Akai MPD 18 Review

May 26, 2023
David Sunnyside

The MPD 18 is an easy way to add genuine MPC pads to any setup. This MIDI-over-USB pad controller borrows pads and controls from Akai Professional’s industry-standard MPC series to deliver an expressive, intuitive instrument for studio and stage.

The 16 velocity and pressure-sensitive MPC-style pads are large enough to feel great for finger drumming, yet they pop out just enough from the chassis that you can hammer them down when playing live. They’re also sturdy enough to take a beating, and the rotary knobs have plenty of resistance when twisting them hard.

They also feature an assignable Q-Link fader for natural hands-on control of your most-used parameters in real time, and MPC Note Repeat enables you to quickly input patterns like hi-hat parts or drum rolls. Moreover, a built-in sequencer is available to create loops in the style of your choice, and each pad has a button that changes its assigned preset.

Lastly, the pads and rotary knobs can be configured to send different kinds of MIDI messages via a dedicated Setup menu. For example, you can use the Pads & Faders buttons to send MIDI program change and global MIDI clock messages, or the Bank button to select which bank the sequencer is currently in.

The MPD 18 is the smallest of three MPC-series pad controllers and has the most limited features of them all, but it’s still a worthy addition to any live or studio setup. Plus, it’s super-portable – smaller than an iPad and only marginally heavier – and powers itself over USB so all you need is a computer to get started.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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