Dynamic Microphones: Do They Need Phantom Power?

phantom power button

Have you ever heard the term ‘Phantom Power’ and wondered what it’s all about? If you’re a budding musician, singer or sound engineer, you may well have come across the term in your work with microphones. 

But what exactly is Phantom power, and what does this have to do with dynamic microphones – do Dynamic mics need phantom power to work properly? 

In short, dynamic microphones do not need Phantom power to function, as they use a simple, passive design that doesn’t require power. 

Will Phantom Power damage a dynamic microphone?

Relax, if you’ve been using Phantom power with your dynamic vocal mic, it’s doubtful it will have caused any damage as there are no active electronic components in the microphone.

If you’re using an older, vintage dynamic mic and are still concerned, you can always get in touch with the manufacturer for extra peace of mind.

If you are using an older ribbon microphone, it’s important to keep in mind that it may be fragile. In these cases, it’s recommended to avoid using phantom power, as it could potentially damage the microphone.

What is Phantom Power?

Now that we’ve answered the question of whether dynamic microphones need Phantom power, let’s look into Phantom power more closely and explore its role in the world of microphones, specifically as it relates to dynamic microphones.

Phantom power is a type of DC voltage used to supply power to Condenser microphones. It’s called “phantom” power because it’s transmitted over the same XLR cable as the audio signal, without the need for separate power. Phantom power is usually provided at a voltage of 48 volts, but there are a limited range of condenser mics that require 12V, 15V, 18V or 24 V instead.

Dynamic microphone

Phantom power – let’s get technical!

Now that we know what Phantom power is, let’s explore why it’s used for condenser mics and not dynamic microphones.

Condenser microphones and Phantom Power

Phantom power is used to power condenser microphones, which have active electronic components that require a constant external voltage to work. These components, called active electronics, include preamps, impedance converters, and voltage regulators. Condenser microphones rely on the external voltage supplied by phantom power to operate their active electronics and produce a strong, clear audio signal.

Dynamic microphones and Phantom Power

In contrast, dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM58 do not have active electronic components and therefore don’t require phantom power to work. Dynamic microphones use a simple, passive design that relies on the movement of a diaphragm to generate an electrical current. This current is then amplified by the microphone’s internal transformer, which converts the low-level signal into a stronger, more usable signal. Because dynamic microphones don’t have active electronics, there’s no need to use Phantom power.

condenser vs dynamic mic

What’s the difference between a Dynamic mic and a condenser mic?

Dynamic microphones and condenser microphones are both commonly used for live performance and recording. They both have their own unique set of characteristics and are better suited for certain applications. In general, a dynamic mic is preferred for live use due to its durable build and ability to handle a loud input without distorting the sound. 

Although a dynamic mic is regularly used for recording vocals, a condenser mic is usually preferred due to its ability to capture the subtle details and nuances of the singer.

Find out more about the differences between dynamic and condenser mics.

Conclusion

So, now we know that a Dynamic mic doesn’t need Phantom power, but even if you have been using it, it’s probably not causing any harm. Of course, it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your mic is working at its best. But for the most part, you can relax and enjoy using your dynamic mic without worrying about phantom power. Happy gigging!