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Spring Clearance

Phantom Power and Passive Direct Boxes

inSync reader Dale J. asks:

“Is it all right to use the DOD Stagehand 265 Direct Box when you are running Phantom Power on a Mackie CR1604-vlz mixer? Or is it necessary to only use Active Direct Boxes when you run Phantom Power over a PA system? (ie, will any damage be done if you use a passive direct box while operating under phantom power?”

These days there is very little equipment that will be harmed by coming into contact with phantom power (see WFTD Phantom Power). Back in the days of the original ribbon microphones the elements were sometimes not isolated from damaging voltages that might erroneously appear. I’ve known quite a few people who have fried a microphone with phantom power. Almost all current microphones are not affected by these low voltages and I have never come into contact with any direct box that would be harmed by it. The only time I ever see people do damage with phantom power these days is:

  1. In a rare case where it comes into contact with some vintage gear that cannot deal with it.

  2. On occasion some line level devices (the balanced output of a reverb for example) can be harmed. This shouldn’t be an issue, however, since you shouldn’t be connecting line level gear to mic level inputs anyway.

  3. I have seen people blow speakers by having a channel turned up when applying phantom power. It almost always causes a very loud pop when turned on or off. Have your channel muted when you do this.

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