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Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

Akai Mpd226 Review

If you are looking for a great MIDI-over-USB pad controller for your beat-making, then you need to look no further than the Akai MPD 226.

This MIDI controller has a blend of controls and special technologies that make it easy to connect your sampling drum machine pads to your DAW of choice through USB connectivity, making your production workflow seamless and fun.

In this Akai MPD226 review, you’ll learn all about the pros and cons of this MPC sampling legacy.

Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Akai MPD226 Review

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

There are several key features that make this USB pad-based MIDI controller unique. Let’s break down what makes the Akai Professional MPD226 an all-in-one solution for beatmakers and producers.

The unit has a series of 64 assignable pads, which are all accessible through four different pad banks. You can switch through them when playing and performing live or access them while creating tracking in the studio on the fly.

Four vertical faders have been built-in to the controller, which are all assignable, and the controller has four different Q-link knobs and Q-link buttons for easy access to EQs and effects in the mix.

With these Q-link buttons, the MPD 226 also comes equipped with 36 assignable areas, which are all accessed through three banks.

There are 16 MPC pads that have been reissued with new technology. They’re illuminated and are velocity- and pressure-sensitive. These pads are called Thick Fat pads, and they are made to add comfort and stability to your playing time.

You can get that classic MPC feel, flow, and style WITHOUT the hefty price tag!

Additionally, you can synch up other outboard gear and effects using the MIDI in and out jacks that are built into the rear of the system. The controller is iOS compatible, and a Camera Connection Kit can be purchased separately to add to the technology.

There is an MPC note repeat, MPC swing, Full level, and tap tempo options. With 30 different presets, this pad-based controller has configurations for almost all the most popular DAWs technology.

With a dedicated transport control built-in, you’ll be spending less time looking at the laptop and having to make edits with your DAW.

Perhaps the most EXCITING of the features is the included software: Akai Pro MPC Essentials, Big Bang Universal Drums, Big Bang Cinematic Percussion, and Ableton Live Lite.

These features are not found in many of the other USB controllers on the market. In fact, Akai has made itself stand out from the crowd with the multiple features they have added to its product.

When you stop to look at this MIDI drum controller, it’s hard not to be amazed at the level of technology this controller has for such a small size and price tag.

If you enjoy creating your beats and remixing anthems, or just straight up making great music in hip hop or electronic music genres, then this is the pad controller for you.

Although if you want to consider other options, then don’t worry. Later in this Akai MPD 226 review, we’ll also discuss how other competitors’ products compare to Akai’s MPD 226 USB pad-based controller.


  • The sensitivity on the pads can be adjusted
  • Backlights on the pads can be changed according to your style
  • Affordable price and great value
  • Get control over your DAW
  • Handy camera connection kit
  • Ultra-portable pad controller


  • The controls are smaller than other models
  • No standalone option

Akai Professional MPD226: Product Overview

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

Overall, this product is a high-quality option for musicians, DJs, and others who enjoy playing around with beats and drums. It includes many special features that make it a great option for home or professional use.

It contains all the necessary equipment and software you need (including Ableton Live Lite and Akai Pro MPC Essentials) but it also may expand should you decide to add more to your collection.

This MIDI controller also has many software options included, but you can purchase your own should you need it or want it. You look a little closer at all the other things involved with this pad controller; you will see just how amazing it is in comparison to other products like it.

This product gets a STRONG recommendation from us because of its features and additional technologies.

If you’re ready to give computer music production a shot, then this is one of the best pad controllers to help you get started. Any music lover, DJ, or music producer will find this pad controller to be adequate and incredible for its price tag.

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Akai MPC Style Pads

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

The pad section of this controller is beyond comparison. It is, in fact, the most important part of a drum machine-style MIDI controller. This product has rubber pads that are thick enough to be comfortable for long hours of use.

They are also pressure-sensitive, so you can get exactly the control you want. Another great thing about these drum pads is the ability to configure them to your personal touch.

If you tend to have a HEAVY tap, then you can configure the pads to work with your touch. They can also be configured to work with the chosen software or hardware devices that you enjoy using.

The pads on this controller are also backlit. You can choose your colors for the lights, giving you more personalization than any other type of drum pad-based controller.

You also have special sensitivity settings on this controller called gain, curve, and threshold. Each has its own sensitivity, and you can use these to adjust the pads to your personal preferences.

The Controls

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

Every USB MIDI controller has a section for controlling the music and sound on your board. On the Akai Professional MPD226, the controller section is placed for optimal spacing, so you don’t accidentally hit any buttons while using the pad section.

The MPC controls consist of encoders or knobs, buttons, and faders. Each of these allows you the freedom to create new sounds during performances.

The controls on this newer model have been made slightly smaller, which not only gives you movement freedom, but it doesn’t take up as much space as previous models.

The knobs give you all the control you need without being too large. The buttons on the controller can be configured to your needs as well, and you can even save keyboard shortcuts as needed.

Ableton Live Lite Software

The MPD 226 comes with some pre-downloaded free software. What’s not to love about that, right? The software comes with an average music product software for free called Ableton Live Lite, and many people use this software with different hardware devices to help produce music of all kinds.

Aside from Ableton Live Lite, there are also two different software options for musical quality.

One is for drums, the Big Bang Universal Drums, and the other is for percussion instruments, Big Bang Cinematic Percussion.

These three software options come with the Akai Professional MPD226 controller, and you don’t have to pay an extra fee for the software either.

This drum pad MIDI controller even has an editor software attached, and it’s pretty impressive. It’s intuitive, and it allows you to create mass changes as well as small changes. It has easy tasks and many features that allow you to upload many different presets to the hardware without too much hassle.

Overall, this editor software is like a gold mine, and it’s something that many music producers look for when starting to create their own sounds.

RELATED: Complete Review of the Ableton Push 2 MIDI Pad

Akai Professional MPD226 Alternatives: How Does It Compare?

When you put the Akai MPD226 up against other competitive pad controllers, it just exceeds all comparisons. Not every product has the same features as the Akai MPD 226, and not every product is for everyone.

Luckily, we’ve done some of the work for you. Below, we’ve taken three different pad controllers and decided to compare them with the MPD226.

We will be looking at the difference in features, and we will discuss who would best benefit from these different products.

1. Steinberg CMC-PD

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

The Steinberg CMC-PD is a USB MIDI controller as well. It also contains 16 different backlit pads on the surface, along with a rotary encoder and other controllers to help you get the music you want.

What it doesn’t have compared to the MPD 226 is the additional software that Akai gives with the purchase of their pad controller. This drum pad is ideal for beginners who are just learning how to create different sounds with a controller like this.

2. Korg NanoPAD2

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

The Korg NanoPAD2 is a USB pad controller like the Akai MPD 226, but it also doesn’t have the option to expand or use with different software. However, you can use the Korg software, which can be downloaded from their website. It connects to your computer through a USB port.

This controller is great for any beginner or someone who wants to save money while trying out this technology. The price value of this drum pad controller is great as well.

3. Alesis Control Pad USB

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

The Alesis Control Pad USB is a percussion pad controller, which explains why it doesn’t compare with the Akai MPD 226. It does not have the options that the MPD 226 has.

It has 8 different pads and a limited number of controls.

It also doesn’t come with all the added software, but it does come with FXPansion’s BFD Lite software.

You can use it with drum kit libraries, making this controller a great option for those who only want to use the drums to add intensity.

The Final Verdict

Akai MPD226 Review: Beat Making MIDI Pad Machine

Overall, the Akai Professional MPD226 is a revolutionary USB drum pad controller. It’s easy to adjust, easy to use, and the software that comes with it is second to none. If you’re in the market for a MIDI pad controller, the Akai MPD226 is the one to get.

With all of its features and added benefits, who wouldn’t want to choose this great pad controller? It has everything you need whether you’re a beginner or a professional, and the price just can’t be beaten!



May 26, 2021 – updated SPR schema

May 18, 2021 – updated title and meta description, updated publish date, tagged primary keyword, added table of contents, added schema, updated product images and buttons, changed affiliated links to Genius links, added new article images, fixed and updated article formatting and content, fixed article interlinking, added 3 external links

April 10, 2022 – minor content changes, updated images

About the author


After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.