Common Types of Audio Cables and Connectors


Audio connectors are crucial for the standard operations of countless electronic devices, serving to transfer signals between various equipment pieces. As there are numerous forms of cables and connectors that one may procure, it is important that the right one is chosen to ensure compatibility with the devices that you own. In this blog, we will discuss the most common audio connectors that are used for a variety of equipment, ensuring that you make the correct choice during your next purchase.

Quarter-Inch Jack Connectors

The ¼ inch jack connector can be considered one of the most common audio cable types, often seen on electric guitars, guitar amps, and other similar equipment. The plug will typically feature a single black hoop towards the insertion point, which indicates that the plug is a type of single-channel connection. When used for instruments and line-level connections, such components are often shielded. Meanwhile, those that are used for the interconnection of speakers and amps or guitar heads and cabinets are often unshielded.

Quarter-Inch Balanced Jack Connector

Featuring the same size plug as the ¼ inch jack connector, such variations differ in the fact that they can carry two channels of audio. To do this, the component features a Tip, Ring, Sleeve (TRS) design, that of which is indicated by the presence of two black hoops on the plug tip. The tip of the plug and the ring carry the left and right channel signals, and the sleeve of the connector ensures that common earth is provided. Generally, such audio cable components serve headphone outputs, pianos, recording equipment, mixing desks, and more.

RCA Connectors

RCA connectors are types that many may be familiar with, often finding use with Hi-Fi and home audio equipment. Coming in the form of unbalanced, mono connection plugs, such components are commonly used for audio interfaces, DJ mixers, Hi-Fi equipment, and other audio based apparatuses. While not always the case, RCA connectors often come in the form of a red, right channel plug and a white, left channel plug. While not the correct terminology, RCA connectors are often mistakenly referred to as “aux cables” due to their use.

XLR Connectors

XLR connectors provide a balanced connection, allowing them to excel in professional audio applications. Featuring a barrel with 3-7 pins or holes, such connectors have been advanced over the years to improve upon their capabilities and add locking functionalities. With their secure connection and balanced operation, XLR connectors commonly find use in musical and audio applications such as transferring the signals of microphones, monitor speakers, PA applications, and more.

Stereo Minijack Connectors

Stereo minijack connectors are arguably the most widely used audio connector of all, featuring a 3.5 mm plug that is compatible with MP3 players, computer audio jacks, headphones jack, and so much more. Such connectors feature a TRS arrangement and two insulation rings, and their sleeve acts as common ground. While rare, mono minijack connectors are an option that may be used for various applications.

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