The 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. This guide walks through downloading, installing and authorizing the included MPC Essentials, Big Bang Cinematic Percussion, and Big Bang Drums.

Guide Contents

  1. Driver Installation
  2. Registration
  3. Downloading, Installing and Unlocking MPC Essentials
  4. Big Bang Cinematic & Big Bang Drums Installation Walkthrough
  5. Authorizing Big Bang Cinematic & Big Bang Drums
  6. Scanning your Plugins in MPC Essentials
  7. Opening your Plugins in MPC Essentials
  8. What's Next?
  9. Further Technical Support

Driver Installation

The MPD218 is a class-compliant MIDI device. A class-compliant device is one that doesn't require extra drivers to connect your Windows or Macintosh computer. Class-compliant devices use drivers which are built into the host (i.e. the computer) operating system. 

1. Begin by connecting the MPD218 to a free USB port on your computer. We recommend going into the back of your computer, as this is closest to the power supply. This will provide the most power necessary to the controller for optimum performance. 

2. After connecting the controller to your computer, Windows will install the driver necessary for the MPD218 to communicate with your computer.

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1. Launch your web browser and go to

2. Go to the top right-hand corner of the web site and click on Sign In, you will be prompted to a new page to either Create a New Account or Sign In.

3. If you are a new customer, click on Create an account or Sign In if you are a previous customer.

Fill out the necessary information to register as a new user and click Create Account. The minimum length of the password must be equal or greater than 8 symbols.

4. You have successfully made an account! Click on your name at the top right-hand corner of the website and you will see a drop-down menu. Select My Account.

5. On the left-hand side of your Account page you should see My Dashboard. Go to the bottom of this section and select My Registered Products.

6. This is where you register your new Akai controller. Please make sure that you are entering the complete serial number as it appears on the bottom or back of your product. The serial number will be located on a bar code and will begin with a “(21).”Please be sure to include the “(21)” when entering your serial number. Neglecting the "(21)" and failing to capitalize the "A" will result in a rejected serial number. If you are entering the parentheses around the (21) and the product is still not registering, try clearing the cache in your web browser and try again. Select Register Product to complete registration.

7. You have successfully registered your Akai controller! All of your registered products will show up under Product Registrations. Scroll down in your Registration Page to see all of your available Software Downloads.  

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Downloading, Installing and Unlocking MPC Essentials

After successfully registering the controller, you will be presented with the serial numbers and download links for MPC Essentials, Sonivox Big Bang Cinematic Percussion, and Big Bang Universal Drums. All of your included software will be in your Account > Registered Products. Scroll down to Software Downloads to download MPC Essentials:

1. Select MPC Essentials 1.8.2 (PC) or MPC Essentials 1.8.2 (Mac) depending on your operating system.  This will download as a file called Update-MPC-Essentials-1.8.2. Save this zip folder to your desktop.

2. After the download is complete, you will need to extract the files before installation. To do this, right-click on the Update-MPC-Essentials-1.8.2-WIN on your desktop and select Extract All.  

By default, the program that is used to unzip files in your computer should be Windows Explorer.

Follow this link for additional information on how to extract files on Windows operating systems:

3. After the files are extracted, go into the Update-MPC-Essentials-1.8.2-WIN folder and select the Installer Assets folder. Select the Install_mpc. application to run the setup for MPC Essentials.The software may notify you that a previous version of MPC has not been installed.

4. Follow all of the prompts to proceed with the installation. Important: While some MPC Essentials products do require drivers, this one will not. Please ignore any prompts to install drivers.

5. After the installation is completed, you will be prompted to unlock your software. Select Unlock Now to continue.

Welcome to MPC

To unlock the software, make sure you're entering the serial number for MPC Essentials found within your Akai Professional account. This will be a 15-digit code containing a mixture of capital letters and numbers, preceded with a "(21)". Do not use the serial number on the back of your product.

6. You will want to make sure you're entering this number exactly as it appears in your account. To make the process easier, we recommend copy/pasting the code from your account into the software. Fill in the rest of the information and select Unlock Now.

After this, you will see a box saying you've successfully unlocked your MPC!

Your MPC is unlocked

Congratulations, you have successfully installed the latest version of MPC Essentials!

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Big Bang Cinematic & Big Bang Drums Installation Walkthrough

1. Return to your Akai Professional account, and select SONiVOX Big Bang Cinematic Percussion 2.5 and SONiVOX Big Bang Drums to download the plugins. The license for each plugin will be located on the right-hand side of the download.

2. After the download is complete, we will need to extract the files before installation. To do this, right-click on the zip folder and select Extract All... . Make sure you remember this location so we can retrieve it afterward. In this example, we will be extracting the folder to the Desktop.

3. After the file is extracted, select BigBang2_PC to run the installer for your plugin. You do not need to do anything with the .bin files in the extracted folder.

Follow all of the prompts to proceed with the installation. The folder for both 32bit and 64bit versions of this plugin will automatically be created upon installation. Do not change the default locations for both Big Bang Cinematic and Big Bang Drums installations. We will be scanning this folder in MPC Essentials. 

Big Bang Cinematic 2.5 Installer :

Big Bang Drums 2.3 Installer :

Plugin Location for both Plugins : C:
Program Files (x86) / SONiVOX / vstplugins / SONiVOX / VST

5. Restart your computer once the plugins have been installed.

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Authorizing Big Bang Cinematic & Big Bang Drums

Before scanning and opening the plugins in MPC Essentials, authorize Big Bang Cinematic and Big Bang Drums with the iLok License Manager:

1. If you do not have an Ilok account, make sure to go to and click on Create Free Account. Fill out all of the necessary fields in the Free Account Setup page and select Create Account. 

2. Once you have created your account, go back to the home page of the web site, you will find the License Support Installers. Download the appropriate installer for your operating system.

3. After installing the application, find and open the iLok License Manager from your Programs or Applications folder.

4. Click on Sign-In in the top left corner. If you have used iLok before with other products and have an account, sign-in to your account.

Please note: We recommend using an iLok account. Signing in is not always necessary to utilize an iLok license, but having and using an account to keep track of your licenses is free and provides additional features and options for managing and moving your licenses when necessary. You can see our Managing Authorization Codes and Licenses guide for more information.

5. Once you are logged in, click on Licenses at the top of the window and choose Redeem Activation Code.

A window will appear with space for you to enter an authorization code.

6. Navigate to your Akai Pro account page, highlight and copy the Authorization Code for SONiVOX Big Bang Cinematic. Paste this code into the first box on the left and the code will fill out the remaining fields. When you're ready, click Next. Repeat this process when authorizing the Big Bang Drums plugin.

7. You will be prompted to choose a location for your license. You are free to choose an iLok dongle if you have one, but for most users, just choose your computer (this will be the option with the computer icon on the left) and click Activate.

8. You will be asked to confirm this one more time. Click Activate.

Finally, iLok will notify you when the activation is complete!

This process (steps 3 - 8) can be repeated for any other plugins that utilize an iLok license.

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Scanning your Plugins in MPC Essentials

1.Open MPC Essentials and navigate to the Preferences menu.

MAC: Select MPC > Preferences
PC: Select EDIT > Preferences

Choose the Plugins tab.

2. Add a check to the first available box on the left, then click on the browse box at the end of that row to browse to your plugin installation location.

3. To scan for the Big Bang plugins, click on the drop-down menu to browse and then select your C:[Hard Drive], double click on Program Files (x86,) double click on your SONiVOX folder, double click on VST, and finally click on SONiVOX once and press Open on the bottom right-hand corner of the window. In order to scan the second folder in MPC Essentials, go back to the Plugins tab in the Preferences window and repeat steps 1 & 2 on the next empty field.

Big Bang Cinematic & Big Bang Drums :
32 & 64 bit : Program Files (x86) / SONiVOX / vstplugins / SONiVOX / VST

4. Click on Rescan All, allow the MPC Essentials software to scan all plugins in the selected location and then press OK. You may see other plugins labeled Big Bang come up as "Load Failed" or "Timed out," This happens when the 32bit versions of the plugin are scanned into a 64bit version of MPC Essentials. As long as the versions in the picture below are scanned in "OK" Big Bang successfully scanned into MPC Essentials. 

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Opening your Plugins in MPC Essentials

1. First, navigate to the Preferences menu, find the MIDI tab and check off the box next to your MIDI controller (i.e. your MPK Mini MKII). This will tell the software to listen to incoming midi data from that device.

2. Exit the Preferences window and go to the center of the MPC Essentials software, to the right of the pads, you'll find your Sequence section. Click on the drop-down menu next to Typeand change it to Plugin.

3. You will then see a drop-down menu labeled Plugin. Click on this menu to browse for your VST plugins.

4. To open Big Bang Cinematic or Big Bang Drums, click on the "+" next to VST to view your available VST plugins. Drop down the
SONiVOX folder to open one of the Big Bang plugins. You can load either of these plugins by double-clicking on them or clicking on them once then the Select button on the bottom right.

5. To view the plugin interface (GUI) and change sounds, click on the "E"
 button next to the Plugin drop-down menu.

Do not change plugin presets from the preset drop down in MPC Essentials

Big Bang Cinematic GUI :

Big Bang Drums GUI :

And that's it! You are ready to make some noise with your plugins and your MPD218!

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What's Next?

Now that all of your software is installed and authorized, check out the guides below to get started using the software and making some music!

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Further Technical Support

Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own an M-Audio product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the M-Audio 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.