Dynamic microphones are perfect for recording music at insanely high levels while capturing the melody’s most complex sounds. Since they have little to no hardware or integrated circuits, they can withstand a great deal of sound noise and continue to produce voltage. This feature, though, will change when the dynamic microphone connects to phantom power.
You can plug a dynamic microphone into phantom power, but it is not needed. Dynamic microphones can operate independently of your sound system. However, if you have an active dynamic microphone, you may want to experiment with phantom power to gain additional functionality.
This article will define phantom power and discuss whether you can use it with a dynamic microphone. Additionally, it will address which cables work best for phantom power.
Can I Use a Dynamic Mic With Phantom Power?
It is generally safe to attach a dynamic microphone to a phantom-powered input. However, bear in mind that phantom power can destroy certain ribbon microphones. Additionally, if the amount of phantom power applied to each pin is uneven, the energy will destroy a dynamic mic.
Indeed, many musicians advise against using phantom power for dynamic microphones. It is generally agreed that you would likely find no improvements in sound and that your microphone will pick up an additional hum due to the phantom feature.
What Is Phantom Power?
Phantom power refers to the method of supplying direct current to microphones that require active circuitry to operate. While it is widely regarded as a power source for condenser microphones, it is often used to power many active direct input devices.
Although modern dynamic microphones can operate with phantom power, it would be best for you to consult your device’s manual before connecting. This is especially important if you are using a ribbon microphone.
How Does Phantom Power Work With Microphones?
Phantom power sends direct current down the microphone cord to supply the condenser capsule’s preamplifier. Additionally, the feature can offer a polarization charge to the recording device’s backplate. The energy is generated by using the batteries that power the phantom power source. Phantom power sources include the following:
- Audio interfaces
- Audio mixing consoles
- Microphone preamplifiers
- Standalone phantom power supply units
You must use a balanced microphone wire with phantom power for it to operate.
A balanced microphone cord has three conductor pins. The first pin serves as a representation of the ground, and the remaining two pins reflect the microphone’s negative and positive conductors. Phantom control distributes current evenly between all of the pins. If you measure the voltage between two pins and it registers as zero, the phantom power is working normally.
Do Dynamic Microphones Require Phantom Power?
While the vast majority of dynamic microphones function without phantom assistance, there are a few notable exceptions. Active dynamic microphones are those that use external power and work well with phantom power activated.
These microphones can work independently or with the assistance of a battery. They incorporate internal circuitry and a special transformer that increases the mic’s output level while maintaining a constant impedance over the entire wavelength. The active ribbons require the regular 48-volt phantom power to run.
Although active dynamic microphones are rare, they are available and can switch between active and dynamic modes when commanded.
How Do You Know if a Microphone Needs Phantom Power?
To determine if your microphone requires phantom power, connect it to a regular amplifier without phantom power and turn it on. If you can not hear anything, the microphone needs phantom power to operate.
Besides this, as previously said, phantom power is often used with condenser microphones. As a result, if your microphone is suspected to be a condenser, it will need the phantom function to operate.
Which Cables Work Best for Phantom Power?
Phantom power requires an XLR or TRS wire to function. XLR wires are the most common choices, but TRS cables are known to perform just as well. However, these cables do vary in areas such as:
- Impact absorption
- Cable geometry
- Connection type
Usually, XLR cables work for balanced connections, while TRS lines are unbalanced.
XLR wires have three pins. While the second and third pins are identical in length, the ground pin is marginally longer. This structure implies that when an XLR connector is attached, it is grounded before completing the audio and phantom control circuits. Due to the equivalent length of the second and third pins, they are connected simultaneously, and no shorting happens.
These cables vary in quality, and a poor XLR cable will ruin your microphone over time. For the best experience, I recommend the Rapco Horizon Connectors. The wire uses a flexible PVC coating with pure copper conductors and it is suitable for studio and at-home recording.
- Black cable Neutrik nickel -1 Series XLRF-XLRM
- Matte jacket PVC material is very flexible yet durable with very low memory
- Pure copper conductor and shield
Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
TRS cables, in contrast to XLR cables, are constructed sequentially. When a TRS wire is inserted into a jack, the plug’s tip makes contact with the sleeve first. The ring of the plug then contacts the sleeve, completing the connection to the jack.
The drawbacks of these cables include their increased susceptibility to shorting out. When you unplug these wires, a brief electrical short occurs. This is because when you pull the plug out, there will be brief interaction between conductors, which should not happen when phantom power is active. The interaction leads to a shortage.
These shorts can result in an incomplete flow of phantom power, which can be detrimental to the microphone. As a result, these wires can not be disconnected until phantom power is off.
Your Dynamic Microphone Will Not Get Damaged if You Leave the Phantom Power Setting On
For some sound systems, the phantom power is controlled by a switch. While directly connecting your microphone to a phantom power port could damage it, leaving the phantom power setting on does not affect it.
In most cases, your dynamic microphone simply rejects the connection and will operate normally. Still, some musicians warn against practicing this with a balanced microphone.
If you choose to leave the setting on, it is best to disable the phantom power before unplugging the microphone. Never plug your dynamic microphone in while the setting is enabled. This method reduces the risk of damage to your mic and its wires.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Dynamic Microphone Without Phantom Power?
Seeing that phantom power is not the preferred power source for dynamic microphones, they can function normally and provide you with their regular benefits and disadvantages.
Below are the primary benefits of a dynamic microphone:
- Robust and capable of withstanding high degrees of sound noise
- Maintains a high level of sound quality during the microphone’s performance
- Does not need an external power source to operate
Yet there are a few drawbacks to using a dynamic microphone, including:
- The diaphragm of the microphone is heavy
- Frequency is somewhat limited
- Slight reduction in transient response
- Not as well suited to recording instruments with higher frequencies and harmonics as condenser microphones
Since dynamic microphones have a coil capable of producing much more current than a condenser microphone, their signal does not require phantom power for amplification.
It would help to purchase a proper preamp to boost your microphone’s gain, but that is usually all of the additional tools needed for operation. If you are interested in learning more about phantom power and whether it will improve your dynamic microphone, Kettner Creative has a live demonstration:
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