it more unique and detectable. On the quest of choosing the best delay pedals, you will have to consider a lot of factors. To make this process easier for you, this article will provide you with models that stand out on the market, as well as some tips on selecting the right pedal and the set of features you should look for. If you want to find the best suitable pedal for your music, just keep on reading.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 Best Delay Pedals
- 1.1 Source Audio SA260 Nemesis Guitar Delay
- 1.2 Empress Effects Tape Delay Guitar Pedal
- 1.3 Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay Pedal
- 1.4 BOSS DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal
- 1.5 Way Huge WHE701 Aqua-Puss Analog Delay
- 1.6 Dunlop WHE702S Echo-Puss Analog Delay
- 1.7 Wampler Pedals Faux Tape Echo V2 Delay Pedal
- 1.8 TC Electronic Flashback X4 Guitar Delay Pedal
- 1.9 MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
- 1.10 JOYO D-SEED Dual Channel Digital Delay Pedal
- 2 Conclusion
Top 10 Best Delay Pedals
|Source Audio SA260 Nemesis Guitar Delay||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Empress Effects Tape Delay Guitar Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|BOSS DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Way Huge WHE701 Aqua-Puss Analog Delay||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Dunlop WHE702S Echo-Puss Analog Delay||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Wampler Pedals Faux Tape Echo V2 Delay Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|TC Electronic Flashback X4 Guitar Delay Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|JOYO D-SEED Dual Channel Digital Delay Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
The Battle of the Sounds: Digital and Analog Delays
The dichotomy has existed between digital and analog delays since the very first days of their creation. Nothing splits the musical world as these two bad boys. However, it is only natural to question, what is the big difference between them. I will try to explain each of them and clear up all the incoherent conceptions lingering in your mind.
Typically, analog delay pedals count on Bucket Brigade Device (BBD) chip, which transfers the analog signal through multiple sets of capacitors. The signal that passes through those chips usually becomes warmer and diffuses more and more with each step, creating a smooth tone with rich sonic quality. While BBD chips make analog delays unique, they limit it as well: pedals of this ilk are prone to have shorter maximum delay time compared to digital delays.
Meanwhile, digital delay pedals utilize Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which means they are more flexible in terms of construction. Manufacturers can adjust the transparency and the length of the signals to their taste. In order to produce the desired effect, sound signal has to undergo several transformations: at the input it is converted from analog to digital (through A/D converter), is sampled and blended back with the dry signal considering the desired delay time. And finally, it is converted again from digital to analog (through D/A converter) at the output. Due to this character, the sound generated by digital pedal can be a bit cold or harsh. Analog delays work similarly as well, except for the fact that they skip the entire step of conversion (thanks to BBD chips).
When it comes to the differences in sound, both can distort the sound. However, the subtle distortion at the output of analog delay is considered as a good thing, because it thickens the sound signal and adds a certain character to it. The distortion that occurs in digital delays is not very pleasant and is rarely desirable for the musicians.
In the early days of development, digital delays were not as distinctive and “good” as it is nowadays. Manufacturers started to improve the sound quality by resembling analog sounds. They stepped up their game by improving resolution, using better A/D and D/A converters and equipping digital delays with all-analog side chains. This made it possible to capture all the unique features of analog delay and generate it through digital pedals. Nowadays, it can be stated that the latter offers more versatility and flexibility, allowing you to travel from warm BBD delays to rich Tape delays and pristine digital delays with your sound.
Predictably, the BBD chips are becoming less and less available, which might turn analog delay pedals into shadows of the past. Their sound still remains just as great as it used to be and for now the danger of the distinction of analog pedals seems like a far-fetched future.
Couples of the sounds: what kind of delay works with specific genres
No matter what kind of devices you are looking for, the very first thing you should always consider is the genre of your music. As for digital and analog delays, they will be best suited for different styles of music and that does not make any of them bad. The other thing that will determine your choice, is what you want your pedal to do with your sound. I will list several music genres below and give you some suggestions accordingly.
- If you play blues, jazz, country and classic rock, it is likely that you prefer vintage tones. For this, analog delay pedal will be the best match, since it will provide better reproduction of the sound.
- If you prefer surf music and psychedelic rock, you will need an analog delay. That is exactly what the great musicians of late 1960s and 1970s would use in order to generate those distinguished sounds.
- For those who play metal, grunge, modern hard rock and everything in between, digital delay will become an integral part of your pedal board. It provides more flexibility to really enhance your sound and give more dimension to it.
It is totally up to you what kind of delay you will choose. The list I have provided will just give you a general understanding of what combinations work best. But keep in mind that these are not rules and you can be as adventurous as you want when it comes to your sound.
How to choose a delay pedal
After we have discussed all the factors related to analog and digital delays, let’s dig into the specific characteristics of delay pedals. There are certain features that can never be overlooked and even shape the way you assess a delay pedal.
First things first, what are the key factors that determine your choice? Thanks to the plethora of delay pedals on the market, you can select the one that was made for you. But how to find the one? Generally, factors such as affordability, versatility, flexibility, precision, quality and size interfere with your choices. Think carefully about each of them and answer simple yes or no questions to determine, what matters to you, for example, does price play the most important role or is the versatility the main quality you are looking for? This will quickly filter out the options in your mind and dictate in what direction you should continue your search.
Now, after we have figured out what you are looking for, let’s take a look at the features, that make a good delay pedal.
Tap Tempo is basically a switch that you press repeatedly to set the delay time. It allows you to be more precise and is great addition if you play rhythmic music. It makes sure that your delays are spread evenly in time, which adds a little bit of precision to your tones. Not having a Tap Tempo is not a deal breaker, if your pedal can save your presets. All in all, this feature is very useful and can significantly improve your performance.
This feature will be especially important for perfectionists and professionals, who take their sound very seriously. Typically, almost every pedal has three basic controls: Delay Time, Feedback and Level. But more advanced pedals offer a bunch of other knobs, such as depth, speed, filter and etc. that let you shape your sound the way you would craft a clay figurine. The more controls a pedal has, the more defined and precise is the sound you generate.
Nowadays, many pedals provide you with the opportunity to connect to a smartphone or a computer and utilize the editor to adjust the settings or add even more effects to your tone. This is probably the most personal and subjective feature, because not everyone wants to overcomplicate the process of playing with even more devices. It is a good thing to consider, but not having it will not rack your world or detriment you from the ability to create amazing and precise tones.
Multiple Delay Types
Who does not love paying money for one pedal but receiving the features of the multiple? Many pedals offer different types of delays, which saves you a lot of money and space on your pedal board. They are equipped with several delay engines, that can be switched with just a twist of the knob (for example, Source Audio Nemesis or TC Electronic Flashback X40). Not only is it convenient, but it also provides you with a lot of flexibility and versatility. One delay pedal that has it all. What else could you wish for?
There are more features that your pedal can have, but these are the ones that interfere with your tone the most. Having them all combined in a single delay pedal, will make it easy for you to dial in any desirable sound. After all, engineers discover new things for one simple reason: they strive to simplify and improve our lives.
Hopefully, now you have a general outline of your preferences and things, what will make it easier to find the best delay pedal. It might be a little overwhelming, but trust me, the more you know, the better choice you will make. I wish I could tell you that you can pick out the most suitable pedal for you just by reading about it. You will never know unless you plug in. Try as many pedals as you can until the sound you hear is right. I have given you a lot of options to choose from. Unfortunately, my mission ends here. The rest is up to you!