Microphones are really powerful. Not all of them have enough electricity to function properly, so you need Phantom Power. Let's find out what it means and if you need one for your radio station's microphone.

UPDATE: The video mentions the ElectroVoice RE320 needs phantom power, this is incorrect. Dynamic mics like this tend not to need 48v to work properly.

Phantom Power Explained

Phantom power is a term used to describe the amount of DC voltage you need to get a microphone working (for those that require it). Specifically, phantom power is a positive voltage (12-48v DC) that runs through a balanced 3 pin XLR cable.

Phantom power is often built into devices, so things like microphone pre-processors, audio interfaces, and mixing desks have an option to turn on 48v or 48+. For example, these all have phantom power:

Condenser & Dynamic Microphones

Condenser mics typically need phantom power, but dynamic ones like the ElectroVoice RE320 (which our partner station MCR Live use) don't. If you were using a mic preamplifier to get the audio to line like Simply Sound’s SS-1, you would still need enough volts to get it working properly.

Microphones that need phantom power to run usually specify their required voltage, so it's best to check your manufacturer to make sure your phantom power supply is compatible. For example, with the Neumann TLM103 it needs 48 volts as it’s quite powerful.

There are mics that don’t need phantom power at all, like the Fifine 669 and Rode Podcaster. They can be plugged directly into your computer via USB without having to go through a mixer, however, they're not as strong when it comes to recording things like vocals and instrumentals, so the microphone you choose may need phantom power. If you’re unsure, get in touch with your manufacturer for further details or ask us at studio@radio.co.