What is Phantom Power? (48v)

Applies to: All units

Microphones can broadly be separated into three categories: Dynamic, Condenser and Ribbon.

Dynamic microphones capture sound waves by means of electromagnetism and need nothing more than a source of audio to function once plugged in.

Condenser (or Capacitor) microphones however need an electrical current to move the diaphragm, which is what captures the sound. This is where the Phantom Power comes in, Phantom Power (the 48v button) sends 48 volts of electricity via the XLR cable which activates the capacitor and essentially 'turns on' the microphone. It is important to note that Phantom Power will only travel through an XLR to XLR cable.

Ribbon microphones are perhaps the least common type of microphone in modern use. They use a thin metal 'ribbon' (commonly aluminium) placed between a pair of magnets in order to convert sound pressure changes into an electrical signal. Ribbon microphones do not require phantom power.

Using Phantom Power with a Dynamic microphone should not damage the microphone but is not needed.

A Condenser microphone will not be damaged if Phantom Power is not engaged, though it will not pass any signal without it.

Ribbon microphones (particularly vintage ones) can be severely damaged if Phantom Power is sent to them.

If you are unsure whether or not your microphone is a Dynamic, Condenser or Ribbon variant then please contact the manufacturer. 

*The Scarlett CM25 (Bundled with the Studio Packs) is a Condenser microphone and will need Phantom Power.


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