How to Set Up The AKAI MPK Mini With GarageBand [macOS/iOS]

Because you don’t have to install any drivers or anything like that, getting the AKAI MPK Mini to work with GarageBand, whether on the iPad, iPhone, or MacBook Pro, isn’t very difficult. For the most part, it’s almost entirely plug-and-play so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

However, there are some adapters you’ll need for the connecting devices, and there are some things that are worth knowing about as well, ie, the fact that the iPhone may need an external power bank to power itself and the AKAI MPK Mini at the same time.

To connect an AKAI MPK Mini to GarageBand, all you really need is the keyboard, itself, your device, the USB 2.0 cable that the MPK comes with, as well as a USB-C to USB, and a USB/Camera Adapter, depending on whether you’re using a MacBook Pro, iPad, or iPhone, respectively.

If you have no idea what you’re doing at all because this is your first time, not a problem because I’m going to walk you through a more in-depth tutorial in the sections below. I’ve created some helpful diagrams as well as where you can find all of the necessary adapters to make everything work properly…

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How To Set Up The AKAI MPK Mini With GarageBand (macOS)

Connecting AKAI MPK Mini to a MacBook - How to Connect An AKAI MPK MINI to GarageBand
To connect an AKAI MPK Mini to GarageBand macOS, connect the included USB 2.0 cable from the AKAI MPK Mini to the USB-C to USB adapter onto the side of the MacBook. GarageBand will automatically recognize it as a MIDI device.

1) Connect the USB-C Adapter to Your MacBook

This is the adapter you need to get on Amazon and it’ll do just fine until you need to get a multiport adapter someday. Connecting to your macOS device is self-explanatory, so no issues there, however, what I will say about this is that this kind of adapter probably won’t do you justice for that long.

The reason is that as your needs expand, you’re going to need more ports to accommodate all of the keyboards, drum pads, audio interfaces, and other tools that you need to use.

You may even find yourself wanting to use a USB microphone which isn’t a bad idea, considering they sound good enough to record and they’re inexpensive. When that day comes, I recommend getting an adapter like this one on Thomann. It’s expensive, yeah, but you won’t have to worry about ports ever again.

2) Connect the USB 2.0 Cable from the Adapter to the MPK Mini

Run the USB 2.0 (they’re often called printer cables) from the adapter to the AKAI MPK Mini, and you’ll notice that the AKAI MPK Mini powers up almost immediately. The keyboard is bus-powered, so it’s getting all of its energy from the MacBook.

3) Open GarageBand and It Will Recognize the Keyboard

The moment you connect the AKAI MPK Mini to your MacBook or macOS device, GarageBand will understand and recognize it, and you’ll be able to use it without any other issues. The video down below will show you how to connect pretty much any MIDI device.

How to Set Up the AKAI MPK Mini With GarageBand (iOS)

Connecting AKAI MPK Mini to an iPhone - How to Connect An AKAI MPK MINI to GarageBand
To connect an AKAI MPK Mini to your iPhone, you’ll first need to connect a USB/Camera adapter to your iPhone. Run the cable from the adapter to the MPK Mini, and GarageBand iOS will recognize it. You need the Lightning to USB3 adapter in case you need an external power bank to drive the MPK Mini.

This one’s a little weirder for reasons that I haven’t quite figured out yet. When I try and use my regular thunderbolt to USB adapter to connect the AKAI MPK Mini, it doesn’t work, and it says that the AKAI MPK Mini requires too much power to function properly.

For whatever reason, if you use the USB/Camera Adapter, as they’re called on Amazon, you won’t run into this problem. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Cannot-Use-MPK-Mini-3-How-to-Use-the-AKAI-MPK-Mini-Without-A-Computer-Guide
This is the prompt you get if you try and use the regular Thunderbolt to USB adapter to connect your iPhone to the AKAI MPK Mini.

1) Connect the USB Multiport (Camera) Adapter to Your iPhone

All of this, again, is pretty self-explanatory. But something that’s important to mention at this point is that if you’re using an older iPhone, you may not have the power to drive the AKAI MPK Mini. I’ve run into this problem before which I explained in this article, but the long and short of it is that you’ll need an external power source if this is the case.

The USB/Camera adapter will provide that option because you’ll have the choice to connect the iPhone to an external power bank, or a block charger on the power outlet if you wanted to.

However, the thing that’s confusing about it is that the USB/Camera adapter works without a power source with my iPhone X, but the regular adapter doesn’t. It’s weird and I don’t understand why, but I digress. Just get the USB/Camera adapter and you’ll be Gucci.

2) Run the USB 2.0 Cable from the Adapter to the AKAI MPK Mini

Run the cable from the adapter to your AKAI MPK Mini as you normally would with any other device.

3) Turn on GarageBand iOS

It doesn’t matter if GarageBand iOS is already turned on or not. The device will immediately recognize the AKAI MPK in and you’ll be good to go. Using the AKAI MPK Mini with the iPhone is not my favorite set-up, by far, but for some people, this will do the trick.

How to Connect AKAI MPK Mini to iPhone
Connecting an AKAI MPK Mini to an iPhone is straightforward.

How to Set Up the AKAI MPK Mini With GarageBand (iPadOS)

Connecting AKAI MPK Mini to an iPad - How to Connect An AKAI MPK MINI to GarageBand
To connect the AKAI MPK Mini to your iPad, you just need to use the USB-C to USB adapter to connect the two devices with the included USB 2.0 cable that comes in the box with the MPK Mini. GarageBand for iPad will recognize the MIDI device right away.

Because the iPad Pro and the MacBook Pro use the same kind of port, the USB-C, and the very same adapter will work with both. The AKAI MPK Mini with the iPad Pro 11″ is a great set-up for portable music production in my opinion, because this rig can fit in a regular backup, or even a small satchel if you have one.

1) Connect the USB-C to USB Adapter to Your iPad

2) Run the USB 2.0 Cable from the Adapter to Your AKAI MPK Mini

3) Turn On GarageBand iOS and the iPad Will Automatically Recognize It

How to Connect iPad to AKAI MPK Mini
The AKAI MPK Mini works great with the iPad Pro 11″

Why Is There No Sound After Having Connected the AKAI MPK Mini?

MIDI controllers only work on software instrument tracks in GarageBand, including the iOS and macOS versions. This means if you try and use the AKAI MPK Mini with an audio traeck or drummer track, you won’t be able to hear anything as you would if you were using a proper software instrument track.

Other AKAI MPK Mini Articles

Important Things to Note About GarageBand and the AKAI MPK Mini

1) The Same Principle Applies To Other MIDI Keyboards

This is pretty much the same for every other kind of MIDI device. As long you don’t have to install drivers, which I don’t think you can even do on the iPhone and iPad, then you’re good to go. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of installing a bunch of programs and software to run a keyboard anyway. It’s annoying and inconvenient.

Gear Mentioned

1) USB-C to USB Adapter (on Amazon)

2) Kramer Multiport Adapter (on Thomann)

3) USB Camera Adapter (on Amazon)