Reason Compact - Make Music

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
Reason Compact - Make Music App Poster Image
Mobile music studio packed with features, lots of pro tips.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Basic principles of creating digital music, including how to apply digital effects. Kids can also develop composition skills as they experiment with different creation tools like "smart keyboard" or MIDI note grid. How changing the tempo and key affects composition. Kids can experiment with different timbres and tone colors that characterize different musical genres. 

Ease of Play

It's super easy to get started, and the built-in info on each effect helps new and seasoned music producers maximize the app's many features.


Several extra instruments available for purchase, but you can use the app effectively without them. It's nice that you can read about effects before you buy them. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reason Compact - Make Music is a music creation app built by the developers of a widely used digital audio workstation (DAW) music production tool called Reason. It's intended to be an on-the-go tool for music production that can stand alone or work well with other music production tools. Users can create songs from scratch or use starter tracks. Then they can share their creations as sound files or as files formatted to work with more powerful music production tools. The free app comes with three built-in instruments -- synthesizer, drums, and bass -- and additional instruments and effects are available for in-app purchase. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

REASON COMPACT - MAKE MUSIC is a music creation app for iOS. Created by the developers of an established digital audio workstation (DAW) tool for schools and professionals, this app was built as a slimmer, on-the-go tool for capturing ideas and making music anytime, anywhere. The free app comes with three built-in instruments (drums, bass, and a main synthesizer) and several demo tracks in different genres (like techno and hip-hop). Users can also purchase additional instruments, sound packs, and effects. There are tons of customization options and several ways to share creations from the device, either as finished songs or as starting points for more ambitious projects on more sophisticated software. Throughout the app, users can access explanations about how each effect works and get tips and tricks for using them effectively.

Is it any good?

This tool does exactly what it sets out to do: It's a compact, accessible starting point for digital music creation. It's easy to get started because you can use the "smart keyboard" to start creating melodies that stay in the right key, or you can find more features and create more flexible, customized tunes and beats. To get more information, you can tap a question mark button to explore info screens that detail how each setting works, and there are brief, meaty pro tips for how to use them. There aren't many apps for beginners that include this much detail, and it's empowering and exciting to explore and learn how these many features work together to produce music. The volume of features can occasionally overwhelm the device, so sometimes switching between apps can make the playback misbehave, which may require relaunching the app. Its features may be a little limited for more seasoned digital music creators, but overall it's a flexible, accessible starting point for digital music makers of all ages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about making music with Reason Compact. What styles or genres of music interest your kids most? Why? Create an original song together in their favorite style.

  • Watch live music together as a family and talk about how the instruments and singers interact. Ask how sound layers on sound.

  • Listen to a favorite song. Ask your kid to identify each instrument or sound, identify where it comes in, and explain what it does to change the song. Consider how you might use a tool like an electronic drum pad or synthesizer to perform that song.

  • Users can choose to share their creations with other people. What privacy concerns might arise from you sharing your creations?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Arts: music, rhythm
  • Skills: Creativity: making new creations, producing new content
    Self-Direction: effort, initiative, work to achieve goals
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (more content via in-app purchases from $0.99 to $9.99)
  • Release date: October 12, 2019
  • Category: Music
  • Topics: Music and Sing-Along
  • Size: 181.00 MB
  • Publisher: Reason Studios AB
  • Version: 2.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 11.0 or later.
  • Last updated: March 5, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and creativity

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