Common Recording Problems and Solutions: Phantom Power
By this point, I hope you’ve had a chance to play around with your preferred method of recording. If so, you’ve probably bumped into a few walls. Let’s talk about one of the most likely ones, including phantom power.
The Voltage Wall
If you’re recording vocals, eventually you’re going to want to get a decent condenser microphone. You’ve seen them; instead of your typical ball-and-stick shaped dynamic microphone, condensers commonly look more like a soda can wrapped in a screen. They are designed with a more sensitive diaphragm than dynamic mics, in order to catch the subtle changes in the voice while singing.
At the point that you upgrade to a condenser, you’re going to be met with a frustrating situation: you can’t just plug it in and record!
A Simple Explanation
The reason for this is that condensers contain electric circuitry, to keep the diaphragm charged with a current. Without this charge, the microphone is unable to operate. Phantom Power provides a direct current, which activates the dormant circuitry in your condenser microphone.
It’s easy to get derailed by something you don’t understand, and I’ve heard from many home recording beginners who were ready to give up on condensers until someone explained this simple solution to them.
Most mixers today come with a built-in Phantom Power button or switch (sometimes it’s hidden in the back, which is why it gets overlooked). Just flick it on before you plug in your condenser, and you’re good to go!
If your mixer or recording device doesn’t have a 48V Phantom Power supply, you can get an external one for under $20.
Get back in the saddle, and keep moving forward. You’ll hit more obstacles, but there’s almost always a simple solution that you haven’t been told about yet. Keep trying!