The Akai MPD18 is a 16-pad MIDI controller based on Akai’s flagship MPC samplers. The pads and general layout of the MPD18 closely resemble those of the MPC devices, but the MPD18 doesn’t include the sampling and comprehensive song construction and looping functionality of the MPC series. The MPD18 comes with a software editor to establish MIDI parameters and mappings for the device. It is set up in much the same way that other MIDI controllers are.
Download and install the latest version of the MPD18 Preset Editor Software. The package contains Windows- and Mac-compatible versions. Although mappings and controller assignments can be adjusted within your DAW in the absence of this application, it will provide additional mapping functionality that a generic mapping tool cannot.
Connect the MPD18 to your computer using the supplied USB cable. The MPD18 is powered by the USB port. If your computer’s USB ports are unpowered, you will need a powered USB hub to run the MPD18. The device will turn on automatically once plugged in. It must be plugged in before starting the editor application.
Launch the editor application. A pop-up screen with a drop-down menu labeled “Select MPD18 USB” appears.
Open the drop-down menu and select “Akai MPD18.” The editor application finishes loading and displays its interface. The interface is an image of the MPD18’s control panel.
Set the parameters for each pad in the editor interface using the associated menus. Each pad has four menus. The bottom menu on each pad is the “Pad Type” menu. Click on this menu to select the type of MIDI message the pad will send. “Note” is the most likely option – this pad type sends a specific MIDI note transmission to control a particular drum sound in a drum sampler. Set the MIDI note number using the pad’s “Note” menu.
Assign the MPD18’s fader to a MIDI continuous controller number by clicking on the fader’s associated menu and selecting a CC number. For example, CC11 usually controls the master volume of a software instrument. The slider is freely assignable to any CC parameter.
Click the “Commit – Upload” button in the toolbar to send your MIDI assignments to the MPD18.
Click “Save Preset” to save the assignments and close the editor application. Your MPD18 is now ready for use in the sequencer application or performance setup of your choice. Its MIDI assignments can be changed at any time using the editor application as described.
Jason Savage has been a freelance writer since 2005. He has authored technical and procedural documents for a variety of clients, while his journalism and fiction have appeared in "Monday Magazine," "The Pedestal" and other publications. Savage holds B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in music.