Genesis:Audio Circuit Mod (Model 2)

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Early revisions of the model 2 Genesis/Mega Drive, specifically the VA0, VA1 and VA1.8 boards, are notorious for their poor audio quality which pales in comparison to most model 1s and even the later VA3 and VA4 model 2s. Fortunately, it is possible to improve the audio on these systems without resorting to a more invasive mod such as a Triple Bypass or Mega Amp. By swapping a few component values on four capacitors in the input stage, as well as swapping both op-amp chips, the audio clarity can be massively improved.

It should also be possible to perform this modification on a VA7 model 1, which also suffers from poor audio and shares much of its circuitry design with early model 2s.

Materials and Tools Required

  • JIS or Phillips head screwdriver
  • Soldering iron
  • Hot air soldering station or ChipQuik
  • Leaded solder
  • Flux
  • Desoldering braid
  • Tweezers
  • Kapton tape
  • Two OPA4171 op-amp chips (it is recommended to purchase these from reputable distributors such as Digi-Key or Mouser as AliExpress and eBay may contain fakes)
    • If not available, you may substitute the OPA4171 with another fast op-amp (3 MHz and up). Make sure it is a general purpose op-amp since one of them is used for the reset circuit.
  • Two 500 pF 0805 SMD capacitors
  • Two 1000 pF 0805 SMD capacitors


An overview of the procedure.
  1. Flip the console over and unscrew the four JIS/Phillips head screws, then remove the top case.
  2. Undo the screws securing the RF shielding, including the two securing the cartridge port. Remove the motherboard and set the bottom case aside. Locate the audio circuitry, which is directly above the power switch.
  3. Add flux on capacitors C20 and C22 as well as C21 and C23, then add a small blob of solder onto your iron. Place your iron tip on both ends of each capacitor and carefully "sweep" them off the board.
  4. Use desoldering braid to clean up the remaining pads. Make sure to use additional flux as needed so you do not burn up and lift the pads.
  5. For C20 and C22, place a 1000 pF capacitor on the pads using tweezers. Apply flux and solder in place.
  6. For C21 and C23, place a 500 pF capacitor on the pads as before. Apply flux and solder in place.
  7. Although optional, it is highly recommended to replace the original LM324 op-amp chips with OPA4171s, which will provide vastly improved performance.
    1. For removal with hot air, place Kapton tape or tin foil on the components surrounding the op-amps so they will not be damaged or accidentally removed by hot air.
    2. Set your hot air station for low to medium airflow and set the temperature for around 335 degrees Celsius. Hold the nozzle within an inch of the chip and swirl it around so that the heat is applied evenly. After about 10-15 seconds, the op-amp should become loose. Do not force it or make any fast movements as you could damage or lift pads. Repeat this for the other op-amp chip.
    3. Clean the pads by applying flux and then carefully and lightly dragging desoldering braid over them. Once the old solder has been removed, clean off the area with IPA or flux remover.
    4. Align the replacement op-amp chip onto the pads by using a strip of Kapton tape to hold it in place. Tack down one leg with solder and flux, then repeat for the opposite corner.
    5. If the alignment is good, apply a generous amount of flux to the area and then put a small amount of solder on the tip of your iron. Drag the tip across the pads so that the solder flows evenly; the flux will do most of the work for you. If you wind up with a solder bridge, apply more flux and "sweep" the excess solder away onto your iron tip.
    6. Double check your work and test the console to ensure the sound continues to function properly. If so, enjoy improved audio from your model 2!


All samples were recorded using a VA1 model 2 Genesis playing the track "Flood of Power" from Midnight Resistance.


Original Twitter post from Dustin Odell