How can connections be inconvenient

Competition for the jack as a headphone connection

For decades, the good old jack was the only relevant headphone jack. In the past few years, however alternative connection types added. We explain the most common headphone connections and reveal how likely the end of the jack plug is.

The classic among the headphone connections: jack

The best known and probably still most frequently used headphone jack is the jack plug or jack. The first plug connections of this kind were used in telephone exchanges at the end of the 19th century - this makes jack plugs one of the oldest plug connections ever! The jack plug was continuously developed, so that in the 1980s the three-pole stereo jack plug became the standard on the market - the version with a diameter of 3.5 mm had established itself especially for portable devices. The additional contacts are used to use additional functions - for example for a microphone in headsets or "noise canceling" in high-quality devices. Nowadays are too four and five pole Plugs are still quite common. In the article on the jack plug assignment, we explain the different types in more detail.

The diameter specification is also important for users: portable devices such as MP3 players or smartphones usually require one 3.5 mm jack plug. In studio technology, mixing consoles, guitar amplifiers and effects devices there is usually a jack plug with a diameter of 6.35 mm to be found. With the appropriate adapters, the connector sizes of the purely electrical connectors can easily be translated to one another at a later date.

The advantages of the jack plug at a glance:

  • Widespread: Jack plugs are found on almost every device that reproduces audio information.
  • The connection is quick and is established immediately after plugging in.
  • Headphones with this headphone connection are usually comparatively cheap.

The disadvantages of the jack plug at a glance:

  • The cable connection is prone to defects such as loose contacts.
  • There may be restrictions in wearing comfort because there is a cable connection (e.g. when running or getting on a bike).
  • The headphones can normally only be connected to one device at a time.
  • An additional sound card is required for 5.1 sound.

Does USB-C have what it takes to become the new standard?

Although the jack plug has provided loyal service for decades, many experts predict the end of this headphone connection soon. The new one is partly to blame for this USB-C connector. Its audio specifications (USB ADC 3.0) were released in 2016. A major difference and advantage of the USB-C connection compared to the jack: That output signal this headphone jack is usually digitalwhile the jack plug transmits an analog signal. Noise is a thing of the past with digital information transmission, even with long cables. If headphones are connected to a digital device using a jack plug, the digital data must first be converted into analog signals, for example directly in the smartphone. Thanks to digital audio transmission via USB-C, there is likely to be one in the future too even better sound quality possible.

Another advantage is that USB-C can do a lot more than just transfer audio data. The standard opens up completely new possibilities for communication between individual components. For example, it is conceivable that other functions such as individual sound profiles and equalizer presets directly in the headphones get saved. Perhaps the most important additional function: batteries can be charged via USB-C. This enables manufacturers of smartphones and tablets in particular to integrate fewer wired interfaces and thus to build even narrower devices. With the iPhone 7, Apple was one of the first manufacturers to no longer use a jack socket in smartphones. Only an adapter from USB-C to jack was included. With cell phones in particular, it is now foreseeable that jack plugs will have a difficult time in the future. Other manufacturers have taken a similar path as Apple.

The advantages of USB-C at a glance

  • Digital audio output leads to fewer noise signals and sources of interference.
  • Surround sound is possible with supporting headphones.

The disadvantages of USB-C at a glance

  • Headphones are wired, so there may be restrictions on wearing comfort.
  • So far, there are only a few devices that rely on this headphone connection, so adapter solutions are often required (at least in the transition phase).
  • If the USB-C slot is being used for applications such as charging, you will not be able to connect headphones.

No cables, no problems? Headphones with bluetooth transmission

The fact that headphone connections do not always need a cable is made clear by those devices that rely on wireless Bluetooth technology. A trend that was driven not least by Apple and the abandonment of a jack connection on the iPhone 7. While noticeable differences in sound quality could be heard with the first Bluetooth headphones, improvements in technology and codecs such as Bluetooth aptX led to the fact that the audio data are now transmitted with almost no loss. There are still subtle differences, but you can only hear them when you have your files in lossless formats like FLAC or ALAC play. The offered sound quality is therefore usually more than satisfactory for streaming services and your own music library.

Bluetooth speakers from Teufel

Another important point is that almost all Bluetooth headphones also have a conventional jack connection, as is the case with our Teufel MUTE BT. If the battery is empty or the headphones are to be connected to a device without Bluetooth compatibility (e.g. a mixer), this is usually not a problem. These models combine the advantages of different headphone connections in one device.

Further information on this topic and which types of headphones are offered by Teufel can be found on the websiteBluetooth headphonesread on our homepage.

The advantages of Bluetooth headphones at a glance

  • They mean maximum comfort because they do not require cables.
  • Greater range (10 m and more) than wired headphones. For example, they can be used anywhere in the home without any problems.
  • Multiple audio sources can be paired with the same headphones.

The disadvantages of Bluetooth headphones at a glance

  • They are battery operated and also need to be charged.
  • Pairing the devices can sometimes be cumbersome or problematic.

Teufel models with different headphone connections

Regardless of which headphone connection you use, Teufel offers the right model with high wearing comfort and top sound. Our MUTE headphones, for example, are available with both cable and Bluetooth radio:

Even more Bluetooth headphones from Teufel

Conclusion on headphone connections

Every user has different needs and priorities when choosing their headphones. Therefore, you should be clear about which headphone jack is the right one for you before buying. Since the devices with Bluetooth usually also offer a jack connection, you can kill two birds with one stone.

  • For on the go or during sports, wireless models offer the highest level of comfort.
  • The aptX Bluetooth codec is interesting for audiophiles and hi-fi nerds because of its almost loss-free transmission.
  • The trend among smartphone and tablet manufacturers seems to be moving away from jack and towards USB-C and / or Bluetooth.
  • Adapters are not the most elegant solution, but they do ensure compatibility.
  • There is no such thing as “better” or “worse” - which headphones are the right one always depends on the individual focus.

Image 1: © denvit certain rights reserved. Source: Pixabay