Supernova II – DAC Replacement


Novation Supernova II – DAC Replacement

DAC Replacement Service:
I can offer a service where I will replace the faulty DAC on your Supernova II motherboard on both the Keyboard & Rack versions.

Please see this page for details:
Sector101 Supernova 2 DAC Replacement Service

Having owned a Novation Supernova II for some years I was slightly alarmed to hear of a fault that arises from time to time with the keyboard and rack versions. It concerns noise & crackles coming from the the Headphone & Main Outputs.

I had recently thought of selling it as it gets little use these days. If I was to sell it then I wouldn’t want this fault appearing shortly after the new owner takes possession of it. Things would get kinda awkward.

So, the easiest way to clear this up is to replace the could-be-faulty-in-the-future IC for a new one to ensure the unit performs as it should.

The IC in question is U45 on the main PCB – a Cirris 4391KZ 24Bit DAC.

Of course with the Supernova II being out of production for many years the IC itself is a little hard to come by. There’s always the eBay option with most of these are coming from China. Experience has taught me that ICs from the Far East can be hit-or-miss. There are a lot of counterfiet ICs going around and I have been burnt before with a dodgy batch of SRAMs.

Now the Cirris 4391KZ is long obsolete and reliable vendors do not stock it anymore. But there is a newer version – the 4391AKZZ. Happily the new “AKZZ” version behaves like the old version the “KZ”. The extra “A” denotes a newer version, and the extra “K” means it is ROHS compliant.

Inside the Supernova II

The photo below shows the Supernova II main PCB with no less than 9 DSPs. To put this processing power into perspective compare this to the K-Station with its single DSP, and the KS4/5 Series with their 2 DSPs.

Some of the earlier Supernova II units had all 10 DSPs fitted to the motherboard. The extra DSP was fitted in the blank space on the PCB photo below. Also they had the two missing DRAM ICs fitted as well – the DRAM ICs are the ones with the GSI logo. These are used as workspace for the effects section DSPs. I’m guessing that the later units were shipped without the extra DSP and DRAMs because all the effects could be handled by just the two DSPs.


Main PCB
The next photo shows the PCB removed from the chassis, and the little DAC IC identified with the yellow marker arrow.

DAC Close-up
This is the Cirris 4391KZ. The other marking WOA0027 denotes the batch number (WOA) and the date of manufacture (0027 – Week 27 in 2000)

Prepare the Patient!
To remove the old DAC I will be using a Hot Air Rework station. Basically this unit blows super-heated air on to the componment and surrounding board and melts the solder that holds the component to the PCB. When the solder melts the component can be lifted off with a pair of tweesers.

The surrounding components have been generously coated with Kapton tape to shield them from the heat. This tape behaves much like ordinary sticky tape but can withstand much higher temperatures. One point to note about Kapton tape is that it is not a good insulator – it will let the heat pass through so it is best to layer it on with air pockets between each layer.

New DAC in position!
The new DAC IC has been placed into position, and the old DAC is shown alongside.
The date code on the new DAC is 1418 – that’s week 18 in 2014.

And finally..
With the new DAC in place the Kapton tape was removed and the unit was re-assembled.

DAC Replacement Service:
I can offer a service where I will replace the faulty DAC on your Supernova II motherboard on both the Keyboard & Rack versions.

Please see this page for details:
Sector101 Supernova 2 DAC Replacement Service

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5 thoughts on “Supernova II – DAC Replacement

  1. Hi Brian,

    my SNII rack emits static noise from the right channel since a few weeks back so i suppose i have the faulty DA problem as well. I ordered the replacement chip together with the “chipquick smd-1” kit to remove the old chip (don’t have access to a hot air station). Will be very interesting to see how that works out 🙂


  2. So I tried this myself, and man that chip is tiny tiny tiny. I ended up screwing it up an d shorting out some pins. Mike from Burke Electronics Woodbridge VA, fixed it for me. My Supernova II is back in business!


  3. I don’t have the funds at this point to do this… 😦 so my solution was easy or hard depending … I changed my mixer outs from the supernova II from 1 and 2 to 3 and 4 this means I have to change all the patches one at a time, then save it. it is where the output goes. so with both the headphones dead and the 1 and 2 changed to 3 and 4 that is the only thing wrong (besides a key G2 that is dead too) IF anyone wants to fund this for me wow but I don’t expect anything like that.. so… I am glad there is a way to fix it.. and someday mine too might get fixed. === I have used my supernova II constantly since about 2001 thereabouts.


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