Akai Pro MPD218 - Setup with MPC Essentials

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 akai mpd218 main

The MPD218 is a MIDI-over-USB pad controller perfect for producers, programmers, musicians and DJs 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 how to setup the MPD218 with the included MPC Essentials program.



  1. MPD218 Hardware Setup
  2. MPC Essentials Software Setup
  3. Virtual Instruments and Plugins
  4. Further Technical Support


MPD218 Hardware Setup

  1. Before opening the software!  Plug your MPD218 into your computer.  This will automatically power it on.

  2. Now press and hold the PROG SELECT  button and hit PAD 5 to select the MPC preset. This will ensure that the MPD 218 pads line up with the pads in MPC Essentials.

    akai mpd218 mpcmode

  3. To make sure the MPD218 Note Repeat stays in time with MPC Essentials, set the MPD218 clock to External by holding down the NR CONFIG button and pressing PAD 15.

Important Note: When you hold down the NR CONFIG button, you'll notice that at least three pads light up. This is because there are three different Note Repeat settings that can be adjusted: Clock, Swing, and Time Division. Each pad will be labeled with it's setting option.

  • To adjust the clock setting (External or Internal/Tap Tempo) choose either PAD 15 or 16.
  • To change the Note Repeat swing amount, choose a pad between PAD 9 and 14.
  • To choose the Note Repeat time division, choose a pad between PAD 1 and 8.


MPC Essentials Software Setup

  1. Launch the MPC Essentials software.

  2. Open the Preferences window in MPC Essentials.  In the Audio tab, choose your Audio Device Type and Device, which is dependent upon your audio interface. If you do not have an external audio interface, just select your computer's default sound card or Built in Input or Output.

    Select MPC Essentials > Preferences or use the key command shortcut - [Command + comma]

    Select Edit > Preferences or use the key command shortcut - [Control + comma]



  3. Choose the MIDI tab and add a check to the box next to MPD218 in the Active Midi Inputs box as shown in the image below.

    akai mpd218 pref

  4. Select the Sync tab from the left side of the window.  Choose MIDI Clock from the Send drop-down menu and the MPD218 from the To drop-down menu.  If you've set the MPD218 clock to External as described above, the MPD Note Repeat should now be in sync with MPC Essentials.

    Please Note: MPC Essentials will not send MIDI Clock while it is stopped. In order to use the MPD 218 Note Repeat when set to External, MPC Essentials must be playing back.

    akai mpd218 sync

  5. Press OK at the bottom of the box, and you are now done setting up the software to work with the MPD218. 


Virtual Instruments and Plugins


Adjusting the MPC Essentials Plugin Sources

Note for Windows users only: If you have difficulty locating a plugin in your VST folder within the MPC Essentials software, be sure the MPC Essentials program is reading plugins from the correct location where your plugin is installed. To do this:


  1. Mac:
    Select MPC > Preferences...
    or use the keyboard shortcut - [Command + comma]

    Select Edit > Preferences...
    or use the keyboard shortcut - [Control + comma]


  2. Choose the Plugins tab.

    akai mpk2 mpcessentials preferences 

  3. Add a check to the box at the beginning of one of the rows under the heading VST Folders, then click on the browse box akai mpk2 mpcessentials browse box at the end of that row to browse to your plugin installation location.

    akai mpk2 mpcessentials check

  4. Click on the drop-down menu to browse and then select the correct location of your plugin.  Press Open.

    akai mpk2 mpcessentials browse

  5. Click on Scan New, allow the MPC Essentials software to scan all plugins in the selected location and then press OK.


Default Plugin Installation Locations

Sonivox Big Bang Cinematic Percussion and Big Bang Universal Drums Default Installation Locations:

32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\SONiVOX\VstPlugins\
64-bit: C:\Program Files\vstplugins

(AU): Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > Components
(VST): Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > VST



Further Product 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. 


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