AKAI MPK mini play drum pads and Ableton Live drum pack misalignement

By | October 26, 2019

This post has nothing to do with data recovery and/or photo repair! This post explains how to make the drum pads of the AKAI MPK mini play work with MPC Essentials and Ableton Live. Don’t let these problems discourage you! There is a huge community to help you out and once you have it running the AKAI MPK mini play is awesome!

AKAI MPK mini play MIDI keyboard/synthesizer

I recently purchased an AKAI MPK mini play MIDI keyboard/synthesizer. It’s basically the same as a keyboard, but rather than for typing text you use it to play music. To actually type a document with a regular keyboard you need a text editor. It’s the same with a MIDI keyboard, to play actual music you need software.

The AKAI MPK mini play comes with some full software (Hybrid synthesizer for example) but the main DAW software is a function limited version. This type of software normally allows you to record one instrument on top of another (drum > bass > melody) but the AKAI limited version only allows one of those ‘layers’.

Side note: A cool feature if this particular model (the mini PLAY)is that you’re also able to use it as a stand alone instrument. It comes with a number of instruments and drum kits built-in. For me this was important because my daughter also needed a keyboard to practice for music lessons at school.

The AKAI MPK mini play MIDI keyboard

The AKAI MPK mini play MIDI keyboard

Making hardware and software work together

The MIDI keyboard itself is plug-and-play. Connect it to USB and Windows 10 will recognize it. It took me hours to make it play nice with the accompanying software however. For example the physical drum pads on the device did not correspond with the drum pads in the software. To fix that you’d need to program the keyboard. But fortunately I was not the only one running into this problem and a nice person shared his settings into a file that I was simply able to load into the software for programming the keys on the keyboard.

I was now able to load a ‘drum kit’ and play it by tapping the drum pads on the MPK mini play. However as mentioned this function limited software was really limited so I decided to buy a ‘DAW’. This is what this type of software is called and it’s short for Digital Audio Workstation. I settled for ‘Ableton Live’.

Now I discovered Ableton Live was unable to work with my drum pads. Again they didn’t line up with the virtual drum pads in the software on which you drop a drum kit. Tapping the physical pads revealed different virtual pads ‘all over the place’ were activated with no instruments assigned to them. The MPK mini play features 16 pads (8 physical but you can switch between 2 banks using a key), the software many more virtual pads.

After a journey of several hours, learning you can make Ableton load configuration files which I found to be too complex I decided to remap keys using the programmer. As I could not find fellow victims who had done this before me and made settings files available to fix this problem.

AKAI MPK mini play key-maps for MPC Essentials and Ableton Live

You can download the key maps that work for me. The ZIP file contains key maps for both MPC Essentials and Ableton Live.

Download the ZIP containing files to program the drum pads for use with MPC Essentials and Ableton Live.

Unzip the file you downloaded from this website.

You also need the editor which you can download here.

Install and open the editor. Click File > Get Favorite, select one that is free.

Now click File > Open Favorite and browse for the .mpkplay files. Select the one you need (AbleTon_Live or MPC_Essentials).

Click File > Send Favorite > Select a free Favorite.

Some vids to show how amazing this MIDI keyboard is

Amazing original content:

An awesome Alan Walker cover:

Demonstration of built-in instruments of the MPK mini play:

3 thoughts on “AKAI MPK mini play drum pads and Ableton Live drum pack misalignement

  1. mike gainer

    Thank you so much I have been at this for a solid 8 hours now and I really just want to play my MPK with DAW … Come on Akai. Seriously, how could you release this to the public….:(

  2. Holger

    Thank you soooo much Dude!
    I was getting frustrated with the mapping.


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