Tip of the Week 12: Mics Don't Work? Try Phantom Power!

So you have everything set up. All seems to be working except for your mics. This is odd as the gains are set normally, everything is switched on, but there is no sound coming out. This is where your embarrassment hits as you realise that you have forgotten to hit the phantom power on. A rookie mistake that hits us all, sometimes we look for the most complex sources of issue when the simple problem is right in front of us.

For those of you that don't know what phantom power is, it is quite simply a small electric power, sent along the microphone cable to allow condenser mics to work. This is usually controlled by a button or a switch on your mixer/interface (often labelled "+48V", or "phantom power") for you to activate and deactivate at your wish.

A typical condenser microphone. This would
require a phantom power source.

Due to the brilliant design of microphone cables and phantom power, if it is activated on say, a dynamic microphone, which does not require phantom power, it will not affect the sound. This means it will only affect you if you are using condenser mics.

One other type of equipment that needs phantom power would be some stage DI boxes. These are used to convert instrument signals, e.g. from a guitar lead into a balanced XLR cable. These often either require a battery, a plug, or phantom power. So, if the DI's are not working, try switching on the phantom power.