Pad sensitivity shootout topic

Hey Everyone,
I figured it would be an interesting endeavour to open up this topic and let people who own 2 different devices for finger drumming say here which of the two has ‘better’ pads.

Always a messy thing to define “better” but let’s just say it’s responding well to light touches and consistency between pads.

Maybe we can build a little database over the years where every controller on the planet has gone head to head with every other controller at some point at least once :slight_smile:

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I’ll start:

  • Launchpad X vs Launchpad Pro mk2: Launchpad X wins (given you get a good specimen)

  • Launchpad X vs Launchpad pro mk3: Launchpad pro mk3 wins

  • Big maschine mk3 vs Maschine mikro mk3: Big maschine wins (but the slightly better sensitivity is not worth the money most of the time)

  • Launchpad pro mk3 vs big maschine mk3: Launchpad pro mk3 wins by a hairs length.


These are the devices that I own (until I return most of the ones that I don’t like/need) and my thoughts (I’m talking about threshold, so the minimum pressure needed to activate any sound with a pad):

Atom: I love the integration with Ableton (session view, trasnports, etc) but I get double note triggering and it is the least sensitive by a good amount

padKontrol: I really like the XY pad for effects, the pedal input, and the lack of colors on the pads (I like gray pads that light up when hit) but the device is very big for just drum pads (12 inches wide compared to 7 inches with the Atom, for example) and only two midi-assignable knobs. A little more sensitive than Atom and no double triggering whatsoever.

Push 2: Because I use Ableton, this is so easy to use but it is big (almost 15 inches wide and heavy and pretty much needs to be plugged in to the wall). Also the small pads get annoying not just because of the small pads but because you have less space for your hands over the device if that makes sense. Sensitivity is a tiny, itty bitty bit less than the top three but not by much. I like the squishiness of the pads more than Maschine’s pad feel - gives more rebound I feel.

Maschine MK3: I feel like this is a little less sensitive than Mikro MK3 but I bought the Mikro MK3 new, whereas I bought Maschine MK3 used (but in almost new condition). I read on the Native Instrument forum some people thinking that the Mikro was more sensitive than the Maschine MK3.

Mikro MK3: see above. Btw, I like the small form factor of the Mikro a lot (so lightweight and portable) but I would only advise using it as a MIDI controller with another DAW and for pads only because it’s very frustrating using it with Maschine software since it only has one encoder and virtually no screen. The Maschine MK3 is light years ahead in workflow/jamming/sketching on Maschine software than the Mikro.

Launchpad Pro MK3: the most sensitive after lots of testing with the controllers above. And I love the feel of the pads. And I love, love, love the Custom Mode. And the size/weight of the device. But . . . the pads are too small. Yes they are longer than Push 2 pads but not as wide, and the width matters more for finger drumming than length in my opinion. Also, the track select buttons are too close to the pads, leading to many accidental taps on them which then gets you out of that particular drum rack. Another thing I really don’t like about the LP MK3 is that the Ableton controls (buttons on the left and bottom like Clear, Record, Duplicate, Volume, etc.) completely disappear in Custom Mode. So you have to go back to Session mode anytime you want to clear a clip you just recorded for example. Funny enough, those left/bottom buttons are used for nothing in Custom Mode, so it’s odd that they removed them.

My advice: if you’re looking for just pads, regardless of software, then the Mikro MK3. If you are using Maschine software, then definitely Maschine MK3. If you’re using Ableton and you are mostly finger drumming, then one of the Maschine controllers (the Maschine MK3 is nice because it has lots to map, including 8 encoders, the 8 color pads (used for Groups in Maschine software), and a screen. If you’re into Ableton for a lot more than finger drumming, e.g., you sequence on it a lot and play lots of melodies, then Push 2 or Push 2 and a Mikro MK3 flipped sideways for space reasons if you want the bigger pads - but know that Mikro MK3 is built at an angle, so the pads will be angled to the side if you flip the controller sideways). If you want a cheap drum pad device with MIDI Din and a pedal input, then PadKontrol. Notice that I didn’t recommend the Atom - double triggering is a dealbreaker for me - and the Launchpad Pro MK3 - pads are just too small and the track select buttons too close to the pads, leading to endless frustration.


You’re making me want a Launchpad Pro MK3 - I don’t really don’t need one. But…

I’ve got a Maschine mk3 which I really like but worry about it wearing out. Every day playing is done on Akai MPD218s. Upgraded the pads with Fatpads which does seem to make it more sensitive.

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Stock pads Akai MPD 218 vs Akia MPD 226:
MPD 226 wins by a large margin - and has a better dynamic range… though neither of mine are super sensitive and response between pads is variable.

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I actually bought a new big mk3 and compared it to my older mk3 and there was some sensitivity lost over time. When playing the brand new one I remembered that that was how my old one used to feel as well. So it’s a bit of a tricky situation. A brand new maschine mk3 is better than the mikro in terms of pad sensitivity, but that sensitivity wears off over time. I emailed NI and I can send the device to Germany and have it repaired. Will cost me around 100 euros probably. Let’s see what happens.

Launchkey 49 vs Launchpad X: Launchpad X wins of course

just wanted to put this in here because I’ve had the Launchkey Keyboard for quite a while - and it’s a great keyboard! - but it’s drum pads like many, don’t respond to light touches. They are velocity sensitive, but only on a range of medium to hard striking.

All the extra pads on the Launchpad X are really great, but having the fine control with light touches is what really makes it a joy to play. Add mine to the tally of good units cause it’s very responsive all around and I don’t have any issues with double unintended notes.

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Stock Akai MPD226
vs MPD226 with MPCstuff fat pads and Corx
vs MPD226 with MPCstuff Corx only

*Akai MPD226 modified with MPCstuff Corx wins [by a small sensitivity margin over stock MPD226]

  • MPC fat pads disqualified from the competition(!)

Okay so here’s the story…
I really love my MPD226… its a slight improvement over my MPD218 in terms of sensitivity… I’ve come to love the ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ light up pads… (Liquorice allsorts are a kind of square black liquorice sweet in the UK with layers of coloured filling in between)… Its quite a simple device… essentially just plug in and go.

Sure, she’s not the most sensitive kid on the pad block… but hey she’s cheap and cheerful…
good to be around.

When scouting around I came across MPCstuff and saw that they had replacements pads for MPD devices. Lots of different colours and slightly thicker than stock. Word on the street was that they make MPD’s more sensitive, and feel slightly softer when playing.

So recently I got a set of clear MPCstuff fat pads with a set of ‘Corx’ (vinyl stickers that go under the pads to make the more sensitive.)

Today I finally got my screwdrivers out to install them. Its was a reasonably easy process. Quite a few screws to undo, but not too difficult.

The clear MPC fats pads themselves are supposed to be slightly softer than stock, but tbh I couldn’t really notice much difference… they are (as the name suggests) slightly fatter than stock…but not by much (20% apparently). The Corx are squares of black stick on vinyl that are stuck to the bottom of the pads.

When compared to stock pads the edges of the Fat pads silicon appear to me to not be as neat as stock. I also noted they seem to be missing some little locating nubs which (on stock pads) help to correctly align the sensor sheet. Corner cutouts (to fit around posts in the casing) are also missing in the fat pads. So all in all the Akai stock pads appear to me to be more finely manufactured.

When fitting the fat pads I felt that they did not fit as well as stock pads. They just did not ‘sit’ as nicely for me. Still… with a bit of fiddling I go them in there and screwed everything back together.

Big moment… I turned on the unit. Everything still working. phew!
but I was kind of disappointed in how the pads looked with LED’s shining through. In my opinion the light doesn’t diffuse enough in the clear pads giving them a bit of a ‘toy town’ look. At that point I realised actually that I like the stock pads look and wished I’d bought the other version similar to stock.

Anyway… onwards … its all about the sensitivity right? I started playing. Oh oh! Multiple triggers, stuck pads, non responsive pads. Slightly more sensitive. Yes! but not the experience i was expecting. I figured I hadn’t aligned things correctly So I fiddled with the pads to get them to sit better, and also unscrewed and reset everything a few more times to see if I could get a more reliable response from the unit. Each attempt I’d get close but there would always be something not quite right. I guess if I was really patient I could fiddle for a while longer and eventually by chance I’d get a fully working setup.

But I didn’t… so I put my stock pads back in, but this time added the corx to them.

For me the experience of putting the stock pads back in was much smoother than fitting the Fat pads. They just popped right back into place, even with the addition of the corx.

I turned on the unit again, et voila, everything back to normal…except… a slight improvement in sensitivity due to addtion of the Corx… no stuck pads, no double notes… just a slightly improved pad response.

So, for now I’ve decided to stick with stock pads and corx.
MPD 226 stock pads with corx wins.

Fat pads were disqualified as I could not get them to work reliably without much fiddling.

I’m going to have a go at sticking them in my MPD218 now instead :slight_smile: I’ll let you know how that goes!

Akai MP218 stock vs MPD 218 with MPCstuff Fat Pads

MPCstuff with Fat Pads wins!

Wasn’t expecting much after trying to fit the fat pads to my MPD 226, but actually the fat pads seem to fit the MPD218 much better than the MPD 226.

Sensitivity is much better than stock and pads feel a bit improved.

Also the clear pads look much better as they only light up red when you hit them (kind of like Robs first tutorial videos!)

Still some pads are slightly more responsive than others… and there is a little bit of cross pad triggering if I hit the pads really hard.

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I just picked up a MPD 226. Sensitivity is totally fine but the double triggering is annoying. Do you get double triggering? Only way I could get it to mostly stop was to use the velocity midi effect in Ableton by setting a gate threshold of like 10. But that creates its own issues. I really love the form factor of this controller (MIDI IN/OUT, faders, encoders, a screen, transport buttons, etc.) but the double triggering is pretty bad. It must be something with the way I’m playing the pads - like the way I play is fine with my padKONTROL and the Maschine MK3 but there is something sensitivity-wise about the MPD 226 that I’m not adjusting to maybe. Maybe I need to instantly take my finger off the pad - like even quicker than I’m used to. I really want to keep the controller but I can’t with the double triggering.

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Maschine Mikro MK2 vs tape modded Akai LPD8

Maschine Mikro is a clear winner. Tape modding made the Akai playable since it made it a lot easier to trigger sounds. The Maschine does, however, allow for much more dynamics, and has a (subjectively) better feel to it.

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sjf, There is some double triggering on the 226, I find mostly on the edges of the pads or with sideways movement on the pad. I must be subconsciously adjusting my technique as it seems to happen less now for me.

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Push 2 vs Maschine Mikro MK3: Push 2 pads are a little more sensitive, but way too small for real finger drumming IMO!

I just realized the Mikro MK3 is now supported by the NI Controller Editor. I used Controller Editor to crank up the sensitivity and it works much better in midi mode with Addictive Drums!


Yes that makes a big difference. A workaround used to be crank it up inside maschine software but with controller editor you can take it even further it seems.

Not too sure, but editing sensitivity in the Maschine software seems to affected sensitivity inside the Maschine software. The Controller Editor definitely affects sensitivity in midi mode.

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My 2 cents:

I ordered the MPD218 first but the double-triggering was atrocious, so I returned it and got the Mikro MK3. At first I thought the Mikro was was less sensitive, and I guess it was out of the box…but after adjusting the sensitivity and pad velocity curve in the Controller Editor I’m liking it a lot. The pads definitely have different feedback than the Akai pads, but I don’t think they are less sensitive. They just take some getting used to.

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Currently on Launchpad X.
MPD218 - nice and sensitive, got me started fingerdrumming, but due to double triggering, it had to go.
MPD232 - way too big for my needs.
Presonus Atom - as a Studio One user, it’s felt disappointing, that i didn’t really like it. I might give it another try in the future.
Launchpad X - pure fun, i finally have control over the dynamics (mostly because i got better in the meantime), the 8x8 layout fits me better, and it doubles as a melodic/chordal midi controller. What more to ask for? :slight_smile:

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Just out of curiosity, how were the pads of the MPD232 compared to the MPD218?

Or even better, MPD232 compared to the pads of launchpad x?


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218 vs 232 - similar sensitivity, but 232 had much less double triggering. They felt very similar when it comes to tactile experience.
Launchpad vs MPDs - Launchpad is more dynamic, registers much softer hits. I prefer the pads on it to those on the MPDs. Honestly, when i first tried it, i was absolutely thrilled by the pads. They also feel better to tap, at least for me. :slight_smile:


It really depends on the device. I own a couple of 218’s and they vary in pad sensitivity. I owned an early mpd226 which was pretty good and bought another mpd226 a year later that was worse than any of my mpd218’s.

So there doesnt seem to be a predictible pattern here.