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Cheetah MD16RP

CHEETAH MD16RP Digital Drum System



bulletThis is the slightly more rare Cheetah MS16RP - as oppose to the slightly more well known MD8, MD16 Drum Machine or the MD16R rackmount.
bulletThe RP is basically the R in a 2U 19'' Rackmount version, featuring 8 additional trigger input jack sockets on the front.
bulletThe MD16RP was released in 1991, but after the MD8 (desktop drum machine), MD16 (desktop drum machine), the MD16 (1u 19'' rackmount). The additional 8 trigger inputs were designed to be used with electronic drum pads/kits such as Simmons pads, Roland Drum Pads or Cheetah's very own Simmons copy.
bulletSince this was released after the MD16R, it actually has an improved / later  software version (I believed version 2.0)
bulletThe MD8/MD16/MD16R/MD16RP was dubbed the poor man's digital drum machines, a poor man's Roland R8 ?
They were a lot cheaper than any other digital sampled playback drum machines at the time when they were launched.
(MD8 was like £150 in late 80s, as opposed to the real R8 which was like £400+)
bulletAs seen on the front - "High Sample Rate 16 Bit Drum System", yes, as with the MD16 and MD16R, it has 16 bit 44.1kHz samples, onboard drum machine with real and step time patterns and song, plus song chain.
bulletThe rackmounts also feature 16 "Pad" buttons, programming and also auditioning sounds.
bulletAll drum sounds can be mapped to 127 Midi note numbers, so you can basically get a full midi channel full of all the onboard sounds
bulletHave Midi In/Thru/out, can sync to Midi Clock, and even Tape Sync
bulletStereo Outputs + 8 individual Outputs - so 1 outputs total but they were on 5 stereo jack sockets
bulletNumber of onboard sounds be expanded via EXPANSION ROM plugged in the back. Over the years I haven't really seen these ROM available, but I did see one MD16 with "Electronic ROM" cart for sale once.
bulletCheetah's logo was "Affordable Excellency" - well Cheetah was quite a good short lived British manufacturer, prices for these in the early 90s were like £100, for a full blown sampled drum machine with all the complicated editing facilities!
bulletHowever, they managed to cramp so many functions inside, while trying to maintain the low costs, the MD16 / MD16R / MD16RP were not easy to use, and the not-so-easy-to-read manuals are essential if you really want the full power of these.



MD16R / MD16RP and Me

bulletI actually got the original MD16R when they were first released. I was just back in Hong Kong when they came out, and I remembered I had to ask my family to buy it for me then ship it out to me. My other friend Mark (Lui) at the time also bought the MD16 drum machine (desktop module). I got the rackmount version.
bulletHad been using the MD16R in Hong Kong during my early years in the business, along with the Roland TR-909!  I also had the Cheetah SX16 Sampler...
bulletWell, I always used the MD16 as a drum module, triggering over Midi, so luckily I don't have to learn and go thru the manual for the pattern/song programming parts (although I think I did learn that back in the early 90s).
bulletThis MD16RP was purchased in 2003 - a shop had I think 2 or 3 of the RP version, near new, in original boxes.
bulletSince my MD16R is in HK, i kinda missed it. So in the end, at a very reasonable price, I decided to get the RP.



Power Switch, the 2-line LCD (non backlit) display,
and BIG Cheetah Logo!

On the right are the essential buttons & drum pads.
On the RP, below are the 8 trigger input jack sockets

The 12 Programming Buttons
All the Menu's are hidden under these essential buttons,
plus the SHIFT button doubles up a few buttons to access additional menu's.

The 16 ''Pads''

Basically the MD16RP is a re-racked MD16R, so they just put what was on the MD16 at the back. Sometimes I really wish they could have put those stereo sockets as mono sockets underneath in those spare that space. And why have the power adaptor wallwart and not an IEC mains? I suppose they really wanted to lower the additional costs.

On the Left:
Power DIN input (5 pin socket, but the adaptor has only 3 pins!),
then those 5 stereo output jack sockets

Middle: Tape Backup/Sync In/Outs
Midi In/Thru/Out and the 2 Footswitches sockets

[click Image to Enlarge]

The inside as you can see, is the original MD16R PCB on top, then at the bottom, there's the additional RP trigger in PCB. There are tons of space inside on the left and right...

The Trigger Input PCB

The Main MS16R PCB [Click image to enlarge]



Slight Modifications
There are always some very very minor annoyances with the MD16R or RP.
1. External wallwart power adaptor - a chunky 9V/1A DC power adaptor, with a 3 Pin DIN connector.
2. Stereo jack sockets for the outputs - always needed the stereo-to-2 mono leads.
Mr K.Y. Yuen (chief engineer of Tang Lou Studios / ex-R&B Studio) would know this very well - back in 1992/1993 at R&B Studio, he even made me a stereo-to-2 mono (but on balanced stereo jacks) cable!
Since there are loads of space inside the MD16RP, so in July 2005, I decided to do a little modding - to get the power inside, so I don't have to use the wallwart, and also, route the stereo out into two mono sockets.


C Y 's Mods on the Cheetah MD16RP

It's basically drilling a few holes and mounting and re-routing stuff.
Problem is, even the 19" rackmount case is pretty cheap - it's a metal case all right, but the black finish was actually a layer of paint - a bit like wall paint, so when I started drilling, areas around the holes would have the paint falling off!
Also my drill was dying - so in the end I only did the IEC and the stereo->2 mono, not all the outputs.

IEC Mains Socket and ...

I was gonna do a 9V PSU and mount a transformer inside, but in the end I decided I'll just put a 13A extension socket inside and put the original power adaptor wallwart inside!!

The white thing you see on the left is basically a 13A mains extension socket!

That Big chunky fat black thing is the adaptor wallwart plugged into the extension socket!

Just enough space...
Actually my electric drill died during the process of modding this. So I couldn't drill any mounting holes to secure this. However, the space available was just right, and the top PCB can secure them slightly. So i actually just taped the extension socket and the adaptor to the rackmount casing.
The 3 Pin DIN connector was removed and the output of the wallwart is soldered directly on to the PCB power input, underneath the DIN socket.

IEC Mains Socket on the back, with Mains Power Switch

The Power switch was originally supposed to be a fuse holder, but my drill broke down and I drilled a hole too large, so in the end i put the power switch there, and leave the original front power switch for switching in the 9V instead.

To make the IEC Mains Inlet hole, I use a screwing hand tool, which is an M10 Radius Hand Hole Cutter, 28x21mm (
RS Cat.#543-614 or or 541-501), with matching 10A Snap In PCB Mount IEC 320 Plug Socket (311-8031 or 488-191).

To make the square-ish hole for these illuminating Power Switch, another one of these Hand Hole Cutter is needed. This one is the M10 rectangular hole cutter,22x19.6mm, RS Code: 600-161.
The Power Switch is one of those DPST green (or red) illuminated rocker switch, 10A/4A.
RS Codes are Green: 318-070, Red: 318-064


Proper Audio Out Sockets

Basically a pair of jack sockets tapped to the main stereo socket, splitting up the stereo into proper Left and Right sockets.

The 2 Left/Right sockets are mounted underneath the ROM Expansion slot.
Loads more space down there - could have done the 8 individual outputs too, but I couldn't be bothered.



Cheetah MD16RP Soundz

I suppose a poor man's Roland R8 ?  I dunno.
I always think the MD16RP sounds have some kind of guts. It has many sounds, including a fake 808 cowbell, a "Word-Up" Snare-Clap, etc. Kinda retro these days, but not as 80s as those 80s 1st generation sampled drums. Afterall they were 16 bit samples...
I'll put up some sound demos here when I have time... There are a few website that has the original MD16 single hits samples.



Other Links on the Cheetah MD16RP...

bullet SoundOnSound Cheetah MD16 page
bullet Broadway Music Company's Beatbox page has a pic of the MD16R
 There isn't actually much info on the web on the MD16... but there are more sites for the Cheetah MS6 synthesizer rackmount.



C.Y.'s Filez on the Cheetah MD16RP

bulletCheetah MD16R Owner's Manual (Scanned)
109 Pages!
in Acrobat PDF file (with bookmarks for easy accessing).
Zip file, size ~ 7.2 Mb
Cheetah MD16R Manual
bulletCheetah MD16RP Owner's Manual (Scanned)
Contains the extra manual addendum for the RP
in Acrobat PDF file (with bookmarks for easy accessing).
Zip file, size ~ 1.5 Mb
Cheetah MD16RP Manual




Home Synths

Roland TR-606 Roland TR-909 Boss DR-110 Tama TS-305 Drumfire DF-500 Cheetah MD16RP