What Is Phantom Power On A Mixer And When To Use It?

"What is phantom power on a mixer?" Is one of the first questions when young producers ask. It's actually not that complicated. Let's see it here.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: July 28, 2021

New producers don't know how to use phantom power, what is it, why they need it, and when to use it. They are wasting money on unnecessary equipment and not getting the best out of their audio mixer.

First of all, you should know that phantom power is a method used on an audio mixer or recording interface. This may seem obvious but many new producers are confused about this because they don't understand the concept behind this technology.

If you're one of those people who have no idea what we're talking about then read on for more information! We'll explain everything you need to know about phantom power in order to get started using it today!

What Is Phantom Power On A Mixer?

Phantom power ( +48V) is a method used on an audio mixer or recording interface. Phantom power is what allows condenser microphones to work without needing batteries or an external power source.

This is done by supplying a small amount of current (48V) either through microphone cables to line-level inputs or directly to condenser microphones.

While phantom power may seem simple, there are a few important things you should be aware of before starting to use it!

What Is Phantom Power On A Mixer.

Why You Need It And When To Use It?

Phantom power supplies are necessary when recording with condenser microphones in order to avoid what's referred to as "pops" or sounds that result from the sudden appearance and disappearance of what would otherwise be an electrically charged field.

When you're using a microphone, it's important to know what type of microphone is being used and what type of what is being recorded.

For example, if you're recording vocals and instruments simultaneously, the sound quality needs to be adjusted accordingly.

This will ensure that each sound is clear both independently and in relation to one another.

If there's no phantom power, then the sound quality will decrease resulting in different sounds not being heard during playback.

You should always use phantom power when recording with condenser microphones. As said before, Phantom power supplies this small amount of current (48V) that allows the microphone to work without needing a battery or external power source.

Keep in mind, however, that if you ever decide to start using condenser microphones in the future or different sound recording equipment, phantom power will be something that can be used with what is being recorded.

How To Set Up Your Mixer For Phantom Power?

How To Set Up Your Mixer For Phantom Power

There are a few different ways to set up your mixer in order to use phantom power. Depending on what method you decide upon will depend on what type of mixer you have.

Setting up for phantom power is actually quite simple, in most cases, and shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

One of the simplest ways to set up your mixer for phantom power is by following these steps:

  1. Plug the microphone cable into the appropriate input jack on your mixer
  2. Plug the other end of the microphone cable into the appropriate output jack on your microphone adapter (or microphone)
  3. Turn on your phantom power by flipping the appropriate switch or button on your mixer settings
  4. If your mixer doesn't have a phantom power switch then you'll need to turn on the appropriate input channel.

When Not To Use Phantom Power?

When Not To Use Phantom Power

If you don't need a condenser microphone and you're using a dynamic microphone microphone then phantom power isn't necessary.

Similarly, if you're using a "low impedance" microphone (including "high-Z" signals) then you'll also need to make sure that phantom power is turned off.

If you're using a dynamic microphone or "low impedance" microphone then what is being recorded will likely be distorted and/or overloaded.

Even if everything seems to work out as intended at first, what you've recorded may be hard to listen to. This distortion is most common when recording instruments such as acoustic guitar or violin.

If what is being recorded is distorted or overloaded then there's not much you will be able to do about this afterward.

In order to avoid recording problems, be sure that what you're recording is the best possible audio and that your audio isn't being interfered with by phantom power.

FAQs

Should I turn off phantom power?

No, it shouldn't hurt anything to leave the phantom power on. There should be a pop filter in place, so there's no reason to worry about the record result.

Can phantom power damage a mixer?

No, phantom power is what's referred to as "low voltage" and the little amount of current it provides isn't enough to damage a mixer.

Can phantom power damage a ribbon microphone?

Yes, phantom power could damage a ribbon microphone. Active ribbon microphones don't need it to work properly - in fact, they will not even be damaged by +48V.

But passive ribbons are prone to be harmed when there is an electrical outage while phantom power was engaged and if any miswiring occurs through impaired cables with hot patching (+48 V).

Do I need phantom power for my guitar?

No, phantom power won't be necessary. The guitar isn't going to need the additional current that the microphone needs.

Why doesn’t my condenser microphone work even with phantom power turned on?

Try checking to make sure your microphone cable is connected properly and in good condition.

Besides a bad cable, another potential reason is not enough power to make the mic work properly.

If the console or interface is labeled as +48V but doesn't generate the 48 volts required for condenser microphones to work properly, you will need an external power supply.

Conclusion

To sum up, phantom power is a feature on your mixer that will allow you to power condenser microphones.  I hope this information helps as you set up your mixer and use phantom power to its full potential!

It may seem like a complicated operation, but with our easy-to-follow instructions, you will have your phantom powered set up in no time at all.

With the right equipment and some practice, it won’t take long before you are able to create an amazing sound mix and wow your audience!

Let us know if we can help guide you through this process or answer any questions that come up along the way!

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