Different Types of Headphone Jacks for All Headphones: The Complete Guide

We are all familiar with different types of headphones, headsets, and earphones. To be frank, they have become an integral part of our lives.

types of headphone jacks

But do you know the types of headphone jacks and their functions? The primary functions of headphone jacks are,

  • To get the stereo audio out of the phone to the earpiece.
  • To get the mono audio into the phone from the mic.
  • To get the volume control and play/ pause signals into the phone. 

Before moving into different types of headphone jacks, have a look at the importance of headphone jacks. 

There are thousands of headphones in the market from hundreds of brands, but one thing remains common in most of these headphones: the headphone jack.

But my question for you is, are all 3.5 mm jacks the same? No, absolutely not. Here you can see every type of 3.5 mm audio jack along with others.

Even though some premium manufacturers started producing mobile phones without a port for headphones, we don’t believe that headphone ports in mobile phones will be extinct. We have a number of reasons to think that, 

  • We can not use wired headphones while charging
  • Special dongles or adapters are required to connect normal headphones to such mobile phones
  • Dongles are costly
  • They easily get lost or damaged
  • Current wired headphones will be useless

Now let’s move into the topic. We are accustomed to the four-contact 3.5 mm universal headphone jacks and Audio Lightning jacks in the latest iPhones. But are these the only type of headphone jacks? No, obviously not. Here we see some others also.

10 Different Types of Headphone Jacks

So to start, what are the different types of audio jacks?

  1. Audio Lightning Jack
  2. Mini Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm Jack (TRRS)
  3. Mini Stereo 3.5 mm Jack (TRS)
  4. Mini Mono Audio 3.5 mm Jack (TS)
  5. Dual Mini 3.5 mm Jack (TRS-TRS)
  6. 4.4 mm Jack
  7. USB Jack
  8. C-Type Jack
  9. Sub-mini 2.5 mm Jack
  10. original 6.35 mm Jack

1.Audio Lightning Jack

audio lighting jack

If you are an iPhone user, you would be familiar with the Audio Lightning jack. It is the headphone adapter for iPhone. It is roughly 6.7 mm by 1.5 mm jack with 8 pins delivering better data transmission than any other jacks. 8 pinout meaning,

  1. Pin 1 GND Ground

2. Pin 2 L0p Lane 0 positive

3. Pin 3 L0n Lane 0 negative

4. Pin 4 ID0 Identification/ control 0

5. Pin 5 PWR Power (charger or battery)

6. Pin 6 L1n Lane 1 negative

7. Pin 7 L1p Lane 1 positive

8. Pin 8 ID1 Identification/ control 1

Note: Lane 0 and 1 may swap in IC of device connector (Lanes don’t swap if the accessory identification chip is connected to the ID0 pin){Wikipedia}

 It is designed and owned by Apple, introduced in 2012 as a replacement for the universal 3.5 mm jack. iPhone headphone adapter is unique in design. The iPhone adapter headphones can offer faster and larger data transfer.

Unlike the standard headphone jack, which uses an analog signal, the Audio Lightning connector carries digital signals. Since modern technology stores audio as digital signals, it is easy for the lightning connector to produce premium quality audio.

The genuine Apple’s lightning jacks are built with a chip that makes it impossible for other companies to manufacture duplicate jacks. But unfortunately (fortunately), forgers cracked the code.

Unlike USB, the lightning connector is symmetric and easy to plug the headphone into the jack. Standard jacks can reproduce only 16 bits-44 kHz, whereas lightning connectors can support audiophile quality 24 bit-96 kHz signals.

To sum up, headphone adapter iPhones are called Audio Lightning jack, and they are premium and most effective among headphone adapters.

Pros

  • Audiophile quality sound
  • Symmetric design

Cons

  • Costly
  • Difficult to get a replacement

2.Mini Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm Jack

mini stereo 3.5 mm jack

Mini (Miniature) Stereo-Mic 3.5 mm Jack is the universal 3.5 mm jacks compatible majority of the devices except for some Apple products.

It is designed with 4 sections or rings separated by an insulating material. The rings are termed TRRS (Tip Ring Ring Sleeve). Based on the arrangement they are again classified into two,

  • Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)
  • Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)/ American Headset Jack (AHJ)

Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)

omtp

OMTP is basically a TRRS plug with a tip portion dedicated for Left audio, the first ring after the tip for right audio, the second ring for the microphone, and the last leg; the sleeve is for ground. You can find the 

Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association (CTIA)

ctia

CTIA is also another TRRS configuration, but with a slight difference in the ground and mic alignment.

Here like the previous one, the tip and first ring after the tip are dedicated to left and right audio, respectively. But, the second ring after the tip is for the ground and the sleeve depicted for the mic.

This difference in design in TRRS is why some headphones that work with a friend’s mobile don’t work with yours. You can find the list of mobile phones following this type of configuration if necessary.

3.Mini-Stereo 3.5 mm Jack (TRS)

Mini-Stereo TRS jack is also a 3.5 mm jack with only one ring. There are two types of TRS design based on the duties to perform,

TRS Type-1

trs
TRS – 1

TRS-1 does not have a microphone, so you can’t make calls. Here, the tip, middle ring, and sleeve are responsible for left audio, right audio, and ground respectively.

TRS Type-2

trs
TRS – 2

But in TRS-2, one mic is integrated at the cost of one audio. Instead of stereo audio, TRS-2 has mono audio and which is designed in the ring.

The tip section works for the microphone, and the sleeve, like the previous one, takes care of the ground. To sum up, they can be used for calling, but the audio would be mono.

4.Mini Mono-Audio 3.5 mm Jack (TS Jack)

ts jack
TS Jack

TS has only two sections without any ring. These jacks usually do mono or unbalanced audio through the tip. The sleeve part does ground. 

They are usually found with musical instruments like guitars to connect with an amplifier or mixer. The tip of the TS carries a positive signal.

You can use a TS-TRS adapter to get a stereo sound, but it is not at all effective and would be accompanied by noise. 

5.Dual mini 3.5 mm Jack (TRS-TRS)

dual 3.5 mm jack
Dual 3.5 mm Jack

TRS-TRS jack is a type of jack popular in the past. It contains two TRS jacks, one for the mic and another for the speaker.

My first on-ear headphone, HP invent, was this kind. Even though the audio is stereo, you need both jacks for the mic and speaker.

It is inconvenient for mobile phones and the latest laptops with only one TRRS 3.5 mm port. But previous laptops with two 3.5 mm jacks are meant for such jacks.

The jack carrying audio signal is indicated by a speaker symbol or “SPK,” and the jack carrying microphone signal is indicated by a mic symbol or “MIC.”

In speaker TRS jack, tip, and ring deal with left and right audio whereas sleeve for ground. In order to connect your TRS-TRS jack to a 3.5 mm TRRS port, you need a 2 to 1 headphone jack adapter.

6.Patch Bay Connector 4.4 mm Jack

Patch Bay Jacks are not common in casual use; they are more common in the professional and telecommunication industries. They also follow the TRS configuration with balanced audio output. 

Even though they came as a replacement for 6.35 mm jacks, they can not handle enormous power and are not guaranteed to. They also look similar to 3.5 mm jacks.

7.USB jack

usb headphone jack

Recently the market shows a slight shift from regular 3.5 mm jacks to USB-type Jacks. Companies claim they are more effective than universal types in data transfer. This supports both stereo audio and microphone.

But it is more convenient with laptops and computers and not a good choice for smartphones.

8.C-Type Jack

c type headphone jack

Now the premium mobile brands are shifting from micro USB to C-type ports because they are fast, efficient, and convenient.

Since USB C types are symmetric, they are easy to insert and remove. Compared to micro USB, type C has a far better audio quality, transfer speed, and flexibility.

Mobile manufacturers are trying hard to eliminate the extra space consumed by the 3.5 mm jack. If they can effectively integrate the purpose of charging and audio, that will be a great advantage.

And they can utilize the space previously consumed by 3.5 mm jack for other things to improve the performance and quality of mobile phones. 

9.Sub-Miniature 2.5 mm Jack

2.5 mm Sub-Miniature, usually known as sub-mini jacks, were popular in the old model feature or keypad mobiles like Nokia 5030 c-2. It is a TRRS jack with a diameter of 2.5 mm. This is the smallest headphone jack and is also sometimes called a micro Jack. 

If you want to use your 2.5 mm headphone jack in a 3.5 mm port, 2.5 to 3.5 mm adapters are available.

Other than old mobile phones, they are also used in cordless phones, video cameras, and two-way radios. 

10.Original 6.35 mm Jack (1/4″)

6.35 mm jack
Size Comparison 6.35 & 3.5 mm Jacks

The 6.35 mm jack (sometimes referred to as 6.3 mm) is the biggest and first original type designed in 1877. It is patented by Scribner C E.

It may not be familiar to normal music lovers because it is not associated with laptops or mobile phone jacks.

Such jacks can be found in musical instruments like guitars, military purpose phone connectors, manual telephone exchanges, and loudspeakers.

It also has TS and TRS configurations. In TS, Tip is for the microphone, and the sleeve is for the ground. This kind of jack is exclusively a professional item.

Some brands have headphones such as OneOdio Pro-10 with 6.35 mm and 3.5 mm ports.

Professional musical instruments prefer them because they are reliable, robust, and not easily breakable. And the larger cable of the 6.35 mm jack allows the drop-free and distortionless transfer of signals.

Quick Revision

Here in this article, we have provided a detailed description of different types of headphone jacks. It includes old 6.35 mm jacks to the latest 3.5 mm and C-Type jacks.

Even though you are familiar with some of the jacks, others may surprise you. In addition to different sizes, we also mentioned different types of jacks like TS, TRS, and TRRS jacks. We welcome all the healthy comments and suggestions from you.

You can refer to the headphone jack size chart for a quick view of the different types of jacks and their dimensions. This is all about the various audio jacks types.

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