Delay pedals are often the first port of call for guitarists looking to add some flavor and texture to their sound. Delay opens up endless possibilities of adding additional instrumental layers and rhythmic interest into your guitar playing.
The humble delay pedal has come a long way since its inception over 50 years ago. Though simpler units are still popular, delays are increasingly multi-function units capable of effectively replicating multiple tones and in multiple different applications.
The choice of delay pedals currently available has never been larger. Therefore, to narrow the field down, we’re going to take a look at ten of the best digital delay pedals currently available…
Top 10 Best Digital Delay Pedals In 2021 Reviews
1 Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal
Let’s dive in with the first of our best digital delay pedals, the classic Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal.
There are very few guitarists who won’t currently have or have had, at least, one Boss pedal on their board. Boss has been around, well, forever, really. Boss was at the very forefront of developing and manufacturing delay pedals in the ’70s.
The Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal can produce up to 6.4 seconds of delay. It has a tap tempo and a modulation for chorus-like sounds. What’s more, there’s an analog mode that has been carefully designed to emulate the beloved DM-2.
Additional features include; Feedback, Delay Time, and Effect Level that can all be controlled through an external Expression Pedal. There’s also a hold mode and two stereo inputs and outputs.
The controls are easy to use and intuitive. You’ll have absolutely no problem here in quickly dialing in your preferred tone. While the sound is nice and clean whilst retaining an element of warmth.
Analog mode is one of the main selling points of this pedal. Built with the Boss DM-2 in mind, there’s no doubt it has some of the same sound characteristics. Not a perfect copy, but with enough warmth to make it a viable option to purchasing alternate dedicated analog pedals.
The Modulate mode will provide a chorus-style sound, though rate and depth can’t be controlled. The Reverse mode produces some spacey, psychedelic tones to channel into your inner Prog Rock soul. Finally, the Tap Tempo is easy enough to use but is definitely a lot smoother with an external footswitch. If you’re playing live, we thing the external footswitch is the way to go.
- Solid and sturdy.
- Great value.
- Feature-packed single stomp-pedal.
- Good analog sound.
- Tap Tempo.
- The tap Tempo is clunky to operate.
2 TC Electronic Flashback Mini
TC Electronics is another company with a long history of pedal design and manufacturing. With the TC Electronic Flashback Mini, they have poured all their experience and amazing delay tones into a tiny package.
This is a simple three control knob design delay pedal. There are controls for delay time, feedback, and the FX level. The delay time gives up to a total of 7 seconds, ample for producing some huge echoes.
We think you’ll agree that the audio-tapping, found in the larger version of the same pedal, is pretty cool. This works holding down the footswitch and then strumming a muted guitar to set the tempo. That’s a lot easier than having to repeatedly stomp on the footswitch to set the tempo.
Another cool feature of this pedal is that, as with the previous TC pedal we reviewed, it’s equipped with TonePrint. This allows you to load your preferred delay tones and settings via your Android or IOS device. The TonePrint allows you to sculpt your own delay tones and have total control of your sound, as well as download 1000’s of other delay tones from celebrities as well as fellow guitarists from the TC website.
The pedal is True Bypass with no tonal coloration. Additionally, there’s even a Kill-Dry on/off switch, operated via the Tone Print Editor, to ensure no loss of tone. More good news is that regardless of the pedal being on or off, the dry sound will always pass through the pedal.
There’s undoubtedly plenty of great tones to be had out of this mini package.
- Tap-Tempo feature.
- Equipped with TonePrint.
- 0-7 second time delay.
- Large tonal range.
- Solid build quality.
- None at all.
3 JOYO D-SEED BUNDLE Acoustic Guitar Nut
Let’s welcome the new kids on the block. Joyo is a Chinese pedal manufacturer who produces a variety of inexpensive pedals. The JOYO D-SEED delay pedal looks well-made and sturdy. This doesn’t have the look and feel of a cheap pedal. What’s more, the design and layout of the knobs and controls are clear and logical.
The pedal has the usual standard single mono audio input and output plus an external switch output. On the front of the pedal are four smooth operating knobs that control; mix, mode, delay time and feedback. The Mode Control can be used to dial in; copy, analog, modulation, or reverse.
It should, however, be noted here that modulation levels cannot be controlled.
This has a dual-channel memory making it possible to store two different delay settings. To save your pre-set delay, simply press the channel memory button and then press again to recall. The cool thing is these settings are even saved once the unit is switched off.
Tap-Tempo mode is activated by pressing both the channel and bypass button simultaneously. You then have to press them both again to set the tempo, which can be anywhere between 0-6 seconds — way too fiddly to operate, in our opinion.
The variety of delays available is impressive from such an inexpensive unit. The sound is clear from all the modes, and we particularly liked the analog setting, which had a full, warm sound to it.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Great value.
- Ability to save two delay settings.
- Delay settings saved when the unit switched off.
- Warm analog mode.
- Tap-Tempo awkward to operate.
- No stereo out.
4 Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper
There’s plenty going on with this standard-sized pedal from Electro Harmonix. And this is a delay and looper pedal with a total of nine delay modes, a sample, a hold, and a looper.
The nine delay modes are; ECHO, MOD, MULTI, REVRS, DMM, TAPE, VERB, OCT, SHIM. Unfortunately, changing between modes is a little fiddly. A simple click into place for each mode would have been much easier.
The looper has a maximum loop time of 62 seconds, and delay times are anywhere between 3ms to 3 seconds.
It’s got all the usual control knobs for level, delay, and feedback. The really cool thing is that holding down the divide button for two seconds changes delay and feedback into secondary custom settings. These include; volume swells, modulation rate, low pass filtering, and reverb time and tone.
That’s an impressive array of effects and features for such a small pedal. However, packing so much into something so small does have its problems. One of these is that there’s no indicator to show when you’ve accessed the secondary setting, which can make things a little confusing.
There’s Tap-Tempo, which can be operated on-board or by an external footswitch.
Looking at the sound, there are plenty of highlights. Possible one of the best settings is DMM (Deluxe Memory Man). Take a listen to the DMM mode, and we’re sure you’ll agree that it beautifully reproduces the original warm analog tones of this legendary pedal.
Other highlights include the shimmer mode that models four effects – two delays, compressor, and pitch shifter. These are able to produce some incredibly atmospheric textures rarely seen on such compact and inexpensive units.
The Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper,White is a great choice for guitarists looking for a pedal that can produce a wide variety of tones in a small and affordable package. Though it lacks the ability to bank your favorite sounds, given its price and the actual excellent sound quality, this is a very convincing package indeed.
- It has a looper.
- There are secondary custom settings.
- Amazing value.
- Compact size.
- Great tones.
- Nine different tone modes.
- No indicator to show when the secondary custom settings are being accessed.
- It cannot save your preferred settings.
5 TC Electronic Guitar Delay Pedal (960823001)
Here’s another pedal from our friends at TC Electronics. Although, this is an altogether more complicated pedal than the Flashback Mini.
The Flashback 2 Delay offers a total of seven different delays and a looping function. On the same control knob, there are three separate slots to save your preferred sound settings. The operation is well laid-out, and it’s great to see presets on-board the pedal to save your tones.
The three other control knobs are the standard delay, feedback, and level.
Like the Flashback Mini, the Flashback 2 is also equipped with TonePrint. The good news is that, since Flashback 2 has the ability to save three sound settings, TonePrint sounds become usable in live situations.
Once you’ve loaded your preferred tones and settings from either your IOS Android or device, you can obviously save three of them. Sculpting your own delay tones, therefore, becomes so much more usable and practical.
One of the unique features of the Flashback 2 is the MASH technology. MASH, when activated, enables the footswitch to become pressure-sensitive, and can be used in the same way as an external expression pedal would be. MASH won’t give you the same level of feel and control as an external unit, but it’s still a pretty neat option to have.
The Flashback 2 has mono and stereo input and outputs. The stereo input doubles up as an external link for controlling Tap-Tempo via a footswitch. Since they introduced MASH technology, the Tap-Tempo featured in previous models is not present here. That means you have to use an external switch if it’s something you’re going to need.
There’s a lot packed into this small unit. There’s plenty of tonal shaping onboard and an infinite amount of sounds that can be shaped before being uploaded. This is a versatile and great sounding pedal at a very affordable price.
- Ability to save three sound settings.
- MASH technology.
- Seven tone modes.
- Good build quality.
- No on-board Tap-Tempo.
6 Boss DD-20 Giga Delay
This is the first of two larger style pedals we’re going to take a look at in our Best Digital Delay Pedals review. The Boss SS-20 Giga Delay is claimed by Boss to be there most powerful pedal. OK. We can believe that. There’s no doubt that there’s plenty of functions and features to this pedal. There’s also no doubt that it’s not one of the easiest or most straightforward to use.
This dual-delay pedal has a built-in LCD screen and no fewer than 11 delay modes. The four other knobs control delay time, tone, FX level, and Feedback. Additionally, there are four custom presets and Tap-Tempo.
The delay time is displayed on the LCD and can go from 10ms up to a maximum of 23 seconds. The LCD display also allows you to keep track of Tap-Tempo, output mode, external pedals, and dual-mode functions.
The two-pedal set-up allows for switching seamlessly between different delays. The left pedal switches effects on and off and can also be used to change various functions of some effects. The right pedal is used for tap tempo and for seamless switching between stored and manually set presets.
Although having four presets is undoubtedly useful, the fact is, with more modern units having presets in their hundreds, four does seem a little tame.
The Boss DD-20 Giga Delay, like most Boss pedals, can be linked to an external footswitch. However, unlike some other Boss pedal, it can’t be hooked up to an expression pedal. That’s a shame.
The sound of the Boss is crisp and clear, and very much what you’d expect from a digital pedal. Both the Analogue and Tape modes do, of course, give some warmer sound if that’s what you’re after. Additionally, there’s the option of using the EQ tone knob to dial in more treble or bass to suit your sound.
This overall a great sounding pedal with plenty of available soundscaping and built with road in mind.
- 11 Modes available.
- Seamless switching between modes.
- Solid build quality.
- Great sounding.
- Only four presets.
- Cannot use an external expression pedal.
7 TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay Guitar Pedal
Before we get into the Nova delay, let’s consider the history of TC Electronics. Even though they are now known for incredible quality affordable pedals, historically, they are most known in the professional musical world for their groundbreaking digital delays and reverbs.
Their 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay is the holy grail of delays, and every serious studio owns one. And understandably, this has led to it being used on countless hit records. It is also the mainstay of many professional players racks, including Pink Floyds David Gilmore and The Edge from U2.
This is the heritage that TC Electronic has, which is evident in every delay pedal they make, regardless of the cost.
The Nova Delay Guitar Pedal is a feature-rich pedal that sets itself apart from a lot of the standard-sized pedals with its level of versatility. It has six high-quality tone modes, which include; Delay Line, Dynamic, Reverse, Ping Pong, Pan, and Slapback. What’s more, levels of modulation and different note subdivisions can also be added and included.
The five knobs, from left to right – control, Delay, Feedback, Color, Mod Level, and Mix Level. Color can offer the addition of digital, analog, or tape-style delay. Mix sets the level between the dry and the effected signal.
Another nice feature we really like is ‘Spillover,’ which allows you to turn the delay off without cutting off before the signal has finished.
There’s audio Tap-Tempo and nine programmable presets. The audio Tap-Tempo allows you to set the tempo by engaging the tempo button, which mutes the volume, and then you strum your guitar to set your desired tempo.
There are two inputs and two outputs so you can run the Nova in mono or stereo.
The one huge plus about this pedal is that it’s easy to use, and the layout feels intuitive. Once you have your desired tone dialed in, the display makes it clear exactly what settings or presets you’re currently at. Additionally, when you turn the knobs to make a change, a numerical value is displayed to assist you.
We’re sure you’ll all agree this is all good stuff.
Whilst this is easy to use, the latest generations of larger style delay pedals are equally well-laid out and offer more in terms of presets, tonal choices, and programmability. However, the one area the TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay Guitar Pedal can on occasions trump the new kids on the block is with its killer tone. We started this review by mentioning the TC heritage, that is what you hear in this pedal!
There’s no doubt you get some really clear and pristine quality tones with the Nova.
- Easy to use.
- Audio Tap-Tempo mode.
- Spillover mode.
- Killer tones.
- Excellent on-board display.
- Cannot load external pre-sets.
- The instruction manual is not clear.
8 Mooer Reecho, Digital Delay Pedal
Mooer is a Chinese company that focuses on affordable micro guitar pedals. The Mooer Reecho, digital delay pedal is a true bypass pedal. Since it’s a micro pedal, there’s no room for the normally ubiquitous 9V battery. This is a 9V adapter only powered pedal.
The pedal has very few controls. The main three knobs are for; Time, E.Level, and F.Back. The Time control is the central and largest of the three knobs can dial in delay anywhere between 5ms to 780ms. There’s a toggle switch at the top of the pedal, which allows you to change between three modes; Analog, Real Echo, and Tape Echo.
The Analog setting does a competent job of simulating a warm and smooth delay. It’s not up to the same standard you’d expect from a dedicated analog delay pedal, but it gets close. Real Echo provides a natural-sounding delay. And finally, Tape Echo does a good job of emulating the spacey style of delay you get from a vintage tape delay pedal.
For such a small, compact, and inexpensive pedal, the Mooer Reecho delay pedal offers some good quality delay. There is a good, clean signal with very little unwanted noise. There’s absolutely nothing complicated about this pedal, and some surprisingly warm and authentic tones can be dialed in almost instantly.
For guitarists looking for a small, affordable, and easy to use pedal, this will certainly tick all the boxes. The choice of tones available is nowhere as expansive at some, but they’re sufficient for the majority of needs in most situations.
- Good tones from the three modes.
- Good build quality.
- Easy to use.
- Limited choice of effects.
- No Tap-Tempo.
9 Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay Pedal
Tom’sline is another Chinese company that makes a range of no-nonsense and highly affordable pedals.
The fact is, there are actually less expensive delay pedals out there, but honestly, not many. With this in mind, you might be expecting some low build-quality and cheap components. In our experience, and probably in yours, too, this is usually the case.
Well, be prepared to be surprised, because this is a really well-made pedal, with some good quality components. All the switches and knobs on the Tom’sline delay feel solid and operate well. The case is well finished and solid. The footswitch operates smoothly and could easily be found on a top of the range pedal.
What’s more, we particularly like the metal bar that protects the controls from being disturbed when the footswitch is being operated. A great idea and something we’d like to see on a lot more micro pedals.
As far as the controls are concerned, these are well laid-out and simple to operate. There are three knobs to control; Delay, Level, and Regen. There is a toggle switch to select three different delay modes which are; Echo, Mod, and Normal. And other than the obligatory footswitch, that’s your lot, nice and easy.
Delay will go up to a perfectly respectable 838ms.
In echo mode, the delay has a really nice analog vibe going on. Modulation does a nice job of creating some ambient sounds. In normal mode, you get some of those classic digital delay sounds. The quality of the delay is surprisingly clear and pristine, given how inexpensive it is.
This is a simple to use pedal that would be a great buy for anyone starting to build their pedal collection, or for the more cost-conscious guitarist.
- Excellent build quality.
- Good delay tones.
- Great value for money.
- Easy to use.
- No Tap-Tempo.
- Requires a 9V adapter.
10 Strymon Timeline Delay
The Strymon Timeline delay is easily the most expensive of the Best Digital Delay Pedals we’re reviewing. Quite frankly, for the price, we’d not only expect it to produce some kickass delay tones, but we’d also expect it to make the tea and answer the door.
OK, the first thing to say is that, yes, the Strymon really will produce every kind of delay you can think of and thousands more that you’re yet to imagine. It has 12 different kinds of delay, seven different tone-shaping knobs, 200 easily accessible pre-sets, looper, three foot-switches, and more. It has Midi, stereo external, and expression control inputs.
The Strymon basically utilizes every bit of some seriously powerful processing power to bring a huge range of incredible-sounding delay sounds to your fingertips, and to your boots, of course!
All this choice is great; however, what’s even more impressive is the way everything is laid out. This is so well thought out, intuitive and logical. There are no more buttons than there needs to be, and there are no less either. You could get your granny to dial in some sweet tones for you, and what’s more, she’d have it worked out in seconds.
The other great strength is its amazing sound quality. Whatever mode or style of delay you choose, you can be sure of producing the very best of tones. From crystal clear and pristine digital delay to analog-style warm and fuzzy repeats, it can do it all.
If you’re only ever going to buy one delay pedal, then The Strymon Timeline would be a great choice. The only downside is that for the cost of one of these you could buy yourself a decent guitar. Consequently, the Timeline may well be the choice for the more seasoned and serious guitarist.
- Huge choice of delay sounds.
- 200 pre-sets.
- Really easy to use.
- Excellent build quality.
- Great sound quality.
Best Digital Delay Pedals Buying Guide
What Is Delay?
Delay is essentially an effect that’s time-based and copies the incoming signal. Subsequently, the recording of the original signal is then played back. The repeat of the signal may be played back once or multiple times. The length of time between the repeat and also the number of repeats can be altered.
When delay dialed in at under 30ms, the human ear becomes incapable of separating the repeats. Although we’re unable to hear, these separate sounds delay can still be used to generally thicken up the sound and add ambiance.
Over 30ms as your ear begins to register the repeats, you’re free to use delay to create an infinite number of new soundscapes and new possibilities. Delay can add additional rhythmic interest, it can give the effect of multiple instruments playing, or it can create out of this world aethereal sounds.
What Is Digital Delay?
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips are the heart of digital delay pedals and are utilized to create the echo effect. Digital delays create a clean and transparent sound that won’t change or color the tone unless programmed to do so.
DSP chips change the received signal from analog to digital before converting it back again to analog. When a modern-style multi-mode delay pedal is used, as the signal is converted back to analog, the DSP chip is able to simulate different types of delay and affect long delay times, if required.
This digital technology allows modern-day pedals to inexpensively reproduce classic tones from the beloved analog pedals of old. Additionally, as technology is improving, so too is the sound quality and the authenticity of the original tones these pedals are trying to emulate.
Whilst it’s true that digital pedals still don’t necessarily have the warmth, and sound exactly the same as a pure analog pedal with Bucket Brigade Chip (BBD) technology. The fact is a lot of people are going to struggle to hear the difference.
Does Size Matter?
With DSP chip technology as good as it is today, then to some extent size is not as important as it once was. Modern chips and circuits are way smaller than even twenty years ago, so substantially more can be fitted into a much smaller space without compromising sound quality or function.
If you want a digital pedal with just two or three delay modes and standard controls for delay time, feedback, and FX level, a mini pedal should be just fine. Three of the pedals we’ve reviewed; TC Electronic Flashback Mini, Mooer Reecho, and Tom’sline Engineering Digital Delay Pedal would all nicely fit the bill if space on your board is at a premium.
Anything over this kind of basic functionality, and you’re going to have to move up to a standard-sized pedal or larger. If you go for a more complicated multi-function pedal, particularly if you’re playing live, we’d advise you to go for one that’s not only easy to use but also has plenty of footswitch operability.
The Strymon Timeline is hard to beat for a bells and whistles delay pedal that’s also easy to use.
Once you’ve bought your dream digital delay pedal, you’re going to need somewhere to keep it, so please check out our reviews of the Best Guitar Pedal Boards. However, it might get lonely on there all by itself, so take a look at our reviews of the Best Flanger Pedal, the Best Reverb Pedal, the Best Phaser Pedals, the Best EQ Pedals, and the Best Tremolo Pedals currently available, so that it has some company.
So, What Are The Best Digital Delay Pedals?
So, there we have it, a broad range of delay pedals to fit most guitarists’ needs and budget. Whilst our needs as guitarists do vary, a lot, we do think that a modern-day digital pedal should have at least three modes, three pre-sets, be easy to use, and a Tap-Tempo function. Good quality sound is, of course, a given.
The pedal we think best fits this description is the…
The TC Electronic Flashback 2 Delay fulfills these criteria, and more, perfectly.
That’s our choice, and we hope you find the digital delay pedal that’s right for you.