AKAI Professional

Akai Pro MPD218 - Setup with Ableton Live Lite

Rate this article

Article updated 06-28-2017

akai mpd218 mainThe MPD218 is a MIDI-over-USB pad controller perfect for producers, programmers, musicians and DJ's alike. Its intuitive blend of MPC controls and technologies mesh with easy USB connectivity to bring the feel of classic beat making into the world of computer music production. Here is a guide to show you how to set this up with the included Ableton Live Lite software.



  1. Getting Started
  2. Ableton Live 9 Lite Software Setup
  3. Virtual Instruments and Plugins
  4. Default Plugin Installation Locations
  5. Big Bang Cinematic Percussion Setup
  6. Further Technical Support 



Getting Started

  1. If you haven't already, download and activate the included version of Ableton Live Lite. The video below will walk you through this process:

  2. Once Ableton is installed, refer to our guide below for instructions on installing and authorizing the included Big Bang Cinematic Percussion and Big Bang Drums if you plan on using these with Ableton:
  3. Connect the MPD218 to a free USB port on your computer and it will power on automatically.
  4. Finally, before getting connected to the software, choose a preset by holding down the PROG SELECT button on the MPD218 and pressing any one of the numbered pads. This will tell the pads to match correctly with the software you're using.
    • For use with the Ableton Drum Rack, press PAD 4 to choose Preset 4
    • For use with MPC Essentials (plugin or standalone), press PAD 5 to select Preset 5. 
    • For use with the Big Bang Plugins, download the preset here and use the MPD218 Editor to load this to any preset slot on your MPD. 
      • Download and install the editor from the product page.
      • Choose File > Open to open the preset file.
      • Choose File > Send to Hardware to load the preset onto the MPD218.



Ableton Live 9 Lite Software Setup 

  1. First, connect the Akai MPD218 series controller to an available USB port on your computer using the supplied cable, and launch Ableton Live 9 Lite.
  2. Next, open the Ableton Live 9 Lite Preferences window.  Choose your Audio Device in the Audio tab.  This will be dependent upon the audio interface that you are using.

    Select Live > Preferences
    or use the key command shortcut - [Command + comma]

    Select Options > Preferences
    or use the key command shortcut - [Control + comma]

     akai mpd218 ablteon pref

  3. Select the MIDI / Sync tab from the left side of the window. Within the MIDI Ports section, adjust the settings as suggested below:

    Next to Input: MPD218, toggle On the button in the Track, Sync and Remote columns as shown in the image below.
    Next to Output: MPD218, toggle On the button in the Track, Sync and Remote columns as shown in the image below.

     akai mpd218 ableton bottom pref

  4. Next, at the top of the window under Control Surface, choose MPD218 from the drop-down list in row. Also, choose MPD218 from the Input and Output drop-down menus in row 1.

     akai mpd218 ableton top pref



Virtual Instruments and Plugins

Note for Windows users only: If you have difficulty locating your plugin in your Plug-Ins category within Ableton Live 9 Lite, be sure Ableton Live 9 Lite is reading plugins from the correct location where your plugin is installed. To do this:

  1. Open the Preferences menu in Ableton Live 9 Lite

     MAC:Select Live > Preferences or use the key command shortcut - [Command + comma]

    PC:Select Options > Preferences or use the key command shortcut - [Control + comma]

  2. Choose the File Folder tab

    akai mpk2 ableton plugin tab 

  3. Under the heading Plug-In Sources:

    Toggle On the button next to Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder
    Note the location under VST Plug-In Custom Folder.

  4. If this location is not set correctly, next to VST Plug-In Custom Folder, choose Browse, browse to the correct folder, and press OK.

    akai mpk2 ableton plugin location


Default Plugin Installation Locations

SONiVOX Big Bang Cinematic Percussion Installation Locations:

32-bit and 64-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\SONiVOX\VstPlugins\

(AU): Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > Components
(VST): Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > VST 


 Big Bang Cinematic Percussion Setup
  1. Within the Ableton Live 9 Lite Session View, under the Categories heading, choose Plug-Ins.

    akai mpd232 big bang plugin

  2. In the right-hand column next to Categories, click-and-drag BigBang16Out_x64 onto a MIDI track to load Hybrid 3 into your Ableton Live 9 Lite session.

    akai mpd232 big bang ableton arrow

  3. The Big Bang Cinematic Percussion virtual instrument interface will now open.

    akai mpd232 plugin interface?




Further Technical Support

Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own an Akai Pro product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the Akai Pro technical support team is available to help! Visit the link below to connect with any of the following support options: online community support, phone support, email support.