How to Hook Up an MPD18 With Ableton

By Seamus Islwyn
The MPD18 uses a USB cable to connect to the computer.

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.

Tip

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.

About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.