The MPK mini mkII is an ultra-compact keyboard controller designed for the traveling musician and the desktop producer. With an array of hardware controls, MPK mini mkII lets you record, compose, and perform with virtual instruments, effect plugins, and DAWs whenever inspiration strikes. This article walks through setting up the Akai Pro MPK mini mkII with Pro Tools First.
Pro Tools first is a free version of the popular DAW, Pro Tools. This is available as a free download in your Akai Pro account after registering your MPK mini mkII. The video below will walk you through the process of accessing Pro Tools First from your Akai Pro account and installing the software:
Connecting your MPK mini mkII
Make sure to connect the MPK mini mkII to a free USB port on your computer before opening Pro Tools First.
Open Pro Tools First and create a New Project. Avid has created some templates that you can use, however, let's create a blank project. To do that, un-check the box where it says Create From Template and name your project.
Check the Pro Tools is listening to the MPK mini. Choose Setup > MIDI Input Devices...
Make sure that there is a check mark next to MPKmini2.
Creating an Instrument Track and Opening Xpand!2
Pro Tools First comes with a free multi-timbral virtual instrument called AIR Xpand!2 that you can use to play your MPK mini mkII.
Please Note: While your MPK mini mkII comes with its own plugins like AIR Hybrid and SONiVOX Wobble, Pro Tools First does not allow the use of third-party plugins.
In order to open Xpand!2, we first need to create an Instrument Track. Choose Track > New...
Select Instrument Track > Create.
On your new instrument track, click inside one of the boxes under Inserts.
From here Choose MultiChannel Plugin > Instrument > Xpand!2(Stereo).
Click Xpand!2 under Inserts. This will open up the VST Editor for Xpand!2.
Make sure that your Track is Record Enabled by clicking the Record button on the Track
Select your preferred preset inside of Xpand!2 and press some keys to start making some noise!
Mapping the Knobs to Xpand!2
One way to use the knobs on your MPK mini is to map them to parameters in the Xpand!2 plugin.
When inside of the VST Editor of Xpand!2, right-click one of the parameters inside of Xpand!2 and select Learn MIDI CC.
Simply move the knob or press the pad on the MPK mini to assign it to the selected parameter.
And that's it! To "un-learn" the assignment, simply right-click the parameter again and choose Forget MIDI CC.
Syncing the Arpeggiator
The arpeggiator on the MPK mini mkII can be turned on or off at any time by simply pressing the Arpeggiator On/Off button in the top-left corner. But, in order to sync the timing of the arpeggiator with Pro Tools, we'll need to get Pro Tools to send MIDI Clock to the MPK mini mkII and make sure the MPK mini is listening.
First, we need to download the MPK mini mkII Editor. Follow the guide below for a step-by-step on downloading, installing and using the editor: