Propellerhead Figure review

  • £0.69
Figure's interface is supremely designed.

MusicRadar Verdict

Figure is a fun little loop maker with a serious engine running in the background, generating serious sounds at the right price. Go get it.

Pros

  • +

    GUI; sounds; multitouch functionality.

Cons

  • -

    No capacity to export or save.

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Powered by Propellerhead's Reason engine, Figure comprises two Thor synths (Bass and Lead) and a bank of four Kong Drum Designer NN-Nano modules (Drum) to play with.

But don't get too excited - you don't get access to the actual instrument interfaces! Rather, you have 32 Bass presets, 46 Leads and 13 Drum kits (comprising kick, snare, hi-hat and perc) to choose from.

Note input is done via the 'performance pads', which represent pitch or drum sound on the X axis and a predefined per-preset parameter on Y - filter cutoff, pitch mod, 'Shape', and so on. Key and Mode can be set, snapping notes to pitch; and note ranges can be limited and defined.

Tap to play single notes or hold to trigger one of 16 tempo-synced one-bar preset rhythms, as selected with the Rhythm wheel. Hit record to capture all of your moves to a two-bar loop (a Figure 'song' is always two bars long), then switchto the Tweak page to apply effects and modulation.

This gives you two or three bespoke X/Y-operated parameter groups per preset (envelope decay on X and cutoff frequency on Y, for example) for Bass and Lead, and one X/Y group per drum for all drum sounds bar the hats. Finally, Pump sets the level of sidechained compression applied to Bass and Lead, keyed off the kick.

Figure's GUI is a masterpiece of functional design, the vast majority of sounds are excellent and the multitouch implementation is superb - every available aspect of every sound always feels within easy reach. However, at least two more bars to work with would be nice, as would the ability to program our own Rhythm presets.

On the downside, with no dynamic control on offer, the 'acoustic' drums sound rubbish in this otherwise entirely synthesised context. We're undecided as to how we feel about the lack of export or saving - we're both unsettled and refreshed by the ephemeral nature of it all.

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