Hooking your Akai MPD18 up to Ableton Live allows you to control the digital audio workstation using this USB MIDI drum controller. Manually configuring a hardware device to control Ableton is a tedious and complicated process; fortunately, Ableton Live includes built-in configuration maps for many hardware controllers, including the MPD18. Once the MPD18 is hooked up to Ableton Live, you can use its MPC-style drum pads to control a Drum Rack instrument.
Plug one end of the MPD18's included USB cable into the USB port on the controller. Plug the other end into a free USB port on your computer. Double-click the "Live 8" desktop icon to launch Ableton. Click "Options," then "Preferences."
Click the drop-down menu immediately underneath "Control Surface." Select the MPD18 from the list.
Click the drop-down box under "Input" and select the MPD18 from the list. Do the same in the "Output" drop-down box. Close the "Preferences" window.
Click the "Live Devices" icon on the left-hand side of the program window. Click the arrows next to "Instruments," "Drum Rack" and "Kit." Drag and drop a kit onto the channel labeled "2 MIDI." Ableton automatically maps the MPD18's pads to the samples in the Drum Rack.
To manually change the MIDI mapping, enable "Remote" for the MPD18 in the "Preferences" window, then click the "MIDI" button in the main program window and map the controls as desired.