How Headphones Jack Works?

We can all agree that the main problem and issues that could happen with corded headphones are faulty jack. It doesn’t matter whether you call it headphone or earphone jack – because it is one of the most common jacks that you can find on any Smartphone.

However, this simple piece of technology is the essential part of headphones, and that is why I wanted to present you how it functions and works. By understanding how jack works, you will be able to fix it in case of small damage. I surely understood how to do it and will show you too.

Let’s see how headphone jack works.

It Creates Complete Circuit

If you want to understand the headphone jack, you should have an insight on the physics of headphones. At the basic level, the headphones is a loop of wire that includes current that runs through it. The current is in the loop, and it interacts with the magnet inside the headphones that will push air through it and make a sound.

The key thing that you should remember is that current goes through the loop of wire and that is how it creates sound. In case you want to use an electric current, it needs to have a complete circuit.

For example, when you want to turn on a light bulb, the current goes from the battery to the bulb and back into the battery, which creates a complete circuit. In the form of speakers in the earphone, the principle is similar, but it has some differences. For headphones, we don’t require battery but we use the oscillating source, and the coil is the material that replaces the bulb.

The Main Component of Headphones

The main component of headphones is the plug because it allows you to connect your speakers with the music source without having to interfere with frustrating wires. Each speaker features two wires, and if you want to figure out how these connections function, I recommend you do simple research.

Use broken headphones and cut off the end of the headphone cable few inches from the plug. Strip off the insulation, and you will find the tiny wires inside.

If you ever wondered how wires enter the connector, different types of wires will help you determine. Jack for the earphone, microphone or headphone, is the essential part of headphones. At the same time, it is the cheapest part but one of the most important ones. Therefore, it deserves attention from the engineers when it comes to quality and design.

You should also have in mind that connector plays a vital role in transferring signals from devices such as laptops, mobile phones, music players, etc to the microphone and headphones and vice versa.

The jack or connector that we use for earphones contains three segments or parts that we call TIP, RING, and Sleeve. Therefore, most people call it TRS connector. In most cases, manufacturers classify connectors by diameter. The most popular size is 3.5mm that most headphones nowadays use. Other commonly used jacks come in 6.35mm and 2.5mm sizes.

In case that connector features four different contacts such as Tip, Ring, Ring, and Sleeve, then we know it as TRS connector. On the other hand, connectors with two contacts are TS connectors. TRC connector is the main part of headphones and mobile phones, while the fourth contact is mostly perfect for transferring video signal.

The Future of Headphone Jacks

I heard last year that Apple decided to remove the headphone jack and leave only Apple Lightning port. The main reason for this particular decision is because Apple wanted to make the waterproof mobile device, and they couldn’t do it without removing the jack. Since then, more and more mobile manufacturers decided to follow this particular trend.

However, the headphone jack is an analog port that started back in the 19th century, and Apple created 3.5mm ports that became a standard selection. The erase of headphone jack will increase the sales of Bluetooth headphones and will reduce the hassle of damaging the headphones.

Nowadays, 3.5mm headphones are the standard in the speaker system. We use it to interpret the amplified sound and to send the signal that will create the sound. The main reason why people enjoy using the 3.5mm headphone jacks is that it works. You won’t notice any jiggling and dongles during the connection.

Some manufacturers, state that the overall appearance of smartphones will improve and change due to lack of headphone jack. On the other hand, people decided to create alternative formats such as wireless or Type-c, or lightning cables.

On the other hand, those who still think that 3.5mm is a great tool, think that the removal will have no impact on overall design and that this is an excuse for companies to increase sales of wireless and Bluetooth headphones. We can say that truth is in the middle of this particular debate. You can read this article if you are interested to know How Does Bluetooth Headphones Work.

Difference Between Standard Headphone Jack and Alternatives

When we check different alternatives to standard headphone jack such as AUX, Lightning, and Type-C, we can say that there are some differences. For example, all three of these types will provide the digital data, which means there were be no analog signal and that will increase the overall sound quality.

Other benefits are that USB will allow you to enjoy a wide range of signal transfers without limitations to audio.
On the other hand, there are disadvantages because of the painful transition period. As we can see, most professionals and best headphones for mixing and tools require 3.5mm jack, which means that you should find an adaptor that will provide you the possibility to use them.


We can all agree that technology will change in the next few decades and with that most of the processes and principles we used will stop being convenient and popular. The same thing goes for the headphone jack.

Of course, we will need a way to connect the headphones with a listening device, but the future tells us that there will be no frustrating wires and lousy jacks that could wear off after a while.

What do you think about it?

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