Hello everyone! Another week starts at Sounds From The Apartment!
This time we will be discussing about something that is there but we cannot see it. You all have heard of Phantom Power, haven’t you? This article will be another part of the “What is an Audio Interface” series, so get ready and let’s find out what Phantom Power is, and what it does!
Although Phantom Power‘s purpose is essential and basic knowledge for a sound professional, I do think this article will be fairly short as its explanation can be fairly simple.
What exactly is Phantom Power or 48V?
Phantom Power describes the process of delivering a direct current of 48 Volts for mimcrophones. What makes it unique, is that it can be transmitted, typically, via an XLR cable, or any other balanced cable, in order to enable certain active electronic circuits to operate on the other end. For example, an Active DI Box or a Condenser Microphone.
It’s name comes from the fact that you cannot see a separate cable, and threfore a power source, connecting to the device on the other end, as the voltage runs through the same cable that carries the audio signal via the Hot and Cold conductors.
Phantom Power‘s voltage is variable. It actually is between 11 and 52 Volts, however, you will also see it mentioned as 48V as this is the value where microphones usually operate.
When should I be using Phantom Power?
As mentioned above, Phantom Power is required whenever we need to power active electronics on the other end. This means we can skip using it on Dynamic microphones or other devices. Almost every audio interface has a Phantom Power functionality, either via single channel or group of channels.
The chances of damaging a Dynamic Microphone or a device that does not require Phantom Power to operate are minimal to nonexistent. However, depending on the quality of their circuit there might be a noticeable hum in the signal is Phantom Power is on, and therefore it would be best to avoid turning it on if we do not need it.
Remember to use Phantom Power only for the time you are using the microphone. If you want to unplug it, turn Phantom Power off. Again, the chances of damaging a microphone or speaker this way are minimal, however, protecting our equipment from that potential power surge from the voltage is always recommended. Better safe than sorry!
And this is it! As promised, short and sweet! I hope this clarifies what Phantom Power is and where is needed. If you want more technical information about Phantom Power I would highly recommend you to start from the Wiki Page!
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Do you use any equipment that needs Phantom Power? Let us know in the comments what it is!
See you next week!