The MPK mini mkII is an ultra-compact controller designed for the traveling musician and desktop producer. This guide discusses the general set up and use of the keyboard and included plugins with Ableton Live Lite.
The MPK mini mkII comes with two instrument plugins: AIR Music's Hybrid 3 and Sonivox Wobble. You will find download links and authorization codes on your account page after you have registered the MPK mini mkII. Once the software has been downloaded unzip the folder (if using Windows) and run the Setup or .exe file to start the installation. For Mac users, run the .dmg file and the installer inside.
Plugin Location (Windows users only)
While installing, look for the part in the process that asks where you'd like to install the plugin. Normally this will default to one of the following locations:
It's common practice to install all your plugin files to the same location. This will make it easier later on if you need to find and scan the plugins into your DAW. Use the installer to direct each plugin to install in the location of your choosing. Please Note: you may still want to separate the 32 and 64-bit versions of the plugin if asked.
Scanning the Plugins
Once the plugins are installed, you'll need to tell Ableton where it can find them:
Find and open the Preferences window if not already open:
Windows: SelectOption and choose Preferences... from the list Mac OS X: Select Live and choose Preferences... from the list
Select the File/Folder tab on the left.
For Windows users, click on the button next to Use VST Plug-in Custom Folder under Plug-in Sources, to turn this On.
If not already selected, use the Browse button to find and select the folder where your plugins are located. Find the folder you chose during the installation discussed above. You'll want the bit version to match the bit version of Ableton that you are running. For example, scan your 64-bit plugin folder for 64-bit Ableton.
For Mac users, your VST plugins will have installed to a common location by default. This should be in this folder: Mac HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > VST
Click on the button next to Use VST Plug-in System Folder to scan that folder for your plugins. As an alternative, you can choose the Use Audio Units option, to use the AU version of the plugins instead.
Once the folder has been turned on, Ableton will automatically start scanning your plugins. If you have not already authorized your plugins, you will see authorizer windows pop-up for both plugins. Find and use the Authorization Codes for each plugin on your account page. Follow the prompts to complete each authorization.
The MPK mini mkII is class-compliant so there are no drivers or additional installations necessary. Simply connect the provided USB cable to a USB port on your computer, open Ableton and you are ready to get started!
With Ableton open, find and open the Preferences window:
Windows: Select Option and choose Preferences... from the list Mac OS X: Select Live and choose Preferences... from the list
Select the Audio tab on the left to set up your soundcard. Use the Audio Device options to find and select your audio interface or use your computer's built-in soundcard. This will be different depending on the interface or soundcard that you are using. The example below is using the computer's built-in soundcard.
Please Note: There is no input selected because the soundcard does not have an available input. An audio input is not necessary for this tutorial, but you may want to assign the input to your audio interface if applicable.
Select the tab labeled Link/MIDI on the left (or MIDI/Sync depending on your version of Ableton).
Under Control Surface, find and select MPK Mini from the list. Assign the Input and Output categories to MPKmini2.
You may also want to assign the Takeover Mode to Value Scaling. This will come in handy later when using the knobs to control your instrument.
In the MIDI Ports section, find the MPK mini mkII input and click on the boxes under Track and Remote to turn these On.
Your keyboard and pads should now be communicating with Ableton! You are now ready to import your plugins.
In the main Ableton Window, choose Plugins under Categories in the top left. You will then see your available plugins.
To open the plugin, simply double-click on the plugin in the list, or drag it to a MIDI Track or open space in the mixer area to the right.
Once loaded, the plugin interface will appear automatically and you will now be able to press the keys and play your instrument!
The next step is to setup your knobs to control the instrument, to do this look to the box in the bottom left. This is what Ableton calls a Device.
To open and close the plugin window, click on the small wrench icon at the top of the device. Make sure that your plugin window is open.
Click on the arrow button to the left of the wrench to open the device parameters. This is where you can import controls from your plugin to be controlled by the knobs on the MPK Mini. The MPK mini mkII knobs will automatically map to the first eight parameters that are imported here. This is possible because of Step 4 in the Setting Up The Keyboard portion of this guide.
With the plugin window open, press the Configure button and move a few controls in the plugin. You will see them appear in the configure window and automatically start moving when you move the knobs on your MPK Mini. Press Configure again when you are finished to stop importing parameters.
Some popular choices for mappable controls are usually parameters like filter cutoffs or resonance, or effect controls like depth, delay, reverb, etc. The choice is yours!
To delete a parameter, simply go into configure mode again, select the parameter and hit the delete key on your keyboard. You can also drag and drop the parameters to rearrange them if necessary.
Now, that you're up and running, you may have a lot more questions about where you can go next and how you can learn more. Ableton has always been very adamant about providing guides and tutorials to help customers understand their software and what it's capable of. You may have noticed that there is a box in the bottom left that describes whatever your mouse hovers over, as well as a Help window on the right (Use View > Help View to turn this on or off). In addition to this, you can view tutorial videos on their website: