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Ribbon Mics and Phantom Power

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The ribbon elements in some vintage ribbon microphones can be harmed or even destroyed by the presence of phantom power. For this reason, it is commonly recommended that phantom power be turned off when using ribbon microphones. Leaving phantom power on can result in a stretched or completely blown ribbon. In some cases, the microphone may still operate, but at a greatly diminished capacity.

Royer ribbon microphones are not usually affected by the presence of phantom power. However, we still recommend that you deactivate phantom power when Royer microphones are being connected or disconnected simply because other abnormal conditions may exist that could cause problems. Turning the phantom power on or off after the mic is connected should pose no problem whatsoever.

Note: Our phantom powered models are not included in this discussion. They require phantom power to operate and obviously will not be damaged by phantom power.

Here are a few conditions that should be avoided, as they can damage any ribbon microphone regardless of brand or type:

Shorted, Miswired or Damaged Microphone Cables

Electrically shorted, damaged or improperly wired microphone cables can allow phantom power to damage a ribbon element. If ground (Pin-1) is accidentally miswired, or shorted, to leads two (Pin-2) or three (Pin-3), damaging phantom power can reach the ribbon element. Make certain that your microphone cables are in good working order, in proper phase reference, and that Pin-1 is always at ground potential.

Cross-Patching Microphone Tie Lines

This is the leading cause of blown ribbons in professional studios!

Many studios use patch bays for the convenient routing of signals. The microphone/mic-preamplifier section of a patch bay normally has two rows. The upper row corresponds to lines that run to various microphone panels (studio, isolation booth, etc.) and this is where the microphone is connected. The lower row represents the microphone preamplifier inputs. This upper row is “normaled” to the lower row. Each insert is a full-break patch point, which enables an engineer to crosspatch or redirect microphone lines to various mic-preamp inputs.

The microphone/mic-preamplifier section is the only portion of a patch bay that has DC power present in the form of phantom power. If phantom power is on, ribbon microphones can be damaged when cross-patched through a patch bay.

Here’s what happens. Patch cables utilize “tip-ring-sleeve” connectors. When a patch cable is inserted into either the upper or lower row, the phantom power is momentarily shorted to connections that phantom power should not be applied to. In other words, as the connector is inserted, it is, in effect, acting (temporarily) like a miss-wired cable and applying phantom power to the wrong leads. Ribbon mics are particularly intolerant to this because, in the brief moment that a patch cable is being inserted into a phantom-power-charged patch bay, phantom power is applied directly to the ribbon element through the transformer! Each brief patching-related jolt of phantom power across the ribbon element is equivalent to a year or more of recordings made on the mic. A ribbon element that is designed to last ten or fifteen years before replacement can literally be blown overnight by patch bay mishaps.

The only safe way to reroute mic tie-lines that are present at the patch bay is to be certain that phantom power is deactivated before patching. Cross-patching these lines while “hot” often results in damage to ribbons and even some condenser microphones. Since DC voltages are present on these lines, cross patching with the volume control up can also result in damaged monitor speakers and shaken eardrums!

Damaged or Worn Out Connectors

Damaged or worn out XLR connectors can create problems, particularly when phantom power is present, due to a higher potential for short circuits. Always replace connectors that have any appearance of damage or that are obviously worn out.

Electrical Outages

Electrical blackouts, brownouts, and power surges can raise havoc with microphones of all types – ribbon, dynamic and condenser types included. Modern consoles have well designed, regulated supplies that turn power on gently even if power is removed momentarily, but many older boards and preamplifiers were designed with unregulated supplies that can surge wildly when power is first applied. In the case of a brownout, voltage “spikes” can damage any gear that is connected, including microphones. With ribbons, a serious voltage spike can blow the ribbon element to pieces, just like a fuse. If this happens, a re-ribbon servicing will be required to restore the mic to new working order.

A Note Regarding All Phantom Powered Microphones

Modern equipment contains sophisticated power-regulating mechanisms that minimize the chance of voltage spikes ever reaching a microphone. They provide a soft-start and smooth ramp-down when AC power is turned on or off at the console or mic-preamp. With older or faulty equipment, problems like leaky electrolytic blocking capacitors, faulty components, shorted diodes or regulators, etc. can lead to uneven power being supplied to the microphone. Because microphones are designed to work within balanced conditions, uneven power can create a number of hard-to-pinpoint problems like low output, distortion, degraded frequency response, and other performance issues.

How-To Geek

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

And do you need it to power your microphone?

Quick Links

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?

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Ribbon mics & phantom power, mar 7, 2020 • knowledge.

A ribbon microphone typically has a low impedance, transformer balanced output. Therefore, it can handle phantom power without a problem. No other precautions, besides proper wiring, are necessary. However, if you encounter a ribbon microphone where the output is unbalanced or does not employ a transformer, beware! In this case, contact the microphone's manufacturer for advice.

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Why are ribbon microphones damaged by phantom power?

In theory, a microphone that doesn't need phantom power should just ignore it. So why are ribbon microphones supposedly so sensitive?

One of the beauties of phantom power is that microphones that need it use it; microphone that don't need it ignore it. But ribbon microphones are different. They can be severely damaged by phantom power. Why is this so?

The first thing to remember is that ribbon microphones are inherently delicate due to the way in which they are constructed. There are exceptions to this but it's best to regard a ribbon mic as needing special care unless reliably informed otherwise.

Any shock could damage the ribbon and its mounting. It is often considered good practice not to let air push against the diaphragm as you walk from the mic cabinet to the studio floor, and certainly don't run with it (although when do you ever see sound engineers run?)

And just as it is sensitive to physical shock, the ribbon mic is sensitive to electrical shock too.

In theory, phantom power should not affect any transformer-output mic that doesn't use it. This is because the coil of the diaphragm in a dynamic mic, and the ribbon in a ribbon mic, is connected across the primary coil of the transformer. In phantom power, +48 DC is connected to both ends of the secondary coil. Transformers to do not pass direct current, and in any case, both ends of the secondary coil are at the same voltage, so no current flows through the secondary coil due to phantom powering.

But that's the theory. How do things work out in practice?

The secondary coil of the microphone's transformer is connected to pins 2 and 3 of the XLR connector, which in turn are both connected to the +48 volts DC of the phantom power supply.

What could conceivably happen is that one pin makes contact a fraction of a second before the other. So for a moment, one pin has +48 volts connected, the other doesn't. Now in theory, until the other pin has connected, there is no circuit for any current to flow through, and when it does connect it will be at the same voltage so still no current will flow. Unless a microphone is unreasonably delicate therefore, connection to a phantom-powered input should pose no problems.

Patchbays are definitely a problem however. If you have a tip-ring-sleeve microphone patchbay (which some would argue against, but they can be very practical) with phantom power applied, then as you plug in the patch cable the microphone is exposed momentarily to the full 48 volts across pins 2 and 3 which, at the moment of connection, will transmit through the transformer to the ribbon. Needless to say, the ribbon will not like this and is likely to be stretched, at the very least. Continued plugging and unplugging on a daily basis will repeat the stress.

The scenario that is least likely to damage your ribbon mic is where phantom power is switched. Since switching occurs simultaneously on pins 2 and 3 of the XLR mic input, there is no possibility for any current to flow, other than a very small amount due to any slight mismatch of the resistors through which the phantom power is fed. This will only transmit through the transformer momentarily.

One final point - if you have a vintage ribbon microphone, then it might have a centre-tapped transformer and current from the phantom power supply will actually flow through the secondary coil. I don't have any personal experience of what damage this could cause, but my alarm bells would certainly be ringing.

Over to you. Have you ever damaged a ribbon mic? How did you do it?

P.S. Some ribbon microphones have internal preamplifiers and  require  phantom power. Clearly they are not going to be damaged by it.

Image: Marc Wathieu CC BY 2.0

David Mellor , Sunday August 18, 2019

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass . David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1491165229153{margin-top: 40px !important;margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”576″ img_size=”200×200″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_circle”][vc_empty_space height=”18px”][vc_column_text] Artur Fisher is a founder and owner of Bumblebee Pro, ribbon microphone and recording equipment designer, analog and tube sound enthusiast. Pro audio gear DIY kit manufacturer since 2010. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”36px”][vc_wp_custommenu title=”Ribbon Microphone Knowledge Tank” nav_menu=”326″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”8/12″][vc_column_text]

Ribbon Mic and Phantom Power – Clearly Explained

  • Author: Artur Fisher
  • Published: April 8, 2017
  • Updated: April 10, 2017
Will the phantom power damage my ribbon mic? While this question cannot be always answered as simple yes or no, it is quite easy to understand if you know how both ribbon mic and phantom power work together. So, if you want to know in what circumstances applying the +48V supply can be harmful and, vise versa, when it is perfectly safe to use – this article is for you..

A Typical Recording Console with Phantom Power

Ribbon Mic and Phantom Power Problem Defined

Lots of multi-channel audio interfaces and small mixing consoles have grouped phantom power switches. Or even just  one switch for all the channels. On the other hand, using ribbon microphones in combination with other microphone types is a normal working situation. If a setup includes condenser microphones then powering up a group is a must. So, if you have a single +48V switch, this old question pops-up.

In Most Cases +48V is Safe

Good thing first. In most cases phantom power is not harmful at all. The preamp circuitry feeds the current via two signal wires of a microphone cable. On the other side, these signal wires are connected to the secondary winding of a ribbon mic output transformer . Transformers do not pass the direct current . As a result, transformer blocks the phantom power (which is DC) from reaching the ribbon.

Ribbon Microphone Schematic

So, it is generally safe to use the ribbon mic with +48V engaged. However, you should avoid connecting or disconnecting a ribbon mic while the phantom power is on. Just to be safe from any possible static discharges.

The workflow should be as follows : check that phantom power is OFF, connect the ribbon microphones (and other required microphones if you have a master phantom switch only), switch the +48V supply ON, do your work, switch the power back OFF, wait for preamp reservoir capacitors to discharge (condenser microphones should stop responding, it can take several seconds), disconnect the microphones.

So, if phantom power is usually safe for a ribbon microphone, is it a myth that  we have to be concerned ?

When Phantom Power is not Safe

No, it is not a myth. There is one situation when a phantom power can be harmful – when you have a jack patchbay between the ribbon microphone and a power source (preamp, audio interface, e.g.).

Jack plugs short circuit the signal wires to ground for a brief moment while connecting and disconnecting. If the phantom power is ON, such short circuit will let the DC reach the motor, as only signal pins of a ribbon mic are DC protected by a transformer, not a ground pin! Such 48V impulse is very likely to destroy or severely damage the ribbon.

So, you must absolutely avoid any manipulations with plugs while phantom power is ON if you are using a jack patchbay.

By now, I have one reported case of my customer destroying a ribbon this way. So this risk is very much real. XLR patchbays, however, are safe.

Please note, that everything above is only related to classical passive ribbon microphones! Active ribbon microphones (the ones with buffering circuitry inside) require the +48V supply and will not function without it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Produce Like A Pro

What Is Phantom Power & Which Mics Need It?

What Is Phantom Power & Which Mics Need It?

Phantom power can be confusing when you first get into recording. This guide to phantom power will answer some of the most frequently asked questions beginner engineers have.

Introduction: What Is Phantom Power?

In order to understand phantom power, it’s a good idea to cover the basics of condenser microphones (also known as capacitor microphones), which operate using an electrical principle called variable capacitance.

Inside a condenser’s capsule is a thin membrane typically made from mylar, called the diaphragm, and a metal backplate. When acoustic energy from a voice or instrument hits the diaphragm, it’s sensitive enough to vibrate back and forth. This vibration varies the distance between the diaphragm and backplate, and ultimately changes the capacitance, or stored electrical charge.

The fluctuating charge converts acoustic energy entering the mic into a recordable electrical signal. But these active components must be powered somehow beforehand…

Phantom power sends a DC current from a preamp or mixer, through the XLR cable, and to the condenser microphone to power the internal active circuitry. The global standard for phantom is 11V to 52V DC, with studio mics running on +48V. You’ll often find phantom written as +48V on preamps, mixers, audio interfaces, and the like.

Why is it called “phantom” power?

Between the ’30s and ’50s, condenser mics had bulky external power supplies. (Today’s tube microphones still have them.) In the ’60s, Neumann and Schoeps started work on a new form of power that would get rid of these weighty boxes. +48V became the new standard for running condenser microphones, and it was sent from the mixer, through the XLR cable, to the mic.

The so-called “invisible” new power supply earned itself the name “phantom.” Happy Halloween.

  • SEE ALSO: What Does a Cloudlifter Do (And Should You Be Using One)?

Is it safe to leave phantom power on?

A good rule of thumb is to turn phantom off whenever you’re connecting or disconnecting a condenser microphone. It’s just the safest practice—plugging or unplugging a mic with phantom on won’t necessarily destroy it, but it’s best to avoid being the victim of any weird electrical anomalies, or just plain bad luck.

That said, you should never plug in a ribbon mic with phantom power on, or turn it on period. Apart from modern active ribbon microphones which require it, phantom power can damage the sensitive internal components of older passive ribbon mics.

What Types of Microphones Use Phantom Power?

What Is Phantom Power & Which Mics Need It?_2

The three main types of microphones are condensers, dynamics, and ribbons.

Do condenser mics need phantom power?

Yes! Condenser microphones are the primary kind which require +48V phantom power to operate the active circuitry inside. An exception are tube microphones, which are a type of condenser that still use external power supplies.

Do dynamic mics need phantom power?

No. Dynamic microphones work on a different principle to generate sound. They contain a mechanical moving coil which vibrates from acoustic energy and sends an electrical signal for recording. Dynamic mics are more robust than condensers, i.e., less sensitive, and can tolerate higher SPLs without distorting. They are passive, and do not require +48V power. It’s worth noting that sending phantom power to a dynamic usually won’t hurt it.

Do ribbon mics need phantom power?

Sometimes. Certain contemporary ribbon mics contain active circuitry like condensers, and require phantom power to run. However, you can destroy passive ribbon microphones with +48V; always be absolutely sure of whether the ribbon you’re using is passive or active before engaging phantom.

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Ribbon Microphones And Phantom Power

  • 1 Overview of Ribbon Microphones
  • 2 How Ribbon Microphones Work
  • 3 Basics of Phantom Power
  • 4 Benefits of Phantom Power for Ribbon Microphones
  • 5.1 How do I know if my ribbon microphone is compatible with phantom power?
  • 5.2 What is the best type of preamp to use with a ribbon microphone?
  • 5.3 Are there any risks associated with using phantom power on a ribbon microphone?
  • 5.4 How do I adjust the phantom power level to best suit my ribbon microphone?
  • 5.5 Is there a difference in sound quality when using phantom power with a ribbon microphone?
  • 6 Conclusion

Welcome to the world of ribbon microphones and phantom power. Ribbon mics are a special type of microphone that have been around since the 1930s and are perfect for capturing high-fidelity sound in various recording settings.

Phantom power is an important tool used to power condenser microphones as well as many other types of audio equipment, including ribbon mics.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how both ribbon microphones and phantom power work, what benefits they provide, and why they go together so well.

So let’s get started!

Overview of Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones are an essential part of any recording studio setup .

These mics use a thin ribbon of metal suspended between two magnets to capture the acoustics effects of a sound source. The design of the diaphragm and its placement within the microphone results in a very natural sounding recording.

Ribbon mics are often used for capturing vocals or instruments with great accuracy, as they allow for more precise audio representation than many other types of microphones. Their unique design allows them to pick up subtle nuances in the sound that would otherwise be missed when using other types of microphones.

Additionally, due to their low-mass diaphragm and naturally warm tone, they offer excellent protection from harsh sounds and feedback. This makes them ideal for capturing live performances or recordings where high-levels may be present.

How Ribbon Microphones Work

Forget the techy stuff – let’s dive into how these mics work! Ribbon microphones rely on a transducer that captures sound waves and turns them into an electrical signal.

The microphone works by attaching a thin metal ribbon between two poles of a magnet. When sound waves enter the mic, they vibrate the ribbon, which moves the magnets and creates an electric current. This is known as electromagnetic induction.

The electrical signal created is then routed through recording techniques like mixing boards or audio interfaces to be recorded or amplified. Ribbon mics also require phantom power for operation. That’s why they’re often used in studio settings with professional-grade equipment.

Phantom power sends a DC voltage to the mic that can boost its sensitivity and reduce noise levels when recording quiet sounds. It’s important to note that most ribbon mics don’t come with built-in phantom power supplies. So, you need to connect them to an external source via signal routing for optimal performance.

Basics of Phantom Power

Phantom power is an electrical current that is sent through mixing boards and other audio equipment. It provides a regulated voltage, which helps with gain staging and impedance matching. This helps to ensure that all your recording devices are operating at the same level of quality.

In order for ribbon microphones to work properly, they must have access to phantom power so that they can achieve optimal sound quality in their recordings. Without it, the microphone will not produce high-fidelity sound.

By understanding how and why phantom power works, you can ensure your ribbon microphone will perform optimally when connected to any audio device.

Benefits of Phantom Power for Ribbon Microphones

Understanding the benefits of phantom power can help you get the most out of your recording devices and make sure your sound is up to par. For ribbon microphones, one of the main advantages of using Phantom Power is that it provides a consistent power supply for the microphone without having to rely on batteries or other alternative power sources.

This ensures that the microphone’s performance is always optimal, regardless of what type of power supply you are using. Additionally, with Phantom Power, there are fewer pros and cons when compared with other power supply options, such as battery-powered microphones.

With Phantom Power, you won’t have to worry about batteries running low or needing to replace them regularly as required with some other types of microphones. Plus, since Phantom Power supplies a constant level of voltage for all channels, it also eliminates any potential noise from fluctuations in audio levels due to changing voltages.

All in all, this makes it an ideal option for ribbon microphones that require reliable and consistent power supplies for optimal performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do i know if my ribbon microphone is compatible with phantom power.

Setting up a system with ribbon microphones and phantom power requires careful consideration. To ensure your microphone is compatible, you should check the specs of the individual mic.

Most ribbon microphones can be used with phantom power, as long as it’s the correct voltage rating and not too high for the mic. It’s important to note that some older ribbon mics aren’t powered by phantom power at all – instead needing their own dedicated power source.

Proper placement of your microphone is important for optimal audio capture – make sure you position it within range of your sound source and avoid obstructions that could cause unwanted noise interference.

What is the best type of preamp to use with a ribbon microphone?

Have you ever wondered what the best type of preamp is to use with a ribbon microphone? Many people believe that using a mixing console is the most effective option, but this isn’t necessarily true.

In order to get the most out of your ribbon mic, it’s important to consider impedance matching and signal chain when selecting a preamp. Choosing an appropriate preamp will ensure that your signal remains crisp and clear without any distortion or noise.

This can be achieved by ensuring that the impedance between your mic and preamp match, as well as considering which other pieces of equipment are in your signal chain. With careful selection and understanding of all these factors, you can have the perfect combination for optimal sound quality from your ribbon microphone.

Are there any risks associated with using phantom power on a ribbon microphone?

You should be aware that using phantom power on a ribbon microphone can be risky. If you’re not careful, you could damage your microphone if the power source is too strong or of low quality.

To protect your ribbon mic from potential harm, make sure you use a high-quality phantom power source and limit the voltage to 48V or less. Additionally, always disconnect the microphone from the power source when it’s not in use to avoid any accidental damage.

How do I adjust the phantom power level to best suit my ribbon microphone?

You may have heard of phantom power when properly connecting and gain staging your sound equipment, but what does it mean for ribbon microphones? Adjusting the proper level of phantom power to best suit your ribbon microphone is essential in order to prevent any damage or loss of sound quality.

To do this, start by setting the phantom power output level to its lowest setting before powering on the mic. Then gradually increase the level until you reach a suitable level for your microphone. Be sure to stay within manufacturers’ recommendations and not exceed their maximum specified voltage levels.

With these steps, you can be sure that you’ll get optimal performance from your ribbon microphone with just the right amount of phantom power.

Is there a difference in sound quality when using phantom power with a ribbon microphone?

Using phantom power with a ribbon microphone can significantly improve sound quality. By providing power to the microphone, noise reduction is maximized and impedance matching is achieved. This means that any signal coming through will be clear and free from interference, allowing you to enjoy your audio at its best.

Think of it like putting on a pair of glasses: without them, everything is blurry, but once you put them on, everything becomes sharp and detailed. The same applies to phantom power and ribbon microphones!

You’ve learned a lot about ribbon microphones and phantom power. Ribbon microphones are an excellent choice for capturing detailed, accurate sound. They offer greater frequency response than other types of mics and require less gain to get a good signal.

Phantom power is the perfect complement to these mics, providing them with the correct voltage for optimal performance. It’s like giving your microphone wings – it can suddenly soar higher and farther than ever before!

The combination of ribbon microphones and phantom power will result in clear, bright recordings that capture all the nuances of your performance. So go ahead, take flight with your audio equipment today!

Dary Levy - youraudiofix

I’m thrilled to be able to share my passion for music with others through this audio blog, and I can’t wait to connect with fellow music lovers from all around the world. Let’s rock on!

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What is Phantom Power? All the Big Questions Answered in Plain Talk

What is Phantom Power?

What is phantom power? How does it work? Why does it have that name? Which mics need it? Anybody who’s been in this industry hears these questions a million times a year, including me, which is why I’m writing it up. Now I can just send people here and save myself the trouble.

Usually what happens is a newcomer gets their first microphone and preamplifier or audio interface and see that little button that says +48v on it. They look in the manual and for the first time see this mysterious phrase and are off on an investigation.

Hopefully they, like you, have landed here. This is the most complete but down-to-earth and easy to understand guide on the topic. Let’s not waste any more time. We’ll go in the same logical order that the questions tend to come up in conversation.

What is Phantom Power?

Phantom Power is the name for a specific amount of voltage required by some microphones to function properly. Specific types of microphones , mainly condenser mics, contain active circuitry that needs a power source to drive it, as opposed to passive circuitry which does not.

This power is transmitted as DC electric power (direct current, as opposed to alternating current) to the microphone typically through the microphone cable. It is used to power the active circuitry as well as for polarizing the transducer element, which is the part that turns sound waves into an electrical signal.

Why is it Called Phantom Power ?

Early condenser microphones from the 1930’s to 1950’s were designed in such a way that each needed its own power supply. These power supplies were quite bulky. You’ll still find microphones like this to this day, like my favorite vocal mic, the Rode NTK.

Rode NTK microphone and its external power supply

When I use this mic, I have to have this big box out on the desk, eating up space. I also have to use an extra mic cable. You can see how annoying this could be if every mic we used was like this. That was the problem back then, and in the 1960’s audio engineers sought a solution.

You’ve probably heard of Neumann and Schoeps, both German microphone companies. They led the way to creating a standard for powering condenser microphones using 48 volts of direct current. Pretty much everybody hopped on board because it benefited us all by reducing complexity.

This meant that future condenser mics would be designed for this amount of power and all phantom power supplies would deliver that amount. It also meant that manufacturers that made mixing boards, preamplifiers, and audio interfaces could start to refine the process and make the parts tiny.

And that’s why you see a +48v button on certain pieces of gear. We no longer have external power supplies, but tiny and efficient ones hidden away inside of other necessary recording equipment that is always coupled with a microphone.

Because the power source is hidden away, it was decided that it should be called a phantom , as in an invisible ghost. That’s the summary of the history of this power source and how it got its name. It being a phantom circuit played a role, too, I’m sure.

What Does Phantom Power Do?

Earlier I mentioned a transducer inside condenser mics, commonly just called the capsule. What’s happening inside this transducer is that there is a capacitor made up of two plates. One of these plates is stationary but electrically charged. The other is the diaphragm that vibrates due to the sound waves hitting it.

how the passive circuitry in dynamic microphone capsules work compared to the active circuitry in the condenser microphone transducer

When the diaphragm moves closer and further from the other plate, it causes that plate to release varying amounts of voltage. This released charge is your audio signal, later converted from an electrical signal to a digital one at the analog-to-digital converter.

None of this works if the non-diaphragm plate isn’t electrically charged. It gets that charge from the 48 volts we’re sending up the mic cable. In some cases it charges vacuum tubes and powers other parts of the microphone, but powering the transducer is the main job.

How Does Phantom Power Work?

The global ANSI standard ( IEC 61938 ) for the amount of DC power to deliver is 11 to 52 volts, though the studio community settled on 48v. In most cases, you’ll look for a button that says +48v , and if you press it a red LED bulb lights up to let you know it’s engaged.

Usually that button is either on a channel on your mixer that features an XLR input that leads to a preamplifier or near the XLR connector inputs on your audio interface. If you’re using a standalone preamp then you’ll find it there. You can buy standalone phantom power units as well, though they’re rarely needed.

how does phantom power work

Our 3-pin XLR microphone cables (a balanced audio connector) are designed not only to carry audio signals in the form AC electricity on pins 2 and 3 (pin 1 is the ground) but can also allow equal amounts of DC power to piggy back on it without interfering with audio quality. That’s how the 48v moves through the mic cable.

What Mics Need Phantom Power?

In general, you’ll probably only run into two types of mics: condenser and dynamic microphones. Ribbon microphones are making a come back and are a special case I’ll also mention. Also, let me state:

Pro-Tip: You should try your best to make sure the 48v button is turned off before plugging in or un-plugging your mic cable from the power supply. In very rare cases it could lead to damage from a power surge, but generally you’ll just hear a loud pop that could hurt your speaker monitors, headphones, or your ears.

Do Condenser Mics Need Phantom Power?

Yes. Some may get it from their own power supply or even from a battery inside the mic’s chassis, otherwise they receive the 48v from the mixer, interface, or preamp. Condenser mics need phantom power to reduce their high impedance output and due to their use of active electronics as described above.

Do Dynamic Mics Need Phantom Power?

No, dynamic mics don’t need this form of power, but you won’t harm the microphone or affect your audio quality if you do use it. Since the DC voltage on pin 2 and pin 3 of the XLR cable is equal, there will be no current flow. Modern dynamic mics are even designed to protect against any disasters.

XLR connector pins diagram for microphone cable

In the most rare cases of a broken XLR cable or phantom power unit, there can be a voltage difference between the pins causing a current to flow across the diaphragm of the dynamic mic. Typically that won’t harm the mic unless it’s extremely sensitive, such as in the case of old ribbon mics.

Dynamic mics use passive electronics, including a magnet and a coil to generate the electrical signal that makes up the audio signal. The sound waves push on the diaphragm which vibrates the magnet within the coil and generates the current all without the need for pre-charged electricity.

Can Ribbon Mics Be Damaged by Phantom Power?

Old ribbon mics can be damaged in the manner described above, where a voltage differential in the cable can cause a current to flow over the sensitive ribbon, damaging or destroying it entirely. Modern ribbon mics are much more resilient and designed to be safeguarded from these catastrophes.

What are the 48v Phantom Power Supply Choices?

The various types of power supplies have boiled down to the following:

  • Mixing Board
  • Audio Interface
  • Preamplifier
  • Direct Injection Box
  • External Power Supply
  • Standalone Phantom Power Supply

A DI box and preamplifier ( What is a Preamplifier? ) is technically what you’re plugging into when you’re using an audio interface or mixing console as well. If your microphone asks for a battery, then you don’t need to engage the +48v button, or you can remove the battery instead.

That’s All She Wrote on Phantom Power!

Though we’ve taken the full plunge into the topic, all you really need to know is that you need to use it for condenser mics only and to turn it off before you plug in or disconnect your mic cable. The rest or technical details that don’t affect how you use it.

But if you’re like me you want to know everything about anything you’re involved in. I hope you enjoyed the answer to “What is Phantom Power?” and all of the related questions. Now get back to recording!

ribbon mic phantom power

Ribbon Microphones

In this instalment of his on-going series about microphones, greg simmons delves deep into ribbon mics to find out what makes them sound like they do, when to use them and when to avoid them..

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By Greg Simmons

27 November 2020

In the previous instalment we saw that in the typical ‘capture’ path – from microphone to preamp to converter – the microphone was responsible for about 85% of the tonality of the captured sound. From this it was obvious that we should always pay attention to our choice and placement of microphones, rather than regarding them as magic sticks that we point at the sound source and rely on knobs, buttons and luck.

In this instalment we’ll be looking at ribbon microphones: how they work, the factors that influence their characteristic tonality, and how their design has benefitted from advances in technology. In following instalments we’ll do the same for dynamic microphones and condenser  microphones.

RIBBON MICROPHONES

The ribbon microphone goes by a number of different names, including velocity microphone , ribbon dynamic microphone and pressure gradient microphone . In the interests of simplicity and clarity, we’ll refer to it as ribbon microphone or ribbon mic .

Although invented in the early 1920s by Walter H. Schottky and Erwin Gerlach at Telefunken, the first commercial ribbon mics were designed by Harry F. Olson for RCA and hit the market in the early 1930s – the first was the PB-31, followed closely by the classic 44-A and 77-A. They sounded considerably better than the condenser mics of the time, and other companies soon started making them. The ribbon microphone remained popular well into the early ‘60s, when advances in condenser and dynamic microphone technology overtook them; coincidentally at a time when recording and playback systems were getting significantly better, multitrack recording was becoming the norm, and engineers and listeners were seeking a brighter and quieter sound. The ribbon microphone soon fell out of fashion, and was consigned to being a delicate relic.

Although a handful of manufacturers kept the ribbon flame alive (notably Coles, BeyerDynamic and AEA), it’s fair to say that Royer Labs re-kindled interest in ribbon microphones in the late ‘90s with their innovative R121, which was considerably smaller, more rugged, brighter and quieter than most of the vintage designs. Ribbon microphones have since found a place in every engineer’s collection, complementing condenser and dynamic mics while filling many of the gaps between them.

ribbon mic phantom power

RIBBON TRANSDUCTION

Ribbon microphones use the principle of magnetic induction , which states that passing a conductor through a magnetic field will cause an electrical current to be induced into the conductor. [A conductor is any material that an electrical current can flow through unimpeded.]

In a ribbon microphone the conductor is a thin corrugated strip, or ‘ribbon’, of aluminium (or similar non-magnetic conducting material, such as titanium) that is suspended within a powerful magnetic field. The vibrating air particles caused by sound energy make the ribbon move back and forth within the magnetic field, inducing a current into it.

The induced current is proportional to the sound energy that created it and could be considered as the electrical signal, except that it’s not suitable for connecting directly to a microphone preamplifier – it is too small and the ribbon element’s impedance is too low to provide a useable output signal voltage. To solve these problems the induced current from the ribbon is passed through a transformer that transforms it into a useable signal voltage. Happily, the transformer also provides a balanced differential output suitable for running the signal through a microphone cable and into a preamp.

[ Impedance , transformers , balanced differential outputs and more are discussed in a later instalment of this series. For now, consider impedance as being anything that opposes the flow of a signal (the higher the impedance in Ohms, the more it opposes the signal flow), a transformer as a device capable of changing signal levels and impedances, and balanced differential outputs as being very useful when transferring microphone signals down microphone cables.]

PASSIVE RIBBON MICROPHONE

The description given above is for a passive ribbon microphone, where ‘passive’ means it does not require any source of electrical power to operate; for example, it does not require phantom power . All vintage ribbon mics and many contemporary ribbon mics are passive, and have three important characteristics to be aware of:

  • They can be damaged by phantom power, particularly if the microphone cable is faulty or the mic output is being patched between tie lines, preamps or console inputs with TRS-style plugs and sockets (as used in professional patchbays). Vintage models with centre-tapped transformers are the most prone to this type of damage.
  • They have a low output signal and therefore require a quiet microphone preamp with lots of ‘clean’ (i.e. quiet) gain.
  • Due to their relatively high and varying output impedance, their tonality is easily influenced by the input impedance of the preamps they are connected to.

Solutions to these problems, including in-line boosters and active ribbon microphones , are discussed below.

FACTORS AFFECTING TONALITY

Although the ribbon microphone uses the same principle of magnetic induction as the dynamic microphone (discussed in the next instalment), its considerably lighter ribbon assembly results in higher sensitivity to high frequencies and faster response to transients – although this is not always reflected in the published specifications.

HIGH FREQUENCY ROLL-OFF

The most prominent contributor to the tonality of a ribbon microphone is its inherent high frequency roll-off, which starts gently before falling rapidly to the first of a series of nulls (i.e. dips caused by cancellation) – all determined by the shortest distance that sound can travel from the front to the back of the ribbon element via the magnet assembly on the side. The first null occurs at the frequency with a wavelength equal to that distance. At this frequency the sound energy creates equal but opposite pressure on either side of the ribbon, so the pressure on one side of the ribbon cancels out the pressure on the other side. The net result is no movement of the ribbon and therefore no output signal, creating the first null in the frequency response. We’ll call this null the termination frequency and abbreviate it to ft . The high frequency roll-off begins at 0.5 x ft and will be -3dB at 0.625 x ft , -6dB at 0.75 x ft , and a complete null at ft . Further nulls occur at all whole number multiples of ft .

ribbon mic phantom power

You can calculate ft with the following formula:

ft = 344 / d

Where 344 is the velocity of sound propagation in air (in metres per second, at a room temperature of 21°C), and d is the shortest distance from the front to the back of the ribbon (in metres).

As an example, consider a ribbon microphone where the distance from the front to the back of the ribbon (around the side of the magnet) is 30mm. We must first convert d to metres, making it 0.03m. Putting 0.03m into the formula shows us that ft will be 11.47kHz (i.e. 344 / 0.03). The roll-off begins at 5.73kHz (i.e. 0.5 x 11.47kHz), drops to -3dB at 7.17kHz (i.e. 0.625 x 11.47kHz) and -6dB at 8.6kHz (i.e. 0.75 x 11.47kHz) before falling to a complete null at 11.47kHz.

Halving d to 15mm (0.015m) raises ft to 22.93kHz. The roll-off now begins at 11.47kHz, drops to -3dB at 14.3kHz, -6dB at 17.2kHz, and reaches a complete null at 22.93kHz.

Obviously, reducing the distance from the front to the back of the ribbon improves the microphone’s high frequency response. Some manufacturers use a magnet assembly that gets narrower at the centre, like an hourglass, making this distance as short as possible to raise ft and the -3dB point.

Published frequency responses are usually defined within a specified deviation either side of 0dB, e.g. ±3dB or ±6dB. The ribbon microphone’s published frequency response will never extend as high as ft because the signal level at ft falls below the maximum allowed deviation (it represents complete cancellation, so there is no signal). The frequency spectrum captured by the ribbon element extends considerably beyond ft , but with a series of nulls at whole number multiples of ft . Due to this, a ribbon microphone can reproduce frequencies higher than ft , but the frequency response will not be linear and therefore the reproduction won’t be accurate.

ribbon mic phantom power

TRANSIENT RESPONSE

A microphone’s transient response describes its ability to accurately capture transients , like the attack of a snare drum or the pluck of an acoustic guitar. Transients contain energy that extends up to very high frequencies, therefore a microphone requires good high frequency performance and extended bandwidth to capture a transient accurately. This can cause confusion when discussing ribbon microphones because their published frequency response curves rarely extend beyond the first null, therefore showing a reduced bandwidth and early high frequency roll-off that is counter-productive to the requirements for a good transient response.

However, a ribbon microphone’s transient response and bandwidth are determined by two unrelated mechanisms: the transient response is determined by the weight of the ribbon, while the upper limit of the published frequency response is determined by the distance from the front to the back of the ribbon element. The ribbon mic’s ability to track and reproduce transients makes it sound brighter and clearer than its quoted frequency response would suggest – assuming its transformer and any associated circuitry allows frequencies above ft to pass through to the output.

TRANSFORMERS

All ribbon mics use transformers, and these have an impact on the mic’s tonality – directly by how they load the ribbon element, and indirectly by the impedance they present to the preamplifier. The transformer also places limits on the microphone’s frequency response and transient response, and, if poorly designed, can introduce distortions if driven too hard.

Most ribbon mics use a step-up transformer with a turns ratio of 1:37, which means it amplifies the signal voltage from the ribbon element by 37 times (x 37). This is known as voltage gain; a voltage gain of 37 is like adding 31dB of gain with a preamp. However, the 1:37 turns ratio also increases the ribbon mic’s output impedance by 37 squared (37 x 37), which is 1369 times. Increasing the ribbon mic’s output impedance places greater demands on the preamp, requiring it to have a higher input impedance to avoid affecting the tonality of the microphone.

Any step-up transformer with a turns ratio of 1:37 will provide +31dB of voltage gain and multiply the impedance by 1369 times. That’s the easy part of transformer design. Making a transformer that does not saturate and go into harmonic distortion on big transients or high levels of low frequency energy is not so easy, especially when trying to keep it small enough to fit into a microphone. Neither is making a transformer with good LF response – especially if the manufacturer chooses to use a ribbon with higher impedance. Making the ribbon longer, narrower or thinner all offer performance benefits as described below, but at an increased impedance that might require a more expensive transformer.

The market is flooded with cheap passive ribbon microphones, and the internal transformer is one of the areas where the manufacturer makes significant cost savings. One common mod for cheap passive ribbon mics is to replace the internal transformer with one from an established transformer manufacturer, such as Lundahl’s LL2912, Samar’s RT series or similar from one of the DIY ribbon microphone suppliers found on-line.

ribbon mic phantom power

ELEMENT DIMENSIONS

Three important factors that affect the ribbon microphone’s tonality are the ribbon element’s length, width and thickness.

Making the ribbon longer results in higher induced current and therefore a higher output signal, which is good. On the downside the extra length results in a narrower polar response in the vertical plane at high frequencies, meaning a duller tonality for sounds arriving in the vertical plane than for those arriving in the horizontal plane. Making the ribbon longer also results in increased impedance and therefore increased potential for the chosen preamp to affect the tonality, and may cause reduced transient response due to the increased weight of the ribbon. Making the ribbon shorter has the opposite effects: lower impedance, potentially faster transient response and better high frequency polar response in the vertical plane, but with a lower output (meaning greater reliance on a quiet preamp with lots of gain).

Increasing the ribbon’s width lowers the high frequency cut-off ( ft ) and makes the ribbon heavier, potentially reducing the transient response but lowering the impedance. Reducing the ribbon’s width makes it possible to reduce the distance from the front to the back of the ribbon, which raises the microphone’s high frequency cut-off ( ft ) as explained above and therefore extends the usable bandwidth. It also makes the ribbon lighter, which improves its transient response. On the downside, it makes the ribbon more fragile and increases its impedance.

Using thinner material for the ribbon makes it lighter and therefore potentially improves its transient response, but also makes it more fragile. In addition, as the ribbon material gets thinner its output signal level increases due to its lower mass but its impedance increases due to the smaller cross-sectional conducting area of the ribbon material. Using thicker material for the ribbon makes it heavier and potentially reduces its transient response, but also makes it less fragile and lowers the impedance.

Any of the above-mentioned variations in the ribbon’s length, width or thickness that increase its impedance may also require the use of a different (and potentially more expensive) transformer design, especially if good low frequency response is required.

CORRUGATIONS & RESONANCE

The corrugations in the ribbon element provide elasticity and therefore suspension, allowing it to move freely in accordance with the sound energy. The type and spacing of the corrugations contribute to how much tension can be applied to the ribbon – which is a major contributor to the ribbon mic’s audio performance. The tension determines the ribbon element’s primary resonant frequency , which is typically tuned to somewhere between 15Hz and 45Hz depending on the manufacturer’s design goals. This low resonant frequency is one of the contributors to the ribbon microphone’s characteristic ‘warm and natural’ sound. Compared to the much higher resonant frequencies of condenser microphones (typically between 5kHz and 9kHz), this low resonant frequency is often touted as the reason why the sound from a ribbon microphone can handle a lot of high frequency EQ boosting without sounding harsh – unlike the sound from typical small diaphragm condenser microphones when the same EQ boosts are applied.

LOW FREQUENCY RESPONSE

Resonance and corrugations aside, the ribbon’s low frequency response is ultimately determined by two unavoidable facts. Firstly, it is a pressure gradient microphone; its output level is determined by the atmospheric pressure difference (caused by sound) between the front and back of the ribbon element. As the frequency gets lower, the wavelength gets longer and therefore the pressure difference between the front and back of the ribbon element gets smaller – resulting in less output. [This is explained in detail in a later instalment of this series.] Secondly, the ribbon microphone requires a transformer, and transformers impose their own low frequency limitations on the signal.

NOISE & DISTORTION

Due to the simple passive nature of the ribbon microphone’s transducer, there is no source of noise apart from the thermal noise (aka Johnson noise ) that exists in all electrical circuits due to the effect of temperature. This would normally be considered insignificant except that traditional vintage ribbon microphones generate a very small signal that requires considerable gain – enough to bring the thermal noise into significance along with any noise from the preamp – leading to the oft-repeated statement that ribbon mics are noisy and need good preamps. Does this noise affect the tonality of the microphone? If it’s audible and is different between different microphone models, it can be considered part of a microphone’s tonality.

The main forms of distortion in ribbon microphones are due to the ribbon element being pushed to extremes so it is no longer behaving in a linear manner, and low-order harmonic distortion introduced by the transformer – particularly due to saturation from transient peaks and high levels of low frequencies.

PREAMP LOADING

And finally, for those using passive ribbon microphones there is the impact of the preamp on the tonality of the ribbon mic. To prevent the preamp from affecting the tonality of the microphone, the rule-of-thumb is that the preamp’s input impedance should be at least five times greater than the ribbon microphone’s output impedance. The important thing to understand about impedance is that it is frequency dependent; therefore the impedance at one frequency may not be the same at another frequency. With most ribbon microphones having an output impedance of around 300 ohms throughout the midrange frequencies, a preamp with an input impedance of 1500 ohms (5 x 300 ohms) seems reasonable and is easily affordable. However, at the ribbon mic’s resonant frequency its impedance could exceed 1000 ohms, requiring a preamp with at least 5000 ohms input impedance to avoid affecting the ribbon mic’s tonality in the low frequency range (where the resonance occurs). Suddenly the range of suitable and affordable preamps reduces significantly, and investing in an in-line booster (discussed below) makes sense.

ribbon mic phantom power

After decades in obscurity, ribbon microphones have been busy catching up to – and perhaps even overtaking – dynamic and condenser microphones. Let’s look at some of the factors behind the revival, along with a couple of evolutionary dead ends…

RARE EARTH MAGNETS

The ribbon microphone is inherently simple and the basic components haven’t changed since the beginning, but there has been considerable improvements with the materials those components are made with. Most significantly, the use of rare earth magnetic materials such as neodymium and samarium-cobalt allow stronger magnetic fields to be created from the same size magnet. For any given ribbon element, a stronger magnetic field means a higher induced current. Designers have used these materials in a number of ways to create new ribbon microphones with higher outputs, better high frequency performance and smaller size.

ACTIVE RIBBONS

Pioneered by Royer Labs with the R122 (introduced in 2002), active ribbon microphones solve many of the limitations of passive ribbon microphones by building a buffering and output circuit into the microphone itself, and provide output levels similar to condenser microphones. They require phantom power to operate and are therefore not damaged by it. The input impedance of the microphone preamp should not affect the tonality of an active ribbon mic any more than it would affect the tonality of a condenser mic.

IN-LINE BOOSTERS

These external devices aim to solve the three problems of passive ribbons (mentioned earlier) by providing a buffer and output circuit that is inserted between the ribbon mic and the preamp – a bit like taking the inside circuitry of an active ribbon mic and putting it in an external box. Apart from preserving the tonality of the ribbon mic by making it independent of the preamp it is connected to, in-line boosters provide output levels similar to condenser mics while also protecting the ribbon element from phantom power – in fact, they need phantom power to operate. Examples include Royer Lab’s dBooster , Triton Audio’s FetHead , Cloud Microphone’s CloudLifter, Radial Engineering’s McBoost  and Klark Teknik’s Mic Booster CT1 .

ACOUSTIC NANOFILM

In most ribbon microphones the ribbon element is made from ultra-thin aluminium foil, typically between 1.5 and 4 microns thick (0.0015mm to 0.004mm). It can be easily damaged by a small burst of wind or a momentary application of phantom power. In June 2008 ribbon mic manufacturer Crowley & Tripp released a video showing a ribbon element being continually blasted with phantom power, forcing it out of shape in a way that should destroy it. However, when the power was removed the ribbon element returned to its proper corrugated shape, undamaged. Made from an acoustic nanofilm cleverly called ‘Roswellite’, it was not long before Shure – whose reputation is built on making rugged microphones – acquired the company and released two rugged ribbon microphones using Roswellite ribbon elements: the KSM313 and KSM353. The model numbers hark back to Shure’s 300 series of ribbon microphones from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

ribbon mic phantom power

DUAL & PLEATED RIBBONS

BeyerDynamic’s tiny M130 and M160 microphones are ‘dual ribbon’ designs, using two ribbons in parallel (one behind the other), to increase the sensitivity. The dual ribbon design is not unique to these mics and dates back a long time, but BeyerDynamic’s approach to the corrugations is worth mentioning: each ribbon has a couple of small horizontal corrugations at the top and bottom for suspension and elasticity, but the majority of each ribbon’s length is corrugated vertically, or pleated , for rigidity. This allows greater linear motion of the ribbons through the magnetic field, resulting in a higher output than a traditionally corrugated ribbon of the same dimensions in the same magnetic field. [BeyerDynamic’s vertically pleated ribbon has its detractors, and there are services on-line that will replace the original pleated ribbons with more traditionally corrugated ribbons.]

The dual ribbon design and the vertical corrugations are both aimed at improving the efficiency of converting sound into signal, which is necessary for the small size of these microphones – the M130 and M160 both use 15mm ribbons and correspondingly small magnets, resulting in small ribbon microphones that look like handheld vocal microphones. It’s also worth noting that the M160 is an end-address mic with a hypercardioid polar response, rather than the traditional bidirectional polar response provided by most ribbons, and is commonly used with the M130 (side-address bidirectional) to create an MS pair.

OFFSET RIBBONS & ACOUSTIC FILTERS

Royer Lab’s patented offset ribbon design, as used in the R121, offsets the placement of the ribbon element relative to the chamber of the microphone. When close-miking at less than a metre or so, the result is a darker tonality for sounds arriving from in front, or, conversely, a brighter tonality for sounds arriving from behind. This two-tone bright/dark option now appears in several contemporary ribbon microphones, although its history can be traced back to Reslo’s tiny RB series of ribbon microphones from the 1960s which used an offset placement of the ribbon element to provide a slightly brighter sound at the rear than the front. Reslo also provided a series of felt and fabric pads that could be installed in different combinations and layers into the mic’s front and rear shells to alter its tonality and polar response to suit specific applications (bass reduction, close talking, intimate singing/crooning, rear rejection, etc.).

ACOUSTIC LABYRINTHS

AEA have been pushing the envelope considerably in recent years with active designs that break new ground while offering a degree of specialisation. Their KU5A revisits ideas first seen in RCA’s rare KU3A (released in 1948, also known as the ‘10001’) but updates them considerably. As with the KU3A, it uses an acoustic labyrinth behind the ribbon element to create an end-address ribbon with a supercardioid polar response, suitable for use up close on stage. [The concept of an ‘acoustic labyrinth’ is explored further in the next instalment of this series, which focuses on dynamic microphones.] Meanwhile, AEA’s Nuvo series offers complementary mics with the N8 optimised for distant work and the N22 optimised for close work.

After decades in obscurity, ribbon microphones have been busy catching up to – and perhaps even overtaking – dynamic and condenser microphones...

BeyerDynamic’s M160 hypercardioid and M130 bidirectional ribbon mics with pleated ribbons.

PHASE PLUGS & LASERS

When designing the NTR, Røde brought a few of their own innovations to the ribbon microphone. Most notable is the addition of a phase plug cleverly built in to the protective mesh that’s placed directly over the ribbon itself. It moderates the airflow over the ribbon element, protecting it from sudden airbursts while smoothing out the frequency response. It also tightens the mic’s polar response by creating different pathways to the ribbon element for off-axis sounds (depending on their angle of arrival), resulting in additional forward gain at higher frequencies and a more pronounced side null across the full frequency range. Røde were also one of the first – if not the first – to use lasers rather than blades to cut their ribbons, resulting in very precise edges with no microscopic frays that can reduce the ribbon’s longevity.

HUMBUCKING COILS

Although humbucking coils are generally associated with electric guitars and dynamic microphones, the first use of the concept for audio applications was in Electro-Voice’s V1 ribbon microphone. (Electro-Voice’s V series of ribbon microphones has an interesting past in which later models and repaired models were quietly fitted with moving coil dynamic capsules, which were considered superior at the time – a warning for collectors of vintage ribbon microphones!) Humbucking coils are rarely mentioned in discussions about ribbon microphones, but have since become common in dynamic microphones and electric guitar pickups. You can read more about the humbucking concept in the next instalment of this series, which focuses on dynamic microphones.

APPLICATIONS & INDICATORS

The ribbon microphone’s low resonant frequency and inherent high frequency roll-off, combined with the sonic characteristics of its internal transformer, give it a tonality that is positively described as warm , mellow , smooth and natural , and negatively described as dull and noisy with low sensitivity . The positive qualities make it a good choice for use on sounds that could be described as cold , thin , harsh or excessively bright , or might become that way if miked with condensers. That includes metallic and wooden percussion, electric guitar amps, and brass instruments – which are also relatively loud sounds that aren’t a problem with the ribbon mic’s low sensitivity. It’s also a good choice for woodwinds, violins and violas, and voices that sing in higher ranges (such as sopranos). Although a ribbon may sound duller than a condenser in the same position, its low resonant frequency means it can handle large amounts of midrange and high frequency EQ boosting without sounding harsh.

The ribbon mic’s inherent high frequency roll-off also makes it a good choice for spotting (i.e. spot-miking or close-miking ) an individual instrument within a larger acoustic ensemble such as an orchestra. Its mellow tonality up close tends to match the tonality captured by a main stereo pair of condensers at a distance – a situation where air absorption causes a similar high frequency roll-off to that which occurs naturally in ribbons – making the close-miked instrument a little less hyper-detailed and obvious when blended in with the main pair.

On the negative side, passive ribbon mics are not recommended for use on quiet sounds no matter how appealing their tonal characteristics might be, because their low outputs require considerable gain and therefore risk becoming noisy – a problem that will be exacerbated if the quiet sound source contains little high frequency content to mask the noise. In applications where low noise is important, a large-diaphragm condenser is a smarter match for the sound source.

The ribbon microphone’s fundamental design gives it a bidirectional polar response, although hypercardioid and supercardioid responses are available in contemporary models. Some of the vintage RCA and Western Electric ribbon microphones offer switchable polar responses, including cardioid and omnidirectional. The side rejection of a bidirectional ribbon microphone is as good as microphone rejection ever gets, so if you need powerful rejection, the ribbon is an excellent choice assuming its other characteristics are acceptable for the purpose. In applications where the tonality of a ribbon mic and the rear rejection of a cardioid polar response are both desired, but you do not have a cardioid ribbon microphone, a dynamic cardioid or a large diaphragm condenser cardioid is a smarter choice – tonal issues can be addressed with EQ, but removing spill due to poor rejection is much harder.

Indicators: When condensers are too bright or edgy, and dynamics don’t have sufficient high frequency extension or have an unwanted presence peak, or you’re simply after a natural sound, ribbon microphones are a great choice if the sensitivity and polar responses are appropriate.

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phantom power kills ribbon microphones, truth vs. fiction

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 | by matthew mcglynn

Show me a guy with a ribbon mic, and I’ll show you a guy who’s afraid of phantom power.

The two go hand-in-hand, as if the mere presence of phantom power could cook all the ribbons in the studio, whether they’re wired or not. But that sounds less like phantom power than like ghosts in the machine.

I’m here to tell you that the idea that phantom power is a ribbon killer is mostly a myth. Pervasive, yes, and grown from a seed of truth, yes, but blown way out of proportion — according to no less an authority than the very folks who make ribbon mics.

Of course, the myth is in some ways propagated by these same vendors, which doesn’t help matters. Case in point: AEA’s “Ribbon Pre” was designed with “83db of clean gain and no dangerous phantom power.” Little wonder there are guys on the message boards making comments about dedicating a mic pre to their new ribbons and putting a piece of tape over the +48v button.

Here’s what Royer Labs has to say about phantom power and ribbon microphones:

Royer ribbon microphones are not usually affected by the presence of phantom power… Turning the phantom power on or off after the mic is connected should pose no problem whatsoever.

So if Royer Labs, makers of market leading ribbons like the R-121 and SF-12 , says phantom power won’t hurt its microphones, then what’s cooking all those ribbons? Myths, unlike the egos of most guitar players, require at least occasional affirmation to grow.

In a word: your patchbay.

What?! says the typical home-studio owner. I don’t have a patchbay!

Exactly. So peel the tape off that +48 button and stop sweating the phantom-power myth.

We’re assuming your cables are in good shape. If any of them shorts pin 1 to pins 2 or 3, whether due to a bad cable or a bad connector, you will indeed cook that ribbon if you apply phantom power. But why you’d use a junky old short-circuited cable with your nice ribbon mic is beyond us, so forgive us for sounding preachy.

The problem with patch bays is that they use TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) connector cables, which can (during insertion) momentarily apply phantom power, if present in the patchbay circuit, to the parts of the TRS connector where they should not.

Read more in the Royer Labs whitepaper , or better yet, check out Jon Ulrigg’s video demonstration. Jon is the proprietor of ShinyBox , maker of highly-regarded, hand-built ribbon mics. In this video, Jon bares the ribbon from one of his mics and demonstrates the complete lack of disaster that follows when phantom power is applied. He demonstrates the shorted-cable scenario too, allowing us to see the ribbon excursion that’s just about equivalent to the time I put my M380 too close to the kick head and blew the moving coil off its track.

Update, 2008-12-01: Ribbon mic expert Mark “ Marik ” Fouxman wrote in with a cautionary postscript about some vintage ribbons:

Marik There are some vintage ribbon microphones that have transformer secondary with grounded center tap. For those, phantom power is a NO NO.

Marik doesn’t recommend that vintage ribbon mic owners open up the mic housings to check for the wiring on the transformer. Rather, if you own a vintage ribbon and you have a question about its ability to survive patchbay wiring with phantom power, have the mic’s internals checked out by an expert before making assumptions you might regret.

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Tags: phantom power , ribbon mics , royer , shinybox Posted in Microphones , Video | 2 Comments »

Previously: How to record drums at home Next: tourism for gearheads

2 Responses to “phantom power kills ribbon microphones, truth vs. fiction”

Bob crowley.

February 19th, 2009 at 4:39 pm

The companies you mention don’t want to do any more ribbon repairs than necessary. Phantom power can be applied in a way that will stretch many ribbons without a patchbay – all you need are XLR pins of unequal length when connecting, or disconnecting them.

The fear of P power is real, and even if it is only an occasional failure mode, it does happen and it will destroy an aluminum ribbon. The example that Jon puts up shows that EVENLY applied P power is fairly OK. It’s too bad that there are many times that is not the case.

October 20th, 2015 at 4:46 am

Actually, here’s the complete info form Royer Labs.

http://www.royerlabs.com/phantompower.html

Quote “The ribbon elements in some vintage ribbon microphones can be harmed or even destroyed by the presence of phantom power. For this reason, it is commonly recommended that phantom power be turned off when using ribbon microphones. Leaving phantom power on can result in a stretched or completely blown ribbon. In some cases, the microphone may still operate, but at a greatly diminished capacity.”

It continues:

“Royer ribbon microphones are not usually affected by the presence of phantom power. However, we still recommend that you deactivate phantom power when Royer microphones are being connected or disconnected simply because other abnormal conditions may exist that could cause problems. Turning the phantom power on or off after the mic is connected should pose no problem whatsoever.”

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What is phantom power and does my microphone need it.

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Condenser microphones, both small and large diaphragm, require additional power to operate. Ribbon and dynamic microphones do not. This extra boost of juice is referred to as "phantom power", often notated on equipment as "48V", which represents the 48 volts of DC power that charges the microphone's diaphragm and internal amp. Without it, your microphone will not be able to pick up or put out signal.

ribbon mic phantom power

 When connecting your condenser microphone to a cable, make sure that phantom power is off . This will prevent power surges or pops, which could damage your speakers from the sudden burst of energy. Once your microphone is plugged in, then apply phantom power. From here, you can adjust the gain until you get an adequate signal for your recording purposes. Phantom power should be turned off before unplugging your microphone.

 In order to connect a condenser microphone to a computer, you will need to use an interface that provides phantom power. If you are using a single condenser microphone, MXL's Mic Mate Pro converts the microphone's XLR analog output into a digital signal that's transmitted via USB, while also providing phantom power. Additionally, it gives you gain control and a headphone output with volume control for direct input monitoring. It is important to note that  not all XLR to USB adapters provide phantom power , so be sure that your adapter does this.

 An interface works similarly, utilizing a microphone preamp that provides phantom power, but can provide more flexibility in connections, monitoring and signal routing options. Some interfaces can have up to 8 input channels to accommodate multiple microphones at once. Most interfaces will connect to your computer with common USB or Thunderbolt connections. Don't forget to select your interface as your input and/or output device in your recording software or computer settings.

ribbon mic phantom power

 USB microphones  do not need phantom power. Your computer will provide enough power through the USB connection to charge the microphone and operate correctly. An interface is not required to use USB microphones as everything is built into the mic itself.

 Dynamic microphones  are (usually) passive, meaning they do not have any active electronics which require additional power. Mistakenly using phantom power on a dynamic microphone will not damage it, though it should be avoided if possible. Some mixers or preamps provide phantom power to groups of channels instead of individual channels, meaning your dynamic mic might receive phantom power. This should not be cause for concern.

 Ribbon microphones  should not be used with phantom power. While accidentally and momentarily exposing your ribbon mic to 48V may not have a negative effect, prolonged exposure could stretch or completely blow a ribbon element. This will greatly diminish your microphones ability to operate. There are some active ribbon mics which do require phantom power, to which these rules do not apply.

 Tube microphones  require more than 48V to operate and typically come with their own dedicated power supplies. Phantom power is not required on the channel where you connect your tube microphone.

 If your mixer or interface does not provide phantom power, you will need an external 48V power supply. This should be used with an interface or preamp that gives you gain control in order to adjust the amount of signal from your microphone once it’s powered.

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Can Phantom Power Damage Equipment? Here’s The Truth

Categories Phantom Power And Microphones

Phantom power is required for recording with any condenser microphone. Most audio interfaces and mixers have phantom power built-in for this purpose. However, dynamic microphones and other equipment don’t need it to function.

Can phantom power damage equipment?

In some cases, phantom power can damage equipment . Although dynamic microphones are unlikely to be damaged, sending phantom power to a ribbon microphone can cause permanent damage. It is also advised to turn phantom power off before connecting other equipment like line-in instruments and monitors.

When recording , many different forms of studio-equipment are used.

Various microphones, outboard equipment, speakers, instruments, and cables all form a studio setup. Each of these devices has inner components and circuitry that widely differ from one another.

Phantom power may be safe to use with condenser mics and some dynamic mics, but many of the other devices can be damaged by its presence. In the following article, we’ll examine the equipment’s relationship with phantom power so that you can avoid any disasters.

ribbon mic phantom power

Recording Equipment & Phantom Power

A fully functioning recording studio requires a variety of microphone types.

The three main types of microphones used are condensers, dynamic, and ribbon mics. The reason that recording engineers use a mixture of these three is that each microphone has different capabilities that are unique to its design and inner construction.

To understand whether phantom power can damage these three popular pieces of recording equipment, we need to establish what each one is used for. Condenser microphones are the only form of equipment that requires phantom power to function. Without it, the microphone simply won’t turn on, and it will be rendered useless when it comes to capturing audio.

There are some exceptions to this rule, but, rarely, a condenser mic will not need phantom power.

The reason that condenser microphones generally do need phantom power is that they have internal active electronics that require an external source of power. This results in them producing a very high impedance output, meaning they need a powered circuit to bring the impedance down to a manageable level.

Condensers are used for many different purposes, such as vocals, acoustic instruments, amplified instruments, drum overheads, and spoken word. They fall into the category of equipment that phantom power cannot damage, so you don’t need to worry about them.

I have written an article that explains what phantom power is. You can read it here.

That brings us to dynamic microphones.

The question of whether phantom power can damage these popular items of recording equipment is less straightforwardly answered than their condenser counterparts. In most cases, if you accidentally leave phantom power on while using a dynamic microphone, it won’t cause it any harm. In live sound situations, the phantom power being present will likely be unnoticeable.

  • If, however, you are using a dynamic microphone to record, phantom power tends to plague the recordings with an electronic hum. This is caused by the surge of phantom power which is unnecessary for the dynamic microphone to operate.

The only likely situation where phantom power can damage a dynamic mic is when there is a problem with the XLR cable used to connect it to an interface or other piece of recording equipment.

When power flows through an XLR cable, the pins evenly distribute the power. If, for some reason, the pins are damaged and malfunction, this could result in the amount of power flowing through each pin becoming imbalanced.

If this problem occurs, then the imbalanced power can cause damage to a dynamic microphone, and even destroy it completely in some cases. That brings us onto the third type of microphone, and arguably the piece of equipment that phantom power is likely to damage the most.

Check out this video that offers advice on damaging your microphones with phantom power.

Ribbon Mics & Phantom Power (How To Avoid Damage)

Ribbon microphones are commonly used to record loud sound sources, like drums.

This vintage-style recording equipment comes in two forms: those that require phantom power, and those that will be damaged by it. The latter is the most common type of ribbon microphone, so if you are using one you should always refer to the individual specs to protect it from harm.

  • If you are wondering what a Ribbon Microphone is you can read more here 

Leaving phantom power on when using a ribbon mic can result in the internal ribbons being stretched, or in some cases, completely blown. The presence of the additional power is too much for the ribbons to cope with, and the result is often permanent damage that cannot be repaired, or significantly impacts the ability of the mic.

Again, the main factor that allows phantom power to damage this popular form of recording equipment are issues with cables. A common mistake made by engineers and musicians is cross-patching microphone tie lines. Many studios route their signals using a convenient method called patch bays.

Patch bays often consist of two rows. The top row is where the lines that run to microphones are positioned. These cables are likely to run to vocal booths or isolation booths for recording instruments. The microphone is connected to the recording equipment here.

On the bottom row of a patch bay, the inputs from the mic preamps and outboard gear are usually positioned.

This technique allows an engineer to crosspatch microphone lines and sends phantom power to only the bottom row. Where the problem occurs, is when phantom power is accidentally sent to the upper row, and all of the microphones are subjected to it. This is disastrous for ribbon mics, as their ribbons are directly exposed to the phantom power through a transformer, causing irreparable damage.

In the table below, you can see which microphones require phantom power and which is likely to cause damage.

Line-In Instruments & Phantom Power

Another form of equipment that can be damaged by phantom power is line-in instruments. Sometimes called line-level gear, this category includes any keyboards, guitar, or other electrical instruments that don’t require external power to be recorded.

Line level gear includes:

  • Electric Guitars & Basses
  • Other electronic string instruments
  • Synthesizers
  • Outboard effects

If line-level devices are used with phantom power turned on, this can result in the output electronics being fried.

This is why most audio interfaces and mixers are equipped with specific line-level inputs, which is where instruments should be connected. Plugging a line-in device into an XLR mic input is not advised, especially when phantom power is being sent to that input.

Different interfaces distribute phantom power in varying ways.

Some may send the phantom power to all of the inputs in a single block, while other, more sophisticated devices offer phantom power for each input.

Again, checking the specs of the equipment you are using is the only way to definitively know the ins and outs of their phantom power operation.

Likewise, some instruments and line-level devices will be fitted with protective measures to avoid phantom power from causing them damage. Most of this equipment will survive for a short period while phantom power is connected, but after around a minute, the damage is likely to occur.

The longer you leave a preamp or line-level device plugged into an interface that is producing phantom power, the greater the risk of damage.

That’s why turning off phantom power in between recordings, and when connecting different equipment, is the best way to avoid any issues from occurring.

ribbon mic phantom power

Monitors & Phantom Power Damage

In some cases, phantom power can also cause damage to unbalanced output devices. If you have ever turned on phantom power while your studio monitors are active, you’ve probably noticed the sharp pop that is sent through the speakers.

Although this “popping” sound is unlikely to damage the monitors noticeably, it certainly doesn’t do them any good.

It is the sound of the power surge being sent through the interface, into the output where the monitors are connected. It’s advisable to ensure that the monitors are either turned off before you activate phantom power, or at least to turn down their volume control so that the pop sound doesn’t come through the speakers.

You can read more on this subject here.

Related Questions

Do shure sm57s require phantom power.

No, the legendary Shure SM57 is a dynamic microphone; therefore it doesn’t require phantom power. Only condenser mics generally need phantom power. Due to the robust nature of the SM57, it is unlikely to harm the microphone though.

Why shouldn’t you use jack cables for connecting monitors?

TRS jack cables are not balanced, so using them to connect monitors to an audio interface will create interference and unwanted noises. It won’t cause damage, but will seriously impact the clarity of the sound they produce.

Does phantom power damage headphones ?

It’s very unlikely that phantom power will damage a pair of headphones. Most interfaces have separate headphone outputs which are independent of the channels where the phantom power is present.

I hope this clears up any questions you have about phantom power damaging your equipment .

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Moscow parks – leisure, nature and historical

Moscow is the most green megapolis in the world. There are over a hundred parks and green spaces like gardens, squares and boulevards. You will definitely bump into a few of them wherever you go. Whether you are interested in memorial, historic parks, parks of wildlife or you just want to have a calm break from the speedy city life – city parks have something special for everyone.

Moscow leisure parks

The leisure Moscow parks are undoubtedly the most popular and famous with the locals and travelers. Today such parks provide a great number of exciting entertainments for Muscovites and city guests, adults and children.

The Gorky Park

The Gorky Park

Gorky Park opened in 1928 and was the first holiday park in the Soviet Union with playgrounds, a sports stadium, exhibition halls and attractions for kids. Today it has a fresh, vibrant appearance. The park features bike rental stations, a comfortable business area with Wi-Fi, an outdoor movie theatre and a greenhouse where you can buy fresh greens such as basil and lettuce. To contemplate the sky and the stars, go to the observatory and look through the telescope while listening to fascinating stories from astronomers. Enjoy many sports in the park: volleyball, handball, football or a peaceful jog around the beautiful surroundings.

Zaryadye Park

Zaryadye Park

Opened in September 2017, Zaryadye is the youngest on our list. Located just a few minutes away from Red Square, it includes various activities like the floating bridge with its thin V-form extension, an ice cave, also concert hall and an amphitheater. The entire territory of the park was divided into four zones of Russia: forest, steppe, tundra, and the floodplains.

Neskuchny Sad

ribbon mic phantom power

By walking along the Moskva River’s bank from the Gorky Park towards Vorobievy Gory (Sparrow Hills) you’ll reach Neskuchny Sad («Not Boring» garden), a wonderful place in the Moscow center, one of Moscow’s oldest parks, charming slice of wildlife. The park mostly consists of pristine forest, dotted with old summer pavilions, ponds and quaint little stone bridges. There are a lot of opportunities for different activities lots of children playground, a ping-pong and chess clubs, football fields and tennis courts, horse riding, tree climbing and having rest in one of the nice cafes.

Museon Park

ribbon mic phantom power

Hermitage Garden

ribbon mic phantom power

Hermitage Garden has always been known as an amusement, entertainment center with theatres, shows, cafes, summer pavilions, pergolas since 1830. Shalyapin, Sobinov, Nezhdanova – great Russian opera singers starred on the garden stage. Famous Russian composer Rakhmaninov conducted the orchestra. Sara Bernar, Maria Yermolova, outstanding actresses, played in the open air performances. Tolstoy and Lenin had a stroll in the garden. So lots of celebrities from different epoques liked it a lot and spent their time in Hermitage Garden. You can find here three theatres in the garden: Hermitage, Sphere and New Opera. During winter an ice rink works here and in summer a musical stage is assembled to host jazz and brass band festivals.

ribbon mic phantom power

In Sokolniki Park visitors can play billiard, chess or draughts, table tennis, as well as go cycling, roller blading and swimming in the summer and ice skating or skiing in winter. Each season is highlighted by special memorable and bright events, for example, Summer Jazz Festival or Baby Fest (for future mums), open air beach disco parties, Ice Cream Day, International Clown Festival and many other shows and exhibitions. The park has an observatory, kids center and a co-working zone with free Wi-Fi which is really nice for spending high quality work time there.

ribbon mic phantom power

Moscow nature parks

The nature parks are national reserves with the amazing forestry and incredible variety of animals and plants there. The breath of wildlife and the chance to be closer to the virgin nature excites both children and grownups. Hundreds of different species of animals can be found in Moscow nature parks. The richest woodlands with old and even ancient trees, like a 200 years pine-tree in the Elk Island National Nature Park, are the point of passionate interest for visitors.

Aptekarsky Ogorod

Aptekarsky Ogorod (Apothecary Garden)

Aptekarsky Ogorod (Apothecary Garden)

Aptekarsky Ogorod (Apothecary Garden) is one of the oldest gardens in Moscow. It was founded in the XVIII century by Peter the First (great Russian emperor). A larch that he planted himself still grows in the garden, so it’s more than 250 years old. At the time of its foundation, it was a garden with herbs and medicinal plants and was used as an educational center for doctors. Today there are the orangery with its tropical palms, the carp pond, and the immense trees that dot the landscape and turn wonderful golden shades in the autumn. Several restaurants and cafes work here making it a very nice spot for relaxation no matter what season it is. You can book a special tour or join the guided excursion group.

Losiny Ostrov

Losiny Ostrov (Elk Island Park)

Losiny Ostrov (Elk Island Park)

Losiny Ostrov (Elk Island Park) is located at the north of Moscow. It covers 22 km from the west to the east and 10 km from the north to the south and it’s one of the most beautiful national parks in Moscow. Two rivers, Yausa and Pechorka begin here. You can find lots of fields, ponds, meadows, streams in the park as well as elks. Here you can enjoy guided tours, available in English. You can choose a guided tour about flora and fauna of the area, you’ll learn why elks are there, which animals are their neighbors. Or enjoy another excursion, which is totally devoted to historical past of ancient tribes once lived there, you’ll know about old Russian mythology, rituals and traditions.

Serebyany Bor

ribbon mic phantom power

Serebyany Bor (Silver Forest)

Serebyany Bor (Silver Forest) is a famous pine forest in the west of Moscow. The park has 230 forms of plant life, and is also home to watersports complex, providing a lot of activities for visitors. The layout of Serebryany Bor is unusual, as it is located on an artificial island between a meander in the Moscow River and a channel. There is an artificial lake, the Deep Gulf and picturesque Bezdonnoe (Bottomless) Lake in the depths of the forest. Serebryany Bor’s beaches are the cleanest in the city and very popular among Muscovites. On weekends it is difficult to find a free spot here, especially because a whole range of services are offered to visitors, from simple deckchairs to catamaran and yacht rides. Driving is prohibited on the territory of the island so be ready to use trolleybus to reach the entrance.

Botanichesky Sad

Greenhouse of Botanical Garden

Greenhouse of Botanical Garden

Main Botanical Garden of The Russian Academy of Sciences is the largest and most famous is Moscow. The garden is a real museum of nature with a very rich (more than 18000 types) collection of plants. The park was founded in 1945 at the place of the 17th century Apothecaries’ Gardens. The garden’s collection is turned into botanical expositions, made with use of modern receptions of landscape architecture. Here you can see a tree nursery, a shadow garden, hothouse complex, collection of flowers, a rosary, exposition of coastal plants, garden of continuous blossoming, Japanese garden and expositions of cultural plants and natural flora plants. The biggest part of Garden is the Tree nursery occupying the space of 75 hectares. About 2 thousand wood plants grow here. Another big exposition of the Garden is nature Flora, divided into six botanic-geographical collections: European part of Russia, Caucuses, Central Asia, Siberia and Far East. Pride of the Main Botanical Garden is the collection of tropical, coastal and water plants, which is considered as the best in Europe. The Japanese garden, a great model of Japanese landscape gardening art has a 13-level stone pagoda of the 18th century, stone Japanese lamps, ponds, falls and streams, tea lodges and more than 100 species of the most character Japan plants. It is especially decorative in spring, during Oriental cherry blossoming and in fall, when foliage blazes in crimson colors.

Moscow historic parks

Historic nature parks and estates once were the mansions of the Moscow aristocracy. At that far times the estates were outside the Moscow city limits, but after the city expansion and urbanization, they became easily accessible.

Kolomenskoye

Kolomenskoe

Kolomenskoye Museum and Park

The chief attraction of the park is undoubtedly the stone Church of the Ascension of the Lord. It was constructed in 1532 by order of Tsar Vasily III to commemorate the birth of his son and heir, Ivan the Terrible. But there is a lot more to see in the park: the pretty Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan – with its bright azure domes and plenty of gold. Further into the park there is a charming Church of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, built by Ivan the Terrible to mark his coronation.

Kuskovo

Kuskovo Park

Kuskovo Park is one of the oldest country estates in Moscow. It was given to General Sheremetev by Peter the Great in 1715, but was left to fall into neglect before being plundered by Napoleon’s troops in 1812. Nowadays the estate has been restored to its former glory and is a good example of Russian 18th Century imperial architecture. The palace is a fine and rare example of wooden neoclassicism. It was completed in 1775, and the rich interiors remain unchanged since 1779. It includes a room hung with exclusive exquisite Flemish tapestries, an abundance of silk wallpaper and an impressive collection of 18th century European and Russian paintings. The palace looks onto the lake, which is surrounded by smaller pavilions: pretty Italian, Dutch and Swiss Cottages, Blank’s Hermitage and the old Orangery, where the State Ceramics Museum is located now, an extensive and absorbing collection of porcelain from the 18th century to the present day. On the other side of the lake is a large wood popular with local cyclists and joggers.

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V. I. Lenin

The tasks of the working women’s movement in the soviet republic, speech delivered at the fourth moscow city conference of non-party working women, september 23, 1919.

Delivered: 23 September, 1919 First Published: Pravda No. 213, September 25, 1919 ; Published according to the text of the pamphlet, V. I. Lenin, Speech at the Working Women’s Congress, Moscow, 1919, verified with the Pravda text Source: Lenin’s Collected Works , 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 40-46 Translated: George Hanna Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Comrades, it gives me pleasure to greet a conference of working women. I will allow myself to pass over those subjects and questions that, of course, at the moment are the cause of the greatest concern to every working woman and to every politically-conscious individual from among the working people; these are the most urgent questions—that of bread and that of the war situation. I know from the newspaper reports of your meetings that these questions have been dealt with exhaustively by Comrade Trotsky as far as war questions are concerned and by Comrades Yakovleva and Svidersky as far as the bread question is concerned; please, therefore, allow me to pass over those questions.

I should like to say a few words about the general tasks facing the working women’s movement in the Soviet Republic, those that are, in general, connected with the transition to socialism, and those that are of particular urgency at the present time. Comrades, the question of the position of women was raised by Soviet power from the very beginning. It seems to me that any workers’ state in the course of transition to socialism is laced with a double task. The first part of that task is relatively simple and easy. It concerns those old laws that kept women in a position of inequality as compared to men.

Participants in all emancipation movements in Western Europe have long since, not for decades but for centuries, put forward the demand that obsolete laws be annulled and women and men be made equal by law, but none of the democratic European states, none of the most advanced republics have succeeded in putting it into effect, because wherever there is capitalism, wherever there is private property in land and factories, wherever the power of capital is preserved, the men retain their privileges. It was possible to put it into effect in Russia only because the power of the workers has been established here since October 25, 1917. From its very inception Soviet power set out to be the power of the working people, hostile to all forms of exploitation. It set itself the task of doing away with the possibility of the exploitation of the working people by the landowners and capitalists, of doing away with the rule of capital. Soviet power has been trying to make it possible for the working people to organise their lives without private property in land, without privately-owned factories, without that private property that everywhere, throughout the world, even where there is complete political liberty, even in the most democratic republics, keeps the working people in a state of what is actually poverty and wage-slavery, and women in a state of double slavery.

Soviet power, the power of the working people, in the first months of its existence effected a very definite revolution in legislation that concerns women. Nothing whatever is left in the Soviet Republic of those laws that put women in a subordinate position. I am speaking specifically of those laws that took advantage of the weaker position of women and put them in a position of inequality and often, even, in a humiliating position, i.e., the laws on divorce and on children born out of wedlock and on the right of a woman to summon the father of a child for maintenance.

It is particularly in this sphere that bourgeois legislation, even, it must be said, in the most advanced countries, takes advantage of the weaker position of women to humiliate them and give them a status of inequality. It is particularly in this sphere that Soviet power has left nothing whatever of the old, unjust laws that were intolerable for working people. We may now say proudly and without any exaggeration that apart from Soviet Russia there is not a country in the world where women enjoy full equality and where women are not placed in the humiliating position felt particularly in day-to-day family life. This was one of our first and most important tasks.

If you have occasion to come into contact with parties that are hostile to the Bolsheviks, if there should come into your hands newspapers published in Russian in the regions occupied by Koichak or Denikin, or if you happen to talk to people who share the views of those newspapers, you may often hear from them the accusation that Soviet power has violated democracy.

We, the representatives of Soviet power, Bolshevik Communists and supporters of Soviet power are often accused of violating democracy and proof of this is given by citing the fact that Soviet power dispersed the Constituent Assembly. We usually answer this accusation as follows; that democracy and that Constituent Assembly which came into being when private property still existed on earth, when there was no equality between people, when the one who possessed his own capital was the boss and the others worked for him and were his wage-slaves-that was a democracy on which we place no value. Such democracy concealed slavery even in the most advanced countries. We socialists are supporters of democracy only insofar as it eases the position of the working and oppressed people. Throughout the world socialism has set itself the task of combating every kind of exploitation of man by man. That democracy has real value for us winch serves the exploited, the underprivileged. If those who do not work are disfranchised that would be real equality between people. Those who do not work should not eat.

In reply to these accusations we say that the question must be presented in this way—how is democracy implemented in various countries? We see that equality is proclaimed in all democratic republics but in the civil laws and in laws on the rights of women—those that concern their position in the family and divorce—we see inequality and the humiliation of women at every step, and we say that this is a violation of democracy specifically in respect of the oppressed. Soviet power has implemented democracy to a greater degree than any of the other, most advanced countries because it has not left in its laws any trace of the inequality of women. Again I say that no other state and no other legislation has ever done for women a half of what Soviet power did in the first months of its existence.

Laws alone, of course, are not enough, and we are by no means content with mere decrees. In the sphere of legislation, however, we have done everything required of us to put women in a position of equality and we have every right to be proud of it. The position of women in Soviet Russia is now ideal as compared with their position in the most advanced states. We tell ourselves, however, that this is, of course, only the beginning.

Owing to her work in the house, the woman is still in a difficult position. To effect her complete emancipation and make her the equal of the man it is necessary for the national economy to be socialised and for women to participate in common productive labour. Then women will occupy the same position as men.

Here we are not, of course, speaking of making women the equal of men as far as productivity of labour, the quantity of labour, the length of the working day, labour conditions, etc., are concerned; we mean that the woman should not, unlike the man, be oppressed because of her position in the family. You all know that even when women have full rights, they still remain factually downtrodden because all housework is left to them. In most cases housework is the most unproductive, the most barbarous and the most arduous work a woman can do. It is exceptionally petty and does not include anything that would in any way promote the development of the woman.

In pursuance of the socialist ideal we want to struggle for the full implementation of socialism, and here an extensive field of labour opens up before women. We are now making serious preparations to clear the ground for the building of socialism, but the building of socialism will begin only when we have achieved the complete equality of women and when we undertake the new work together with women who have been ’emancipated from that petty, stultifying, unproductive work. This is a job that will take us many, many years.

This work cannot show any rapid results and will not produce a scintillating effect.

We are setting up model institutions, dining-rooms and nurseries, that will emancipate women from housework. And the work of organising all these institutions will fall mainly to women. It has to be admitted that in Russia today there are very few institutions that would help woman out of her state of household slavery. There is an insignificant number of them, and the conditions now obtaining in the Soviet Republic—the war and food situation about which comrades have already given you the details—hinder us in this work. Still, it must be said that these institutions that liberate women from their position as household slaves are springing up wherever it is in any way possible.

We say that the emancipation of the workers must be effected by the workers themselves, and in exactly the same way the emancipation of working women is a matter for the working women themselves. The working women must themselves see to it that such institutions are developed, and this activity will bring about a complete change in their position as compared with what it was under the old, capitalist society.

In order to be active in politics under the old, capitalist regime special training was required, so that women played an insignificant part in politics, even in the most advanced and free capitalist countries. Our task is to make politics available to every working woman. Ever since private property in laud and factories has been abolished and the power of the landowners and capitalists overthrown, the tasks of politics have become simple, clear and comprehensible to the working people as a whole, including working women. In capitalist society the woman’s position is marked by such inequality that the extent of her participation in politics is only an insignificant fraction of that of the man. The power of the working people is necessary for a change to be wrought in this situation, for then the main tasks of politics will consist of matters directly affecting the fate of the working people themselves.

Here, too, the participation of working women is essential —not only of party members and politically-conscious women, but also of the non-party women and those who are least politically conscious. Here Soviet power opens up a wide field of activity to working women.

We have had a difficult time in the struggle against the forces hostile to Soviet Russia that have attacked her. It was difficult for us to fight on the battlefield against the forces who went to war against the power of the working people and in the field of food supplies against the profiteers, because of the too small number of people, working people, who came whole-heartedly to our aid with their own labour. Here, too, there is nothing Soviet power can appreciate as much as the help given by masses of non-party working women. They may know that in the old, bourgeois society, perhaps, a comprehensive training was necessary for participation in politics and that this was not available to women. The political activity of the Soviet Republic is mainly the struggle against the landowners and capitalists, the struggle for the elimination of exploitation; political activity, therefore, is made available to the working woman in the Soviet Republic and it will consist in the working woman using her organisational ability to help the working man.

What we need is not only organisational work on a scale involving millions; we need organisational work on the smallest scale and this makes it possible for women to work as well. Women can work under war conditions when it is a question of helping the army or carrying on agitation in the army. Women should take an active part in all this so that the Red Army sees that it is being looked after, that solicitude is being displayed. Women can also work in the sphere of food distribution, on the improvement of public catering and everywhere opening dining-rooms like those that are so numerous in Petrograd.

It is in these fields that the activities of working women acquire the greatest organisational significance. The participation of working women is also essential in the organisation and running of big experimental farms and should not take place only in isolated cases. This i5 something that cannot be carried out without the participation of a large number of working women. Working women will be very useful in this field in supervising the distribution of food and in making food products more easily obtainable. This work can well be done by non-party working women and its accomplishment will do more than anything else to strengthen socialist society.

We have abolished private property in land and almost completely abolished the private ownership of factories; Soviet power is now trying to ensure that all working people, non-party as well as Party members, women as well as men, should take part in this economic development. The work that Soviet power has begun can only make progress when, instead of a few hundreds, millions and millions of women throughout Russia take part in it. We are sure that the cause of socialist development will then become sound. Then the working people will show that they can live and run their country without the aid of the landowners and capitalists. Then socialist construction will be so soundly based in Russia that no external enemies in other countries and none inside Russia will be any danger to the Soviet Republic.

Collected Works Volume 30 Collected Works Table of Contents Lenin Works Archive

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  1. Ribbon Mics and Phantom Power

    Intro The ribbon elements in some vintage ribbon microphones can be harmed or even destroyed by the presence of phantom power. For this reason, it is commonly recommended that phantom power be turned off when using ribbon microphones. Leaving phantom power on can result in a stretched or completely blown ribbon.

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

    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.

  3. Ribbon mics & phantom power

    Answer A ribbon microphone typically has a low impedance, transformer balanced output. Therefore, it can handle phantom power without a problem. No other precautions, besides proper wiring, are necessary. However, if you encounter a ribbon microphone where the output is unbalanced or does not employ a transformer, beware!

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  5. Will Phantom Power Damage My Ribbon Microphone?

    Yes. Phantom power (+48V) has the potential to damage ribbon mics. Passive ribbon mics may be damaged by hot patching or electrical outages while phantom power is engaged or if +48V is sent through a miswired or impaired cable. Active ribbon mics, however, require and will not be damaged by+48V. So ultimately, the answer is "it depends."

  6. 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.

  7. Ribbon Mic and Phantom Power Explained

    The workflow should be as follows: check that phantom power is OFF, connect the ribbon microphones (and other required microphones if you have a master phantom switch only), switch the +48V supply ON, do your work, switch the power back OFF, wait for preamp reservoir capacitors to discharge (condenser microphones should stop responding, it can t...

  8. Ribbon Mics: How They Work & When to Use Them

    While most engineers wisely steer away from letting phantom power come anywhere near their ribbon mics, some newer mics, such as the active Royer R-122 MKII , AEA R84A, or Cloud Microphones 44-A, utilize phantom to power their electronics.

  9. What Is Phantom Power & Which Mics Need It?

    Apart from modern active ribbon microphones which require it, phantom power can damage the sensitive internal components of older passive ribbon mics. What Types of Microphones Use Phantom Power? The three main types of microphones are condensers, dynamics, and ribbons. Do condenser mics need phantom power? Yes!

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  11. Phantom Power Explained

    Rule of thumb: Condenser microphones and active ribbons require phantom power - most other types don't. While tube microphones also require power to operate, they usually come with their own dedicated power supply. This provides the higher voltage required for heating the tube, for which phantom power is insufficient.

  12. What is Phantom Power? All the Big Questions Answered in Plain Talk

    Phantom Power is the name for a specific amount of voltage required by some microphones to function properly. Specific types of microphones, mainly condenser mics, contain active circuitry that needs a power source to drive it, as opposed to passive circuitry which does not. This power is transmitted as DC electric power (direct current, as ...

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    Pioneered by Royer Labs with the R122 (introduced in 2002), active ribbon microphones solve many of the limitations of passive ribbon microphones by building a buffering and output circuit into the microphone itself, and provide output levels similar to condenser microphones. They require phantom power to operate and are therefore not damaged ...

  14. phantom power kills ribbon microphones, truth vs. fiction

    Exactly. So peel the tape off that +48 button and stop sweating the phantom-power myth. We're assuming your cables are in good shape. If any of them shorts pin 1 to pins 2 or 3, whether due to a bad cable or a bad connector, you will indeed cook that ribbon if you apply phantom power.

  15. Ribbon Microphones and Phantom Power

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  16. What is phantom power? : Support

    Ribbon and dynamic microphones do not. This extra boost of juice is referred to as "phantom power", often notated on equipment as "48V", which represents the 48 volts of DC power that charges the microphone's diaphragm and internal amp. Without it, your microphone will not be able to pick up or put out signal.

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    Ribbon Mics & Phantom Power (How To Avoid Damage) Ribbon microphones are commonly used to record loud sound sources, like drums.. This vintage-style recording equipment comes in two forms: those that require phantom power, and those that will be damaged by it. The latter is the most common type of ribbon microphone, so if you are using one you should always refer to the individual specs to ...

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  20. The Tasks Of The Working Women's Movement In The Soviet Republic

    Delivered: 23 September, 1919 First Published: Pravda No. 213, September 25, 1919; Published according to the text of the pamphlet, V. I. Lenin, Speech at the Working Women's Congress, Moscow, 1919, verified with the Pravda text Source: Lenin's Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 40-46 Translated: George Hanna

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  22. Will it hurt anything to leave the phantom power on? Will ...

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