what is the big headphone jack called

what is the big headphone jack called

Though the recognition of wi-fi headphones continues to extend, wired headphones and their related headphone jacks are nonetheless used commonly. There are just a few completely different headphone jack sizes we should always concentrate on when utilizing our wired headphones. These sizes are 2.5mm (3/32″), 3.5mm (1/8″) and 6.35mm (1/4″).

What are the variations between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm headphone jacks? The first, most blatant distinction is measurement. The numbers given consult with the diameter of the jack however the lengths of the connectors are additionally completely different. Sure functions have sure normal sizes. By way of wiring, numerous requirements will be utilized to every measurement jack.

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So on this article, we’ll speak in regards to the nuanced variations between headphone jacks together with the similarities these jacks share.

A Primer On Jacks And Plugs

Earlier than we get began, let’s first perceive the distinction between a headphone jack and a headphone plug.

The headphone jack is the receptacle, and the headphone plug is inserted into the jack. In different phrases, the headphone jack is the feminine connector, and the headphone plug is the male connector.

In case your headphones are completely wired, the top of the cable includes a plug. Your audio participant, smartphone, laptop computer, and so forth., has a headphone jack that you simply plug your headphones into.

Headphone Plug3.5mm FosPower (hyperlink to examine the value on Amazon)
Headphone jack of an iPhone 6S (above) and a headphone plug (under)

Be aware that when individuals say “headphone jack,” they’re generally referring to the plug. This primer isn’t solely to differentiate between the 2 but additionally to make sure readability within the the rest of this text after we talk about jacks and plugs collectively.

Associated article: What Is The Distinction Between A Microphone Plug And Jack?

The Dimension Distinction

The obvious distinction between 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone jacks is within the identify itself: the scale of the jack and its related plug.

The quoted measurement refers back to the diameter of the jack/plug, and every measurement has its personal size(s) as nicely. Listed below are the required dimensions for every headphone jack measurement:

Plug DiameterPlug Size 2.5mm11mm 0.43″ 3.5mm (~1/8″)14mm – 17mm 0.55″ – 0.69″ 6.35mm (1/4″)30mm – 31mm 1.18″ – 1.22″

As we will see from the desk above, there isn’t at all times a set normal for the lengths of the particular plug sizes. Although 2.5mm connectors are practically all regulated to be 11mm in size, 3.5mm and 6.35mm plugs have some variation.

3.5mm plugs are often 14mm lengthy however can, in some cases, be so long as 17mm and nonetheless be thought of normal. 15mm and 17mm are utilized in video functions, although 17mm is sort of uncommon. 3.5mm headphone jacks are sometimes designed to obtain both 15mm or 17mm plugs.

6.35mm or 1/4″ plugs are a bit extra standardized and have a smaller vary in size between 30mm – 31mm (1.18″ – 1.22″). This small distinction isn’t overly vital with regards to correct connectivity between quarter-inch plugs and jacks.

The overwhelming majority of wired headphones have 3.5mm-diameter 15mm size TRS or TRRS connectors. These work completely will most client audio gadgets (transportable music gamers, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and so forth.). Skilled headphone amps sometimes have 1/4″ TRS jacks, and so many professional headphones include a 3.5mm-to-6.35mm adapter.

Let’s get into the completely different sizes in additional element right here:

The 6.35mm (1/4″) Plug & Jack

In the event you’ve ever performed an electrical guitar or bass via an amplifier, you’ve used a 6.35 (1/4″) TS “patch” cable. This patch connection has the identical dimensions because the 1/4″ headphone plug/jack. Nevertheless, the headphone jack sometimes makes use of an additional pole/conductor in its connector, making it a TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) relatively than a TS (tip-sleeve).

The 6.35mm is comparatively cumbersome and is usually reserved for skilled headphones and different skilled audio gadgets. These gadgets embrace however usually are not restricted to headphone amplifiers, audio interfaces, digital-to-analog converters, mixing consoles and discipline recorders.

Here’s a image of a 6.35mm (1/4″) TRS headphone plug:

6.35mm (1/4″) Headphone Plug

Right here is an instance of a easy one-channel headphone amp with a 1/4″ (6.35mm) headphone jack to the proper of its entrance face:

Schiit Magni 3 Heresy Headphone Amp With 6.35mm (1/4″) Headphone JackLink to examine the value on Amazon

Schiit is featured within the following My New Microphone articles:• Prime 11 Greatest Headphone Amplifier Manufacturers In The World• Prime 11 Greatest Energy Amplifier Manufacturers In The World• Prime 11 Greatest Desktop DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) Manufacturers

The three.5mm (1/8″) Plug & Jack

Most analog wired headphones right this moment have 3.5mm (1/8″) plugs. The three.5mm connector can also be utilized in auxiliary “aux” audio connections generally present in vehicle audio consoles, mixing consoles, and different client merchandise.

Be aware that, because of smartphone producers abandoning the headphone jack, lighting and USB-C digital headphone connectors have gotten widespread, as are wi-fi Bluetooth headphones.

3.5mm headphone jacks are present in transportable audio gamers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, discipline recorders, mixing consoles, and lots of different audio gadgets. Headphones sometimes use TRS 3-pole 3.5mm connectors, whereas headphones with a microphone will make the most of TRRS 4-pole 3.5mm connectors.

Here’s a image of a 3.5mm TRS and a 3.5mm TRRS headphone plug:

3.5mm (1/8″) TRS Plug (left) – 3.5mm (1/8″) TRRS Plug (proper)Hyperlinks to examine the Cable Creation 3.5mm TRS and TRRS cables on Amazon

And right here’s an image of my MacBook Air’s 3.5mm headphone jack (the pc I’m utilizing to put in writing this text!):

MacBook Air 13-inch Early 2015 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Associated article: Are AUX (Auxiliary) Connectors & Headphone Jacks The Similar?

The two.5mm Plug & Jack

The two.5mm (3/32″) connector is much less widespread in professional audio functions. Nevertheless, it nonetheless will get used commonly in two-way radios (walky-talkies) and a few video cameras.

Here’s a image of a 2.5mm TRS headphone plug:

2.5mm (3/32″) TRS Plug

And here’s a image of a two-way radio that has a 2.5mm headphone jack:

Tait TP93/94 Speaker Microphone with 2.5mm Headphone Jack

Headphone Jacks Are Not Solely For Headphones

These connectors are also known as headphone jacks, and, in lots of cases, they’re used for headphones therefore the identify. If a jack is particularly meant for headphones, it’s also known as a headphone jack. Nevertheless, the two.5mm, 3.5mm and 6.35mm connectors talked about above are used for rather more than simply headphones.

As a result of there are many different makes use of for these jacks that don’t embrace headphones, it’s generally higher to consult with them generically as “audio jacks”.

For instance, these audio jacks can be utilized within the following functions:

  • Microphones
  • Headsets (headphones + microphone)
  • Audio in/auxiliary
  • Audio out/auxiliary
  • Electrical musical devices (electrical guitar, electrical bass guitar, keyboards, and so forth.)
  • Loudspeakers
  • Studio screens
  • Studio patch bays

It’s essential to keep in mind that not all plugs and jacks are used completely for headphones.

Wiring Requirements

Issues get a bit difficult with regards to wiring requirements of headphone jacks. On this part, we’ll talk about the two.5mm, 3.5mm, and 6.35mm headphone plugs/jacks when it comes to how they join and the varied alerts they will ship.

Tip, Ring & Sleeve

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To know the wiring of audio jacks and plugs, we should perceive the completely different pole-counts on the plug and jack and the inner wires that carry audio from the cable.

The poles/conductors are best-known as ideas, rings, and sleeves. These labels consult with the situation the conductors are designed in a jack/plug.

The tip is on the tip of the plug; the rings are electrically remoted and wrap across the plug’s circumference in the midst of its size, and the sleeve is towards the bottom of the connector.

In every of the headphone connections, we discover that the electrically conductive plug has a bigger diameter housing under it. This housing isn’t solely to mark the top of the connector and forestall injury but additionally to deal with {the electrical} connection between the sign wires within the headphone cable and the person poles within the plug connector.

If we took aside an audio plug, it will look much like this:

The coinciding conductors on the inside of the connectors connect to the sign wires within the audio/headphone cable to successfully transfer the audio sign from one place to a different. Within the case of headphones, this path is from the audio system to the headphones.

The sleeve of the connector is usually related to electrical floor whereas additionally offering a tubular defend inside the cable relatively than a single wire. The defend gives some rejection of electromagnetic interference within the sign wires whereas having it grounded gives a zero-potential for the opposite sign wires to be referenced towards.

TS (Tip-Sleeve)

Within the case of a TS connector, the sleeve acts as the bottom and likewise as a return for the audio sign. When used for headphones, the wiring is as follows:

  • Tip: Mono headphone sign
  • Sleeve: Floor & mono headphone sign return

Extra usually, the TS connector is wired with:

  • Tip: Sign
  • Sleeve: Floor & return

The TS isn’t usually used for headphones because it can not carry a stereo audio sign.

TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve)

The TRS connector is rather more widespread as a result of it permits for stereo audio. That being mentioned, a way more uncommon circumstance (for headphones, not less than) is the TRS carrying a balanced mono sign.

Unbalanced Stereo TRS:

Unbalanced stereo wiring is the commonest in wired headphones. It permits the left and proper channels of the stereo audio sign to be carried to their coinciding sides of headphones (or their corresponding earbuds).

Unbalanced stereo TRS is usually wired as:

  • Tip: Left headphone sign
  • Ring: Proper headphone sign
  • Sleeve: Floor/returns

The time period “unbalanced” signifies that the correct audio sign is distributed alongside one wire solely. This methodology is okay, although the sign could also be vulnerable to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, and an extended cable size might degrade the sign.

Within the case of unbalanced stereo audio, two separate unbalanced alerts are being carried via the cable. The left channel audio sign is carried on the tip (with the sleeve performing because the return), whereas the proper channel audio sign is carried on the ring (with the sleeve performing because the return).

The tip connects to a wire that goes to the constructive (+) lead of the left headphone driver coil; the ring connects to a wire that goes to the constructive lead of the proper driver. The sleeve connects to a wire that goes to each damaging (-) terminals of the driving force coil. This wire often has a solder joint within the “Y” or within the earpiece the place the bottom wire from the plug splits into separate wires that connect with the damaging terminals of the driving force coils.

Balanced Mono TRS:

Balanced TRS cables are not often ever used for headphones since they don’t seem to be stereo.

Moderately, they’re usually used for connecting particular person left channel and proper channel outputs to studio screens and as patch bay cables to route balanced alerts round a music or broadcast studio.

To your info, balanced TRS is wired like this:

  • Tip: Constructive polarity headphone sign
  • Ring: Adverse polarity headphone sign
  • Sleeve: Floor

Connecting a pair of headphones to a balanced output (just like the left channel output of an audio interface, for instance) would ship equal alerts with reverse polarities to the headphone’s drivers, and the ensuing sound could be fairly terrible.

As an apart, balanced TRS is wired in the identical style as 3-pin XLR with tip convey pin 1, ring convey pin 2, and sleeve being pin 3.

TRRS (Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve)

TRRS headphone plugs are what we’ll usually discover with consumer-grade headsets and earbuds which have built-in microphones. With 4 poles, this connector can successfully carry a stereo headphone sign and a mono microphone sign with a typical floor.

There are two requirements we see with TRRS cables: CTIA and OMTP:

CTIA Customary For TRRS

  • Tip: Left headphone
  • Ring: Proper headphone
  • Ring: Floor
  • Sleeve: Microphone

CTIA is the brand new normal and has been adopted by virtually all producers of consumer-grade audio gadgets since 2015. Smartphone, laptop computer and pill producers have converted from the previous OMTP normal, so the headsets and headphones with built-in microphones in the marketplace right this moment are additionally wired with the CTIA for compatibility.

OMTP Customary For TRRS

To your info, right here is the older OMTP normal that could be the wiring scheme in an older audio system or pair of headphones you personal.

  • Tip: Left headphone
  • Ring: Proper headphone
  • Ring: Microphone
  • Sleeve: Floor

It’s essential to notice that not all headsets use the TRRS connection. In reality, {many professional} broadcasting headsets use utterly completely different connectors for the headphones and the microphone for improved versatility.

Laptop and online game headsets will usually use numerous USB sorts to attach. Older, fixed-line desk telephones usually use RJ9 (RJ10 or RJ22). Headphones and headsets designed for newer iPods join through Lightning connectors.

TRRRS (Tip-Ring-Ring-Ring-Sleeve)

TRRRS provides us 5 poles to work with however is uncommon in 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 6.35mm connectors. Moderately the TRRRS design is mixed with the comparatively unfamiliar 4.4mm connector, which we’ll get to shortly.

The TRRRS has nice potential for numerous wiring schemes. A correct wiring design for the TRRRS headphone plug/jack is:

  • Tip: left channel (constructive polarity)
  • Ring: left channel (damaging polarity)
  • Ring: proper channel (constructive polarity)
  • Ring: proper channel (damaging polarity)
  • Sleeve: floor/defend

Once more, we’ll talk about this in additional element after we contact on the 4.4mm audio jack.

For an in depth article on headphone connection/wiring requirements, try my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

Different Headphone Connectors

As briefly talked about above, not all headphones make the most of the two.5mm, 3.5mm or 6.35mm connectors. There are many different choices on the market. Listed below are just a few:


When Apple did away with the headphone jack on their iPhones, a complete new vary of headphones got here out that utilized the Lightning connector (the charging port of iPhone for the reason that iPhone 5).

Pictured under are Apple’s Earpods with Lightning connector (hyperlink to examine the value on Amazon):

Apple Earpods with Lightning Connector

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Apple is featured in My New Microphone’s Prime 14 Greatest Earphone/Earbud Manufacturers In The World.

The lightning port can be utilized for headphones, headsets, and microphones, too. Try My New Microphone’s Prime 4 Greatest Exterior (Lightning) Microphones For iPhone Audio for more information.


Following Apple’s lead, many different smartphone producers have ditched the headphone jack. This has opened up a brand new marketplace for USB-C headphones.

Here’s a image of the consumer-grade Lewder In-Ear Headphones (hyperlink to examine the value on Amazon):

Headphones with USB-C connector

There are additionally many headsets on the market that make the most of USB-A as their connector. The Logitech H390 headset (hyperlink to examine the value on Amazon) is one such instance:

Logitech H390


Some skilled headphones and headsets make the most of XLR to make their connection. Many of those headphones/headsets have removable cables that supply quite a lot of connections to select from, together with XLR.

The 4.4mm Audio Jack

4.4mm TRRRS Audio Jack

As mentioned beforehand, there may be additionally a lesser-known 4.4mm headphone jack.

The 4.4mm Pentaconn is a comparatively new balanced plug that sits someplace between a 3.5mm headphone jack and a high-end XLR. It’s sometimes a 5-pole TRRRS and is at the moment utilized in skilled audio and the telecommunication industries.

The TRRRS has nice potential for numerous wiring schemes. That is the commonest when it comes to headphones:

  • Tip: left channel (constructive polarity)
  • Ring: left channel (damaging polarity)
  • Ring: proper channel (constructive polarity)
  • Ring: proper channel (damaging polarity)
  • Sleeve: floor/defend

So with the 4.4mm TRRRS connector, we get two balanced channels for a balanced stereo sign. Balanced audio is much less vulnerable to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, sign degradation and headphone cross-talk making it a quiet, simpler approach of carrying stereo audio to your headphones.

In fact, many would argue that balanced headphone connections just like the 4.4mm TRRRS usually are not value the additional value and supply minimal enhancement over unbalanced stereo. Nevertheless, the science of balanced vs. unbalanced audio is evident. The query then turns into, is the additional value value it to you?


Thankfully, there are adapters for just about any change in connector you would need.

The commonest adapter is the three.5mm feminine to six.35mm male.

This adapter from UGREEN (hyperlink to examine the value on Amazon) is an ideal instance of a 3.5mm F to six.35mm M headphone adapter.

UGREEN 3.5mm F to six.35mm M Headphone Adapter

Many headphones in the marketplace could have a 3.5mm connector and include a 3.5mm F to six.35mm M adapter.

Wi-fi & Bluetooth Headphones

Let’s convey our dialogue again to Apple’s determination to eliminate the headphone jack of their smartphones. This seemingly huge transfer was not executed evenly. There needed to be an alternate aside from the Lightning cable to immediate such a large choice. That various was wi-fi headphones and, extra particularly, Bluetooth headphone expertise.

Wi-fi headphones work with a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter emits the supply audio wirelessly, and the receiver, which is constructed into the headphones, picks up the audio to transform it into sound.

These wi-fi audio alerts are encoded, which implies they’re carried inside one other sign relatively than being transmitted as audio waves. The wi-fi alerts are sometimes within the radio-frequency or infrared frequency vary. Be aware that encoding should happen, or else the audio sign could be propagated as audible sound.

So a extra correct description could be that the transmitter takes the audio sign, encodes it, and sends it to the receiver wirelessly. The receiver then decodes the wi-fi sign to entry the audio sign, amplifies the audio sign, and converts the audio into sound.

With that mentioned, let’s shortly run via the wi-fi headphone connections.

Radio Frequency Wi-fi Headphone Connection

RF wi-fi headphones, because the identify suggests, make the most of radio frequencies to transmit audio alerts wirelessly. The vary of frequencies is usually both within the very excessive frequency/VHF (30 MHz – 300 MHz) or within the ultra-high frequency/UHF (300 MHz – 3 GHz) vary.

Wi-fi headphone producers will usually design their merchandise to work in a particular and small vary of radio frequencies.

RF alerts sometimes journey 15m to 100m and don’t require line-of-sight between the transmitter and receiver to perform correctly.

With RF wi-fi headphones, we will have as many headphones listening to the identical RF channel as you’d like.

Sadly, RF is vulnerable to interference and static when listening. Low-level noise and a relative lack of bass are additionally usually current in RF wi-fi headphone alerts.

Bluetooth Wi-fi Headphone Connection

Bluetooth is a global digital wi-fi normal. It encodes and transmits digital audio relatively than analog audio (like most RF and IR wi-fi programs). Bluetooth truly works with RF frequencies in a band of 79 completely different frequencies centred on 2.45 GHz.

Bluetooth can join to eight completely different gadgets concurrently with no interference. Every connection modifications frequencies 1600 instances per second to make sure this.

Associated article: How Bluetooth Headphones Work & How To Pair Them To Units

Infrared Wi-fi Headphone Connection

Infrared wi-fi headphones transmit audio encoded in infrared waves (frequency vary from 300 GHz – 430 THz).

IR wi-fi gives a cleaner sign than RF on the expense of being reliant on line-of-sight.

That is much like how a TV distant management interacts with a tv.

Associated Questions

What’s the distinction between a headphone jack and an audio out? A headphone jack outputs audio (sometimes unbalanced stereo) that’s meant for headphones. Audio outs generally output balanced or unbalanced mono alerts, which might not drive headphones correctly and should not have the correct output voltage or impedance for optimum compatibility with headphones.

Can audio system be plugged right into a headphone jack? Though you may, it’s not suggested until the audio system are stereo and designed to simply accept the voltage and impedance ranges of the headphone out. Plugging a speaker designed to simply accept speaker stage audio might not yield the very best outcomes when plugged right into a headphone output. In some circumstances, it might even injury the jack and the output circuit.

Selecting the best headphones or earphones on your functions and finances could be a difficult job. For that reason, I’ve created My New Microphone’s Complete Headphones/Earphones Purchaser’s Information. Test it out for assist in figuring out your subsequent headphones/earphones buy.

This text has been permitted in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Coverage.

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