Where and when did this technology arrive? The best analog delay pedals. Did they just appear one day unannounced? Well actually, yes, almost. The Bucket Brigade Device, the BBD, was the invention that changed the rules. It also was the start of a technological avalanche of sound. And none of it would have happened without the BBD.
In Holland, at the Philips factory in Eindhoven. ‘Bedankt Nederland.’ The analog delay was not the first type of BBD pedal unit, though. In 1974 the Flanger came first. The analog delay followed soon after, and here starts the argument.
Electro-Harmonix and Dynacord both make tentative claims for that honor, citing 1976 as their first prototypes. The problem with that claim is that we have a bit of first-hand knowledge here.
There was a rack-mounted analog delay in Jim Marshall’s new shop in Milton Keynes. That was 1976, and it was already built, and people were trying it out. It was on its way to the Record Plant in Los Angeles where Stevie Wonder was going to record with it. It was also used to create the voice source for Darth Vader in the first Star Wars films.
The first commercial stompbox analog delay pedal may well have been the Boss DM-2. A much-loved pedal at the time and still is. That was in 1981. Whoever was first is not that important. What was important was that we had it. It was unique and made a unique sound. A sound that, despite the wizardry of the digital age, no one has ever been able to faithfully reproduce.
Oh yes, we remember all the digital freaks saying analog was finished, digital was here. And then what happens? Digital now spend half their time recreating analog sounds. They can’t. And it is analog we all love. And even those too young to have been there might just admit that we had it right back then.
Today there are analog-like delay pedals. However, we’re going to take a look at the Best Analog Delay Pedals on the market and hopefully find the perfect one for you…
Top 8 Best Analog Delay Pedals In 2021 Reviews
1 MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
MXR was founded in 1974 in New York. It started off as an electrical repair business and evolved into making effects pedals. They made some pedals that were successful and, as a manufacturer, are highly thought of in some areas. They are now owned by Jim Dunlop, who continues to produce the pedals that defined MXR.
The Carbon copy uses BBD to create an entirely analog path inside a simple to use metal box. It is a compact unit and is a rugged little pedal you might call ‘road-ready.’ It has a modulation switch mounted on the top with three basic controls. Mix control allows you to blend the wet and dry signals to create exactly the sound you want.
The regeneration control determines the number of repeats. The number of repeats it will generate is infinite. It will just go if it is asked to. The final control is just for the delay with up to 600ms of delay time available. The width and rate are controlled by two trim pots located internally. It does not have a tap tempo control. That may be because MXR might be trying to stick to original design ideas, and tap tempo was not an option.
It has blue LED lights and will run off a 9v battery. There is a mains power supply option, which is an optional extra.
As you would expect, the sound is warm and rich and has that analog feel. With access to a basic but effective range of tonal options via the controls, it creates an impressive sound. It is a carbon copy, as the name suggests. So it does lack some of the features that modern digital delay effects pedals have. However, it is true bypass.
The M169 by MXR is a good analog delay offering some authentic-like sounds. It is well-built and quite rugged. It is towards the top end of the price scale, but it does produce a good sound.
- Authentic sounds and controls.
- Rugged and well-built.
- Not the cheapest option available.
2 Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog Delay
Donner is a manufacturer of effects pedals at the budget end of the market. They are often much smaller than the usual size pedal. This is an attempt to solve the eternal problem of space on a pedalboard. They come in for some unfair criticism at times. Often because they are made in China. It is interesting that the people who are complaining have houses full of products made in China. That seems to be ok?
This is a simple analog delay pedal. It makes no fancy claims as some do it is pure and simple a budget range pedal. It has an aluminum casing that is tough and capable of some heavy usage. The switch is also aluminum and has a rugged build.
The controls are simple to operate and include the usual. They are described a little differently. The mix is labeled as Echo, and the Feedback control is the number of repetitions. Time is the timing of delays. The Time knob is larger than the others to allow easy changes in a live situation. It has true bypass.
One of its assets is its size. At 4.7 inches by 3 inches by 2.5 inches. It is not going to take up too much room on your board and weighs just 8 ounces. It should be noted that this is an analog-voiced delay pedal and is driven by a digital chip, not BBD technology.
Therefore, what you are getting is an analog sound created by a digital pedal. As such, the sounds are quite nice and close to being authentic. It does not run off a battery but uses a power supply.
For the money, it is a good buy. Compact in size and easy to use; it is a nice pedal at a very affordable price.
- Easy to use in a compact size.
- Affordable price point.
- Some will not like the small size.
3 Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay Pedal
This pedal by Seymour Duncan is recreating the warm, ambient sound of the analog delay. It uses similar technological ideas but incorporates modern technology to enhance the sound. The sound of the analog delay is something that every guitar player wants and, in most cases, needs.
This pedal gives you those sounds but includes a few extras as well. The Vapour Trail has a TRS FX loop. This lets you send the wet signal into additional effects giving you even more sound options.
The controls are located on the top of the pedal for convenience. They include Delay and Repeat along with the Mix and Rate controls. The major controls are built large enough to be able to alter quickly if necessary. To make sure your basic tone is not affected when you are not using the pedal, it has True Bypass.
It has a strong metal construction with an aluminum button, and has two ¼” sockets one out and one in. It runs off a 9v battery or an optional power supply, which is not included.
There isn’t a digital pedal that can recreate that analog delay sound. This pedal, analog design with but with some digital parts, does create it. It is a very typical sound. And you can’t stray too far away from it even though there are a few options.
This is a good delay pedal, but on the other hand, it is quite expensive, which might put people off. As analog delay pedals go, it is a good option.
- Tough and well-built.
- Produces some good analog delay sounds.
- It might be considered expensive.
4 Behringer VD400 Vintage Analog Delay Effects Pedal
Our friends from Germany have produced their Analog delay pedal the VD400 Vintage. We have looked at a lot of Behringer products. In fact, we use some of them ourselves. We are always impressed by their functionality. They do what they say they are going to do. And they do it without making a whole load of noise about it. What a refreshing change.
In terms of manufacturing, Behringer is quite new kids on the block. Formed in Germany in 1989, they have a simple goal. They want to produce good quality equipment at an affordable price. This is a very good example of that philosophy.
This analog delay has been designed to replicate that original sound. Controls are easy to manage and are located on the top of the unit in a convenient size. The dials are not graded by numbers but purely by low to high settings. The controls Repeat, Intensity, and Echo.
It will offer up to 300ms of delay, which is not the greatest amount. There is also an LED light that shows off or on and acts as a battery check. It is very similar in its design to the Boss analog delay. It operates from a 9v battery. The power adapter is an optional extra.
In our opinion, it competes with analog delays that cost an awful lot more. It has a somewhat dark and moody sound. Very atmospheric, but it is still clear and precise. The controls offer a spectrum of possible sounds. It works beautifully.
This pedal is just one more example of Behringer producing pedals capable of taking on the leading brands. But at a fraction of the price. And the price point? Quite unbelievable, really. It has got to be considered as the best analog delay pedal, especially at this price.
- Excellent sounds and plenty of scope to create your own.
- Very affordable price for a great pedal.
- The build is a bit lightweight, so it needs care.
5 Boss DM-2W
How can we not include one of the most distinctive analog delays of them all? Or, as one prominent guitarist called it, ‘The Guvnor’ of delay pedals. Not the original, of course, that came out in 1977, and we said goodbye in 1984.
This is a reproduction of that vintage pedal icon. It gives us once more that revered and greatly missed Boss DM-2 sound and performance. Plus, it is an all-analog circuitry with genuine BBD design. It is Boss, the guvnor.
It is built with that instantly recognizable rugged Boss look. A tough metal casing and that robust pedal we have all grown so accustomed to. A ‘real’ stomp pedal this one. The circuit is all analog with a BBD delay with a 20-800ms delay.
The controls are simply laid out with Repeat, Intensity, and Echo. On top of the three basic controls, there is also a rocker switch. That will offer you a choice between Standard and Custom mode.
Hands up who can remember the brooding atmospheric, almost dark sound of the original. Well, standard mode gives you that. Do we need any more? I hear you ask. Just in case you do, there is Custom mode. That will increase the delay time to 800 ms and also add a little extra to the echo repeats.
The difference between the two modes is quite surprising. It is not a little extra included that means and does nothing. There is a real difference in sound.
The unit has two line inputs and two line outputs. Both are 1’4″ jack sockets. Power comes off a 9-volt battery. It doesn’t have tap tempo as it is a reproduction of the original. Tap tempo wasn’t around then. It is not True Bypass but is buffered, which some people prefer.
As you might expect from a visit to the past. Built with complete analog circuitry, it delivers a rich sound that was so much a part of the period. It isn’t cheap, but then real quality never is. This is not an original pedal, nor is it the price of an original. But it is as close as you can come to an iconic DM-2. The best analog delay pedal? It is going to take some beating.
- Great build with that typical Boss rugged look.
- Delivers a great sound and adds some extras.
- The price will put some off.
6 CNZ Audio Analog Delay Guitar Effects Pedal
CNZ has produced a range of pedals they call the Vintage series. Their analog delay is one of that series. This is one of those pedal designs that are for players with a packed pedalboard who want to put in more.
It is compact in size at 3.75 inches by 1.77 by 1.9 inches, and despite its metal aluminum construction, it is lightweight. It has a strong feel to it and has a rubber layer on the bottom to make it stable.
The controls are firm and solid, and the button is built to last. The vintage retro feel of the pedal is completed by the design pattern, which has a very 70s style to it.
Controls are basic, which if you are designing a vintage-like pedal, they should be. The main control is the centrally located Time dial. This will do what it says and just adjusts the delay speed. Two further smaller dials are the Echo control for how many repeats or the length of each echo.
Also, the Feedback gives you the option to develop the texture of the delay by using feedback volume. Have a low setting will keep the sound crisp and sharp. Increasing the volume will pad out the sound and make it thicker.
Very basic in what they do but nevertheless able to create sounds reminiscent of days past. It offers 1 to 10 settings that can be adjusted through the Time control.
CNZ has created a good delay pedal with this product. No frills and nothing fancy. But that is the point. In the heady days, when everything was analog, there was very little frilly and fancy. It didn’t need it; the basic sound was what counted. We suppose that is why so much time and effort, and of course money is spent trying to recreate those sounds.
This little pedal is a tough little thing. Well made, great sounds with the same basic features. At the price point, which we feel is exceptional value, it is a great option — certainly one of the best analog delay pedals.
As a rider, the guys that own the company are involved in raising standards of living and education in Uganda — bringing music and a better life to the underprivileged. Hats off to them. We like that. Not enough of it these days. Good on yer CNZ.
- Well-built and tough, compact size and looks great.
- Good variety in basic sounds at an affordable price.
- Only that some people don’t like the smaller pedals.
7 Rowin Analog Vintage Delay Guitar Effect Pedal
This delay pedal is more a mixture of recreated old sounds mixed with newer delay sounds. As such, it isn’t strictly a vintage analog echo. It will suit someone who wants a flavor of the analog sound they can adapt to modern delays.
It’s actually a very similar pedal to the Donner pedal we have already looked at. It even has the same yellow color casing. It is a very low-cost budget pedal. As such, it isn’t going to set the world of analog deals on fire. It will, though, give you a simulation of delay. If we are, to be honest, though, it is more digital than analog.
By calling itself a vintage analog pedal through, it is stretching the reality a little bit.
It is easy to use with its three control knobs that give Echo, the Time ratios from 20-620ms, and Feedback to dictate the number of repetitions. And it is true bypass. At just 3.7 inches by 1.8 by 1.9 inches, it is very compact. And it isn’t going to take up too much room on your pedalboard.
It will not give you those lush dark tones of the analog delay pedals. However, it is a good option for those seeking a cheaper delay pedal.
- Compact size.
- Very affordable delay unit.
- Not a high-quality performance.
8 Ibanez Analog Delay Mini Pedal
Ibanez may not be the first name that springs to mind when considering analog delay pedals. They are far better known for their guitars, bass guitars, and amplifiers. Nevertheless, they have a range of effects pedals, and this is one.
This analog delay is a pedal that might surprise you. As is becoming more common these days, it is built in a ‘mini’ design. It measures just 8 inches by 8 by 8 inches, so is small enough to fit into an already busy board.
The build quality is good with a metal casing and a tough button. The color is interesting, but that is of no real importance. The signal path is completely Analog that delivers a rich, warm sound. It certainly creates a sound that relates to the late 70s and early 80s. That is what analog pedals should be all about.
It has the same three controls that perform the same tasks as just about all other pedals though sometimes they do have different names. With this Ibanez pedal, it is Repeat, Blend, and Delay time. The Blend mixing the wet and dry signals. The other two controls are self-explanatory, but the Delay time includes a range of 20ms to 600ms. Not as wide as some offer.
It has true bypass switching, so when it is turned off, it will not affect your tone. We have to say we were quite pleasantly surprised by the pedal. It has a good build and produces a really nice sound with plenty of options.
It has a price point that is set in the middle of the competition. This makes it an affordable option. Certainly, it is a decent pedal with good sound and worth considering. The only negative we can see is that because of its compact size; it does not take a battery. The negative in that is that no adapter is included to plug it in, it is an extra.
- Good build quality with a tough exterior at an affordable price.
- Produces a nice vintage sound.
- To plug it in, you need an adapter, which is extra.
Best Analog Delay Pedals Buyer’s Guide
“Get Back To Where You Once Belonged…”
It was an interesting period in music. That time when everything was new and we experienced things for the first time. But it wasn’t just new; it had a purpose and a reason. The same thinking doesn’t seem to apply today.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons we are constantly looking back. And in musical terms looking back to the days of the analog pedal and especially the analog delay is special.
In many ways, it pushed music in another direction through the likes of Pink Floyd. Now we have a digital delay that has its place but can never transcend the analog sound. That is why people are always trying to recreate it. They can’t do it precisely, of course, but in some cases, they can get close.
Buying Your Analog Delay
It is a bit of a misnomer because very few use analog circuitry with no digital interference; it’s just how things are made today. There is no need for pure BBD technology. It is easier, quicker, and a lot cheaper to go partly down the digital route.
Some pedals try to rely on digital technology to create the sound. The more they use it, the further they go away from it. All you can really do is get as close as you can. And some pedals get very close.
You will need a pedal that will control the length of the delay, and they all do that to similar lengths. The other controls will all be basic. Basic is what the pedal was. When they try to add on digital options, the pedal has ‘lost its vintage’ in our view. You might just as well buy a modern one. Don’t look for tap tempo either; It wasn’t invented so it can hardly be included.
You should look for a nice solid metal-based build. All the best analog delay pedals need to have good strong controls and a road-ready push button. The size of the pedal is up to you. Small pedals are fine and fit easily on already cramped boards. The downside is they don’t take batteries. Larger pedals take batteries and don’t need a mains supply.
At The End Of The Day, It Is About One Thing… The Sound.
Nothing else. Not the color of the pedal, where it is made, or anything. The sound. We all think we know what the analog pedals sounded like. Usually, we don’t. Go back to your old stuff and remind yourself of what it really sounded like rather than what you think it sounds like.
If you like it, then that’s what you should look for. Lush, warm, atmospheric, even slightly dark and forbidding. Ask Dave Gilmour. The analog sound. Nothing quite like it.
More Pedals For Your Board…
Need something to go with your great-sounding new delay? If so, check out our reviews of the Best EQ Pedals, the Best Noise Gate Pedals, the Best Tremolo Pedals, the Best Boost Pedals, and the Best Phaser Pedals currently available.
Plus, you’ll obviously need the Best Guitar Pedalboard to put them all on.
So, What’s The Best Analog Delay Pedals?
This is so hard because there are some really good pedals we have looked at. We must remind ourselves that we are looking for the very best of the best analog delay pedals. That is not the same as the most cost-effective delay pedal or the best value for money delay pedal.
If that were the case, our choice would be different and might extend to far cheaper models. Especially including the excellent CNZ Audio Analog Delay Guitar Effects Pedal or the very good Behringer VD400. Those would probably have been competing for our choice for the best value for money analog delay pedal.
But we are looking for the best pedal. Is there any other choice we could make? It has to be the…
An icon then and still is. Our choice for the very best of the best analog delay pedals.