You use headphones every day but have you ever wondered how many types of headphone jacks there are? The article below contains the answer for you.
Headphone jacks have been around since the late 19th century for use on telephone switchboards. The most classic jacks are ¼ inch in diameter. Meanwhile, the most famous Jack today is only 3.5mm in diameter.
In recent years, tech giants, notably Apple, have removed the headphone jack from the device. However, this does not mean that the headphone jack has gone into oblivion.
Many devices still use the headphone jack. And there are also many types of headphone jacks to serve all users’ needs. Let’s learn about the most popular types of headphone jacks today and their applications.
The History Of The Headphone Jack
The History Of The Headphone Jack
Can you believe it, the headphone jack is hundreds of years old? Jack is still present in your life through many ups and downs and certainly will not immediately disappear in the near future.
When newly formed
The headphone jack has been around since the late 19th century.
As mentioned, the purpose of the bran jack is for use on telephone switchboards. Because the switchboard staff at this time often have to unplug the wire to connect the call.
Jack was born with a quick and easy solution for connecting and converting electrical currents carrying audio signals.
The first universal headphone jack has a 6.35 mm diameter with ¼ inch headphone.
In the 1950s, the Sony Walkman released cassettes and mini-CDs with a 3.5mm connector. Headphone jacks with a 3.5mm diameter have also been popular since then.
In the 2000s, famous phone brands like Nokia and Motorola used 2.5 mm jacks on their devices. However, this new type of Jack cannot replace the position of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
HTC is one of the leading brands in using a USB type C port as a headphone port. However, this combination still has many problems to be solved, while the brands do not have a standard agreement on the design of the charging port and the headphone port.
The future of the headphone jack
However, in recent years, the headphone jack in general and the 3.5mm-diameter Jack, in particular, seem to be about to lose their inherent standard position.
Of course, you still use the 3.5mm Jack with your receiver and audio devices. But when used with smartphones or computers, this is a different story.
More and more smartphone manufacturers are moving towards removing the headphone jack to reduce the thickness of the phone. That also means you have to use adapter ports or wireless headphones to listen to music on your phone.
However, the problem of battery life of wireless headphones as well as the inconvenience of the adapter, is a point worth considering. And perhaps in the near future, the headphone jack may not disappear immediately.
The Anatomy Of The Headphone Jack
The Anatomy Of The Headphone Jack
Basically, a headset is a type of cable that is responsible for transmitting electrical current. The current in the line interacts with the permanent magnet. To get current, you need to have a closed circuit.
This simple understanding is enough for you to understand that Jack is the most essential part of generating electricity.
The structure of the headphone jack is not too complicated. You need to pay attention to the number of connection points of the Jack.
Specifically, the following plug types include:
The plug has a ring
Previously, audio used to have only one audio channel (mono).
Therefore, the headphone jack used to transmit audio only needs to have a line dividing the signal end and the ground (excellent) end. These jacks are often available in pro-audio, with the familiar name TS jack (1 bar).
Headphone plug with two rings
But today, the sound is more than just mono and becomes multichannel with a balanced stereo (2 channels left, right). Therefore, the header needs to be able to carry the signal of the total two channels.
Headphone manufacturers have created a two-bar, three-way jack with the common name TRS (short for Tip, Ring, Sleeve).
The sleeve at the end of the Jack will be similar to the one-round headphone plug connected to the ground. The Ring and Tip section will carry the audio signal of the two channels.
The Ring section is in between the two signal-carrying lines of the right channel. In particular, the tip section locates at the top of the signal network jack of the left channel.
Headphone plug with three rings
The user’s demand for headphones does not just stop at listening to music. Users also want to be able to use the headset to chat and talk via mobile phones. This need has posed a challenge for manufacturers: Integrating microphones into headphones.
As with the two-ring headphone plug, manufacturers solved the problem by adding an extra ring on top of the Jack. The three-bar Jack is called TRRS (short for Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve).
However, three-ring plugs are more complicated than two-ring plugs because of a few standards, namely OMTP and CTIA.
Headphone jack products from Nokia, Samsung, or Sony will comply with the OMTP standard. Meanwhile, Apple, HTC, LG, and a few other names use the CTIA standard set.
According to these two standards, it would not be worth mentioning if the ground and microphone parts of the jacks are not opposite.
This slight difference also makes you need to consider carefully before increasing or decreasing the volume or talking to control playback.
Headphone plug with four rings
The type of Jack with a four-ring head is not so common. There are a few Sony products that have a jack called TRRRS (4 bars).
The other ring of the design is a microphone cord. As you know, adding a microphone increases noise cancellation, so the headset doesn’t need a bulky noise processor like Bose or AKG.
- How to use two headphones on PC or MAC?
- Best Headphones For Electronic Drums That Make Accurate Sound
- How To Connect Headphones To Digital Piano/Keyboards
Different Types Of Headphone Jacks
In this article, we will look at ten types of headphone jacks currently on the market.
#1. Audio Lightning
Audio Lightning Jack
If you are an Apple believer, you will certainly be no stranger to the Audio Lightning Jack. This Jack first appeared in 2012. Apple expects to use the Audio Lightning Jack to replace the usual 3.5 mm Jack.
The size of the Jack is in the range of 6.7 mm x 1.5 mm. The structure of the Jack consists of 8 pins. Therefore, at the time of its launch, Apple’s Jack was capable of better data transfer than any other jack you could find.
The difference in the design of the Jack is that the Audio Lightning connector carries a digital signal instead of an analog signal. And it is also by storing sound as a digital signal that the new Jack can produce high-quality sounds.
Also, regular jacks can only reproduce 16-bit-44 kHz. While. Applejack products can support 24-bit-96kHz analog audio signals.
In summary, the Audi lightning jack has outstanding advantages compared to other types of jacks on the market:
- First: perfect sound reproduction. We have limited audio distortion due to the built-in DAC.
- Second: can directly power the headset.
- Third: produce full sound, transmit the highest quality sound to the listener.
#2. Mini Stereo 3.5 mm
Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack
The TRS Mini-Stereo jack is also a 3.5mm diameter jack and has only one ring. However, when considering the current Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack (TRS) types, you will realize two TRS designs.
The first is the TRS-1, which does not have a microphone ring. That is, you cannot talk with this headset. All you get is a headphone jack with a tip, ring, and sleeve design.
For the TRS-2, you have a ring for the microphone. What you have to trade-off, however, is that the audio stops at balanced mono instead of balanced stereo.
In general, headphones with Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack will reproduce balanced stereo sound, giving you a bass listening experience with depth, depth, and impression.
Besides, the sound frequency of the two ears is different, helping you feel the song’s rhythm more realistically.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack (TRS) is one of the most popular jacks on the market.
#3. Mini Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm
Mini Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm
Mini Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm Jack is a common type of Jack. The diameter size of the Jack is 3.5 mm, which can be compatible with most devices, except Apple products.
The design of the Mini Stereo-Mic Jack consists of four rings, separated by insulation. Jack’s four rings are all called TRRS, which stands for Tip Ring Sleeve.
TRRS has a principle of operation as well as sound processing quality quite similar to Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack (TRS).
However, in addition to the task of transmitting audio, headphones using this type of Jack also have a built-in microphone.
Thus, you can not only receive audio but also broadcast audio. That is, you can make calls and listen to music at the same time.
#4. Mini Mono Audio 3.5 mm
Mini Mono Audio 3.5 mm
Mini Mono Audio 3.5 mm Jack without any ring. The identification feature is that there is only one polymer line separating the stereo audio signal contact layer and the ground wire layer in the position of the TS Jack’s headphone plug.
The TS jack type will only give you balanced mono sound. Therefore, the sound quality shown on both sides of the headset is the same because the sound frequency is different.
A jack that provides only balanced mono audio is not a good choice for listening to music. It also makes Mini Mono Audio 3.5 mm Jack (TS), not an ordinary jack.
However, this type of TS jack is very suitable for instruments such as guitars to connect to an amplifier.
In addition, you can also improve the mono sound by using the TS to TRS converter. However, it will help if you also consider that the unbalanced stereo you’re capturing can carry noise.
#5. Dual Mini 3.5 mm
Dual Mini 3.5 mm
Dual Mini 3.5 mm Jack contains two TRS jacks. These two jacks have different tasks: a jack for the microphone and a jack for the speaker. The speaker jack is marked “SPK”. At the same time, ‘MIC’ refers to the Jack of the microphone.
To have both unbalanced stereo sound and talk simultaneously, you need to use both types of jacks above.
It also means that you cannot use the Dual Mini 3.5 mm Jack on your mobile phone in the usual way because mobile phones or even many laptops are only with a TRRS port.
In the past, some computers provided both TRRS ports. Currently, fewer and fewer manufacturers do this. Unless you use an adapter, you have to accept the lack of functionality when using only one mini jack.
Because of the inconvenience of the number of ports, the number of people interested in using the Dual Mini 3.5 mm Jack is not much.
#6. 4.4 mm Jack
4.4 mm Jack
If you work in the telecommunications industry or are a professional music producer, you will undoubtedly hear up to 4.4 mm Jack.
This type of mini jack has a standard TRS design, which looks quite similar to the jacks with a diameter of 3.5 mm.
The most outstanding feature of headphones using the 4.4mm Jack is the ability to balance the sound. You can hear every sound through your headphones authentically, unaffected by radio frequency interference or signal degradation.
However, with that said, the 4.4mm-diameter Jack isn’t very common and isn’t ideal for everyday use either. Simply, there are too few devices compatible with the above diameter size.
At the same time, Jack also cannot handle considerable power. Besides, is it adequate to pay the extra cost for the balanced sound processing of the practical Jack? Especially when you absolutely can have a not too bad experience with other types of jacks.
#7. USB Jack
The new USB Jack has appeared in recent years and has brought about a large-scale reform.
It seems that smartphone manufacturers are trying to get rid of the audio jack connection standard that has existed since the last century: the 3.5mm Jack.
Many manufacturers of smart devices have abandoned the 3.5mm Jack instead, using the USB port to focus on data transfer efficiency.
Originally the latest smartphones of LeEco, a brand from China. Recently Motorola’s new Moto Z. Many experts even see this conversion as the future of headphone jacks.
Advantages of USB port
- Noise cancellation: The signal can process inside the headset. In fact, you can also opt for noise-canceling headphones with excellent batteries, using the 3.5mm audio jack connection.
However, with the USB type C mini jack, you also get a more stable power supply, a more compact design than noise-canceling headphones.
- Transfer audio jack and files: USB ports can do much more than transmit digital audio.
- Replace HDMI as a display cable.
Disadvantages of USB Jack
- However, this change is not necessarily a perfect choice for smartphones.
- Think about it, and you can’t listen to music while charging your phone using the USB charging port.
Although using your phone while charging is potentially dangerous, you still need to consider this inconvenience seriously.
- If you consider this change on a laptop or computer, the story is more positive. You benefit from the newly reformed 3.5mm to USB port.
#8. USB type C
USB type C
High-end phone companies are constantly looking for ways to get rid of the 3.5mm Jack and instead have a connector that makes the device lighter and thinner.
One of them is the C-Type Jack. Accordingly, C-Type Jack is an upgrade of USB type C Jack.
The C-Type mini jack has a symmetrical design, allowing you to install and remove it quickly.
In addition, the sound quality of the C-Type Jack is also quite excellent compared to the USB Jack. Besides, the transmission speed of C-Type Jack also gives you a much more efficient and convenient experience.
However, the C-Type Jack also has its problems. The most troublesome thing is that there are so many different standards right now. Currently, there are two most popular audio output standards:
- Output digital audio signal. Integrated DAC/Amp on audio decoding headphones.
- Output analog audio signal. This treatment is similar to the 3.5mm port with DAC/Amp.
Despite being an improved version, the C-Type Jack still carries the disadvantages of the previous USB Jack. Therefore, it still takes some time for C-TYPE Jack to have a firm foothold in users’ hearts.
#9. Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack
Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack
If you’ve ever used a keyboard, cell phone, or older smartphone, you’re probably familiar with the Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack. In addition, on camcorders or two-way radios, this type of compact Jack often appears.
Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack is a type of TRRS Jack with a diameter of 2.5 mm.
With the above diameter, the Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack is currently the most miniature headphone jack.
In terms of functionality, the 2.5 mm Jack is not inferior to the 3.5mm Jack.
But in terms of popularity, perhaps the 2.5mm Jack and many other designs cannot surpass the 3.5mm diameter headphone jacks because not many devices support 2.5mm ports anymore.
However, you may not need the 2.5mm port to use the Jack. You can use the 2.5mm headphone jack with a standard 3.5mm port with just an adapter.
#10. Original 6.35 mm Jack
Original 6.35 mm Jack
The 6.35 mm Jack was the first Jack, appearing in 1877. You can also find this rather large diameter jack in military telephone connectors, telephone exchanges, or loudspeakers.
The 6.35 mm Jack is also compatible with professional instruments. Because the large cable of the Jack will transmit a more stable and complete audio signal. 6.35 jack is the standard of recording studios.
If you wonder what an old jack like this can do, the list below will surprise you:
- Connecting to an AV Receiver or Amplifier: 6.35 mm is more rugged than conventional jacks, so it’s great for connecting headphones to AV amplifiers and receivers.
- Connect to music devices: 6.35mm diameter jack with momo audio support. Therefore, you can work well with some musical instruments such as guitar or keyboard with this type of Jack.
- Live sound transmission: In addition to the unbalanced mono option, you can also choose jacks that support unbalanced stereo sound. And Jack’s stereo range will not let you down with the natural, vivid sound that the headphones convey.
What is the normal headphone jack size?
Most headphones have a 3.5mm jack because 3.5mm is almost the industry standard for headphones as well as smart devices.
You’re probably seeing a lot of intelligent devices right now that use wireless or wired headphones but use a USB connection. But in fact, there is no denying the popularity of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
What is the difference between a 2.5 mm and 3.5 mm audio jack?
The most apparent difference between the 2.5mm and 3.5mm unbalanced audio jack is the diameter of the jack sleeve.
The 3.5mm-diameter jacks are so familiar and seem to have become iconic when it comes to wired headphones.
The 3.5mm socket appears almost in most laptops, smartphones, and computers.
Meanwhile, you probably rarely come across wired headphones that use a 2.5mm jack. However, that does not mean that the small-diameter jacks work inefficiently.
Sometimes smaller diameter jacks have an extra washer, and the scope and purpose of the 2.5mm Jack use also changed. In particular, most commonly used for old desk phones, mobile phones, or video cameras.
What type of plug is a headphone jack?
There are different types of plugs, depending on the number of Jack types. The plug can be rectangular, or it can be round.
Or, as with Apple products, a plug specifically for the balanced Audio Lightning jack will not be compatible with other products.
Most recently, the headphone jack has the form of a USB port.
What are adapters available out there?
You can easily find an adapter that suits your conversion needs.
There are many different types of adapters available, to name a few such as:
- Adapter from USB Jack to 3.5mm Jack: Suitable with a standard 3.5mm jack headset.
- Adapter from Lightning to Jack 3.5mm: Fit for those who are new to Apple’s latest change.
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm Jack converter: very useful if you are a professional music producer.
All you need to do is verify the type of port you want to transfer and make the right choice.
Do laptops use a 3.5 mm jack?
Most laptops today support a 3.5mm port. And there is only one port that covers both functions as a headset and a microphone.
Therefore, you should consider using TRRS headsets with a diameter of 3.5mm so that there is no trouble when talking or listening to music on your computer.
If you use a 3.5mm jack with up to two plugs, don’t worry. There are always converters that can meet your needs.
In the complete list of types of headphone jacks above, you may be familiar with some types, while others are not. But all in all, we hope you enjoy the information above.
Although the first time you refer to the article, you will probably be overwhelmed with the ten types of jacks and their unique characteristics.
However, if you have mastered the basics, choosing the kind of Jack or type of adapter for you will not be too difficult.
Or are you simply curious about the number of jack types that are indispensable to you despite the continuous improvements to eliminate the Jack? So hopefully, this article has satisfied your curiosity.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to learn, and don’t hesitate to share your knowledge or thoughts in the comments section below!