To power active instruments like condenser microphones, the audio industry uses phantom power, a 48-volt DC power supply. When a microphone does not require phantom power, it is powered by internal circuitry that, when connected to an XLR connection, supply the required power and audio signal.
What then, if your instrument or device doesn’t require an external power source? Will any equipment that doesn’t need phantom power be harmed if phantom power is left on in your audio interface or mixer? Let’s examine the best practices for using phantom power if necessary and how to protect your expensive equipment from harm.
Can phantom power damage equipment?
Phantom power occasionally causes harm to equipment. Sending phantom power to a ribbon microphone can permanently harm it, whereas dynamic microphones are unlikely to be harmed. Additionally, it is recommended to disconnect phantom power before connecting other devices, such as line-in instruments and monitors.
Numerous types of studio equipment are utilized for recording. A studio setup includes a variety of microphones, speakers, instruments, cables, and outboard equipment. These devices differ greatly from one another in terms of their internal circuitry and parts. While some dynamic microphones and condenser microphones may be safe to use with phantom power, many other devices may be harmed. In order to help you prevent any mishaps, we’ll look at how the equipment interacts with phantom power.
Can phantom power damage microphones?
A range of microphone types are necessary for a recording studio to operate properly. Condenser, dynamic, and ribbon microphones are the three most common types of microphones utilized. Because each microphone has varied characteristics that are specific to its design and internal architecture, recording engineers blend these three.
We must first define the functions of each of these three well-known pieces of recording gear in order to comprehend whether phantom power can harm them. The only piece of equipment that needs phantom power to operate is a condenser microphone. Without it, the microphone will simply not switch on and become inoperable for recording sounds.
Although there are occasional exceptions to this rule, a condenser microphone will rarely not require phantom power. Because condenser microphones have inherent active electronics that need an external power source, they typically do require phantom power. Due to their extremely high output impedance as a result, they require a powered circuit to reduce it to a bearable level.
Condensers are employed for a variety of sounds, including spoken word, acoustic instruments, amplified instruments, drum overheads, and vocalists. You don’t need to be concerned about them because they come under the group of items that phantom power cannot harm.
The answer to the question of whether phantom power can harm these common pieces of recording gear is less clear-cut than it is for condenser counterparts. The majority of the time, a dynamic microphone won’t be harmed if phantom power is unintentionally left on while it is in use. The presence of phantom power will probably go unnoticed in live sound circumstances.
However, phantom power has a tendency to cause electrical buzz in recordings made with a dynamic microphone. This is brought on by an excess of phantom power that is not required for the dynamic microphone to function.
The only time phantom power is likely to harm a dynamic microphone is if the XLR connection connecting it to the interface or other recording device has a fault. An XLR cable’s pins evenly distribute the power that passes through it. The quantity of power flowing through each pin may become unbalanced if the pins are broken or malfunction for any reason.
If this issue arises, the uneven power may harm or perhaps even totally destroy a dynamic microphone. That takes us to the third category of microphones, which is perhaps the one that phantom power will harm most frequently.