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Akai MPK249

Sridhar Raghavan


Hope some one can answer a few basic question(s).

I have an AKAI MPK249 which has been lying idle for a while and I decided that I will use it with Cakewalk (with my Target Synth as Korg PA600. I have no need as yet for configuring MPK249 for Cakewalk - as Cakewalk will use MPK249 as a Generic Midi Controller for inputs).

Everywhere there is only mention about setting up with DAW and basic questions are never answered. In this forum as well. I am not complaining that no one addresses them, but just intrigued that no one seems to miss it.

a) Is there a desktop Utility for creating/editing Configurations/Presets for MPK249? 

I installed MPC essentials, thinking that would provide me that. But  its focus is elsewhere almost like a DAW.  Strangely that software does not even have a SETTINGS menu!!

For example, I have an Alesis Vortex, now for several years.  (Like with many other MIDI controllers) I use a Desktop App, which gives a UI that mirrors the actual Hardware buttons sliders and knobs and MIDI functions/sequences can be assigned to them.  The configurations can be SAVED to disk and/or pushed to the midi controller. 

This makes things so much easier working with large Screen, Mouse, Keyboards and UI of Windows to do things.  Rather than struggle with the TINY screen and lengthy menu chains on the Midi Controller.  


b) While I can easily argue in favor of MIDI Controllers configured for specific DAWs, I see more reason for why they need to be configured for Specific Synths - as that is the target of MIDI sequences and commands, especially that are beyond basic MIDI CC/Pitchbend kind of commands.. For example on my KORG PA600, Selecting Styles, Variations, Fades, Performances etc. are special/private MIDI commands (uses MIDI message formats, but actual CCs private). 

c) Is there a Cake Walk preset for MPK249?  I do not see one in the factory list. What is the best/close one to use?


d) Is MPC Beats or Essentials of any relevance when using Cakewalk?


Thanks in advance. 


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Basically when using hardware for both sending or receiving Midi data you will need to read the manuals or watch videos made for the hardware. 
All DAWS are is a way to capture the incoming Data and record it and play it back.
Configurations can  be very simple or very complicated depending on what you are trying to accomplish.


Any keyboard that has USB or DIN midi output set at the Omni input to a Simple Instrument track. Input echo on and you can play and record the performance from the keyboard controller to that track as midi. 


Keyboard / Controller used for controlling the DAW and down line hardware connected to the DAW midi output. This is way more complicated because there is a zillion variables on what needs to be either passed through the DAW or transmitted, synced, CC events, midi channels. Then the midi routing. If it’s DIN you need a midi interface with stable up to date drivers. USB is a little more useful but then you might run out of ports. Then the playback hardware needs settings and audio connection to via an audio interface. 

Edited by John Vere
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John Vere

Thanks for posting a prompt reply/comment.  Everything in your comments is correct and consistent. But it is common knowledge and rather tangential basics to the questions in my post. 

Here is an accurate summary/update so far:

a) No there is/are no desktop Utility to configure MPK249.  Due to following reasons.

AKAI has not published its MIDI API Interface. 
AKAI has not published the file format of Presets.
Such things have become a widespread idiotic myopia in the Industry, sadly.
I will skip repeating whatever I have said in many other places 

Some folks have tried to figure this out through reverse engineering and have had some success. Though such approaches can break anytime. Here is a link to a past discussion elsewhere.  I may create a similar version in Python using Sysex messages. 


b) MPC Beats is a Standalone DAW of its own. Quite capable. One can use any MIDI Controller to interact with it. Obviously, AKAI MPK249 or other AKAI controllers or MIDI Synth would be good choices. 

c) I am sure MPC Beats can be used with Cakewalk - like any other Synth or VST.

d) In MPK249 there is a Preset for Cakewalk Sonar.  I am not planning to spend anytime on that as I have no need for that for now. I am using Generic-25 preset for now. I will use it to create a PA600 preset  (manually working with MPK249 screen) with all the right commands I need for controlling PA600.  I do not have any problems sending notes and drum pad hits from MPK249 to PA600 through Cakewalk.  I did not expect any trouble here.  But I anticipate some issues sending Program Change commands. It is not because I do not understand, but because I do know far too much about MIDI/Program/Bank and Control Channels than I care to write about here. 

But I am stalled with the same old Cakewalk basic issues, which I have already posted and discussed here before, since early this year.  


I will post an update when I have worked these out.



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A violin has strings, but it is not a guitar... Sounds like trolling, but that is not the point.

Most devices are designed for particular purpose and Akai MPK is not an exception. Yes, most devices can also be used for something else, but that is at least inconvenient and normally requires DIY.

Akai clearly mention the list of purpose for MPK: MPC software, Ableton/Bitwig DAWs and VIP VST host. You have mentioned MPC software but you have not mentioned VIP. May be good to check it, at least for working with VSTi.

Any other application needs DIY approach. That is expected and no reason to be frustrated.

For controlling Cakewalk, Generic/ACT MIDI surface plug-ins can do control to operation mapping on basic level. Limits of both are known, for any advance logic you will need AZ Controller. Starting point can be https://www.azslow.com/index.php/topic,393.0.html  I really can't remember what this preset does, I have created it remotely for someone with device.

Controlling external hardware synth is more challenging. Cakewalk build-ins for the purpose are  INS definitions and DMs.  Reasonable approach depends from final needs.

  • If the idea is creating self-containing MIDI, so required settings for the synth should be inside the project, controlling sequences should go throw Cakewalk tracks. Correct INS files can help there (f.e. for proper selection of bank/patch in the Track Inspector). Converting controller input (in case corresponding MIDI sequence can't be configured on the controller or configuring it is too boring) can be tricky. Cakewalk still support DX formatted MIDI FXes only and keeping MIDI output from VSTi (any "usual" MIDI FXes will be instantiated as instruments) under control can be hard. So, when possible, try to find DX MFX which can do the conversion you need (f.e. Piz MIDI or my AZ Lua  https://www.azslow.com/index.php?topic=286.5). Alternatively use external MIDI translator (f.e. Bome).
  • just sending some settings live (so without recording them into project) can be a bit simpler. F.e. with AZ Controller you can assign sending MIDI messages (sequences,  constructed on the fly, etc.).

Learning how to write INS files, filter scripts and configuring AZ Controller can take a while. DIY rarely has PnP speed ;)

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Thanks for your detailed post and thoughts. I want to clarify a few things.

I have to respectfully state that you are also missing the point by digressing unnecessarily into all kinds of things and saying  why/how things are complicated.  Please avoid it, as doing so may only serve to intimidate other earnest members of this forum who rely on experiential and pedagogical wisdom of experienced folks like you.

No I  am not frustrated,  but I am just trying to surface the basic essentials/methods. Trust me,  I do not shy away from any Complexity. But I would also do my best to clarify, encourage and ensure that posts remain relevant to their central purpose.  Broadening of focus for injecting other ideas can be serendipitous and are always welcome, but some reasons for their relevancy should be included.   

A violin has strings, but it is not a guitar... Sounds like trolling, but that is not the point. Most devices are designed for particular purpose and Akai MPK is not an exception.

Axiomatic Statements like these do not add much/anything to this context.  I request that you read my original post and the summary again. You will see why I am making my above statements.  

You seem to miss basic principles about the mechanisms and paradigms of any DAW.  While DAWs can do many sophisticated things,  it can always have one or more tracks that are taking inputs from a Midi Controller, record and play it to an external synth. This basic idea should be remembered and not lost in all the "din" of other complexities.  Ability to seamlessly combine the simple and complex things,  without adding unnecessary complexities, is the function of any DAW (or for that matter almost any product).  

You can also see my posts related to instrument definitions, maps, insertion of MIDI commands etc.

Your response includes concepts about "how/where domain knowledge is distributed within/across a system and its environment". This is a pivotal issue of Architectures, and I will proactively resist starting that discussion here. 


Edited by Sridhar Raghavan
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9 hours ago, Sridhar Raghavan said:

A violin has strings, but it is not a guitar... Sounds like trolling, but that is not the point. Most devices are designed for particular purpose and Akai MPK is not an exception.

Axiomatic Statements like these do not add much/anything to this context.  I request that you read my original post and the summary again. You will see why I am making my above statements. 

The question "how to make controller X work with Cakewalk?" is one of the most popular question about controllers. And I carefully read posts on which I try to answer. From your OP and the summary it is clear you was expecting layout editor, official protocol documentation and something for/from Cakewalk.  "Axiomatic statements" are for those who plan to buy some controller, to avoid such expectations (and related disappointment).

The rest of my post was an outline what is possible with these controllers and which tools can be used. Modern general purpose   DAWs can be more then connected between controller and hardware/software synth MIDI recorder. And in most cases these extra features help. But even existence of these features is not easy to find
(f.e. format of MIDI FXes in Cakewalk, monitoring MIDI track output, converting CCs into sequence of SysExes, choosing bank/patch selection method, etc.).
Even the fact MIDI can have extra routes inside Cakewalk (shortcuts, assignments, control surface plug-ins) is periodically overseen.

If all that is irrelevant for you, sorry that I couldn't give you any valuable information. But this is public forum and I want people which google for "Cakewalk MPK249" get an overview of possibilities in addition to "basic questions are never answered" conclusion.

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Just as an aside.. 

Akai was kindly responsive, but do not have any answers to the configuration process. Just use brute force set up on the hardware.

So I ended created a new preset, and configured 100+ elements (as I wanted to fully harness all those elements for various things).

I was horrified/appalled to see that Channel number has to be hardcoded on 100+ elements.
I want the ability to use MPK249 to send MIDI input to different destination channels, and be able to change that trivially.
Like setting a Default Channel in one place, and refer to that value in all the element configurations (override in few places as needed). 

This, even a beginner programmer, (and now the age for this has really gone down to Kindergartens) knows about Variables and assigning values to them and using them wherever needed. 

Truly Hideous!!

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