Please Note: only dedicated tape echo pedals are covered here!
For a more comprehensive article about delays organized by type, see our Best Delay Pedals article. While many multi-mode delay pedals also offer a “tape echo mode,” this article focuses exclusively on stompboxes that were designed with the single goal of emulating vintage tape echo machines.
Last Updated on November 28, 2022
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TOP TAPE ECHO PEDALS WITH REAL TAPE
All the other pedals listed in this article use digital or analog circuitry to emulate the character of tape machines, an approach that has the undeniable advantage of saving a lot of space and maintenance costs. However, for the “tape purists” out there, we can’t omit that there are some pricey echo pedals by Danish manufacturer T-Rex that use actual tape!
T-Rex is the only manufacturer that has designed delay pedals with a real tape circuit. The first release, dated 2016, was the $1,200 Replicator, an echo pedal with an easily replaceable cartridge that replicates the sound of the vintage tape echo units but surpasses them in features through tap tempo functionality, two playback heads and three output modes, chorus mode, two expression pedal inputs for delay time and feedback. – Buy it New on Amazon – Look for deals on Reverb.com
A few years later the Danish company unveiled the Replicator Junior, a streamlined version of the same circuit with three knobs on the front panel (Level, Feedback, Time), Tap Tempo footswitch, and Saturation knob and Kill Dry switch on the back panel, featuring the same basic circuit and tape cartridge as its bigger brother. – Buy it New on Amazon – Look for deals on Reverb.com
TOP DSP-BASED TAPE ECHO PEDALS
In this list, you will find comprehensive (and rather pricey) DSP-based effects pedals that thoroughly emulate the behavior of the tape echo machines of yesteryear, featuring several modes and in most cases allowing control of several aspects of the virtual tape’s character, from the sound degradation to the wow and flutter factor.
- Strymon El Capistan V2
A lush stereo emulation of a vintage Tape Echo device, in a cleverly simple box, plus a set spring reverb. It offers three Tape modes emulating different reading head configurations (Fixed, Multi and Single) and three ways to slightly tweak each one of them. Separate controls for Tape Age and Wow and Flutter. Sound on Sound mode allows you to use it as a looper.
- BOSS RE-202
An accurate stereo digital recreation of the original Space Echo with expanded tones and functionality: “New” and “Aged” tape modes; Saturation and Wow & Flutter knobs; A fourth virtual tape head for extra fx combinations;
Independent reverb section with spring, hall, plate, room, and ambience modes;
Momentary functions for the footswitches
double the delay time, presets, Tap tempo and Midi.
- Strymon Volante
A stereo delay/looper that emulates three of the most sought-after vintage delay devices: tape echo, drum, and reel-to-reel. Controls allow you to fine tune the character, fidelity, brightness, saturation and age of the repeats, for more or less vintage-sounding results. Presets, Tap Tempo and spring reverb are some of the many extras.
- Nux Tape Echo
- Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe
- Strymon Deco
- Empress Tape Delay
- Geckoplex EP5 Delay/Reverb
BEST TAPE DELAY PEDALS WITH LO-FI CONTROLS
The devices in this list are not DSP-based (featuring in most – if not all – cases a digital PT2399 chip) but nonetheless offer dedicated controls for both wow and flutter (aka warble or modulation) and other lo-fi qualities of tape like noise and signal degradation. In this list, you’ll find some pedals inspired by the sonic character of VHS tape.
- Jam Pedals Delay Lama Xtreme
A beefed-up version of the popular original delay with unusual functionality. 800ms of delay can be manipulated through a 4-Mode section that offers either Vibrato or “tape Age” character or Random repeats or Pitch shifting. Tap tempo with subdivision, hold function, kill dry, trails, and expression/CV input round up the list of features.
- Demedash T-120 V2 Videotape Echo
An echo with a character voiced after the lo-fi sound of VHS tapes. The Tape Quality knob exacerbates the lo-fi aspect, while Depth and Speed control the modulation. V2 adds soft switching, momentary activation, and 2 added ‘secondary’ parameters (Glide & Randomize).
- Recovery Cutting Room
A versatile, hand-wired pedal offering wild modulation, delay, freeze and stutter effects, with a lo-fi angle. The Wow knob controls both intensity and modulation parameters, while the Stability control acts in conjunction with it as a tape deterioration effect. The freeze button allows swelling momentary effects.
- Pladask Elektrisk Taken
- Industrialectric Echo Degrader
- Zander Tape Deck
- MI Audio Lo-Fi Delay
- Asheville Music Tools Analoger ADG-1
- Lone Wolf VHS
BEST TAPE DELAY PEDALS WITH MODULATION AND FIXED CHARACTER
This is a rather popular category of tape echo-style effects that allow control over the modulation of the repeats but offer no tweakable setting for lo-fi character. Many boast extra features like presets, tap tempo and subdivisions, though, and some also have a traditional tone knob.
- BOSS RE-2
A virtual multi-head tape machine offering the authentic sound of the original Space Echo, in mono or stereo. A rotary knob sweeps through 11 modes (each simulating a different configuration of the tape heads), and three dual ‘concentric” knobs deal with: Echo Level, Intensity, Rate, (stereo) Reverb, Tone and Wow & Flutter. Tap Tempo and Twist momentary effect are accessible through the footswitch.
- Catalinbread Belle Epoch
A pedal recreation of the classic Echoplex EP-3, it emulates the original’s preamp color, self-oscillation character, saturation behavior, the decay of the repeats and the wow and flutter. The last three effects can be controlled through the Rec Leve, Sustain and Mod knobs.
- Keeley Eccos
A stereo recreation of tape-style delay with an extra looper, powered by a Quad 24/56-bit Dream DSP. It adds tape-flange to the delay trails, for a unique modulation vibe that is easy to dial in to your taste. Includes Tap Tempo, Presets and True Bypass. Looper mode allows you to replay your parts in reverse or half speed.
- JHS Lucky Cat
- Wampler Faux Tape Echo
- Maestro Discoverer Delay
- Pigtronix Constellator
- EarthQuaker Space Spiral V2
- Anasounds Utopia
- Diamond Memory Lane DLX
- Skreddy Echo
- Emma Navigator
- Fender Hammertone Space Delay
- MojoHandFX Mirror Ball
- Hungry Robot Moby Dick V2
- Keeley Mag Echo
- Dedalo MDT6
- Tonetuga FX Delphine Delay
- Mile End Effects MTHRFCKR=RPTR
- TEFI Vintage Lab Ms. Delayette
BEST THREE-KNOB TAPE ECHO EMULATIONS
For the “less is more” kind of players, here are a few three-knob options that cut to the chase, delivering quality, no brainer tape echo-style repeats. None of these have a built-in Tap Tempo footswitch.
- Dunlop Echoplex
A simple but high-quality pedal that seeks to emulate the venerable Maestro Echoplex from the ’60s, one of the first tape echos. Tiny “Age” control makes the repeats increasingly degraded. It’s the only pedal in this list with remote Tap Tempo functionality.
- Donner White Tape
True, this pedal has six knob, but that’s because it’s a dual channel stereo delay. Each channel has its own In and Out and a 3 knob control set (Level, Time and Feedback). So buying one of these it’s like having two 3-knob tape echos in one pedal! The two channels cannot “leak” into one another, but stay entirely separate on either side.
- Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay
A high end, three-knob tape echo with about the same bandwidth as the classic tape echo unit. The three knobs control Delay Time, Delay Level and Repeats. The “Dual” version is not hand made but offers two echo circuits, Tap Tempo and Tone controls. It costs about the same. There’s a PCB and a hand-wired version of it
- TC Electronic Gauss Tape Echo
- Death By Audio Micro Dream
- Tone City Tape Machine
- Tsakalis Tilay
- Orbit / Stiff Psychoplex
BEST CREATIVE PT2399-BASED ECHO PEDALS
The pedals in this list aren’t necessarily focused on creating the exact tone offered by echo tape machines, but use tape echo as a pretext for more sonically adventurous and expansive effects, and share the use of the digital chip PT2399.
- JPTR FX Ferweh
Vintage-voiced Dual Delay with creative features like Warp Switch (instantly jump between two different delay times) and Feedback-load momentary footswitch. The two delays are stacked and can be controlled separately. It features an FX loop for extra routing configurations.
- Death By Audio Echo Dream 2
Based on the PT2399 chip used by most tape echo emulations, this is an effect for the adventurous guitarist, featuring a gnarly fuzz and heavy handed, two-wave modulation section. It works at 9v or 18v.
- Earthquaker Devices Disaster Transport SR
An inspiring dual delay with reverb and modulation that excels at creating washes of swirling, lo-fi tape-style echo. The path here is Delay A > Reverb > Delay B, with the option to have both delays running in series (A into B), parallel (A and B) or series/parallel (A and B, with the Bleed control feeding A into B).
- SolidGoldFX Electroman MKII
- Crazy Tube Circuits Echotopia
- Hungry Robots Eather
- Haunted Labs & Dirty Haggard Audio
- Retroactive Pedals Dot Chaser
- Swamp Witch Pedals Season of the Witch
- SNK Pedals Zodiacal Glow
- Side Effects Mocking Bird
- Leyland Head Full Delay
Here are a few video shoot-outs!