• Cheetah MD8 Kontakt instrument front panel


6.00 plus VAT

The ultra-rare Cheetah MD8 drum machine


Super-tight sampled drums from 1988 • Could this be the world’s crunchiest snare?! • Claps, cowbell and toms for the classic 80s vibe • All kit pieces recorded both clean and via the Stinger for added analogue punch Comprehensive effects including Tilt EQ to tailor the sound

Back in 1988, there were increasing numbers of high-end digital drum machines on the market, some of which allowed you to swap sounds in and out via cartridge expansion or – more rarely – diskette; but there was nevertheless a clear gap for a low-end machine that both sounded good and allowed some form of expandability. Cheetah threw themselves straight into this gap with the MD8, a drum machine that not only promised sampled playback, but also tempted users with the ability to load and save samples to tape. (Yes. Tape.) Best of all, it cost just £140. How on earth did they manage it?

Well… it quickly became evident that they managed it by cutting just about every corner possible. While a Yamaha RX7 had 2Megs of sample memory, the MD8 had just 60k. Into that it squeezed 8 sampled kit pieces, with very crunchy results. But it was in the machine itself that the cost-cutting really showed. The original Sound on Sound review of the MD8 details in excruciating detail the two hours it took the reviewer to load a soundset successfully; plus there were the minijacks and rubberised buttons and the general shabby feel of the components. MD8s were simply not built to last; which is why working examples are now so very rare.

It took us three goes to get one that functioned… but third time lucky: our MD8 is now sitting in a little padded cell all of its own, safe and sound, while its samples are released into the world for you to enjoy. These are severely tight, compressed, 80s-style hits – the snare in particular is super-crunchy and just wonderful. The original MD8 only managed “hi” and “lo” toms, but we’ve crafted a middle version to fill things out; plus you get cowbell, claps, a ride cymbal (with a pretty truncated decay tail, of course) and some crispy little hi-hats. The sound is supremely usable, really encouraging those Harold Faltermeyer-style riffs 🙂

As with a couple of our other drum machines, we recorded this soundset both straight and via our Aurora Audio Stinger front-end, to add some nice class A punch to the sound. You can swap between these on the front panel. There’s also a handy little Tilt EQ which allows for quick and easy thickening / brightening, plus our usual Saturation, Drive and Compression tools.

The MD8 was in many ways a rather cruddy piece of plastic, but hidden inside the shoddy shell was a funky little digital heart. We hope it makes you smile.

(All our Kontakt instruments require a full copy of Native Instruments Kontakt v4.2.3 or higher (including all versions of Kontakt 5). Kontakt Player is not supported: instruments will load, but will time out after 15 minutes. See the FAQ for further information.) You can read more about the original Cheetah MD8 here and here.


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