Backmask Is A $20 VST/AU/AAX Plugin You’re Allowed To Steal

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Last updated on July 12th, 2017 at 07:01 pm

Freakshow Industries has released Backmask, a $20 reverser effect in VST/AU/AAX plugin formats that you can steal and still not have to spend the night in the joint.

Every once in a while, a totally weird and unusual plugin will pop up on the market, puzzling the users and media members alike with its bizarre looks and features. Backmask seems to be our taste of weirdness for 2017. Officially described as a “chaotic reverser plugin built to make mum proud”, this one surely won’t be easy to categorize in your VST plugin folder.

The rest of the description on the product page doesn’t help, either, stating that “Backmask uses government approved paradox processing technologies to expose the hidden terrors of music”. But hey, that’s still better than a limiter using state of the art dynamic range compression algorithms to expose the hidden terrors of my mix.

Jokes aside, Backmask’s humorous concept reminds me of an old freebie called ‘You Wa Shock’ which looked similarly ridiculous on paper but was actually a rather decent plugin based on Image Line’s  premium mastering tool called Maximus. Also, Music Radar stated in their article about Backmask that “the team behind Freakshow comprises three industry veterans”, so I’m only guessing that it could be linked to someone at Image Line. But those are just my wild speculations. And with all of that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at what Backmask actually does.

Backmask – What The Hell Is It?

Since the parameter labels on the user interface are as cryptic as labels get, the official answer is still – I have no idea. However, I did manage to figure out some of the most important stuff. The shamefully short paragraph below describes my findings so far.

In its default state, Backmask will split the audio input into chunks (the length of the chunks is defined by the large knob at the bottom of the interface) and reverse each section individually. The little knob on the left (labeled with crossed arrows) is a dry/wet knob and it works wonders when processing drum grooves, as you’ll hear in our soon-to-be-posted demo video. The hold switch at the bottom-right freezes one reversed section and loops it infinitely. The six buttons in the upper part of the interface activate different modes which I’m still figuring out, but most of them seem to work with different amounts and types of randomization. That’s all I have so far, you’re welcome.

UPDATE: Guided by my instincts and my ingenious deductive reasoning, I found that the question mark button in the bottom-right corner shows the correct labels for each control. Mystery solved.

Although it’s weird and freakish on the outside, Backmask is indeed an awesome reverse/glitch tool. It feels like I’m still merely scratching the surface here, but the plugin keeps spitting out surprisingly fun sounding results. The stability seems to be great (no glitches to report) and the CPU usage is minimal (around 1% on our test machine in MuLab).

The setup process is slightly annoying, though, as it will require a system restart to complete. I haven’t seen that in quite some time when installing plugins, or music software in general. You will also need to use the downloaded key file to activate your Backmask installation, but that is a rather painless affair.

Pricing

The plugin is priced at $20 with free updates. However, the marketing team at Freakshow Industries decided to play around with the “pay what you want” concept, so they’re sort of letting anyone “steal” the plugin license if they choose to do so. They’re saying they might even provide support for your “stolen” license if you’re nice to them. The only real drawback here is that you’ll eventually need to choose the “I’m a d*ck” option (and you’re right, that’s not a duck) option at checkout to “steal” the license.

Alternatively, you can say that “money is tight” and donate a smaller amount, or choose to be the “all software should be free” guy in which case you’ll be offered to purchase some merch in exchange for a free license. All in all, it’s a generous payment concept and a rather fun and original checkout process.

Download

Backmask is priced at $20 via Freakshow Industries (131 MB download size, EXE installer, 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).

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About The Author

Tomislav is a journalist, music producer and web designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the owner and editor-in-chief here at Bedroom Producers Blog.

25 Comments

  1. Had me at “government approved paradox processing”. TBH I’m completely defenseless against absurd marketing.

    Never mind the fact that I definitely could use both more reversing and more unpredictable effects.

    • I disagree 100%.
      Their marketing is such that, even though I chose to “steal” the plug, I will be purchasing in the future just because they are the only ones to be decent enough to offer it up free for those of us who may be short on cash. Plus, they’re now on my list of “must watch” developers. Damn good marketing, I’d say!

  2. Ian /Nihil Quest on

    Insane webpage, insane design and insane UI. Absolutely love it, my type of humor. I’d love to work with these guys. Maybe it’s bad marketing but I don’t think they want to be the next Microsoft. Now I need to find the reason to use this plugin for something. Verdict: Horns up \m/.

    PS I didn’t need to restart.

  3. I did not actually have to restart my computer to use the plugin after I installed the trial version. I simply opened my DAW, found the plugin, and started playing around. Quite a fun one. I’m thinking about purchasing it just to support their hair-brained marketing approach and entertaining GUI.

    • Tomislav Zlatic on

      True, that’s often the case with installations that require a restart. But I always do it just to make sure everything’s done properly.

  4. Carlo Baldini on

    Releasing a plugin with the option of downloading it free and calling “stealers” (basically “thieves”) those who do it.

    100% not cool.

      • The way I see it, a joke is a joke if it’s not repetitive. You get called stealer, edgy stealer and things like that more than once. Eventually I didn’t download it anymore.

    • There isn’t an option for ‘free’. It is a $20 plugin. If you click ‘steal’ because you don’t want to pay, that is on you.

    • I think it might be worth giving these guys a shot

      I had an issue with their site that was preventing registration, mailed them, they replied 9 minutes later and had the fix deployed 15 minutes after that. They then wanted to send me some merchandise or a license in return for mailing them – which I declined since I was “stealing” the plugin, but probably the best support I’ve received in the last few years from any software or hardware manufacturer.

      I got the distinct impression they see their users as anything but thieves…

  5. The plugin is only 64 bit, right?
    First I thought something was wrong, because Live didn´t show the plugin. Since you wrote “32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & Mac OS)” I tried to reinstall and even though I thought about 32 bit compatibility pretty early I tried over and over again to spot the mistake. 64 bit DAW in on the other machine but I just checked at their website – only 64 bit in mentioned.

    Seems to be a pretty cool thing, that whole marketing I mean.

    Cheers

  6. Dean Aka Nekro on

    I’m a complete d*ck and might just end up claiming that after trying it out, it depends on how useful I find it to be honest. I like the approach and think it is not just “novel” but sensible in the same way Urs is able to get people to actually put down money on a license for himself and the u-he team’s excellent software by being so open/transparent. I believe the best models are what Tokyo Dawn Records do and Klanghelm, Offering excellent free versions that are not crippled but the full on versions where applicable are exceptional value for money, Just perfect pricing as is Sean Costello’s ValhallaDSP license pricing.

    Cheers for the heads up Tomislav as usual and as always all the best your way aswell as the other BPB contributers, your family and loved one’s mate

    Dean

  7. I’m also an Ableton Live 32-bit user so this won’t work for me, and that makes me very disappointed because I was really excited to DL this. This looks exactly like something I want in my arsenal. Too bad.
    I hope this article gets corrected because from their website it states “64-bit only”.

    The marketing is hilarious. I enjoy the humor.
    Too bad about the compatibility thing, I would have kept an eye on these devs based on the strength of this VST

    • Tomislav Zlatic on

      Sorry for the confusion, I overlooked the fact that it’s 64-bit only. I’ll update the article right away.

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