The question, ‘what is phantom power?’ gets asked a lot by those new to music tech- here’s a simple explanation
You’ll often see it on mixing desks, microphone pre-amps and audio interfaces, but phantom power remains as mysterious as it sounds to many music tech ‘newbies’.
Although it might sound as though you might be able to summon the musical powers of the ancients through flicking this switch, the truth is slightly more mundane, but no less useful (though I must confess, I have no experience of calling on the un-dead to help in my musical work… ;-))
What is phantom power, then? Read on for a simple explanation…
More power… It’s alive!
Phantom power is used in connection with microphones (although there are some other devices that also use phantom power). To understand how it works, you need to understand a little bit about the mechanics of how a microphone works.
The majority of microphones can be divided into two categories: dynamic microphones, and condenser microphones.
Dynamic microphones are the simplest type of microphone. Put simply, when the air around a dynamic microphone vibrates due to sound, it causes a diaphragm mounted at the end of the microphone to vibrate, too. This is attached to a coil of wire, which is attached to a transducer.
This converts the vibrations into an electrical signal, which is transmitted down the cable to the microphone pre-amp, where it will eventually be converted back to sound via another transducer.
Dynamic microphones are not the most sensitive microphones around. Condenser microphones, however, are far more sensitive. Here, the diaphragm is a far thinner, lighter design, which is gold plated. As a result, it vibrates far more easily with lower levels of sound.
The diaphragm is suspended in front of an electrically charged plate, connected. As the diaphragm vibrates, the charge on the plate varies. This electrical signal is transmitted down a cable to the mixer etc.
Types of dynamic mikes
Ribbons are a type of dynamic microphone. Your OM2 is a dynamic mic; the ubiquitous Shure SM57/SM58 series mikes are dynamics as well. Ribbons are a type of dynamic using a different capsule design from 'standard' dynamic mikes such as the SM57/SM58.
Condenser mikes like the other mikes you mentioned require phantom power (+48v) from the preamps in your interface (or other device). Does your interface have phantom power?
So what genre(s) are you singing?
MOTU MKII 828 & Shure KSM27 - No input signal?!
So today I purchased a *Used* Shure KSM27 condenser microphone - my first studio mic.
Perfect working condition - as the retailers demonstrated it for me before I purchased it.
I was going to use it for the Motu MKII 828 audio interface.
So to make a long story short - I brought it back to my studio immediately - anxious to try it out.
My MOTU MKII 828 rack has phantom power - perfect, because the microphone that I purchased today needs to be powered.
And to my dismay, there is no line input signal! I've tried everything it seems...volume controls, different inputs, etc