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Phantom Power – The Basics

Whenever you see a XLR microphone, there is a good chance that it requires what is called Phantom Power in order to work. Phantom power is simply DC voltage (usually 48V) that is sent through the XLR cable to power the electret condenser microphone. If you see a microphone that has an “on/off” switch next to the power LED, this usually indicates that the microphone can be powered either by Phantom Power or by batteries.

 

It is important to note that not all microphones require Phantom Power. For example, if you are using a dynamic microphone such as the Shure SM58, then you will not need any sort of external power source since the dynamic microphone does not require power to work. The only time you would need to provide power to a dynamic microphone is if you want to use an active DI box with it, but we’ll get into that later.

How Does Phantom Power Work?

To understand how Phantom Power works, we first need to understand what an electret condenser microphone is and how it works. An electret condenser microphone contains a capacitor which needs constant voltage in order for it to function properly. This is where Phantom Power comes in – it provides the necessary voltages through the XLR cable so that the electret condenser microphone can function properly. 

 

It’s important to note that not all microphones are created equal. Some microphones are designed to work with specific types of audio equipment while other microphones are more general purpose and can work with a wider range of equipment. For example, some microphones are designed to work specifically with mixing consoles while other microphones can work with both mixing consoles and standalone recorders.

ACTIVE DI BOXES

As previously mentioned, phantom power can also be used to power active DI boxes. A DI box (direct injection box) is a device that allows you to connect an instrument such as a guitar or keyboard directly into a mixer or recorder. The active DI box contains its own internal power supply which allows it to provide phantom power to the connected instrument. 

 

The main benefit of using an active DI box is that it can help reduce noise by isolating the signal from the ground loop. A ground loop occurs when there is a difference in ground potential between two devices which causes a current to flow between them. This current flowing between the devices can cause interference in the audio signal which results in a humming sound. By using an active DI box, you can effectively eliminate ground loops and minimize interference. 

Go Forth, Rebel Artist.

Phantom power is simply DC voltage (usually 48V) that is sent through the XLR cable to power the electret condenser microphone. It is important to note that not all microphones require Phantom Power – only those that contain a capacitor which needs constant voltage in order for it to function properly (i.e. electret condenser microphones). Active DI boxes also require phantom power in order to work since they contain their own internal power supply. The main benefit of using an active DI box is that it can help reduce noise by isolating the signal from the ground loop which can cause interference in the audio signal.