How to Map MIDI Controllers?

20 minutes read

Mapping MIDI controllers involves assigning specific functions or parameters within a software or device to the physical controls on a MIDI controller. This process allows users to easily manipulate and control various parameters in real-time during performances or recordings.


To map a MIDI controller, users typically need to access the MIDI mapping settings within the software or device they are working with. This may involve selecting the desired parameter, such as volume, pan, or effect controls, and then assigning it to a specific control on the MIDI controller, such as a knob, slider, or button.


Once the mapping is set up, users can then physically manipulate the controls on the MIDI controller to adjust the assigned parameters in real-time. This can be particularly useful for live performances, as it allows for more dynamic and expressive control over the music being created.


Overall, mapping MIDI controllers can greatly enhance the flexibility and creativity of a musician or producer and can provide a more intuitive and interactive way to interact with their music software or devices.

Best MIDI Controllers of June 2024

1
Akai Professional MPK Mini Plus - USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 37 Mini Keys, 8 MPC Pads, Sequencer, MIDI/CV/Gate I/O, Music Production Software

Rating is 5 out of 5

Akai Professional MPK Mini Plus - USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 37 Mini Keys, 8 MPC Pads, Sequencer, MIDI/CV/Gate I/O, Music Production Software

  • Full Creative Control - A dynamic 37-Key MPK Mini keybed for 3 full octaves of melodic and harmonic performance. Easily connect to your DAW or studio equipment with the USB-powered MIDI Controller
  • Advanced Connectivity - Connect to different sound sources with CV/Gate and MIDI I/O. Control modular gear, sound modules, synthesizers, and more to bring new sound sources into your music production
  • Record and Compose Without a Computer - Connect to your production station and use the built-in 64-step sequencer featuring one track for drums and one for melodies or chords, with up to 8 notes each
  • Control Your DAW - Transport section for intuitive hardware control of your DAW. Arm and start recordings, stop playback, rewind or fast-forward for easy navigation of large sessions and projects
2
AKAI Professional MIDImix - USB MIDI Controller Mixer with Assignable Faders & Master Fader, 24 Knobs and 16 Buttons, 1 to 1 Mapping With Ableton Live

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

AKAI Professional MIDImix - USB MIDI Controller Mixer with Assignable Faders & Master Fader, 24 Knobs and 16 Buttons, 1 to 1 Mapping With Ableton Live

  • Mixdown Essentials - 8 individual line faders and 1 master fader for controlling track volume, virtual instrument parameters, effect settings and more
  • Assignable Control - 24 knobs, arranged 3 per channel for controlling EQ, bus sends, virtual instrument parameters, effect settings and more
  • Get Hands-On - 16 buttons arranged in 2 banks provide mute, solo and record arm functionality per channel
3
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 – 88 Key Semi Weighted MIDI Keyboard Controller for Complete Command of Virtual Synthesizers and DAW parameters

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 – 88 Key Semi Weighted MIDI Keyboard Controller for Complete Command of Virtual Synthesizers and DAW parameters

  • Music Production Essential – MIDI keyboard controller with 88 full-size velocity-sensitive semi weighted keys for MIDI control of virtual instruments, software samplers and plug-in synthesisers
  • MIDI Keyboard Must-Haves - Volume fader, transport & directional buttons; pitch & modulation wheels, octave up & down buttons and sustain pedal input for expressive performances
  • Your Music Studio Equipment Centrepiece – Slimline design fits any desk, studio or stage setup perfectly and advanced functionality customizes your controls for your recording software
4
Arturia MiniLab 3 - Universal MIDI Controller for Music Production, with All-in-One Software Package - 25 Keys, 8 Multi-Color Pads - White

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Arturia MiniLab 3 - Universal MIDI Controller for Music Production, with All-in-One Software Package - 25 Keys, 8 Multi-Color Pads - White

  • GO WITH YOUR FLOW: MiniLab 3 is an easy keyboard controller that adapts to your needs, your style and your workflow, so you can make music just the way you like it. It lets you control instruments, mute tracks, punch in your 8 pad drums, and adjust your 4 faders with a flow so fluid you’ll forget you had a mouse. Hook it up, discover fresh sounds, enjoy premium velocity-sensitive keys, and get hands-on with your music like never before!
  • ALL THE ESSENTIAL CONTROLS IN A COMPACT CONTROLLER: MiniLab 3 is USB powered with 25 note velocity-sensitive slim keyboard, 2 banks of 8 high quality pads with RGB backlighting, 8 rotary encoders, 4 sliders, Mini display & clickable browsing knob, Built-in Arpeggiator, Hold and Chord modes, 2 touch sensors for pitch bend and modulation wheel, USB-C Port, MIDI Out. Great for beginners, it also fits for pros, and allows you to tweak every aspect of your mix in an instant.
5
Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] — Portable 25-Key, USB, MIDI Keyboard Controller with DAW Integration, Chord Mode, and Arpeggiator — for Music Production

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] — Portable 25-Key, USB, MIDI Keyboard Controller with DAW Integration, Chord Mode, and Arpeggiator — for Music Production

  • Get creative easily with arpeggiator - Easy to use but deeply controllable, Launchkey Mini’s creative arpeggiator allows you to change rhythm, beat, pattern, octave, gate and more to add a whole range of diversity to your ideas and melodies.
  • Play chords with one finger - Lay down chords for your track quick with fixed chord mode. Play a chord with one finger by assigning a fixed shape to the keys and it’ll transpose as you move up and down the keyboard.
  • Finest-tech at your fingertips - The Launchkey Mini might be small in size but it’s packed with features. The 25-key device has 16 velocity-sensitive RGB, eight rotary controls, pitch and mod touch strips, and sustain input. Our finest mini keymech to date is also included.
  • DAW Integration - In addition to Apple Logic and Ableton Live, Launchkey Mini also has excellent integrations with Reason, as well as any HUI compatible DAW, such as Cubase, Pro Tools, and more.
6
AKAI Professional APC Mini MK2 - USB MIDI Pad Controller for Clip Launching with Ableton Live Lite, 64 RGB Pads, Drum and Note Mode and MIDI Mixer

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

AKAI Professional APC Mini MK2 - USB MIDI Pad Controller for Clip Launching with Ableton Live Lite, 64 RGB Pads, Drum and Note Mode and MIDI Mixer

  • Complete Control – Ableton Live Clip Launching MIDI Controller, perfect for creative looping, mixing, home studio and live performing. Connect to Ableton Live and control all your studio equipment
  • Bright 8x8 RGB Pad Matrix - 64 RGB pads for launching clips in Ableton Live providing visual color feedback. Trigger everything from Loops, Vocals, and melodic samples for instant creativity
  • 9 Assignable Faders - With 8 assignable faders + 1 master fader instantly map to Ableton Live's mixer for hands-on mix control of volume, pan, or devices. Use Device mode to control Ableton macros
  • Drum and Note Modes -The Drum sample mode features seamless integration with Ableton Drum Rack. With the inbuilt "Smart Scale View", Note mode enables you to visually play melodies effortlessly
7
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Backlit Drum Pads, 8 Knobs and Music Production Software Included, Grey

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Backlit Drum Pads, 8 Knobs and Music Production Software Included, Grey

  • Music Production and Beat Maker Essential – USB powered MIDI controller with 25 mini MIDI keyboard velocity-sensitive keys for studio production, virtual synthesizer control and beat production
  • Total Control of your Production - Innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control, plus a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range and modes
  • Complete Command of your Virtual Instruments and FX - 8 360-degree knobs assign to all your music studio plugins for mixing, tweaking synth controls and more
8
AKAI Professional MPD218 - USB MIDI Controller with 16 MPC Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Note Repeat & Full Level Buttons and Production Software

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

AKAI Professional MPD218 - USB MIDI Controller with 16 MPC Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Note Repeat & Full Level Buttons and Production Software

  • Beat Production, Anywhere - Ultra-portable, feature-packed and USB powered pad controller with 16 thick fat MPC pads for triggering drums, melodic samples, effects and more
  • Expandable Banks - Easily accessible dedicated controls for three pad banks provides a total of 48 assignable pads
  • Feature Packed - MPC note repeat and full level controls for immersive expressive performances
  • Comprehensive Software Suite Included - Ableton Live Lite, Drum Synth 500 by AIR Music Tech
9
Arturia KeyLab Essential mk3 — 61 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Analog Lab V Software Included

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Arturia KeyLab Essential mk3 — 61 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Analog Lab V Software Included

  • New creative features: Scale Mode, Chord Mode, and Arpeggiator, making composition, songwriting, and beat-making more intuitive than ever.
  • Custom DAW integration: KeyLab Essential 3 features custom scripts for deeper control over DAWs, including Ableton Live Logic Pro X, FL Studio, and more.
  • Easier controls & interface: RGB-backlit pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity, contextual button, and a bright new 2.5” LCD screen for real-time feedback.
10
Alesis V49 MKII – USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 49 Velocity Sensitive Keys, 8 Full Level Pads, Arpeggiator, Pitch/Mod Wheel, Note Repeat and Software Suite

Rating is 4.1 out of 5

Alesis V49 MKII – USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 49 Velocity Sensitive Keys, 8 Full Level Pads, Arpeggiator, Pitch/Mod Wheel, Note Repeat and Software Suite

  • Plug in the USB Powered V49 MKII MIDI keyboard, and turn your PC, Mac, or iOS device into a feature packed production studio - Ideal for home studio producers, piano beginners, and desktop djs
  • 49 Full-Size, Velocity Sensitive, Synth Action Keys alongside 8 velocity sensitive backlit beat pads with full level and note repeat controls, all in a design that fits easily into your workspace
  • Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels for added expression, and an Arpeggiator with 6 modes for creating unique melodies and inspiring creativity


How to create custom MIDI mapping templates?

To create custom MIDI mapping templates, you will need a MIDI controller that allows for custom mapping, along with a MIDI software that supports custom mapping. Here is a general guideline on how to create custom MIDI mapping templates:

  1. Connect your MIDI controller to your computer and launch your MIDI software.
  2. Open the MIDI mapping section in your software. This can usually be found in the settings or preferences menu.
  3. Create a new MIDI mapping template or select an existing one to modify.
  4. Assign MIDI commands to different functions or parameters in your software. This can include assigning knobs, faders, buttons, or pads on your MIDI controller to specific actions in the software.
  5. Save your custom MIDI mapping template for future use. Give it a descriptive name so you can easily access it when needed.
  6. Test your custom MIDI mapping template by using your MIDI controller to control the software functions you have mapped. Make any necessary adjustments to the mappings as needed.
  7. Once you are satisfied with your custom MIDI mapping template, save it and use it in your music production workflow.


Remember that the specific steps for creating custom MIDI mapping templates may vary depending on the MIDI controller and software you are using. Consult the user manual or online resources for your specific equipment to ensure you are following the correct steps.


How to map MIDI controllers for DJing?

To map MIDI controllers for DJing, you will need DJ software that allows for MIDI mapping, such as Serato DJ, Traktor, or Virtual DJ. Here is a general guide on how to map MIDI controllers for DJing:

  1. Connect your MIDI controller to your computer via USB.
  2. Open your DJ software and navigate to the MIDI mapping section. This can usually be found in the settings or preferences menu.
  3. Look for the "MIDI Learn" or "MIDI Mapping" button in your software and click on it.
  4. Start assigning functions to your MIDI controller by selecting a function in your software (such as play/pause, cue points, volume control, EQ, effects, etc.) and then moving the corresponding knob, fader, or button on your MIDI controller.
  5. Repeat step 4 for all the functions you want to map to your MIDI controller.
  6. Once you have finished mapping all the functions, save your MIDI mapping configuration so you can easily load it up in the future.
  7. Test out your MIDI controller to make sure all the mapped functions are working correctly.


It is important to note that every DJ software may have slightly different MIDI mapping procedures, so it is recommended to refer to the software's user manual or online tutorials for more specific instructions on MIDI mapping for that particular software.


How to map MIDI controllers in Ableton Live?

To map MIDI controllers in Ableton Live, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your MIDI controller to your computer and open Ableton Live.
  2. Go to the "Preferences" menu by clicking on "Live" in the top menu and selecting "Preferences" or by pressing "Ctrl + ,".
  3. In the Preferences window, click on the "MIDI" tab.
  4. Make sure that your MIDI controller is listed under "Input" in the MIDI Ports section. If it is not listed, make sure your controller is properly connected and recognized by your computer.
  5. Next, click on the "Track" or "Remote" button next to your MIDI controller's name under the "Input" section. "Track" allows you to use the MIDI controller to control parameters on individual tracks, while "Remote" allows you to map the controller to any parameter in Ableton Live.
  6. Close the Preferences window and go to the MIDI Mapping mode by clicking on the MIDI button in the top right corner of Ableton Live (the button looks like a small keyboard).
  7. Click on the parameter you want to map (e.g. a knob or fader on a device) in Ableton Live.
  8. Move or press the corresponding control on your MIDI controller to map it to the selected parameter. You should see the parameter value change as you move the control on your MIDI controller.
  9. To unmap a control, right-click on the parameter and select "Unmap" or press "Backspace" on your keyboard while the parameter is selected.
  10. You can also map multiple parameters to different controls on your MIDI controller by repeating steps 7-9 for each parameter you want to map.
  11. To exit MIDI Mapping mode, click on the MIDI button in the top right corner of Ableton Live again.


That's it! You have successfully mapped your MIDI controller in Ableton Live. You can now use your controller to control various parameters in Ableton Live.


How to map MIDI controllers for live performances?

Mapping MIDI controllers for live performances can greatly enhance your ability to interact with your music in a dynamic and expressive way. Here are some steps to help you effectively map MIDI controllers for your live performances:

  1. Choose the right MIDI controller: Select a MIDI controller that suits your performance style and preferences. Consider factors such as the number of pads, sliders, knobs, and buttons, as well as the size and layout of the controller.
  2. Configure your DAW or software: Make sure your digital audio workstation (DAW) or software is capable of MIDI mapping. Familiarize yourself with the MIDI mapping features and options available in your software of choice.
  3. Assign MIDI controls: Decide which parameters you want to control with your MIDI controller. This could include volume, effects, filters, instruments, or anything else you want to manipulate during your performance.
  4. Enter MIDI mapping mode: Enter the MIDI mapping mode in your software and select the parameter you want to assign a MIDI control to.
  5. Assign the MIDI control: Move, press, or turn the desired control on your MIDI controller to assign it to the selected parameter in your software.
  6. Test and refine: Test your MIDI mappings to ensure everything is working as expected. Make adjustments as needed to refine the mapping and make it more intuitive for your performance.
  7. Save your mappings: Save your MIDI mappings so you can easily recall them for future performances.
  8. Practice: Spend time practicing with your MIDI mappings to become familiar with how to control your music effectively during live performances.


By following these steps and experimenting with different mapping configurations, you can create a custom setup that enhances your live performances and allows you to interact with your music in new and exciting ways.


What MIDI controllers are compatible with mapping software?

There are many MIDI controllers that are compatible with mapping software, including:

  1. Ableton Push
  2. Novation Launchpad
  3. Akai MPK Mini
  4. Native Instruments Maschine
  5. Behringer BCR2000
  6. Arturia BeatStep
  7. Korg nanoKONTROL
  8. M-Audio Oxygen 25
  9. Roland DJ-202
  10. Pioneer DDJ-SB3


These controllers can be easily mapped to different functions within mapping software such as Ableton Live, Traktor, Serato, and more, allowing for customized control over your software and hardware devices.

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