TRRS vs TRS Connectors: Which One Gives You Mic?

A headphone is something most of us use every day. But did you know that its functions are indicated in its connectors? 

Based on the number of bands/rings on it, there are mainly two types of headphone connectors for your smartphone headset: the TRRS connector and the TRS connector. 

To know which one you should look for if you want a new headphone, let’s put them side by side on this TRRS vs TRS comparison.

Dig in!

Starting With the Basics: What Do T, R, and S Indicate?

A standard connector, like that you use for guitars, will have a Tip (T) and a Sleeve (S). The audio that you send in through that connector is unbalanced.

But we are talking about headphone connectors, where more complicated audio needs to be transmitted. In headphones, you need stereo audio, and that is where Ring (R) comes in. 

Thus, T stands for Tip, R for Ring, and S for Sleeve. We will see about the functions of each in just a moment. 

What Does a TRS Connector Do? 

In gaming headsets and such, you see TRS connectors, where the Tip and Ring carry audio in the reversed format while the Sleeve acts as the ground. 

This is called a balanced mono audio transmission, and it reduces interference and noise to a large extent. 

Thus, TRS connectors are usually balanced mono audio connectors, but they are more generally used for smartphone headsets as unbalanced stereo connectors. 

The Tip would then carry Left audio, while the Ring carries the Right audio and Sleeve acts as the ground. 

What Difference Does it Make to Use TRRS?

When you are weighing the benefits of TRRS vs TRS, you stand to gain by using the former.

In TRRS, the Tip and the first Ring carries the stereo audio, while the second Ring acts as ground. The Sleeve here is for the microphone

Thus, in your standard smartphone headset with a microphone, TRRS connectors are used.

Keeping that in mind, most tablets, smartphones, and many laptops use TRRS sockets so that there is one socket to plug in a headset with an inline microphone. 

Both good and bad can come out of this since if you have a split connector headphone, you would need an adapter to use with such a socket. 

But for most of the newer smart devices, the one socket plug-in is a boon.

TRS Headphones in TRRS Sockets–What Should You Expect?

Since every smartphone these days are built with TRRS sockets, it is expected to encounter TRS jacks sometime during its life. When this happens, one of two things can happen:

  • A perfectly safe, small, short circuit between the microphone and ground conductors, and the microphone is cut off. 
  • Your smart device detects that it now has a TRS jack in its more sophisticated socket. 

It cuts off the mic action of the headphone in its settings and switches on the device’s mic. 

In that case, you can speak into your phone and hear the audio in your headset. 

Final Verdict 

As we have already seen, the one benefit that TRRS has over TRS is the ability to connect an in-built microphone. 

Therefore, if you want to use a headphone with mic, the TRRS connector will be present. 

However, you may be perfectly happy with the stereo audio of your TRS connector, if listening to music is your sole purpose in buying the headset.

Only, beware of this: when you are recording audio on your smart device using a Digital Interface, do NOT plug in a TRRS headphone to listen to the audio. Use TRS instead. 

With the TRRS, your smart device will detect its mic immediately, rendering your Digital Interface useless. 

With that, let’s wrap up for today. We hope we helped overcome your TRRS vs TRS dilemma!

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

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