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act of plugging in a mic surely is no more damaging than turning on the phantom anyway…

I won’t bet on this one for simple technical reasons. When powering phantom on with microphone connected, hot and cold side rises in parallel, keeping the delta voltage between them small. Remember that microphones produce voltages within a mVolts range.

Plugging a mic with phantom power already on there is no guarantee that both sides are connected concurrently, so it is very likely that both, microphone and mixer input, will see a big delta voltage across hot and cold side, which indeed may harm either side (from latchup effects). If your microphone has a transformer, things getting worse, since capacity from the cable and the transformer may create a short transient way above 100V…

I prefer to switch off phantom power when plugging and never had an issue (contrary to some friends not caring about phantom power)…