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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful way to add realistic drumming. Mapping instructions in review!!!
I have been playing guitar since I was a teenager, did the college band thing, etc and periodically have checked out home recording options. In the past software has been expensive and leaves a lot to be desired. A few months ago I discovered that's all changed now and there are a lot of options for an amateur musician like me to record at home.

Mainly I play...
Published on January 18, 2012 by J. S. Carr

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sensitivity is really terrible
Pros:
- Small footprint. This will easily fit in a laptop bag which makes it good for travel which is why I actually purchased it.
- Very simple and fast setup. Plugged it in, looked over the quick start guide to see what the presets were, and set it up in Ableton. Everything took 2 minutes total. For beginners, it is absolutely easy to learn.
- Presets are...
Published on February 8, 2012 by Sean


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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful way to add realistic drumming. Mapping instructions in review!!!, January 18, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
I have been playing guitar since I was a teenager, did the college band thing, etc and periodically have checked out home recording options. In the past software has been expensive and leaves a lot to be desired. A few months ago I discovered that's all changed now and there are a lot of options for an amateur musician like me to record at home.

Mainly I play guitar and bass but I wanted to be able to add drums with more feeling than I could do with the basic note sequencer (at least without spending an hour in a piano roll editor every time I wanted a drum track). I ordered this MPD18 a few weeks ago imagining myself looking up a quick tutorial on youtube for setting it up in LMMS or FL Studio or somesuch and away I'd go.

When I started playing with the drum pad I quickly found two things:
1st, this thing is a LOT of fun. A light tap gives me a low volume (usually in the 20's in the 1-127 MIDI scale) and a whack pops out the max 127 and I can pretty easily play anywhere in between. After some of the reviews complaining about this I was worried but the responsiveness seems great to me.
2nd, this thing comes with TERRIBLE instructions, "Editor" software that doesn't even work, and there are so many drum controllers out there and seemingly so few people wanting to set up their DAW to do a drum VST like Addictive Drums that I was NOT able to easily find help.

So after investing quite a few hours into figuring this out, I've finally got it squared away. I can help you set up this controller to control your drums in ANY software. Basically I discovered that trying to map inside your DAW and plugins is a learning curve for every one you use. If you do it with the Editor you only have to learn how once, AND you can load 16 presets in the MPD18 so you can switch between them on your own if you need multiple mappings for different plugins or styles.

This is a long write-up because I tried to cover all the details. I'm not saying it isn't a pain - it is a pain - but I think the end result is definitely worth the time investment.

Here's how:
-Get the latest version of the editor software from Akai's site. If your editor says "Firmware ver.00.56" or something you need this. The version you need will say "Firmware ver.01.00" (they both say Software Ver.1.00 in the lower-right so ignore that even though these numbers should probably be the other way around). Any URL I put in will get stripped but I can tell you to go to akaipro com, then under "Support" click "Documents & Downloads" At that page click "MIDI/USB Controllers" then click "All" in the next column, and then "MPD18" of course. This brings you to a page where you can download the Preset Editor software. If you have an earlier version installed then uninstall it first (I had to manually delete some of my files to get it all gone before the new one would work).
-There's also documentation on the download page that isn't quite as awful as the little insert that came with the unit so you can grab that too. It explains some of the Note Repeat info, how to switch presets (hold down preset and tap the pad # of the preset you want), and a few other bits & pieces. I'm not saying it all works as they describe, but it's less awful than the included paper.
-When you install the software there wil be a directory buried inside the zips (yes that is plural, they put zips inside of a zip) with presets. It is called "MPD18-preset_v4" and you need to save that folder somewhere handy because you'll need it.
-Now that you have the software installed and presets handy make sure your MPD18 is plugged in and you can load up the working editor software
-As a final step to this update, confirm that the lower left "Firmware ver" reads at least 01.00. If it still says 00.56 or something like that you need to delete all the old editor files (from Program Files if you use Windows) and install it again.

The editor software will let you tell the MPD18 what MIDI notes you want to correspond to what pads. You can do it either by note name (eg C3, C#3, D3, etc) or by the corresponding MIDI note (61, 62, 63, etc). If you can't use sample mappings I provide below, the DAW or plugin you use should give you info for at least one of those methods.

I based my mappings on the layout in FL Studio's default "FPC" plugin since it looks roughly like the MPD18, and before I got the Editor software working I used the "Map all notes in this control" learning feature to make my MPD18 correspond to the on-screen FPC and quickly got used to the layout. I make no claim this is the best layout, it's just what I'm getting off the ground with. If you've got a mapping you like, leave it in a comment. I would love to try it out myself and I'm sure other users will too. 99% of my effort has simply been to get this dang this mapped so it's functional at all and I haven't done much refining of layout yet.

If you use FL Studio or a similar FPC plugin, these are the notes you will want to end up with on your pads (beginning with pad 1 in the lower left on up to pad 16):
C#3 C3 F#3 A#6 E3 D3 A#3 G#3 C4 B3 A3 G3 C#4 G4 D#4 F4
Since you have to put them in manually, I recommend you click "Save Preset" in case you ever need them again - but before you enter those all manually you'll want to test it with just the first few. The reason why is because some DAW software (including FL Studio) will change the octaves of the input. I found it easier to just drop those all 2 octaves so on my preset instead of C#3 C3 etc it is C#1 C1 etc. This bit might not make sense now but when you are actually testing it out it may be helpful.

Another caveat - logic may say that you should be able to load the software, select your device, and just start modifying what it pulls off the device, but you can't. You have to load one of Akai's preset files (doesn't matter which one) from that "MPD18-preset_v4" folder I told you to keep handy, modify their preset, and then you can upload THAT to the MPD18. So I opened some random one, changed all the notes anyway, then saved it under a different name so I wouldn't have to enter it all again manually down the road.

What if you are using another plugin? Say Addictive Drums? Using that as another example, you can click the ? and it gives you a notemap with what MIDI key #'s correspond to what drums. Again going from pad 1 to 16, I used these note values: 37 36 48 53 40 43 54 58 71 69 67 65 77 78 79 80. That gives you some snare, kick & hi-hat on the bottom 2 rows, a row of toms, and the top row is a couple of cymbals & stops. The snare/kick/HH layout is similar to FL Studio's FPC plugin so if you've been using that this note mapping will be a great jumping off point and you can use AD's notemap (from the ? menu) to customize it further, create a 2nd ambient layout preset, etc.

Once you're all done with the mapping though, this thing is a blast. And I love having various layouts in different presets that I can switch between on the fly regardless of the software or plugin I am using. Plus I never have to learn another layout with any future software.

Still, as happy as I am with this gadget now, I simply can't rate it 5/5 when it shipped with non-functioning editor software. The pad itself is great, and a software bug here or there I could excuse, but until Akai gets the mapping Editor straightened out this is still a flawed product offering.

If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will answer there. I've tried to be thorough (hopefully not TOO thorough) but I will be happy to fill in any blanks. Otherwise please click Yes if helpful, good luck, and happy music-making!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less Is More, September 21, 2009
By 
PSB (Minnetonka, MN United States) - See all my reviews
Sixteen pads and a USB out - it really couldn't get much simpler! There are no unnecessary knobs and the pads feel excellent. (I think they are the same pads as the MPD24 and MPD32.) Since it is fairly compact and there are no knobs to break, it is perfect for throwing in a bag. The ergonomics of this are better than for the MPD16, which was less comfortable due to a shorter height and had a higher pad surface angle. The height and low angle of the MPD18 allow for optimal pad tapping position. Also, unlike the MPD16, this is Vista compatible.

The few extra buttons are pretty good. There is no menu to navigate; it is all pretty straightforward. "Note repeat" and "full level" turns those features on/off. "MIDI channel" is pretty obvious. "Preset" cycles through the 16 presets. The "note repeat configuration button" acts like a function key and lets you access repeat rate, swing, and tap tempo via the pads. My only criticism is that the "bank" button should give you four pad banks rather than three. That would be much more logical! The single fader can do whatever you want.

The configuration software lets you customize the sixteen presets (MIDI note#s and/or CC#s for the pads). It also lets you choose whether note repeat works only when the pad is pressed or whether the pad toggles the repeating note on/off. You can also choose whether the repeat is based on the internal clock or the clock of your DAW software.

I thought about getting the upcoming LPD8, but this has bigger pads and is plenty portable. I also considered the Korg padKONTROL and nanoPAD, which apparently have more accurate pads, but I don't really like the firm Korg pads. Plus, the MPD18 is taller than any of these options, which allows you to curve your hand better. The MPD24 and MPD32 have more control features, which isn't really a plus. I never really make much use of the knobs and faders on MIDI controllers. It also seems like the knobs could potentially get in the way when using the pads. Rather than get an MPD24 or 32 I'd say get two MPD18s! They are petty compact, so they would fit nicely together! If you really need knobs and faders, get an MPD18 for the pads and add a separate controller of your choice. The nanoKONTROL probably would replace the controller functions of the bigger MPDs.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love'n it !!, May 7, 2010
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This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
Just started messing around with beats. This thing is awesome and crazy affordable. Im not to the point where I can justify spending the money for the MPC's and such so this was right up my alley and does everything I need for my level of music production. Was a little difficult to set up and assign samples to pads at first cause the instructions are minimal at best, after a bunch of trial and error and youtube tutorials I was able to figure it out for the most part.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beats beating a keyboard, November 8, 2011
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This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
If all you want to do is rhythm programming, this is a great little unit at a reasonable price, considering the next step up is a lot more $$$.

It's sturdy and the pads are a decent size.

Note that the pads are not too soft (not the gum rubber I was expecting, but stiffer), nor do they light up as some users might need/expect.

Since the pads are on the rigid side, they may take a bit of getting used to. They have good velocity sensitivity, and I haven't experienced any dropped notes even with fairly light taps.

The unit is USB powered and automatically configures when you plug it in. I was able to immediately use it with Reason's Kong drum module, and it sure beats using a piano-style keyboard for programming drum parts.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sensitivity is really terrible, February 8, 2012
By 
Sean (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
Pros:
- Small footprint. This will easily fit in a laptop bag which makes it good for travel which is why I actually purchased it.
- Very simple and fast setup. Plugged it in, looked over the quick start guide to see what the presets were, and set it up in Ableton. Everything took 2 minutes total. For beginners, it is absolutely easy to learn.
- Presets are great. You can select an entire scale and just play away and everything will sound good.
- Note Repeat/Swing kind of like an MPC
- Build Quality. Like most akai products the unit itself feels like it can take a beating. It stays still even while I pound at it.

Cons:
- Sensitivity. If you plan on not inputting your midi at only max volume (127) and making your drumming, playing, or whatever sound dynamic this unit definitely won't do you any good. You for sure won't be able to hit two notes at the same level twice in a row if you wanted to. The workaround is to input all your midi at max volume and then edit individual notes in your DAW's midi editor. (My unit may possibly have an issue with it, because my Pad 14 definitely is less sensitive than the rest. I literally have to pound it.)
- Pads. These are pretty hard. Akai uses the gimmicky marketing saying the MPD's have MPC pads as a selling point, but MPC pads have never been the greatest (I have an MPC 1000 and it took a long time as well as some modifications to make it play just right).
- Lack of any knobs. This is a budget interface at $80, but it should still have a couple rudimentary knobs/faders.

Overall opinion:
Buy it only if you want something simple, for traveling, or if you plan on doing all your midi at max volume then editing it all after. If you are going to use this for more than that, I highly recommend the Korg Padkontrol. I used to have one 4-5 years ago when it was the white version, and that had great pads + sensitivity. Mine broke because it fell off a building during a rooftop gig.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and Powerful, April 15, 2010
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I have to say, this is probably one of the best additions to my home studio to date. This device is simple, and the pads are very responsive. It literally only took me 5 minutes to set this up with both Ableton and FL Studio Pro and the absence of knobs and faders isn't an issue if you are savvy with prepping your samples beforehand anyway. I also expected there to be a bit of latency as well as I get that from my keyboard and other USB/Midi devices but there was barely any even when I went crazy on this thing with finger drums.

Admittedly, I do still prefer the Korg drumpads to these, the value of this overall makes it well worth the 99 bucks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, but good for the price, November 6, 2012
By 
Tim Behrens (Prairie Village, KS, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
I bought the MPD18 a few weeks ago, and ended up taking it back to the store. As there are plenty of reviews here talking about the positives, I'll just share why I took it back.
After getting an M-Audio Axiom49 and seeing how the trigger pads can really work well with drum libraries (ie EZDrummer, Storm Drum, etc), I started looking into drum controllers. I was really impressed with how sensitive the Axiom pads were, and how playable they could be, and wanted something that had more pads for playing full kits.

The MPD18 is a no-frills unit, hooks up easily, is really solid as far as build. Unfortunately, everything you read about sensitivity issues is true. Where I was able to finger drum on the Axiom pads, I had to hit the hell out of the MPD18, and had to use two finger hits to really get some sound. There is a function that turns off velocity and plays everything at maximum value, but that kind of defeats the purpose for what I'm doing. For finger drumming, velocity is what gives the sound it's realism. I also found the software to be fairly cumbersome, the documentation to be lacking, and while playing with presets, somehow managed to upload one that had the same note value for every pad. While trying to fix that, it just stopped responding all together in Cubase. Maybe the unit is bad? Maybe it's just user error?

Here is what I do know. There are a lot of videos and kits out there for modding your MDP units so that they are more sensitive and playable (the sensitivity is a fairly widespread complaint). I just don't want to void a warranty and spend a bunch of time modding something that is brand new out of the box.

My search for a more responsive unit that is a little more intuitive to control led me to the Korg PadKontrol. Haven't gotten it yet, but everything I've read points to it being a better controller, and probably worth the difference in price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have listened about the velocity sensitivity on the pads..., January 7, 2013
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This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
I had high hopes as Akai was the brainchild between the MPC series which has an awesome touch-pad sensitivity, but this? I guess I'll be trying another manufacturer in the future as in order to get full volume you must *literally* bang on the pads as hard as you can. There isn't much range in sensitivity and I find myself frequently recording with the 'full level' switch on only to have to go into my DAW and manually set the note volumes.

Disappointed. Going to save up and go for a Maschine next as I've heard the touch sensitivity is much more responsive and agile.

Also upset to because I used to have an MPD16 and then the company stopped supporting it with windows vista/7 so I had to spend the money on this. Between those two products I could have had a higher quality pad from another manufacturer.

How come a company that makes such great touch-response as the MPC can't seem to do it with their USB MPD line? Even if it had anywhere near the velocity sensitivity and range I'd easily pay %50 more. Either that or it's a quality control issue. Still, Akai has lost my voting dollars in the future unless they shift course in their production standards.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Husband Loves music equipment. So far he hasn't ..., December 21, 2014
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This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
My Husband Loves music equipment. So far he hasn't had any problems, except for finding why the Volume shut everything off. Other than that he's enjoying it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another victim of poor pad sensitivity....., December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller (Electronics)
The pad sensitivity of this unit is not good as several other reviewers have also noted. I really wanted to like the MPD18 controller but returned it after two days of slamming the pads in frustration to get a decent signal even while plugged into its' own dedicated USB port. It often resulted in no sound at all then suddenly produced double or triple repeats. This happened while the repeat function was turned OFF. If repeat was turned ON it required a firm constant press to get multiple beats after a slight rhythm busting delay. The button for full volume worked fine but then all dynamics were shot without extensive DAW editing. I will give one star each for the super easy plug'n'play installation and overall solid construction but simply cannot recommend this piece of Akai's so-called "professional" gear.
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