¼ Inch Audio Cable: Everything You Need to Know About it

About ¼ Inch Audio Cable, With the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless audio has gradually dominated the single-user market. However, there are several applications where using an audio cable to transmit audio signals is inevitable. 

Whether you use them in a simple home recording studio, a professional setup, or your surround sound home theatre system, audio cables are a crucial element of the recording and playback industry. 

Getting started using a jack plug and don’t understand different types and how they work? This handy guide provides a detailed overview of one of the popular audio cables: ¼ inch.

¼ Inch Understanding

The ¼ inch cable has been with us for more than a century- since 1878. People mainly call it a “phone plug” since it was originally used to conveniently switch telephone lines at central stations. You must have heard people refer to them as either headphone jacks,  jack connectors, microphone jacks, or audio jacks.

Today, people use the ¼ inch cable for analog audio signals. If you have professional audio gear, such as an electric guitar, amplifiers on stage, digital piano, mixer, or speaker, take a close look at it. You’ll notice that it has a ¼” port.

Take another look at your phone’s docking port. Note that the port is cylindrical and has a grooved tip to keep it in place. Generally, there can’t be a connection unless the male jack connector fits into the female-balanced or unbalanced phone jacks.

The ¼” inch connector is an advanced version of the 3.5mm connector. If you measure the cable in millimeters, it has a diameter of 6.35mm (¼ inch). Experts consider it the standard in the world of audio connections. On the other hand, the mini-connector measures 3.5 mm in diameter (0.14 inches).

¼” TS Connectors

Types of 1/4″ Connector

The 6.35 mm connectors take two main types: 

In a TRS, the wiring is as follows:

  • Tip: It is the contact for positive.
  • Ring: It is the contact for negative.
  • Sleeve: It is the contact for the ground signal.

On the other hand, TS has two contact points. The wiring is as follows:

  • Tip: It is the contact for positive.
  • Sleeve: It is the contact for the ground contact.

¼” TS Connectors

Like 3.5mm TS connectors, ¼ inch TS connectors have two main parts: The sleeve and tip. They only transmit unbalanced mono audio signals since they contain only one transmission channel.

People use it in most consumer applications and portable media players, including laptops, smartphones, and mp3 players. Also, you can find ¼” TS ports in many other mixing consoles, audio interfaces, and integrated amps. The TS connector is the best option if you want a connector for an instrument that outputs a mono signal. 

A TS cable has various benefits. For instance, it is longer and easier to use when playing musical instruments in a concert venue. Also, it is easy to connect amplifiers on stage. Nonetheless, the cable shouldn’t be too long to prevent noise and ensure high-quality connector signals.

¼” TRS Connectors

Unlike the TS connector, which has 2 contact points, a TRS cable has 3 contact points: The sleeve, ring, and tip. This extra contact makes a huge difference. It enables the cable to output a stereo or balanced audio signal. 

While the ring has a negative wire, the tip has a positive. These wires gather any interference and noise when an audio signal passes through. The opposite polarities help cancel the noise when using stereo headphones.

You can use the connector with any host device that requires balanced connections or stereo headphones. Also, you can use this American headset jack with both stereo and mono signals. 

¼” TRS Connectors

¼” TRS Connectors

How 1/4″ Audio Cables Work

You can better understand how the ¼” plug works by looking at the connector segments.

¼” TS Plug as Unbalanced Instrument

This plug has two contact points: The sleeve and the tip. The two points function as follows:

Sleeve= Shield (-)

Tip= Hot (+)

¼” TS Plug as Speaker

It also has two contact points: The sleeve and the Tip. They function as follows:

Sleeve = Cold (-)

Tip = Hot (+)

¼” TRS Plug as Unbalanced Stereo

It has three contact points: The sleeve, Ring, and Tips. These points function as follows:

Sleeve = Shield (-)

Ring = Right (+)

Tip = Left (+)

¼” TRS Plug as Unbalanced Insert

It has a sleeve, ring, and tip. These three contact points function as follows:

Sleeve = Shield (-)

Ring = Return (+)

Tip = Send (+)

¼” TRS Plug as Balanced Mono

It has three contact points that function as follows:

Sleeve = Shield (ground)

Ring = Cold (-)

Tip = Hot (+)

It is easy to know which plug to use. Pay attention to what your audio INPUT jacks expect to receive versus what your audio OUTPUT is configured to deliver. If you use the wrong jack on your gear, you’ll compromise signal quality. For instance, you shouldn’t plug a gear that sends out a left/right unbalanced stereo signal into another gear that receives a balanced mono input. If you do that, you’ll lose half of your audio signal. Further, you could cause noise and other system anomalies.

Pay attention to the output and input 

Pay attention to the output and input. 

3.5 mm Vs. 1/4″: Which Is Better?

If you look at your smartphone, mp3 player, or laptop, you may notice a 3.5mm port. How does it differ from the ¼” inch one? Which one should you choose?


If you look at ¼ inch and 3.5mm connectors, you’ll notice a major difference in size. For example, the extension plugs for ¼” connectors are large and long. In contrast, the length of a quarter-inch plug is about 31mm, and a 3.5 jack plug measures 17mm long.

The diameters of the jack connector determine their size. For instance, the ¼” connector has a diameter of 6.35mm, making it bigger than the standard 3.5mm jack. Hence, a ¼ inch connector has a sizable contact surface, which ensures you always get an excellent connection and enhanced signal clarity.


Compared to the 3.5mm connectors, ¼” plugs guarantee a lifetime warranty. The sturdiness mainly comes from their length and size. Hence, they rarely shatter or flex. Moreover, they can resist tears and wear caused by frequent replugging and plugging.


The quality of a standard 3.5mm plug is noticeably lower because of the size. Further, these connectors come with slender cables. Variations in features ultimately affect the cost. In other words, a ¼” plug is slightly more expensive than its 3.5mm counterparts.


The ¼-inch jack is a standard audio device for most portable applications. It is reliable, making it more popular in professional audio equipment and consumer devices.

On the other hand, the 3.5mm plugs are small. Frequent bending makes them break easily. Consequently, they are rarely used in today’s portable applications and consumer devices.

Sound Quality

While the ¼-inch and 3.5mm plugs vary in size, the sound quality is identical. Nonetheless, the ¼” jack will give you a better efficient signal clarity during recording. For instance, its size makes it firm in the port. Simply put, the jack rarely comes loose during live recording, ensuring efficient signal transfer.

TRRS Male Connector

3.5mm 4-pole TRRS jack has four conductors: the tip, ring, ring, and sleeve contact. These four contact points allow it to transmit composite analog videos and stereo sound. Nonetheless, you can only use this headphone jack with a computer, smartphone, or other advanced audio applications.

Choose the connector according to your needs

Choose the connector according to your needs

C.an You Connect A ¼” Jack to A 3.5mm Port & Vice Versa?

The ¼” jack is compatible with the standard 3.5mm audio connectors. In the same case; it is possible to connect a 3.5mm jack to a ¼” connector. You need a 3.5mm to ¼” converter, and you’re good to go. You can get a mini phono adapter that can convert a 3.5mm signal to a ¼-inch jack in any local electronic store near you.

Choose the connector according to your needs


The ¼” connector is currently the standard music industry audio plug. You can use it with some microphone cables and musical instrument cables. On the other hand, the 3.5mm connector is an inferior and mini-sized version of the ¼-inch plug. You can use it in various consumer applications and portable media players. If you buy a cable fitted with a ¼ inch connector, you’ll enjoy enhanced signal clarity, a lifetime of usage, and ease of replacement.

Nonetheless, buy the connector that works for you and your unique situation. Regardless of the kind you prefer, contact Cloom for various audio cable options. We also provide help with cable assemblies.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at [email protected] to get a quote for your projects.


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