Headphones, Headsets

3.5 mm Audio Cable

3.5 mm Audio Cable

What is a 3.5 mm Audio Cable for?

You are likely to have used an aux (auxiliary cord) or 3.5 mm audio cable to connect your older smartphone to your car’s stereo system. This article will help you determine if these connectors can be interchanged and headphone adapters that may work best for you.

Are the AUX connectors and the headphone jacks alike? The headphone jack and aux connector are usually constructed in the same dimensions: 3.5mm (1/8″) TRS. The “auxiliary connector”, which is used for audio, is universal, while the headphone jack is intended for headphones. You can also find different sizes and wiring patterns for your headphone jack.

What is a 3.5 mm Headphone Jack?

The name of a headphone connector is the connection used to send audio signals from headphones. The male connection at the end the headphone cable is called the headphone plug. Headphone jacks usually have an output impedance lower than 24 O. However, the 32 O standard has become more popular.

The signal coming from a headphone socket is sometimes not strong enough for professional high-impedance headphones. A headphone amplifier will often be required in this situation to boost the voltage, and bridge the impedance of the audio source (now called the amp) and high-impedance headphones.

What cable gives best sound quality?

Put another way, you may be wondering Which cable is best for audio?  The best cable to but to optimize your sound quality will depend on the device, music quality, cord type, and a bevy of other considerations.  It is important to know there are different types of headphone jacks to consider.  In fact, you can find a wide range of headphones jacks, which are classified by their diameters.  The sizes of the jacks are:

  • 5mm (3/32”)
  • 5mm (1/8”)
  • 4mm
  • 35mm (1/4”)

How do I know if I have 3.5 mm jack?

The 3.5mm jack has a diameter of almost 50 percent more than the 2.5mm, but they are similar otherwise. A smaller connection with a 2.5 mm diameter may also have an extra ring.

Are all 3.5 mm cables the same? 

The short answer is no, not all 3.5 mm cables are not the same.  Cables can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and between different applications.  Tips, rings, and sleeves are standardized between 3.5mm cables and aux outputs but the quality of materials may be vastly different which may yield substantial differences in sound quality and tonality.  A TRS 3.5mm jack and aux cord is most often set up like the following:

  • Ring: right channel audio
  • Tip: left channel audio
  • Sleeve: common ground

What are the Part of a 3.5 mm Jack?

Headphone jacks have tip, ring and sleeves connections (often referred as poles). Each pole is a separate connection that carries audio signals. The number of poles can vary the design of headphone jacks. They include:

  • TS (tip sleeve).
  • TRS (tip ring-sleeve
  • TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve)
  • TRRRS (tip-ring-ring-ring-sleeve)

The 3.5mm TRRS headphone jack is most commonly used (think older smartphones, tablets, and laptops). Although the jack supports TRRS, it can be used with TRS or TS plugs.

What does a 3.5 mm jack look like?

The 3.5mm connector is also used for auxiliary audio connections. These are often found in automobile audio systems, mixing consoles, as well as other consumer products.

You will find 3.5mm headphones jacks on portable audio players such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. TRS 3-pole 3,5mm connectors are the most common connectors for headphones. TRRS 4-pole3.5mm connectors can be found on headphones with microphones.

Although 3.5mm plugs typically measure 14mm in length they can also be as long as 17mm. These are still considered standard. In video applications, 15mm and17mm are common. 17mm is rare. Headphone jacks for 3.5mm headphones can be used to accept plugs of 15mm and 17mm.

What are 3.5 mm cables most commonly used for?

These stereo audio cables, measuring 3.5mm in length, are intended for use with computer audio applications. They can connect to a stereo sound card, mini-speaker, or portable CD player to a speaker. There are many types and styles of 3.5mm audio cable, but they all feature a 3.5mm connector.

Is a 3.5 mm Jack a Stereo?

A stereo 3.5mm stereo jack can be used to connect headphones to small portable devices such as mobile phones or media players.  Alternatively, a 3.5mm connector can be used as a line level stereo audio input/output to a device such a TV.

3.5mm Audio Cable Uses

A single stereo 3.5mm jack can be used to connect headphones to small portable devices such as mobile phones or media players. Alternately, a 3.5mm port may be used for a line-level stereo input/output on a device such as a TV.

Is 3.5 mm analog or digital?

As its name suggests, the analog 3.5 mm headphone jack transmits analog audio signal to the attached headphones or other audio accessories. The host device (e.g. a smartphone) must integrate digital-to analog conversion (DAC), and amplifier circuitry.

Is 3.5 mm the Same as Aux?

The similarities between aux and headphone plugs/jacks are their aesthetic, size, wiring, and aesthetic. This is why they are so frequently confused.   The output of a smartphone’s or laptop’s headphones is the same as the auxiliary input to a car stereo.

As we have already mentioned, the auxiliary input was designed to be a universal plug that accepts a variety of audio sources. Most compatible seems to be the 3.5mm TRS plug.

The most common headphone jacks are the 3.5mm TRS and 3.5mm RRS, although they come in a variety of sizes and wiring.  An easy male-to–male 3.5mm TRS/TRRS “aux-cord” will connect most consumer-audio devices to an aux-input.  Aux inputs accept audio signals at different voltages and impedances.

Is 3.5 mm same as TRS?

You should note that TRS, TRRS or TRRRS standards can be used in different ways.

Are there different types of 3.5 mm cables?

  • TRS, also known as stereo mini, is the most commonly used type of 3.5mm connector.  TRS stands as “Tip, Ring, and Sleeve.”
  • TS(aka mono-mini) plugs have a tip and a sleeves for the ground.
  • TRRS— The tip represents the left channel, while the first ring represents the right. The second ring represents the ground and the sleeves represent a microphone channel.

If you are looking for 3.5mm adapters or cables, be sure to match the plugs with the jacks.  The different types of 3.5 mm jacks are used for different applications and varying product types. 

Pictograms are unlikely to be seen on cell phones with headphone sockets. Don’t fret. They work with both TRS plugs and TRRS plugs. A TRS connection can be used with a cell telephone to connect to the TRS headphones. However, stereo music will still work.

Is 3.5 mm the same size as TRS

Consumer electronics devices like digital cameras, camcorders and portable DVD players use connectors of 3.5 mm for audio output and composite video. A TRS connection can be used to connect mono unbalanced audio and video, while a TRRS connection can be used for stereo unbalanced sound plus video.

3.5 mm Jack and 3.5 mm Splitters for Stereo Equipment

Do you need to connect a device using a 3.5 mm audio jack to a car stereo, home stereo, or car stereo with RCA outputs? There are several ways to accomplish this.

You can buy an adapter if you already own a standard RCA cable. It’s a good idea to get a cable with a 3.5 mm stereo and RCA plugs. What if your smartphone doesn’t have an audio jack? You can get an adapter to do that.

iPhone Aux Cord- Lightning to Stereo Male

Belkin’s lightning audio adapter cables can be used with older iPhones or iPads that do not have a headset jack. They allow you to connect your iPhone to a stereo system, whether it’s a car stereo or a powered speaker.

Stereo mini male breakout adapter for RCA stereo male

Let’s say you want to connect your iPhone and a stereo system with a different 3.5 mm input. Connect the iPhone aux cord to this adapter. You can now connect to your stereo’s RCA input jacks.

USB-C audio adapter for 3.5mm to USB-C

Do you have an Android phone with no headphone jack? This USB_C dongle includes a built-in 3.5mm jack. You can use it to connect to stereo systems or for headphones.

Stereo mini Male Stereo Female Adapters

Do you need to connect an Android smartphone to the stereo system? It is possible to get a 3.5 mm female to RCA male adapter, which can then be connected to the USB-C dongle and then connect a standard RCA patch cord between the adapter, the aux input, and the adapter.

An alternative to the patch cord and adapter, you can use one of these mini-to RCA cables.

3.5 mm TRS male to RCA stereo male cables

You are connecting a portable audio player with high-res audio to a high quality audio system. Audiophile-grade cables like the cables from Audioquest are available for reasonable prices or even less expensive options like the Hosa models.

Pro Audio Gear – 3.5mm Connectors

Are you new to pro audio gear and the world of it? You might be using an audio mixer for podcast creation. Perhaps you use a couple of powered PA speakers to host neighborhood Karaoke parties. A 3.5 mm adapter may be necessary to complete your kit.

Stereo mini male to 1/4″ TRS male

You need to connect a computer or phone to an audio mixer. Do you have a 1/4-inch stereo input jack on your mixer?

  • A 5mm to 1/4″ cables required.
  • Many small mixers feature a stereo input measuring 3.5mm.
  • These cables can be used with a 3.5mm TRS cable.

Stereo mini Breakout Cables + Adapters

If your mixer doesn’t have a stereo input of 3.5mm or 1/4″, you can use an adapter or cable to connect the left and correct channels on two separate stems. These are the three options.

  • 5 mm TRS Male to two 1/4-inch mono plugs
  • 5mm TRS to dual 1/4″ TRS female
  • 5mm TRS plug to 2 XLR plugs

3.5 mm Headphone Adapters

Headphone jacks, plugs, and earphone jacks are available in 3.5 mm and 1/4″. You may have to convert HTML3 to or vice versa.

Do you want to run two pairs of headphones using one output? Headphones Y-adapters can be used in a variety configurations.

Headphone extension cables

There are many lengths and configurations of headphones extension cables. The table below shows the 1/4″ version. They can be used with adapters for 3.5mm plugs or Jacks. The best choice for audiophile headphones is the Grado model.

Brand Length Description Item number
Hosa 10 feet Male to female 3.5mm TRS 979MHE110
Hosa 25 feet Male to female 3.5mm TRS 979MHE125
Hosa 10 feet 1/4″ TRS males, 1/4″TRS females 979HPE310
Hosa 25 feet 1/4″ TRS male to 1/4” TRS female 979HPE325
Grado 12 feet 1/4″ TRS male to 1/4” TRS female 786XTNSN12

3.5 mm cables

Final, you might find that all you need is a 3.5 mm stereo cable (TRS). Here are some options.

Brand Length Item number
Hosa 5 feet 979CMM105
Hosa 10 feet 979CMM110
Scosche 6 feet (flat plug with right angle plug at one end). 142AUX6FBK
Scosche 3 feet 142I335


RJ45 to 3.5 mm Adapters

For audio signal transmissions over long distances (up to 150 feet), you can use CAT5 Ethernet cables and these HTML35 mm to RJ45 converter at each end.

How do I use a 3.5 mm mic on my PC?

These consumer microphones merit a brief mention. Most new computers have built-in microphones. Older computers will often have a microphone input jack of 3.5 mm.

Any computer equipped with a 1/8” TRRS headphone jack wired to CTIA standards is capable of receiving an analog microphone.  These jacks can be used as an audio interface.

How to Connect 3.5 mm Microphone and PC

Plug the microphone in physically to the microphone input (or the headphone socket) of the computer.  You can choose the microphone to act as an audio input for the computer and/or the software. Set the input level to the computer.

To get the best results, make sure that your microphone plug and computer Jack are correctly wired. There are simple TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) jacks designed specifically for mics, and there are TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) jacks designed for headphones and microphones.

Two standards should be observed when considering TRRS connections to ensure compatibility

  • CTIA: Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association
  • OMTP Mobile Terminal Platform
  • The CTIA standard can be wired as follows:
  • Tip: Left headset
  • Ring: Right headphone
  • Ground Ring
  • Sleeve: Microphone
  • The OMTP standard refers to:
  • Tip: Left headset
  • Ring: Right headphone
  • Ring: Microphone
  • Sleeve Ground

Why is there no 3.5 mm jack?

It is a highly debated topic to remove a headphone jack, but it doesn’t just mean that customers have to buy new headphones. You are forcing customers to buy brand-specific headphones.

Cellphone companies are also dropping the plug from their new phones because of the push toward a wireless future.

Are braided audio cables better?

The most common use of TRS cables is in headphones and the output of headphone on certain instruments, mixers, and studio monitors. Both TRS and TS cable can be converted between each other using a variety of methods, from TRS to TS cables to 1/4 adapters to 3.5mm and 1/4.

What cable provides the best sound quality for you?

HDMI wins the audio quality contest. HDMI is the ideal choice for audio quality. An optical cable will still be able pass surround sound and extremely high-quality audio. However, the new HDMI version 2.0 adds bandwidth which allows for higher resolution and audio.

Are braided audio cables better?

A high-quality, nylon-braided cable will last you much longer than the one Apple ships in the box. The cable’s woven outer provides essential structural integrity to resist fraying and tearing from everyday use.

Conclusion: 3.5 mm Cable and 3.5 mm Audio Jack

It is important to know the potential issues when purchasing 3.5mm stereo cables. These cables have small connectors that can break. These connectors are made using copper and gold-plated barrels that have different sizes. You can jam a component into the receiving plug of a device you are trying to connect if it is not in place. You should always check the 3.5mm connector before you insert it into any device. You can easily wear the wire, which can lead to audio distortions, or even failure.

If you make sure that your cable meets the highest standards, you can avoid most problems with 3.5mm stereo headphones. The ideal cable should be 99.99% oxygen-free copper wire.

A low loss 95 percent spiral-wound copper shield should be included in the cable. It should have a 26 AWG gauge as well as a stranded copper center conductor. For increased cable life, nickel or gold plated connectors offer better corrosion protection. They are also more resistant to damage and wear due to their fully-molded construction.

FAQ 3.5 mm Audio Cable:

Can I use a Headphone Jack as Line Out?

Headphone outputs and line inputs are quite different. However, headphones can sometimes drive line level inputs which can be used to receive line level signals. The main difference between line and headphones is their impedance. The primary difference is in the impedance you will notice.  The line level inputs will typically have a 10 kΩ to 50 kΩ impedance.  Likewise, you can expect 75 to 600 Ω source (line output) impedance while headphones have 8 Ω to 500 Ω impedance and range of 0.1 Ω to 50 Ω source.