48 Volt Phantom Power - Is it always required?

FAQ #4374 Updated January 07, 2014

Question:

I have a condenser mic and the specifications state that it requires 48 volts of phantom power. Will it work with 24 volts of phantom power? How about 12 volts of phantom power?

Answer:

The answer is....it depends upon the microphone design and circuitry. Here are a few generalizations:

  1. Most microphones will operate with phantom voltage as low as 12 volts up to a high of 48 volts.
  2. Most microphones have the same operating specifications no matter the actual phantom voltage.
  3. Some microphones may have a lower clipping (distortion) point if provided less than 48 volts of phantom.
  4. A few microphones will not operate properly if provided less than 48 volts of phantom, but the lower voltage will not damage the microphone.

Remember, most specification sheets and user guides are written/edited by the marketing department, and not the engineering department. So it is often necessary to contact the microphone engineers about using a lower phantom voltage as the microphone specification sheets may not be 100% correct.

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