phantom power audio card

Do Audio Interfaces Have Phantom Power? [Beginner’s Guide]

Nick Webster

  • Updated September 24, 2023

Do Audio Interfaces Have Phantom Power_

You may have noticed another power button in an audio interface besides its main switch.

Most, if not all, audio interfaces have 48v phantom power built specifically in them. Many devices need it to work its function, especially in a recording process.

Let us brief you on the relevance of a phantom power audio interface and other related topics that focus on this.

Can Audio Interfaces Provide Phantom Power?

Can Audio Interfaces Provide Phantom Power--

An audio interface is one common piece of equipment that can provide phantom power.

The majority of interfaces available in the market already have built-in phantom power . This is why many users sometimes interchange both terms.

An audio interface has many functions that help other musicians mix and record music . This is usually possible as you connect to a computer.

Microphones are essential for recording music. An audio interface has the phantom power setting to operate most recording microphones.

The phantom power setting appears as a button on the channel strip that may not be directly labeled as it is. Most interfaces have it labeled as 48v.

48v stands for 48 volts. It is how much direct current an interface delivers. This electrical current travels through the device cable, which is commonly an XLR cable.

It is described as a phantom because it is not clear that power is transferred. There is no special cable for it.

Direct current travels straight through pin 2 and pin 3 of the XLR while pin 1 is the ground.

The usual audio interface gets its power supply directly from the main electrical outlet using an adapter. A USB audio interface gets its power supply from the USB port.

What Is Phantom Power?

What Is Phantom Power

Phantom power is the supply of an electrical charge to a device, usually within the body of a mic. This electric charge is a direct current , which is referred to as DC.

Other than a microphone, it can also power an external audio interface, audio recorder, and video camera.

On the other hand, an audio interface, DI box, mixing console, and personal computer are common phantom power sources.

The electric charge goes through the cable of a device and powers active electronic circuitry within its parts. A device needing it cannot operate and produce sound output without it.

It comes in 9 to 48 volts, which is why most devices label phantom power as 48v .

What Is a Direct Current?

Direct current (DC) refers to the one-directional flow of electrical charge through a conductor.

The flow remains in the same direction throughout. Its amperage does not change along with its direction.

Its counterpart is an alternating current (AC) in which the flow reverses direction and changes magnitude.

The common conductor of direct current is wires found within a cable. Its other conductors include semiconductors, insulators, and vacuums.

A direct current produces an electric charge in the backplate of a mic. As a result, it causes a movement in the diaphragm.

Is Phantom Power Necessary?

Phantom power is necessary to operate condenser microphones.

This type of mic needs an additional power source within its body for its components to function.

Phantom power is not difficult to create. This is why there is no specialized device that serves as a source of phantom power.

It is simply incorporated into audio interfaces, mixers, and DI boxes.

How Does Phantom Power Affect Sound Quality?

How Does Phantom Power Affect Sound Quality-

Phantom power enhances sound quality as it operates a condenser microphone.

A condenser microphone has an elaborate design. It has a very thin diaphragm, which can detect smaller changes in frequency.

This produces more CLARITY and ACCURACY in the sounds you capture. Details in the vocals and instruments are captured better!

Without a phantom power supply, true condenser microphones cannot function at all.

What Are the Different Types of Mics?

What Are the Different Types of Mics--

All microphones are for recording vocals or sounds, but different microphones can capture different frequencies. This translates to different resulting sounds.

There are three main types of microphones you can use depending on the sound you are recording and the sound you want to produce.

  • Condenser mics – A condenser mic is more sensitive and captures detailed sounds. It needs phantom power to create an audio signal. Phantom power can come from an audio interface, mixing console, or DI box.
  • Dynamic mics – They are the most robust type. They record loud noises and strong sounds. Dynamic mics do not need phantom power to work. Avoid it if you are using an instrument’s output.
  • Ribbon mics – A ribbon mic is a vintage type of mic. The most natural sounds can come from and be captured by a ribbon microphone. Make sure that phantom power is OFF before you connect ribbon microphones to an audio interface. An additional charge can risk damage to it.

What Are the Functions of an Audio Interface?

What Are the Functions of an Audio Interface-

Phantom power is only one button and, therefore, only one function of an audio interface. It has the following other functions.

Enhancement of Recording Quality

An ordinary sound card in the computer is not built specifically for producing music . It is multipurpose and, thus, not specialized.

Meanwhile, the sound card of an audio interface is specially designed for music production. It produces higher sound quality , which complements its built-in preamps.

This enhances the resulting sound of recordings and instruments.

Reduction of Latency Issues

Latency is the time delay in reading an audio signal during a recording process. Latency issues stand in the way of recording music smoothly.

An audio interface decreases latency by a few milliseconds. This already makes a huge difference and improvement to your recording experience.

Adjustment and Mix of Input Levels

An audio interface can operate with many audio inputs. As such, it can function as a mini audio mixer for multiple microphones.

The input levels of an audio interface allow you to record vocals with one microphone and record guitar with another.

It comes with level-setting knobs and sliders that allow you to adjust the volume of the specific microphone it is connected to.

Multiple Inputs and Outputs

Aside from operating multiple inputs, an audio interface also has multiple inputs and outputs on its own.

It includes support for studio headphones for better listening to live recordings. Another common support is for speaker outputs .

This can serve as a good connection point for studio monitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions-

Can Phantom Power Damage an Audio Interface?

Phantom power will not damage audio interfaces, but it can risk damage to a microphone.

Most interfaces are designed with phantom power, so there is no risk of damage there.

Phantom power is necessary to operate a condenser microphone . Without it, this type will NOT work at all.

It will not damage or make any difference to the operation and result in a dynamic microphone. This type is generally an XLR mic and comes with a balanced XLR cable.

This cable prevents damage even with an added charge.

Ribbon microphones are a different story. They are more sensitive , and adding phantom power risks damage to them.

What Is the Difference Between Audio Interface and Phantom Power?

Both terms are commonly intertwined, but they are separate from each other.

Phantom power is a feature of the equipment that is the audio interface. The former is NOT an alternative to the latter.

Condenser microphones need an added charge in the form of phantom power to function. An audio interface is a common and easy source device for this.

Other sources include mixing consoles, DI boxes, and sometimes, batteries.

Why Does a Condenser Microphone Require a 48v Phantom Power Supply?

The components in the design of a condenser type contain active electronics. They need additional power within its body to operate.

Its function requires a direct current to charge its backplate to cause a movement in its diaphragm. This is the ONLY way for the condenser type to work.

Without the added charge, it will NOT function at all.

Do USB Condenser Mics Need Phantom Power?

Yes, USB condenser mics still need phantom power . They are still condenser types, after all.

However, its supply does not necessarily have to come from an audio interface . Its supply comes from the USB cable .

Phantom power runs through the USB cable itself, and an audio interface is not necessary to operate this condenser type.

It helps to know the type of microphone you are dealing with to know its operational requirements.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

An audio interface generally has built-in phantom power.

It has many functions in recording music. The additional power it provides is critical in operating condenser microphones.

This type of microphone can detect even the slightest change in frequencies. This allows you to record clearer and more detailed sounds to produce more sophisticated music.

Regardless of the kind of music you want to produce, audio interfaces enhance sound quality.

About the author


After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.

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What is Phantom Power & Why Do I Need It?

Phantom power…what a strange name!? If you're new to home recording, this term can be confusing. If this is the case, we can help...

Phantom power, sounds funny, doesn't it? If you're new to home recording, this term can be confusing. Thankfully, we can help...  

Shure Beta 181

Phantom Power is a term given to the process of delivering DC (Direct Current) to microphones requiring electric power to drive active circuitry. Condenser microphones such as Shure's KSM range all have active circuitry and require phantom power.  

How Does Phantom Power Work?

The power can be provided by a battery located inside of the mic; an example is the Shure PG81 (now discontinued) that operates from a single AA battery. Alternatively (and most commonly) the DC power is provided by the pre-amp/mixer and delivered to the condenser microphone via the mic cable. This method is referred to as phantom power. The worldwide standard for phantom power is 11 to 52 volts of DC (typical studio mics run on 48v). Your preamp will typically have a button labelled 48v, which allows you to turn this on/off. However, some older mixers and cheaper audio interfaces may not have phantom power. In this case, an external phantom power supply can be added between the condenser mic and the preamp.  

Will Phantom Power Damage My Dynamic Mics?

A dynamic microphone, like the SM58 , does not require phantom power because it does not have active electronics inside. Nonetheless, applying phantom power will not damage other microphones in the vast majority of cases. The reason is that modern dynamic  microphones are designed to accept phantom power without issues, but we advise checking your manual or consulting with the manufacturer first before connecting; particularly if you have a ribbon microphone. Additionally, it's a good idea to turn phantom power off while plugging and unplugging microphones to prevent any potential power surge and general pops and loud noises, which could damage your speakers/headphones over time.  

Why Is It Called Phantom Power?

Condenser microphones made in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s required a special power supply to operate. This power supply would often be located quite near the microphone and was usually large, heavy, and cumbersome. In the 1960s, work began on a new powering concept that would eliminate the need for a separate power supply. Schoeps and Neumann (German microphone manufacturers) were leaders in this development. Eventually, a new condenser mic powering standard emerged. The DC power to operate the condenser mic was provided by the mixing board and delivered via the mic cable; eliminating the need for an external power supply. And what does one call a power supply that is working, but invisible? It is a phantom power supply! - Source Shure Inc Applications Engineering

Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).

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What Does Phantom Power Do on an Audio Interface?

Phantom power on an audio interface provides power to active components such as condenser mics. It is delivered through balanced audio cables and can appear to be ‘phantom’ when there’s no visible external power supply. The unique construction and sensitivity of condenser mics mean that they require an additional current to boost their signals, and this is provided by phantom power.

In this article we’ll look at:

What is phantom power?

48v phantom power on audio interfaces, why do condenser mics need phantom power, do you need phantom power for ribbon or dynamic mics.

Phantom power on an audio interface refers to a DC current delivered through (balanced) audio cables to provide power for microphones and other equipment.

This type of current is often referred to as ‘ phantom ‘ when there are no visible external power supply or cables used—the current is delivered directly from an interface to the device requiring the power through a balanced audio cable.

A balanced audio cable uses three conductors—two for carrying balanced signals (positive and negative) and a third for ground. An XLR cable, used for connecting condenser microphones to audio interfaces , is an example of a balanced audio cable.

Another reason for the term phantom is that when the same voltage is applied to the two signal-carrying conductors of a balanced cable (relative to ground), there’s no voltage difference between them. Hence, any power delivered through the cable appears to be ‘phantom’.

Phantom power is used for microphones that have active circuitry (i.e., circuits designed to operate with an external current), such as condenser microphones .

Many audio interfaces have a button labeled ’48V’ (or sometimes ‘P48’)—this is the phantom power switch .

phantom power audio card

The 48V refers to a voltage of 48 volts that’s applied to the signal-carrying conductors of a connected XLR (balanced) audio cable.

Phantom power can run on 12 to 48 volts, but the audio industry standard is 48 volts .

When connecting a condenser mic to an audio interface, pressing the 48V button activates phantom power and provides a current through the connected balanced audio cable. Most audio engineers advise that you activate phantom power after plugging in a cable (with an attached mic).

Without phantom power, a connected condenser mic won’t operate. If phantom power isn’t available on your audio interface, you’ll need to find another source of phantom power, such as an external power supply, to power your condenser mic.

Condenser mics are the microphones of choice for most recording studios. They offer higher sensitivity and fidelity compared to other microphones, such as ribbon or dynamic mics.

Microphones, in essence, convert sound waves to electrical signals, and different types of microphones have different ways of doing this. In the case of condenser mics, an electric current—i.e., phantom power—is required.

To understand why condenser mics need phantom power, let’s look at how they’re made and how they work.

How condenser mics are made

Condenser mics work through the principle of electrical capacitance —the ability to store electrical energy between two conducting surfaces.

One of the conducting surfaces used in a condenser mic is usually a solid metal plate and the other is a thin membrane called a diaphragm .

The diaphragm is made from a thin polyester film, or mylar , which is covered by a thin layer of gold.

The gold is applied by a technique called sputtering (i.e., applying a molecular layer of atoms to a surface), so the diaphragms used in condenser mics are often referred to as gold-sputtered mylar .

How condenser mics work

In an electrical capacitor, the distance between the conducting surfaces determines the amount of capacitance produced. If the distance changes, the capacitance also changes.

This phenomenon is exploited by condenser mics.

As sound waves hit a condenser mic’s diaphragm, its distance from the solid plate changes in sync with the sound waves. This results in changes to capacitance, which creates an electrical signal that mimics the sound waves.

The diaphragms of condenser mics are very thin, sometimes only 6 microns thick (0.006 mm), so they are also very fragile. This is why they are very sensitive to quiet sounds and are good at picking up audio nuances in a studio environment.

But the small size and fragility of a condenser mic’s capacitor arrangement mean that only a tiny electrical current is produced . This signal is too small to be connected to any equipment in an audio workflow. A powered circuit is required, therefore, to boost the signal with current.

Phantom power provides the additional current needed to boost the tiny signals generated by condenser mics.

Ribbon and dynamic mics are constructed differently from condenser mics. They’re more robust and durable, but they’re less sensitive to picking up nuanced sounds and are used less frequently in studio environments.

Unlike condenser mics, dynamic and (most) ribbon mics have only passive circuitry —they do not require an external power supply.

So, you don’t need phantom power for (passive) ribbon and dynamic mics.

If you accidentally switch phantom power on when using a (passive) ribbon or dynamic mic, in most cases it will make no difference. This is yet another reason for the name ‘phantom’ with this type of power—it has no effect on passive electronic devices.

But in some cases, phantom power may add unwanted noise to the audio workflow when using passive devices . It may also damage passive mics if there happens to be an imbalance in the voltage being applied to the microphone cables that connect the mics.

You should, therefore, leave phantom power switched off when using (passive) ribbon or dynamic mics.

Many audio interfaces come with a phantom power (48V) switch .

This is used for connecting audio devices that contain active circuitry , the most common such device being a condenser microphone .

Since phantom power can be delivered by an audio interface without the need for an external power supply, there’s no visible source for the power. It also has no effect when applied to passive electronic devices, such as dynamic mics and some ribbon mics.

This is why this type of power is referred to as phantom.

Phantom power is transmitted from an audio interface through balanced audio cables , such as the XLR cables used to connect microphones. Balanced cables have three conductors—two for connecting positive and negative (balanced) signals, and one for ground.

Condenser mics are designed on the principle of electrical capacitance and are constructed to be sensitive —they can pick up nuanced sounds , and they’re the microphone of choice in studio environments .

They produce only tiny currents, however, and therefore require an additional current—i.e., phantom power—to boost their signal output for interacting with other audio devices.

Other commonly used microphone types—ribbon and dynamic mics—use only passive circuitry and do not require an external power supply. These mics, therefore, do not require phantom power.

Phantom power is a DC power that’s used to provide power to operate microphones that contain active circuitry. It’s called ‘phantom’ because it’s sent over the same wires that transmit the audio signal and is invisible to the naked eye.

What kind of microphones require phantom power?

Condenser microphones require phantom power. They are very sensitive and pick up faint sounds, but they produce only a small electrical current (audio signal). They need an external power source, therefore, to boost the small signals that they produce.

How much voltage is needed for phantom power?

The most common voltage for phantom power is 48 volts, or ’48V’. This voltage is high enough to boost condenser microphone signals but low enough not to damage the microphones. Some microphones, however, require different voltages, such as 12 or 24 volts. Be sure to check your microphone’s manual to know which voltage it needs.

Do all microphones need phantom power?

No, not all microphones need phantom power. Dynamic microphones and (most) ribbon microphones do not require phantom power. They use a different method to generate an audio signal that does not need an external power source.

How do I turn phantom power on or off?

On an audio interface, there is usually a button or a switch labeled ‘phantom power’ (or ’48V’) that you can turn on or off. When it’s turned on, the interface will send phantom power to a connected XLR cable and microphone. Be sure to turn the phantom power switch off when you’re not using a condenser microphone to avoid damaging it.

Can I use an external power supply instead of phantom power?

Yes, you can use an external power supply, such as a battery pack, to power your condenser microphone. However, you need to make sure that it provides the right voltage and that it’s compatible with your microphone’s connector. Also, keep in mind that external power supplies can be bulky and inconvenient to carry around.

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phantom power audio card

What is Phantom Power: All You Need to Know

What is Phantom Power: All You Need to Know

Alrighty folks - it's tech time once again! You may have heard of phantom power, and even use it regularly. But do you know what it is, and how it works?

In this article we're going to look at everything phantom-y. By the time you're done reading you'll be able to hold your own next time the formidable microphone conversation strikes up in the pub.

What Is Phantom Power Exactly?

In a nutshell, phantom power is a direct current (DC) signal sent to microphones in order to power the active circuitry inside.

While the accepted standard for phantom power around the world is 11 - 52 volts dc, most studio mics run on 48V.

It's called phantom power because it's discreet - the current is sent along an XLR cable from the microphone input.

Do All Microphones Need Phantom Power?

Not all microphones work in the same way; some are passive, and some are active, and it's the active microphones that need phantom power.

You may have heard the general rule that condenser microphones require phantom power, and dynamic mics don't. For the most part this is the case, but there are exceptions to the rule; some condenser microphones don't need phantom power, and some dynamic microphones do. More on that later.

Can Phantom Power Damage Mics?

Most modern dynamic microphones are designed to accept phantom power even if they don't need it to work. So it's (generally) considered safe to use a mixture of dynamic and condenser mics on a console or interface supplying phantom power universally to all mic inputs.

On the other hand, an active ribbon microphone requires phantom power, but can be damaged if you 'hot plug' it - connecting it to the mic input with the phantom power switched on.

If you're using TRS connections on a patch bay damage can also be done to any microphone when hot switching connections. Because the connections on a TRS cable are designed sequentially, electrical shorts happen when plugging or unplugging the cable. If the phantom power is on this can wreak havoc with your mic collection.

This is all quite sciencey, so if it's a bit hard to digest a good safety measure is to turn off the phantom power supply before plugging/unplugging any microphone.

Can Phantom Power Damage Other Equipment?

Since phantom power is only routed through the mic signal the DC current isn't going to affect anything else connected to your interface or console. Wireless mic receivers are balanced and can handle the DC voltage safely.

However when you connect or disconnect XLR cables leaving the phantom power on can result in clicks or pops, which could in time damage your speakers or headphones. So it's generally a good idea to disable phantom power when plugging or unplugging your mics.

Can Phantom Power Damage Me?

Unless you're particularly sensitive to DC power, the answer is no.

How Do You Send Phantom Power

There's three main sources of phantom power supplies:

Audio interfaces

Mixing consoles.

  • Microphone Preamplifiers

Most audio interfaces come with the option of turning phantom power on or off. This can be a switch or a button located on the front or back panel of the interface. Often this will send power to all the mic inputs and channels can't be isolated individually.

phantom power audio card

Smaller mixers may also have a single button to provide phantom power for all the channels

On larger mixing consoles you'll find that each channel has a dedicated phantom power button, allowing you to chose which mics make use of it.

phantom power audio card

Microphone preamplifiers

Mic preamps will also have dedicated phantom power switches. Depending on how fancy it is you may have individual control over each channel, or have a 'one button to rule them all' phantom power option.

phantom power audio card

Sorted, right?

Not necessarily. On some lower-end models the voltage supplied by phantom power may not be up to scratch, and deliver less than the 48V needed. While some condenser microphones can operate on less voltage, others need the full 48V to work the active electronics in the mic.

Enter the external power supply.

phantom power audio card

If your interface isn't cranking out the necessary voltage you can always use an external power supply to get that electric power to drive your active circuitry. Shazzam!

To add to this conundrum, some mics need more than 48V to work properly - pretty much all tube microphones for instance. In situations like these you'll need an external phantom power supply, often shipped with the mic itself.

phantom power audio card

Take a deep breath, because things are about to get technical...

The Super-Nerdy Tech Stuff

The aim of this section is to furnish you with a detailed understanding of how phantom power works, and why we need it.

First off, let's take a look at how sound is captured in condenser microphones.

Why Do Condenser Microphones Need Phantom Power?

Condenser mics work on what's called 'variable capacitance'. A variable capacitor is one that can be changed repeatedly, either mechanically or electronically. In condenser microphones this is what turns physical sound waves into audio signals.

A condenser microphone's transducer element - capacitor - is made up of a diaphragm and a fixed plate. Sound waves hit the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate, changing the distance between the diaphragm and the fixed plate (also known as the backplate). This change in distance creates a change in voltage maintained between the two, and this is the electrical signal that gets sent down your balanced XLR cable and turned into a glorious audio signal at the other end.

In addition to powering the capacitor, phantom power also provides the juice to a teeny tiny preamp inside the condenser mic. This preamp is used to magnify the small electrical changes from the capacitor before the signal leaves the mic.

You may already know that condenser mics are commonly more sensitive than dynamic microphones. It's the capacitor that makes them so acute to sound, and without a phantom power supply there as useful as a fish on a bicycle.

How Does Phantom Power Work?

Standard phantom power is generally 48 volts dc (direct current). This is usually provided by a mixer or interface, and sent via balanced audio cables.

In a balanced XLR cable, the 48 volts is sent through pins 2 and 3 (the positive and negative audio audio), and referenced to pin 1 - the return, which is also the ground pin.

In a balanced TRS audio cable the 48V is sent through the tip and ring relative to the sleeve.

Since the voltage is sent through a balanced audio cable it doesn't interfere with the audio signal.

phantom power audio card

Once the voltage reaches the microphone it's sent where it needs to go to power the active electronics.

Balanced microphones that aren't phantom powered - for instance a dynamic microphone - are designed to ignore this voltage, and will generally not be damaged if 48 volts is being sent through the XLR cable.

But if you have unbalanced microphones like ribbon mics do not even talk about phantom power when they're out of their box.

OK, Cool. So Which Microphones Actually Need Phantom Power?

So now you know that active microphones need power to do their jobbo I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and say that while most microphones in this category use phantom power, not all do.

But let's keep this short and sweet. The following types of microphones need a phantom power supply to function:

  • True condenser microphones
  • Electret FET condenser microphones
  • Active FET ribbon dynamic microphones

And the following microphones don't need phantom power:

  • Moving coil dynamic microphones
  • Passive ribbon dynamic microphones
  • DC-biased electret miniature microphones
  • Tube microphones

Confusing, right?

The most prudent thing to do is RTFM to see if your microphone needs, and more importantly, can handle phantom power.

Do All Microphones Use 48V Phantom Power?

Although the universal standard for phantom power is 11-52 volts DC, most studio mics run on 48 volts, hence the +48 button on your audio interface. However different microphones sometimes need more or less than this to operate.

In the cases where a condenser microphone needs less phantom powering than 48V it'll just take what it needs, and discard the remaining volts in a feat of engineering magic that I don't fully understand.

When microphones need more than 48V phantom power they'll need an external supply. This is normally distributed with the mic itself, so not something you need to worry about. Unless of course you lose it.

Again, if in doubt, read the manufacturer's instructions regarding how many volts your mic needs to work.

Other Sources of Power

Sometimes folks refer to phantom power when in fact they mean one of the following sources of power. Don't get them confused; it's all a lie.

Phantom power is not the only source of voltage for microphones. Some condenser microphone models on the market make use of a battery to power the circuitry inside. It's always a good idea to remove batteries when not in use to prevent corrosion and damage to the internal workings of the mic.

Plug-In Power

Plug-in power (PiP) is a low current supply that's found on some consumer-grade gear like portable recorders and computer sound cards. This is an unbalanced, low voltage interface and as such very different from phantom power. Never use 48V phantom power with a microphone that's designed for PiP.

DC Bias Voltage

The term phantom power is sometimes used to describe the small electric current that powers aviation microphones. While technically it is 'phantom' (it can't be seen), it runs on a much lower current - 1.5-9 volts. In audio engineering situations it's generally used to power microphones like miniature lav mics.

Other Uses For Phantom Power

Since we're going deep, phantom power is used in other areas, not just in microphones. These include:

  • Active antennas
  • Low noise block downconverters (the thingummy on satellite dishes that takes the signal and converts it)
  • Power over ethernet cables

A Brief History of Phantom Power

Photo by Claus Grünstäudl on Unsplash

Phantom powering was first used in landline telephone systems based on copper wire in the early part of the 20th century. It's still used in this capacity today, although how long landlines will be around is another topic of discussion.

Tube microphones came on to the market in the 20s (1920s that is), followed by a breakthrough in the 40s from Bell Labs in the form of transistors.

This in turn led to the release in 1964 of the Schoeps Model CMT20, the first commercially available phantom powered microphone. Back in those days however these kinds of microphones came with bulky external power supplies which had to be located close to the microphone itself.

A combination of Norwegian desires and German smarts led to the development of what we know as phantom power today. NRK - the Norwegian broadcasting corporation - had requested phantom powering microphones that didn't need a separate power supply, since they already had a 48 volt power supply running in their studios for emergency lighting.

Neumann stepped up to this task, and developed a mic that would on the 48 volts of DC power already in place in the NRK studios.

This was the first methods to power condenser microphones through an audio cable, and thus was born the modern day phantom powered microphone.

So there you have it - everything you need to know about phantom power, and some extra tidbbits to boot.

Choosing the right microphone for the job is important, regardless of whether it uses phantom power or not. Check out our article on microphones types to help you work out which one(s) are right for you.

Now go forth and capture those sounds!

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How-To Geek

What is phantom power, and does your microphone need it.

And do you need it to power your microphone?

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What is phantom power, do condenser mics need phantom power, do dynamic mics need phantom power, can phantom power cause damage, key takeaways.

Phantom power is a way of carrying electric current to power microphones without using a separate power supply. It's typically used to power condenser microphones and the 48V DC power itself is supplied by most mixers, audio interfaces, and preamps.

If you're shopping for a microphone or audio interface, you've probably seen the term phantom power. But what exactly is phantom power, where does it come from, and do you need it to power your microphone?

Phantom power is a method of providing power to a microphone without an external power supply or battery. While some microphones don't require phantom power, other, more sensitive microphones do.

Phantom power works by carrying DC electric current over an XLR cable that plugs into your microphone. This way, a single cable carries power to the microphone as well as the audio signal from it.

The official standard for phantom power specifies that it can carry anywhere from 11 to 52 volts of DC power. Studio microphones most often run at 48 volts, so you'll see phantom power referred to as +48v.

The power needs to come from somewhere, and in most cases it comes from a mixer or audio interface . While most audio interfaces feature phantom power, not all of them do. You can tell by looking for buttons labeled +48v or similar, usually near the gain controls.

Phantom power isn't the only way to provide power to a microphone. Lavaliere mics, for example, typically rely on internal batteries for power. Larger vacuum tube microphones also require more power, so they use their own bespoke power supplies.

Every condenser microphone requires power, due to the way this type of microphone operates. In the majority of cases, this is phantom power. There are only two cases where condenser microphones use other power sources, which we'll look at in a moment.

Condenser microphones are very sensitive, with a conductive diaphragm next to a solid metal plate. As the diaphragm vibrates, the distance between it and the metal plate creates changes in capacitance.

This signal requires a built-in preamp to lower the impedance and amplify it. This is why condenser microphones require power, and, in most cases, this is phantom power.

The first of the two exceptions is tube condenser mics, which, as mentioned above, use their own power supplies, so they don't require phantom power. The other exception is USB microphones , which get their power from the USB connection.

Dynamic microphones don't require phantom power because they work differently from condenser microphones.

A dynamic mic essentially works like a speaker in reverse. Instead of sending a sound through a speaker, which vibrates and makes noise, dynamic microphones vibrate from noise in the air. This signal then travels through a circuit in the mic and to your XLR cables.

These signals are high enough in volume that the signal can go directly to your mixer, preamp, or audio interface. The only issue is that some dynamic microphones, like the Shure SM7B , have very low output.

For these mics, you can use an inline preamp to boost the signal. These inline preamps sometimes use phantom power instead of an external power supply. In this case, it's the preamp that is using phantom power, not the microphone.

While it's possible to damage microphones with phantom power, it's not common or likely.

One type of mic more prone to damage from phantom power than others are ribbon microphones. There are two types: active ribbon microphones, which actually require phantom power, and passive ribbon microphones.

Passive ribbon microphones used to be more prone to damage from phantom power running to them. These days, these microphones have circuitry built in to avoid this type of damage. The only way you'll likely damage a ribbon microphone with phantom power these days is from an XLR cable with faulty wiring.

The only other way to damage a ribbon microphone is a mistake you should avoid with any type of microphone when using phantom power, and that's forgetting to ensure it's off before plugging or unplugging cables. Never plug in a microphone with phantom power enabled. Switch it off, make the connection, then switch it on.

Follow the above, and you shouldn't ever have to worry about damaging anything with phantom power.

Related: What Is Audio Distortion, and What Causes It?

What is 48v Phantom Power? When To Use It?

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at 48V Phantom Power. You might have heard of it before, especially if you’re a musician or a sound engineer, but you might not know exactly what it is or why it matters.

Quick Answer: 48v Phantom Power is required for any active microphone (Condenser, Active Dynamic, Active Ribbon) or if you’re using an inline preamp. Using phantom power on a passive dynamic microphone won’t’ help it or hurt it in any way. If you use 48v on a ribbon microphone you risk damaging it.

What is 48V Phantom Power?

48V Phantom Power is a DC voltage sent through XLR microphone cables to activate active microphones, such as condenser mics.

The “phantom” part of the name comes from the fact that the power is invisible to the user – it’s not something you can touch or see. It’s just there, powering your mic and allowing it to do its job.

Although rare, you may see phantom power available in other voltages as well:

Why Do You Need 48V Phantom Power?

Condenser microphones require a power source to work. Unlike dynamic mics, which use the movement of a coil around a magnet to generate an electrical signal, condenser mics use a capacitor to convert sound into an electrical signal. The capacitor needs an external power supply (48v) to charge the microphone capsule and do its job.

How Do You Use 48V Phantom Power?

Using 48V Phantom Power is pretty straightforward. You can send it to your microphone three different ways:

  • External 48v Power Supply
  • Audio Interface
  • Audio Mixer

Although it’s possible to use an external power supply, most people prefer to use the built in 48v supply from their audio interface or audio mixer. Connect your microphone your interface/mixer and turn on the Phantom Power switch. That’s it!

This will work on any popular interface, like the Scarlett 2i2 .

Related: Dynamic vs Condenser Microphones

Dynamic Microphones

You might wonder what happens if you use a dynamic microphone with 48V Phantom Power. Will it damage the microphone?

The answer is no; dynamic microphones are not affected by 48V Phantom Power.

Phantom power will not help or hurt a modern dynamic microphone in any way.

Related: Best Dynamic Microphones , a complete guide for every budget.

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones are a different story. They can be damaged by 48v phantom power. For this reason, it’s best practice to leave 48v phantom power turned off when you don’t need it.

Inline Microphone Preamps

Inline microphone preamps (also known as mic activators) provide more clean gain to dynamic and ribbon microphones. These can be helpful when using low-output microphones like the Shure SM7B.

If you’re using an inline microphone preamp, you must supply it with 48v phantom power.

Another benefit of using inline preamps is that they will protect ribbon microphones from 48v and prevent them from getting damaged while providing more clean gain.

Related: Best Inline Microphone Preamps

Active Dynamic & Ribbon Microphones

Lately, active dynamic microphones have been getting more popular. These microphones are what you get when you combine a dynamic microphone with an inline preamp.

If you’re using an active dynamic microphone, you use 48v phantom power to activate the internal preamp on the microphone.

Related: What is an active dynamic microphone?

48v Phantom Power FAQ

Phantom power is required on any active microphone (Condenser microphone, active dynamic microphone). Without phantom power for these microphones, they will not work. If you use phantom power on a passive dynamic microphone, it will not improve your microphone in any way. If you use phantom power on a passive ribbon microphone, you will risk damaging the microphone.

48v phantom power can fix a quiet dynamic microphone if you use it with an inline preamp (Cloudlifter, Dynamite DM-1, Fethead, etc.). Otherwise phantom power doesn’t have any impact on

48v phantom power will not damage a dynamic modern (balanced) dynamic microphone. It’s still best practice to avoid using it if you don’t need it, but phantom power will not hurt a dynamic microphone like the Shure SM58.

You need to use phantom power if you’re using a condenser microphone or inline preamp (Cloudlifter, etc.).

The most common voltage for phantom power is 48v, but in rare circumstances, you may see 12v, 15v, 18v, and 24v as well.

Phantom power does not work on 1/4″ cable. Technically, it’s possible. But audio interfaces and mixers don’t send 48v out of 1/4″ line inputs.

Simply, turn on the 48v or Phantom Power button on your audio interface or mixer to send phantom power to your microphone. In rare circumstances, you may need to purchase an external phantom power supply if your mixer/interface doesn’t have one.

Condenser microphones will not work without 48v of phantom power. You must turn on 48v phantom power using your audio interface, mixer, or external power supply for your condenser microphone to work.

The Shure SM7B does not need 48v phantom power unless you use it with an inline preamp (Cloudlifter, Dynamite, Fethead, etc.).

Yes, phantom power can damage passive ribbon microphones. It’s best practice to turn phantom power off when using ribbon microphones.

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Neewer 1-Channel 48V Phantom Power Supply with Adapter, BONUS+XLR 3 Pin Microphone Cable for Any Condenser Microphone Music Recording Equipment (8 feet)

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Neewer 1-Channel 48V Phantom Power Supply with Adapter, BONUS+XLR 3 Pin Microphone Cable for Any Condenser Microphone Music Recording Equipment (8 feet)

Purchase options and add-ons, about this item.

  • Input Voltage: 110V
  • Delivers reliable 48V phantom power for condenser microphones and transfer sound signal to sound card in a compact, durable, plastic housing.
  • Universal XLR input and output, compatible with all kinds of microphone music recording equipment.Comes with one XLR audio cable with high quality XLR male and female connectors.
  • Features a single channel unit with balanced mic inputs and outputs to connect in-line with your mic and mixer.
  • On/off power switch and LED indicator for ease of operation. One Adapter is included. Simple to use and ideal for stage and studio use.
  • Note: Phantom power provides a 48V voltage to the condenser microphone, but phantom power does not enhance the microphone sound quality and improve the normal volume; Microphone, Pop Filter, Mic Stand and 3.5mm to XLR Female Microphone Cable in the picture Not Included

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Since its inception 1998, Stage Entertainment has built a solid reputation as leading European musical producer. Today the brand is widely known for the exceptional quality of its shows and the warm hospitality extended to its audiences. 

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In Moscow’s Technological Advances, a ‘Double-Edged Sword’

The latest example is Face Pay, which replaces a Metro card with facial recognition. It may be advanced, but activists are sounding the alarm on privacy issues.

Passengers waiting before boarding a train at the Kurskaya metro station in Moscow. The city has debuted a facial recognition payment system called Face Pay.

By Celestine Bohlen

The Moscow Metro — a world-class marvel of efficient mass transportation since it opened in 1935 — made headlines last month with a very 21st-century innovation: a payment system that doesn’t require passengers to produce a ticket, a transit card, a smartphone or a contactless bank card. All they have to do is show their face.

By Oct. 15, the facial recognition system, called Face Pay, was up and running at about 240 stations on the Moscow Metro, a sprawling and constantly expanding system famous for its on-time track record and its grandiose and ornate stations.

Moscow city officials were quick to tout the system’s latest technological innovation, one of several over the last decade. “There are no analogues of Face Pay in terms of quality and ease of use for a passenger anywhere in the world,” said Maksim Liksutov, deputy mayor for transport.

To activate Face Pay, passengers must connect their photo with a bank card and the Metro’s Troika, or transit card, via a special mobile app. Once connected, a camera at the turnstiles identifies their faces (even with masks on) and opens the gates. In theory, it should take two to three seconds for a passenger to clear the turnstile, easing the crush of people at peak rush hours.

It is one of the most visible — and controversial — of the city’s projects to modernize its services, one that takes full advantage of advancing biometric technology and the skills of a new generation of Russian computer engineers. “The technology is new and very complex, we will continue to work on improving it,’’ said Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, in a statement.

But digital privacy activists in Russia were quick to raise the alarm, noting that the new system is not just about improving service on the Moscow Metro. “It is a good pretext to put cameras at the turnstiles,’’ said Artyom Koslyuk, a director at Roskomsvoboda, a digital rights group based in Moscow. “This will allow them to perfect the algorithms used for the recognition of faces.’’

According to Mr. Koslyuk, Moscow ranks third in the world for the most surveillance on streets and public transport, with some 200,000 cameras placed around the city and on the Metro to help police identify criminals and prevent crime. Russian police have already used facial recognition to find and arrest demonstrators who participated in peaceful opposition protests.

The two other countries that have gone ahead with facial recognition payment systems are China and Belarus, where privacy rights are also of little concern to the government. (In Belarus, the facial recognition system on the Minsk metro is called Look and Go.) In contrast, the European Parliament voted last month in favor of a nonbinding resolution to ban use of facial recognition technology in public places for police purposes.

Moscow officials have tried to calm concerns about privacy invasion by insisting that the images and data collected are “securely encrypted.’’ Roskomsvoboda, though, said they have uncovered evidence that the system is porous, vulnerable to intruders who can use the data and images for criminal purposes.

Privacy advocates are pushing for a more transparent system of control for this and other advanced, and often intrusive, technologies. “We need to be sure that all these innovations are used to help the people, not harm them,’’ said Mr. Koslyuk.

Face Pay is part of a broader set of efforts in the city to institute technological solutions. Moscow is undoubtedly Russia’s “smartest” city, not least because it is the nation’s capital, and a focus of government attention. Its 12.5 million people make it the second most populous city in Europe — and it is growing. Between 2002 and 2010, while Russia’s population decreased by 1.2 percent, Moscow’s grew by 10.9 percent. And the average wage in the capital is almost double the national average.

The capital also gets royal treatment from the federal government. In 2019, Moscow’s urban renewal budget equaled that of the rest of the country.

“Moscow has the power in terms of finance and budgets,’’ said Sergei Kamolov, a professor at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “Moscow is in the avant-garde, a test case for all different kinds of systems.’’

Two years ago, Russia adopted its own system for ranking its “smart cities,” measuring what is called their “I.Q. level.” This provides benchmarks for cities to measure progress in putting modern techniques and digital services in place for their population. Mr. Kamolov said these are useful tools to pressure local officials to meet targets set in a national “Smart Cities” program.

Mr. Kamolov, who is member of a working group on the “Smart Cities” program, cautions that its ideas and technologies are not easily duplicated from city to city. Nor, he said, do fancy new technologies necessarily have an impact on the citizens’ quality of life. “It seems to me that ‘Smart Cities’ is a deep marketing concept,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

In recent years, Russia has put a major nationwide effort into its e-government services. Ahead of the 2018 World Cup, Russia developed a system of e-visas, allowing tourists to come into the country for a limited time and for limited purpose. And like many countries, it has developed a popular online government portal — known as Gosuslugi , a one-stop website where citizens can retrieve documents, pay fines and make appointments. In a 2020 United Nations e-government survey , Russia’s services ranked 36th out of 193 countries.

In this, as in other areas, Moscow leads the way. More Muscovites use Gosuslgi proportionately than any other region of Russia — not surprising given its concentration of young, educated and computer literate people. But other regions are stepping up efforts to catch up, by offering special courses for computer literacy , especially for the elderly.

Moscow and six other regions were also used as a test case for Russia’s experiment with online voting in last September’s parliamentary elections. The system was challenged by democracy protesters, who described it as a “black box” that allowed the government to fiddle with the vote. Setting aside the contested results — a huge caveat, to be sure — online voting did its job, at least on a technical level.

Moscow has introduced other digital services in health care, in schools and in the legal system, but transportation continues to receive a hefty share of the city’s modernization budget.

According to Mr. Kamolov, Moscow has the largest fleet of electronic buses in Europe while the Metro — which now moves about six million passengers on weekdays (down from more than eight million in the pre-Covid era) — still commands a large portion of public funds: $27 billion for expansion and improvement from 2011 to 2022 , most of it for expansion but some of it undoubtedly for the facial recognition system that is now expected to be introduced in other Russian cities.

At Roskomsvoboda, Mr. Koslyuk says the key to introducing advanced digital services that depend on personal data is trust. ‘‘We need to be sure there are controls,’’ he said. “These improvements can be a double-edged sword.”

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  1. Connect Phantom Power to K1 and V8 Live Sound Card. Compare audio with

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  1. Best Phantom Power Supply || With Low Budget || For Condenser Mic

  2. Audio Interfaces: Explaining Phantom Power

  3. Wrugste USB Audio Interface +48V Phantom Power 24Bit/96kHz for Recording Podcasting and Streaming

  4. 2007 Phantom Regiment Parking lot with CD quality audio

  5. REVIEW PHANTOM POWER 48V Taff studio, hasil rekaman lebih bagus? Unboxing, Review & Test

  6. Phantom Power 101: Essential Tips for Safely Energizing Condenser Microphones and Active DIs


  1. What is Phantom Power and why do I need it?

    Phantom power, commonly designated as +48V or P48, was designed to power microphones without using bulky external power supplies such as the ones required for tube microphones. It's a way of sending the DC electrical current required through a balanced XLR cable. We need that voltage to power the diaphragm and the mic's internal amp.

  2. Do Audio Interfaces Have Phantom Power? [Beginner's Guide]

    Phantom power is the supply of an electrical charge to a device, usually within the body of a mic. This electric charge is a direct current, which is referred to as DC. Other than a microphone, it can also power an external audio interface, audio recorder, and video camera.

  3. What is Phantom Power & Why Do I Need It?

    Phantom Power is a term given to the process of delivering DC (Direct Current) to microphones requiring electric power to drive active circuitry. Condenser microphones such as Shure's KSM range all have active circuitry and require phantom power. How Does Phantom Power Work?

  4. What Does Phantom Power Do On An Audio Interface?

    48v phantom power on audio interfaces. Many audio interfaces have a button labeled '48V' (or sometimes 'P48')—this is the phantom power switch. The 48V phantom power switch on an audio interface. The 48V refers to a voltage of 48 volts that's applied to the signal-carrying conductors of a connected XLR (balanced) audio cable.

  5. What is Phantom Power: All You Need to Know

    Plug-in power (PiP) is a low current supply that's found on some consumer-grade gear like portable recorders and computer sound cards. This is an unbalanced, low voltage interface and as such very different from phantom power. Never use 48V phantom power with a microphone that's designed for PiP. DC Bias Voltage

  6. Understanding Phantom Power and Audio Interfaces for High-Quality

    The power supplied by the computer or sound card to the 1/8-inch (3.5mm) jack isn't configured to power professional microphones or powered direct boxes. ... A Hidden Force in Your Audio Interface. Phantom power works subtly in your audio interface, like a hidden force. It's piggybacked on top of both AC signals on pin-2 and pin-3 via two ...

  7. What Is Phantom Power, and Does Your Microphone Need It?

    Phantom power is a way of carrying electric current to power microphones without using a separate power supply. It's typically used to power condenser microphones and the 48V DC power itself is supplied by most mixers, audio interfaces, and preamps. If you're shopping for a microphone or audio interface, you've probably seen the term phantom power.

  8. Usb Phantom Power

    1-48 of 756 results for "usb phantom power" Results Overall Pick Aokeo 48V Phantom Power Supply Powered by USB Plug in, Included with 8 feet USB Cable, Bonus + XLR 3 Pin Microphone Cable for Any Condenser Microphone Music Recording Equipment 1,869 $1950 FREE delivery Mon, Oct 30 on $35 of items shipped by Amazon

  9. Phantom power

    A condenser microphone requires power to produce a DC polarizing voltage and to power an internal amplifier required to drive long cables Phantom power button and indicator light. Phantom power, in the context of professional audio equipment, is DC electric power equally applied to both signal wires in balanced microphone cables, forming a phantom circuit, to operate microphones that contain ...

  10. 48v phantom power

    24-bit/96kHz, 12-track Field Recording System and USB Audio Interface with 2 XLR/TRS Combination Inputs, 4 XLR Inputs, 4 Microphone Preamps with +12/+24/+48V Phantom Power, Included XY Microphone Attachment, and Included Software. $ 399.99. Bundle Savings Available! ( 18) Compare. $1,750.00 Off!

  11. What is 48v Phantom Power? When To Use It?

    18v 24v Why Do You Need 48V Phantom Power? Condenser microphones require a power source to work. Unlike dynamic mics, which use the movement of a coil around a magnet to generate an electrical signal, condenser mics use a capacitor to convert sound into an electrical signal.

  12. V8 Soundcard + Phantom Power With Bm800 Microphone

    425 3.3K views 2 years ago #v8soundcard #BM800 #phantompower Phantom power, commonly designated as +48V or P48, was designed to power microphones without using bulky external power supplies...

  13. ZealSound Podcast Equipment Bundle,48V Phantom Power,Audio Interface

    Buy ZealSound Podcast Equipment Bundle,48V Phantom Power,Audio Interface with DJ Mixer and Live Sound Card Kit,ALL-IN-ONE Podcast Equipment Bundle Sound Board with XLR Microphone for Computer Smartphone: ... The sound card was tested with another XLR mic and it automatically applies "de-noise" to all mics. Good feature, but I literally have to ...

  14. USB Sound cards with Phantom Power for REW

    #1 · Apr 22, 2009 I've a HP mini-note book and I need an external USB sound card that meets the following criteria's -works with ECM8000. That requires it to have phantom power -is Vista 32-bit/64-bit compatible. People here seems to use M-Audio pre but some people does not seem to like it.

  15. How to connect Phantom power to Soundcard and connects to ...

    Aug 9, 2019 206 Dislike Share Dize Charming 8.26K subscribers Tutorial for phantom power connect to sound card.. How to set up Condenser Microphone

  16. What is phantom power, and when do I need it?

    Phantom power is an electrical current used to power microphones and other audio equipment. It provides 48 volts of direct current (DC) to the microphone, which helps create a higher sound quality by reducing noise interference and improving the gain structure. The voltage also increases the dynamic range and sensitivity of the mic, allowing ...

  17. Neewer 1-Channel 48V Phantom Power Supply with Adapter

    Delivers reliable 48V phantom power for condenser microphones and transfer sound signal to sound card in a compact, durable, plastic housing. Universal XLR input and output, compatible with all kinds of microphone music recording equipment.Comes with one XLR audio cable with high quality XLR male and female connectors.

  18. phantom power

    <<<The phantom power supplied by computer sound card microphone sockets is 5 volt, and is not sufficient to power the SM86.>>> Plus the sound card isn't electrically balanced and the battery isn't "phantom" because it goes up to the microphone on its own wire-or at least that's how it was designed.

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    Face Pay is part of a broader set of efforts in the city to institute technological solutions. Moscow is undoubtedly Russia's "smartest" city, not least because it is the nation's capital ...

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    Join the masses at the Kremlin. As the beating fortress heart of Moscow, and therefore, all of Russia, the Kremlin complex and Red Square has a staggering share of Eurasia's prime real estate, treasures, and historical artefacts—including Lenin's Mausoleum (or strictly speaking, Lenin's embalmed corpse).

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    The Moscow Metro is a metro system serving the Russian capital of Moscow as well as the neighbouring cities of Krasnogorsk, Reutov, Lyubertsy and Kotelniki in Moscow Oblast.Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union.. As of 2023, the Moscow Metro, excluding the Moscow Central Circle, the Moscow Central ...

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    Deep Dive: Copper's Fast-Rising Supply Gives Way to Demand Surge -- Grant Sporre lays out the longer-term forces changing the industry. Fed Debit Card Interchange Proposal Set to Curb Bank Fees ...

  24. Phantom Power Supplies

    With a curated selection of Phantom Power Supplies, free shipping, a free 2-year warranty, 24/7 access to award-winning support - and more - Sweetwater gives you more than any other retailer! If you have any questions about Phantom Power Supplies , make sure to give your personal Sales Engineer a call at (800) 222-4700 .