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Tools of the Trade: Mixer and Phantom Power

Tips for a Live Sound Engineer.

All Yamaha mixers offer “phantom power” on some if not all the balanced inputs. Some more expensive models switch the phantom on and off per channel, while the less costly models offer a switch for multiple channels all at once – but either will provide the same result.

What is phantom power and why do I need it?

This power goes way back to the telephone industry rotary dial phones in 1919 and was adopted for use in the professional audio world in the 1960s. As more and more microphone manufacturers started to offer condenser style microphones – ones that have circuits inside them to amplify the weak signal – offering the power at the mixer eliminated external power supplies, and in some cases, batteries in the microphones themselves. This makes for a more reliable audio system.

The only side effect is that plugging and unplugging a “hot input” (one that is turned on) is an audible pop. As with any connect/disconnect, it should always be done with the channel turned down or muted. If you don’t use condenser style microphones, having the phantom power turned on won’t hurt anything.

One other piece of advice – don’t switch the phantom power on or off when your system is powered up. You’ll get that loud “pop” – which at the very least is annoying and at worst might damage a speaker. The standard is 48V, but some manufacturers use lower voltages (24V or even 12V) to save costs.

Hope you find these tips useful – please feel free to share them. Stay tuned for more tips coming soon!

Here’s the phantom switch on the Yamaha MG12 Mixer.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With many years in the professional audio field, John Schauer is a 30+ year veteran of Yamaha Corporation of America. He has worked with many users and professional sound companies, sharing both his technical expertise and experience. “I am very fortunate to be able to convey complex subjects in a manner that people can readily understand". He is currently Product Manager in the MIPA Department in the PA division.

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