Skip to main content Skip to footer

Buying Guide:Preamp: Origins of Phantom Power

Preamp Buying Guide


Sidebar: Origins of Phantom Power


It seems that Neumann can’t help but establish itself as an industry standard in microphone technology. Along with offering the “Holy Grail” of vocal mics with their U67 and U87 condensers, Georg Neumann is also responsible for the development of phantom power, which supplies the power supply voltage for certain microphones using the same two lines as the balanced audio path. It’s also used for polarizing the transducer element (capsule) in DC Polarized condenser mics. It’s called “phantom,” since the power supply voltage is effectively invisible to balanced microphones that don’t use it, such as dynamic mics.


Phantom power had its birth in 1966 after Neumann presented a new series of transistorized microphones to Norwegian Radio. For compatibility reasons, Norwegian Radio requested that these microphones be operated using phantom power. Due to the limited daylight hours during the winter months, the studios used an auxiliary lighting system fed by a central 48-volt power supply. This was therefore the voltage used for powering the microphones. Thus +48V phantom power, which was later standardized, is available with every professional mixing console today.