Being a passionate every-surface-makes-a-sound fingerdrummer ever since i sat behind a real drumkit as a kid i, was yearning for some device that could fulfill my needs of sensitive pads that trigger midi events and kick samples out of a Ableton drum rack. What i got was the mpk25.
I really like the overall design and functionality of the mpk. I use it in Ableton Live for a broad variety of things. Except drumming. Why not drum with the 12 soft rubber pads Akai has generously included in the upper left of your device? -you may ask. Because they suck. They suck, they suck, they suck.
When i got my mpk, my first thought was “fuck, the pads don’t work”. I quickly realised, that the pads do actually work but not at all in a way i would want them to. They didnt even come close to what i needed for being able to drum with my fingers. I actually had to move the mpk from my desk to a more solid piece of furniture to play the pads without getting the stuff on my desk all shaked up by hammering on the pads like a maniac. The sensitivity is… well… not there. Fortunately, i found a way to increase the pads sensitivity dramatically.
See this short testclip with original sensitivity (except pad 8, which has already been altered)
So, if youre experiencing the same issues, heres how i did it:
!!! THIS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY !!!
Step 1: Open the device (and be sure to know what you are doing – as stated above, you will void your warranty by doing so. Its very unlikely to damage the device though.)
Remove the 14 big screws on the back. The small screws hold the circuit board inside at its place and there is no need to remove them as well. Lift the case carefully, as its connected to the bottom with some cables in the area where the turning knobs of the mixing section reside:
Step 2: locate the pad unit and unscrew it (4 small silver screws)
Step 3: Remove the metal plate and lift up the sensor matrix to reveal the rubber mat.
Step 4: Stuff the notches on the rear side of the mat with a suitable material to allow for more contact between the mat and the sensor matrix:
I used 4 to 8 layers of tape as a first attempt until i figured that sometimes the edges of the cutted tape stick to the sensor matrix and wouldnt release a triggered pad. After some experimenting i found the perfect solution to be some old bicylce tube i cut into little rubber mats. They have exactly the right dimensions to fill a whole notch and the right thickness to trigger the pads even when you touch them rather gently.
This is what i ended up with. I did not stick the mats to the matrix itself. Its being held in place by the sensor field screwed on top.
Step 5: Put everything back in place (make sure the little rubber pins on the back of the pad mat stick through the metal plate so its aligned properly) and close the mpk.
Step 6: Experiment around with different materials. I spent a couple of hours exerimenting until i found that the bicycle tube was the right material with the right thickness for me. It gives you ultra sensitive pads. If thats not what you like or if you wish to maintain some of the pads original stroke (which is totally gone after putting in rubber mats as thick as a cycle tube) you might want to use some thinner material.
The remains of some hours of fooling around with the pads.
step 7: Have some fun with the pads
The cats could not care less for the pads: