How can I map/remap pads from a MIDI controler?

Hello everybody.

I use the well-known Akai MPK mini controller with Ardour (7.4) on Linux. Everything works out of the box for the keys and the control knobs (through MIDI learn and setting Edit > Preferences > Control Surfaces > Generic MIDI), but I have troubles to setup the 8 pads of the controller to make them produce the notes I want. This question must has been asked thousands times, but I cannot find an answer.

I could not find a specific point in the documentation about this (but maybe I missed it). From other posts, I checked in the MIDI tracer that the pads send notes on channel 10. I checked with the Black Pearl percussion set that the pads work correctly. However, I have no idea on how to map or remap the pads MIDI notes to an arbitrary one. Moreover, on any SF2 instrument I use (with ACE Fluid Synth or Calf Fluidsynth), the pads produce no sound and channel 10 is by default mapped to no instrument. What should I do?

Should I write a mapping file like this one? If so what is the format? Can it be project specific? The default file for the Akai MPK mini is in /usr/share/ardour7/midi_maps/ and contains:

<!-- This is the preset that you need to send to your MPKmini. Just save the numbers in an ordinary text file and upload them with MPK MINI Editor -->                                
<!-- 240 71 127 124 97 0 102 4 15 15 4 12 0 4 5 0 0 3 0 120 0 1 1 1 0 2 2 2 0 3 3 3 0 4 4 4     0 5 5 5 0 6 6 6 0 7 7 7 0 8 8 8 0 9 9 9 0 10 10 10 1 11 11 11 0 12 12 12 0 13 13 13 0 14 1    4 14 0 15 15 15 0 16 16 16 0 5 0 127 6 0 127 7 0 127 8 0 127 1 0 127 2 0 127 3 0 127 4 0 12    7 247 -->
<!-- It will map pads and knobs to channel 16 -->
<!-- Press the "PROG CHANGE" button to switch pads into PGM mode -->

Should I do it?

Thank you for your answers!

The user guide has this note:

We recommend visiting and downloading the MPK mini Editor, which
gives you a visual and intuitive way to edit thThis text will be hiddene various MIDI messages that MPK mini’s controls (pads, knobs, and X-Y controller) send to your computer.

Is that what you are trying to do, change the notes which are sent by the pads?
Or do you want the pads to send the same notes, and remap to different notes in between the controller and the receiving plugin?

Hey Chris, thanks for your reply.

The link is now dead, but I think I found the editor from this official tutorial. However, only the Mac and Windows versions are available, and the later version cannot be installed with Wine (a complex story of UAC, as explained in this issue). As I work my music on Linux, I cannot afford to reboot each time I need to change the mapping of my controller.

Or do you want the pads to send the same notes, and remap to different notes in between the controller and the receiving plugin?

I have the feeling that this option could be easier. How can I do this?

I will add the caveat that I have not actually tried this yet, but of the plugins I know this would be my starting point:
x42 plugins MIDI filter

There is a plugin which can change the channel of events (although changing the responding channel of the synth plugin might be just as easy), and a plugin which can map notes in input data to different notes in the output data.

Sounds interesting, thank you, I will try that!

Wait, where did you find this paragraph in the manual? I cannot find it.

I just searched for Akai MPK mini and found the link to the Akai web site:
Akai MPK mini mkii web page

It is for the mkII version, perhaps later than the version you have.

At the bottom of the page is a link to the user guide:
MPKmini User Guide at

Page 3 in the English section has the text I copied in previously.

That “Downloads” section also has a link to the Windows version of the editor:
MPKmini MkII Editor Windows v1.0.5

Ah, I see. My bad, I should have specified that I have the Akai MPK mini mk3, which is a different model than the mkII, even if they are very close. The page for the mk3 has no direct link for MPKmini editor. I had to register my product first to have access to a download link. I can see that the two controllers use different programs (MPK Mini III Program Editor, and MPK mini MkII Editor).

For the record, I could not upload the preset in the MIDI mapping file mentioned in my first message: the program format for MPK mini mk3 is now binary, not plain text. But I could partially decipher it and enter the values manually in the editor. Here is a screen capture of the program editor with entered values:

The MIDI mapping file for MPK mini is supposed to map the pads do certain actions (when PROG CHANGE is pressed on the controller), knob 1 to the master gain, knob 5 to the master panwidth, and knobs 2-4, 5-8 to the gain of buses 1-6 (I guess). For now, the knob mapping does not seem to work (but they can still be associated manually). Keep in mind for the knobs to work, you have to set Edit > Preferences > Control Surfaces > Generic MIDI, then Show Protocol Setting > Incoming MIDI on > MPK mini 3 MIDI 1 (In) and MIDI Bindings > AKAI MPKmini.

Mapping the notes sent by the controller to an arbitrary note (as suggested by @ccaudle) can be done with per-installed plugins. The plugin comes before the instrument. The MIDI Note Mapper plugin (by Alby Musaelian) does the job: you map the controller notes (1-8, 9-16) to an arbitrary note. Note you have to set the instrument on channel 16. The AVL Drumkit MIDI Map plugin (by the community) is specifically tailored for drum kits soundfonts that follow the MIDI norm, such as the Black Pearl drum kit: you map the controller notes to the different named percussive instruments of the drum kit.

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