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Which pad controller do you own?
Akai MPD (18, 24, 32, etc) 45%  45%  [ 118 ]
Korg PadKontrol 12%  12%  [ 32 ]
Akai MPK (49, 61, 88) 22%  22%  [ 58 ]
M-Audio Trigger Finger 6%  6%  [ 16 ]
other 15%  15%  [ 40 ]
Total votes : 264
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 Post subject: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:58 pm
Posts: 119
Hey guys, I hot-rodded an MPD32 recently, and wanted to detail the steps on how and why.... it all started from this post I saw on the Cakewalk Sonar forum, which I wanted to quote here, and add to....

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"I imagine quite a few people bought one of these planning on tapping out rhythms in Sonar. However, the pad sensitivity isn't really very good and a very firm finger tap is needed to trigger it. After playing around for a little while I just gave up and put it on the shelf. It was easier to use the keyboard for drum parts.

This was a big disappointment, and it only felt worse the other day when I played with the Korg Pad Kontrol and realised how much more sensitive its pads are to the Akai. Sigh, another bad purchase.... I sulked back into the studio and glared malevolently at the Akai.

But wait.... Since it's sat on the shelf for two years, it's sure out of warranty. Let's pull the lid off and see how those big rubber pads do their thing. To do this, remove all the screws and gently pull the fader knob off the front, then just lift off the lid and the rubber pad assembly just peels off..... hmmm.... there's a circuit board with black square sensors, covered in mylar film. Tap these and, hey, it's really quite sensitive. hmmmm......

Looking at the rubber pad sheet, there's a convex dome underneath which makes contact with the sensor pad. But it isn't actually quite touching the sensor pad. This means you have to give the rubber pad a fair old whack before you get any kind of a MIDI event out of the Akai.

Anyway, after a little bit of thought, I came up with a cunning plan which ended up working brilliantly. Also, as a modification, it's totally non-destructive, no glue or anything like that.

You need a roll of pipe repair tape for the trick. Most hardware stores should have this; it is black rubber tape that is just under an inch wide and about 1/32 inch thick, and it has a peel-off plastic backing. I think it's also known as amalgamating tape. Anyway, all you do is cut squares of this tape, about the size of the outer border of each sensor, and peel off the backing tape, then place the smooth side of the rubber tape (one side is textured, the other is smooth) to face the sensor surface. The tape will sit without sliding around. When you have all 16 sensor pads covered, just rub a sheet of paper over the whole thing to make sure that the rubber tape is pressed down firmly, then replace the pads on top. Now put everything back together again.

Now the unit should respond to the lightest finger tap. If any pad appears not to be operating any more, press each side in gently, as it may have temporarily jammed on the case frame; that happened to me putting the unit together. After that, all was fine. Now I have an actually useful gadget that is actually doing what I expected of it in the first place!

PS: The USB driver for this thing is total crap. It will crash your system and/or it will exhibit erratic MIDI timin'g when the system gets even moderately busy. Save your sanity and connect an external powerpack and use the MIDI port instead!."

--------------------------

Ok, so back to me and my ultimate success with the MPD32 modification...

Here's my response to his original post:

I did something similar last night with my MPD32.... except using electrical tape instead of the tape he mentioned. I cut them into little squares just about the size of the circular rubber pads which push against the sensors, and, layering the tape up 4 layers on most of the pads (2 layers thick on one row, which is all it needed)-- the sensitivity of the pads is DRASTICALLY improved... my god, it's like the PadKontrol (which has perfect pads). I even can lower the sensitivity and up the threshold in my MPD32 (I had lowest threshold before and max sensitivity and the pads STILL sucked before modding). Everyone should try this if they use an MPD32 or MPD24. As a control surface, the MPD32 is fantastic... but I was going to sell it because I hated the pads so much. After this mod, I have a perfect control surface as well as a killer pad combo.

----------------------------

Now, I don't know if this will work for the MPK49, MPK61, or MPK88, but it's worth a try. If I owned any of the three, I would open them up to see what's going on in the circuitboard section (not key section of course). I heard the keys are fantastic (although you can't set the key velocity curve, which is annoying). But yeah, this mod definitely works for the MPD18, MPD24, and the MPD32. Definitely worth checking out, guys...

I actually made a YouTube video of this mod, but I need to re-edit it as it was too long and boring... when I finish it, I'll respond to this post.

Akai is a good company, but as everyone agrees with, their pads are just the worst feature. I even hate the pads on the MPC, and I own two MPCs. They're just not sensitive enough. They are designed to be pounded on, and some of us just don't like "pounding"... we like full dynamic range.

Let me know what you guys think of this... it doesn't seem like there are many people talking about this on google or any of the forums I frequent. In my opinion, it's damn good information that needs more eyes.

-HHDS


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:28 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:41 pm
Posts: 7853
Location: A Big Toilet Called Berlin
sorry lazy to read the whole thread... i just answer the headline.

best quality of the pads itself: PadKONTROL, Period.

others have more features, blah, blah... but quality of the Pads KORG PK, nothing else.

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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:45 pm
Posts: 427
Location: Vienna / AT
actually the whole post is on how to mod your mpd to get the pads feeling like those on a pk


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:30 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:26 am
Posts: 114
Location: orlando, FL
Wow, thanks so much for this! I have an MPD24, and to be honest, I hate it. i only bought it because it came bundled with Battery 3 which, coincidentally, I haven't used all that much because the pads suck so much. I'm a drummer, and it's really frustrating for me to not be able to tap out any sort of rhythms on the MPD24 at all when I know I could play it on my drumset perfectly. eagerly anticipating the youtube video, since this will be the first time I've done something like this, and I don't want to screw something up. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:58 pm
Posts: 119
Glad you guys dig the post. It's important... and definitely, the PK has the best pads without a doubt.

But it's nice having the MPD32 or 24, with the faders and transport controls, and the 30 presets you can save, whereas with the PK you can only save 16... (plus the MPDs and MPKs have four banks of 16 pads, so that's 64 pads right there)...

I own both, and use both... the MPD32 is great for hip-hop, especially with the Note Repeat thing, and the pressure sensitivity thing on the pads (which is a blessing and a curse)... for tapping in acoustic drums it sucks because if you push too hard, you choke your crash... (depending on the software)... that's why I use the PK for acoustic drum programming.

Definitely do the mods, guys... you will be so glad you did. Just be careful to put the tape on the RUBBER PAD SHEET and DON'T stick the tape to the sensor sheet (where the electronics are).

I'll see if I can finish the video ASAP... so you guys can see what I did. It's not in full detail, it's a lot of still images in the video, but you can see the difference at the end where I tap out fast triplets on all 16 pads and it's perfectly responsive.


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:07 pm
Posts: 624
Thanks for the tip. This may well be worth the chance of messing something up, if I can pull it off.


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:03 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:51 am
Posts: 250
Location: Hessen, Germany
Hi, thanks for this!

I just tried it with my MPK49 and it seems to work fine with four layers of what we call "Gaffa-Tape" in Germany. Maybe I'll try a fifth layer the next days for even smoother action.

The response of the pads gets 1000+ better than without that workaround.

Christoph

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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:10 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:58 pm
Posts: 119
GREAT to hear, dude... I didn't know if it was possible with the MPK keyboard series. If it is, I'm totally buying an MPK61 and hot-rodding it.

Let's keep this thread going!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:35 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:01 am
Posts: 716
Location: Indianapolis, USA
As soon as you get that video up and I can see what it is I have to do, I'm hooking up all 4 of my Akai units (2 mpd 32s, 1 mpd 24, and an mpk 49)! Thanks for posting!

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rahlo
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MacBook Pro, Live 8, Reason 4, Akai MPD 32, Akai MPK 49, Akai APC 40, Metric Halo ULN-2 expanded, Apogee Duet.


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:40 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:58 pm
Posts: 119
Alright, I'll try to re-edit tonight. Should be able to pull it off.


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:13 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:58 pm
Posts: 119
Here's the video link. It's still processing so give it a little bit.....

I don't go into full detail on every step-by-step thing, but I did provide still images and a close up of how the sensor board is connected to the main circuitboard. Really hope this helps everyone out. I don't know about the mod for the MPK49, but Christoph from Germany said that it looks to be the same configuration.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZViS288WH4


by the way, the beat in the background is something I threw together, in case anyone is wondering about it. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:16 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:34 am
Posts: 1886
Location: Austin, Texas
sounds cool.
i actually am one of the few that likes the mpd pads and if i wanted it more sensitive i would just use a velocity plug..but this sounds cool and easy/cheap enough to try.

thanks for sharing that..

o and you guys want to know something funny.
the mpd24, mpd32 and apc40 wont all work together on my set up lol
freaking retarded. i suspect my usb hubs but i also suspect akai.
i'm going to get really good usb hub and try that first (cause its the cheaper solution and i can always use a hub) if that fails i will have to get an 8 port midi interface and power adapters for the mpd24 and mpd32 :/

good thing i'm not giging much and when i do i'm taking my minimal setup
i have a few months to get this all sorted.

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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:32 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:39 pm
Posts: 1523
Location: NYC
bosonHavoc wrote:
o and you guys want to know something funny.
the mpd24, mpd32 and apc40 wont all work together on my set up lol
freaking retarded. i suspect my usb hubs but i also suspect akai.
i'm going to get really good usb hub and try that first (cause its the cheaper solution and i can always use a hub) if that fails i will have to get an 8 port midi interface and power adapters for the mpd24 and mpd32 :/


I have the same issue, it appears to be the result of my crap hub. If you do a search you can find the thread I started about APC in a Hub - there were some recommendations in there. I haven't upgraded yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:41 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 23576
Location: SF, CA
contakt321 wrote:
bosonHavoc wrote:
o and you guys want to know something funny.
the mpd24, mpd32 and apc40 wont all work together on my set up lol
freaking retarded. i suspect my usb hubs but i also suspect akai.
i'm going to get really good usb hub and try that first (cause its the cheaper solution and i can always use a hub) if that fails i will have to get an 8 port midi interface and power adapters for the mpd24 and mpd32 :/


I have the same issue, it appears to be the result of my crap hub. If you do a search you can find the thread I started about APC in a Hub - there were some recommendations in there. I haven't upgraded yet.

I think that if you have the APC set as the top control surface in Control Surfaces it works out. I use that and a BCR through a hub. the remote SL goes straight into the computer.

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 Post subject: Re: Akai MPD and MPK pad mods - tips for better pad sensitivity
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:26 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:01 am
Posts: 716
Location: Indianapolis, USA
hiphopdontstop wrote:
Alright, I'll try to re-edit tonight. Should be able to pull it off.


Thanks for taking the time to do that video—helpful junk indeed! Triplets!! 8O

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rahlo
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http://www.rahlo.com

MacBook Pro, Live 8, Reason 4, Akai MPD 32, Akai MPK 49, Akai APC 40, Metric Halo ULN-2 expanded, Apogee Duet.


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