The MPK mini mkII is an ultra-compact controller designed for the traveling musician and desktop producer. The MPK series keyboards are engineered to be all-in-one controller solutions for comprehensive interfacing and manipulation of virtual instruments, effect plugins, DAWs, and more. If you have already visited our "Complete Setup with Ableton" guide, you may be curious about how you can further implement your controller with your copy of Ableton. This guide will show you some more advanced features that the MPK Mini MkII has to offer!

Guide Contents

Configuring your knobs with your included Plugins

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!

Before trying to configure your knobs, please see this section of the complete setup with Ableton article.

1. With Ableton open, find and open your Preferences:

Windows: Select Option and choose Preferences... from the list
Mac OS X: Select Live and choose Preferences... from the list

2. Select the tab labeled Link/MIDI on the left (or MIDI/Sync depending on your version of Ableton).

3. Under Control Surface, find and select MPK Mini from the list. Assign the Input and Output categories to MPKmini2.

Go to Takeover Mode and change Pick Up to Value Scaling. This will come in handy later when using the knobs to control your instrument.

Your keyboard and pads should now be communicating with Ableton!

4. Load Hybrid (or another plugin from your list) into an empty MIDI Track. If you do not know how to do this, please see this section of the complete setup with Ableton article.

5. Once loaded, you will see Hybrid show up in your Device View.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.

6. 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 MKII.

7. With the plugin window open, press the Configure button and click on a plugin parameter you want to map. You will see them appear in the Configure Window, rotate the knob you want to map to that parameter and press Configure again when you are finished.

In this example, we have mapped the Cutoff, Chorus, Delay and Reverb on one of the oscillators in this Hybrid preset.

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!

8. 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.

To see how to MIDI Map your control knobs in Ableton, please see this step in our previous Ableton article.

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Separating your Pads and Keys

The idea here is rather simple.  Make the drum pads trigger drum sounds while being able to simultaneously play notes of a different instrument using the keyboard.  As basic as this may sound, there are a few things to note, and some settings to adjust to make it happen.

Suppose you load up a drum track next to an instrument track.  If you record arm the drum track, you get sounds when striking the pads, and also when pressing the keys.  Now, you go back to your instrument track and switch the record-ready button to this track, in this arrangement, both the keys and pads now trigger the instrument track.

The thing to be mindful of is that by default, the controller and your software will generally be communicating over a common global MIDI channel.  Think of this as "the software is listening to everything the controller is saying".  Simple enabling both tracks to record will essentially stack the sounds, triggering both the drum and the instrument track regardless of whether striking a pad or a key.  

So, how can we play both at the same time without interfering with each other? Make sure that the Pads and Keys are sending MIDI information on different MIDI channels.

1. Close Ableton and any other music programs you may have open. We will be using the MPK Mini Mkii Editor to change the MIDI channel that the pads and keys send MIDI information on. If you don't already have the MPK Mini MkII editor installed on your computer you can find the download here. For step by step instructions on how to install the MPK Mini editor, visit this article.

2. Once the editor is open, go to the bottom row of the editor and make sure that the Pads are sending data on MIDI Channel 2 and the Key bed remains on MIDI Channel 1.

3. Go to Options > Device Setup at the top of the Editor window, select the MPK Mini Mkii as your Input and Output device. Click Apply then OK.

4. Go to File > Send to Hardware > Program 4. You can put this new "Preset" on any program but for this example, we will be putting your new MPK Mini MkII preset on Program 4. 

5. Close the MPK Mini MkII editor, then open up a new or previous Live project you were working on. By default, Ableton should recognize your MPK Mini Mkii at this point. Load a synth plugin or the Ableton stock Instrument we loaded in our previous guide to MIDI track 1, and an Ableton Drum Rack or Drum plugin into MIDI track 2.

Go to MIDI track 1 (your Instrument or Synth plugin) and drop down the Input Type tab to select the MPK Mini MkII, then go to drop down menu below that and select MIDI Channel 1.

Go to MIDI track 2 (your Drum Rack or Drum plugin) and drop down the Input Type tab to select the MPK Mini MkII, then go to drop down menu below that and select MIDI Channel 2.

In order to Record Enable multiple tracks in Ableton, hold Shift and click on both tracks then the Record box at the bottom. Both boxes should be lit Red now.

You're done! If you press the keys on your controller you should hear the sounds on MIDI track 1 and if you press the pads on your controller, you should hear the Drum sounds on MIDI track 2.

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Using the Arpeggiator/Note Repeat on your controller

The arpeggiator will allow you to input note data and have it repeated based on the time division, arp octave, and swing settings you have selected.

1. To enable your MPK Mini Mkii arpeggiator, press the ON/OFF button located underneath the red joystick. Now when you press any of the keys you will notice that the instrument loaded on your MIDI track is repeating the note as long as you hold the key(s) down.

2. To toggle the time division, arp octave, and swing settings, hold the arpeggiator ON/OFF button and push the key that corresponds to the settings you desire.

Tap Tempo: Tap this button at the desired rate to determine the tempo of the Arpeggiator. The minimum number of taps required is programmable in the MPK mini Editor. Note: This button is disabled if the Arpeggiator is synced to an external clock.

3. You can apply the same effect to your Pads by holding down the Note Repeat button. Press and hold this button while striking a pad to cause the pad to retrigger at a rate based on the current Tempo and Time Division settings.

Note: The time division, arp octave, and swing settings for the Arpeggiator will be the same for the Note Repeat function.

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What's Next?

Now that you have your MPK Mini Mkii setup with Ableton, here are some helpful articles you can use to set up your controller with other third-party software:

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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.