TRS (Phone) Connectors

Selection of JacksTRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) connectors are known by many different names, some of which are confusing or just plain wrong. Common names include:

The term "jack" is particularly common for this stype of connector, which is confusing because in most connections "jack" refers to the "fixed" part, i.e. the connector on a piece of equipment such as a sound mixer where a cable plugs into. The fixed connector is usually female (a hole or socket) whereas the plug is usually male.

The terms "jack plug" and "phone jack" are therefore ambiguous, which is why we prefer the terms "TRS" or "TS".

In any case these connectors are very common in audio equipment. The original 1/4" size was used in early telephone switchboards and has since become a standard connector for musical and other audio equipment.

The jack is available in three sizes: 2.5mm (3/32") , 3.5mm (1/8") and 6.3mm (1/4").

Connectors can be either mono (tip/sleeve) or stereo (tip/ring/sleeve). Some plugs are able to carry more signals for use with camcorders, laptops and other applications.

Stereo plugs can also be used to transmit a single balanced audio signal instead of unbalanced stereo. Possible configurations are:

Unbalanced Mono   Balanced Mono   Stereo
Tip   Signal   Positive / Hot   Left channel
Ring   (Not connected)   Negative / Cold   Right channel
Sleeve   Ground / Return   Ground   Ground

Note: Do not confuse jack plugs with registered jack (RJ) connectors, which are used to connect modern telephone equipment.