Welcome to our comprehensive buyer’s guide to the best tape delay pedals organized by features. 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. 

best tape delay pedals

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Last Updated on August 23rd, 2023

Best Tape Delay Pedals and Echos: Our Categories

The Beloved, Flawed Sound of “Warmth”

There’s something funny about sonic artifacts created by recording gear. All evidence seems to confirm that human ears tend to dislike them at first, but then slowly grow fond of them, just like an acquired taste.

How else would you explain the resurgence of vintage analog-style emulation in the delay pedal niche in an era when pristine digital delays are available? Or digital audio plugins emulating the noise and imperfections of tape or vinyl? Hiss on recordings was despised back in the analog days, but now we use plugins to sneak that noise back in on our tracks to add that special “je ne sais quoi” to our music!

Perhaps, just like a brand new pair of snickers, the sparkling clean sound of pure digital rings a little clinical (or not very musical) to most. Dirt, the right amount of it, adds character, and character is valued by all the best artists and most refined art lovers. Also to be considered as a cause for this renaissance: some of the machines developed during the “analog era” were so successful that, from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense to keep them alive in a new, more portable and less finicky format.

For this and other reasons, in the new millennium, several pedal manufacturers have been using the possibilities opened by the ever-expanding computing power of digital and DSP chips to churn out emulations of vintage delay models dating anywhere from the ’60s to the early ’90s.

In this article, we’ll do our best to list the best pedals emulating a tape echo effect. For a history of tape delay, we’d like to recommend this video by Mr. JHS.

Best Tape Delay Pedals Vide

What is a Tape-Style Delay, and How Does it Sound?

Compared to a pure high-quality digital recording, audiotape machines feature the following qualities:

  • A subtle wow and flutter due to the unavoidable imprecision of the rolling of the tape
  • A pleasant to the ear saturation when pushed beyond 0 dbs
  • A certain amount of hiss often referred to as “noise.”
  • A slight high-end frequency cut, often referred to as “warmth”
  • Degradation due to age or prolonged use of both tape and magnetic heads

The pedals in this article try to mimic this list of artifacts mostly through digital programming. Some do it more comprehensively than others, and that’s how we decided to organize our list.


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!

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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


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.

  1. Strymon El Capistan V2
    This pedal is widely regarded as one of the best modern tape echo pedals, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a lush-sounding stereo emulation of a vintage Tape Echo device, in a cleverly simple box – plus a 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 allow you to tweak Tape Age and Wow and Flutter, while the Sound on Sound mode allows you to use it as a looper. The latest version, the V2, offers complete MIDI implementation, allowing users to save up to 300 presets and to control nearly every aspect of the pedal remotely via the EXP/MIDI jack and USB-C connections.
    Pros: Simple, quite compact, stereo, and great sounding. Cons: With V2, it’s hard to find any.
  2. 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.
    Pros: A universally adored classic, with extras. Cons: Still pretty big footprint.
  3. Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe
    A stereo pedal that faithfully reproduces the original Echoplex EP-3 specifications part for part – the only things missing are the record and playback heads – with a 24-bit high-fidelity digital delay line taking the place of the tape cartridge. A latching footswitch allows for momentary runaway repeats. With meticulous attention to detail, the Portland-based pedal company faithfully recreated every facet of this renowned delay unit, from the preamp to its ability to self-oscillate.
    Pros: a faithful recreation of a classic tape echo, including its highly regarded preamp section. Cons: It can get a little noisy

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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.

  1. 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.
    Pros: Delivers a tone revered by many pro guitarists. Cons: not a lot of controls compared to other pedals in this category.
  2. 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).
    Pros: Very cool sounds, from subtle to quirky. Cons: Hard to find any.
  3. Asheville Music Tools ADG-1
    Built by the designer behind the Moog Moogerfooger line, this is a quality analog delay with a pleasant modulation that offers repeats from 16mS to 700mS. The Drive knob allows you to create some saturation reminiscent of a tape echo pushed to the limit, or deliver some lo-fi tones in conjunction with darker Tone settings. Two toggle switches offer different waves for the modulation (Square and Triangle) and subdivisions for the delay. The second footswitch switches off the modulation and, when held, turns on or off the tails.
    Pros: a solid and great sounding unit. Cons: a little pricey and large.

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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.

  1. 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.
    Pros: A compact Space Echo with simple controls, in stereo. Cons: Labeling at times confusing.
  2. Catalinbread Belle Epoch EP3
    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.
    Pros: Great-sounding tape-style echo, in a compact case. Cons: illegible knob descriptions.
  3. 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.
    Pros: Great tape-style echo and flanger sounds, the looper is a nice extra. Cons: Not very intuitive.

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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.

  1. Dunlop EP103 Echoplex
    A simple but quality pedal that succeeds in emulating the venerable Maestro Echoplex from the ’60s, one of the first tape echos. The tiny “Age” control makes the repeats increasingly degraded. It’s the only pedal in this list with remote Tap Tempo functionality and stereo functionality. Loved by many, this is one of the best-sounding delay pedals on the market.
    Pros: Delivers a variety of complex and dynamic tones (including stereo ones!) with just a few controls; Cons: It has trouble with some 3rd party PSUs
  2. Death By Audio Micro Dream
    A compact version of the popular Echo Dream II (which also includes a fuzz circuit) the Micro Dream has the unique feature of getting more and more lo-fi sounding the longer the repeats, which sound warm and pleasant up to 400 ms.
    Pros: Great long delay tones for lo-fi lovers; Cons: Pricey for the number of features.
  3. Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay
    A high-end, three-knob digital tape echo with about the same bandwidth as the classic tape echo unit. The three knobs control Delay Time, Delay Level, and Repeats. There’s also a very pricey hand-wired version of it and a “Dual” version that is not handmade but offers two echo circuits, Tap Tempo, and Tone controls, and costs about the same.
    Pros: Great, warm tape-style repeats without degradation; Cons: pricey, no modulation.

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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.

  1. 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).
    Pros: Uniquely creative and extremely flexible. Cons: it would benefit from a smaller footprint and longer delay times.
  2. 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.
    Pros: Great long delay tones for lo-fi lovers; Cons: Pricey for the number of features.
  3. 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.
    Pros: Lush and organic-sounding, with plenty of control to shape your echo. Cons: The interaction between the two channels could be improved.

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Here are a few video shoot-outs!

•  That Pedal Show Tape Echo Pedal Shootout
•  Pete Thorn Tape Echo Pedal Shootout
•  Alvas Music Tape Echo Pedal Shootout