Why do headphones now come with those tiny connectors?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by DEG, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. DEG

    DEG Music is good Thread Starter

    Lawrenceville Ga.
    I'm considering a pair of Focals, $500, but they have the small connector so I have to use an adapter. Has the industry quit putting the full size connectors on the cables?
    LitHum05 likes this.
  2. punkmusick

    punkmusick Formerly 4011021

  3. Chilli

    Chilli Pretend Engineer.

    Haven't 3.5mm TRS plugs been the norm since the 80s? They come with a 1/4" adaptor as standard no? I'm confused.
    2trackmind likes this.
  4. Claude

    Claude Senior Member

    And portable players before that. And computers.

    Already 15-20 years ago, some popular brands have switched to 3.5" plugs (with a 6.3" adaptor provided) for their indoor use headphones.
    punkmusick likes this.
  5. DEG

    DEG Music is good Thread Starter

    Lawrenceville Ga.
    I have 2 pair of cans and they both have the mini plugs. The adapter I have must be worn out, it does not make a solid connection so the audio is broken up so I ordered some new adapters.
    Chilli likes this.
  6. Mccrip

    Mccrip Forum Resident

  7. Bananajack

    Bananajack Well-Known Member

    Why these connectors?
    They are cheaper ... and can be put into small devices. Started with the first Walkman so 1980
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  8. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    It's design decision. Put a large connector 1/4" termination then adapt it to 1/8" termination or vice versa. The advantage of the large connector is that you don't have to adapt with the better connections. The advantage with the 1/8" termination plug is that you don't have a ridiculously large plug into a portable device. The current tendency is to opt for less ridiculous.
    DrZhivago likes this.
  9. colinu

    colinu I'm not lazy, I'm energy saving!

    The large to small adapters put stress on the jacks of electronic devices like portable players and phones = breakage. No such issue occurs with a small to large adapter.
  10. WapatoWolf

    WapatoWolf Forum Resident

    bought my first Focal hp’s, Drop Elex. Amazing! Love em. It was a huge upgrade from my $200 hp’s.
  11. Hardcore

    Hardcore Quartz Controlled

    Both of my pairs have a screw in adapter so it becomes just as solid as a proper 1/4” jack with it on. I guess that’s not a standard thing.
  12. Swann36

    Swann36 A widower finding solace in music

    Lincoln, UK
    Tell us more about that screw in adapter where did you get it from and what cables does it fit onto ?
  13. AKG supply adapters with
    It is with AKG.
    rogertheshrubber likes this.
  14. Curiosity

    Curiosity Just A Boy

    United Kingdom
    Also is with Bayerdynamic DT series models too. The popularity of using headphones with digital audio personal players and the like make it a useful feature to offer the smaller connector while the bigger one usually found on stereo separates is accommodated with the adaptor. Nothing's lost by it.:thumbsup:
    Hardcore and SeeDeeFirth like this.
  15. colinu

    colinu I'm not lazy, I'm energy saving!

    Some Sony headphones also have this. Sadly Sennheiser doesn't.
  16. Tartifless

    Tartifless Forum Resident

    I had 3 cables, 3m big jack, 3m xlr, 1.2m small jack.
    Plus a big jack to small jack adapter.
  17. showtaper

    showtaper Concert Hoarding Bastard

    Another set of contacts you have to keep clean. They've also gone to smaller gauge cable as well which is more easily damaged. They weren't thinking about your convenience, it's a cost cutting measure. Everything has to be cheap and disposable these days.........
  18. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Them's HUGE plugs and adapters!

    If the cable matched their size you'd have over a thousand pounds of copper connected to your cans.


  19. Hardcore

    Hardcore Quartz Controlled

    My Sennheiser HD25 and Beyer DT1990Pro both came with them, they’re compatible with each other. Maybe it’s a German thing. Really useful though, not sure why it’s not standard.
  20. Hardcore

    Hardcore Quartz Controlled

    You can get the adapters on eBay but your headphone cable will need to have a threaded 3.5mm jack or it won’t fit.

    Exactly, it makes them easy to use with computers and other modern devices and you still have a decent full size jack when you need it.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  21. LitHum05

    LitHum05 American Expat Audiophile

    Taipei, Taiwan
    I would think this wouldn't be the case for audiophile home headphones. If someone needs to go outside with their $500 headphones, let them put the reverse type adaptors into their phones, etc. Rant over!
  22. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    The 3.5 mm TRS plugs and jacks are a sonic compromise compared to the larger 1/4" TRS plugs and jacks.

    The 3.5 mm plug (the male part) has measurably more crosstalk than the 1/4" plug. The jack (the female part) has smaller wipers and less contact area. 3.5mm jacks also wear out faster due to the smaller wipers.

    The 1/4" TRS plug and jack are better. Better for sound quality and better for durability. But balanced headphone cables with a 4-pin XLR connector are even better yet. I wish headphones had standardized on a 4-pin style connector rather than these TRS or TRRS style jacks and plugs.

    All of my serious headphones have come with a 1/4" TRS as their stock cable (some had an option to substitute a balanced cable as stock). Those headphones would often include an adapter with a 3.5mm male TRS plug as an accessory or a second shorter cable intended for portable use with a 3.5mm TRS plug. For example, the HD650 comes with a 1/4" TRS plug and an adapter that looks like this. My Oppo PM-2 headphones came with a long cable with a 1/4" TRS plug for home use and a shorter and thinner cable with a 3.5mm TRS plug for portable use.

    I don't like the screw-on style of 3.5mm to 1/4" adapters. The problem is that all of the screw on adapters aren't made to the same tolerances. A screw on adapter that works with one brand of headphone may not work well with another. With some headphones I have some screw on connectors that will not get a full and proper connection when screwed on all the way. The problem is that when you look at the screw on adapter and the mating headphone cable you can't tell by looking whether the two will fully insert and get a proper good connection. I have a lot of headphones. I have a box full of various 3.5mm to 1/4" adapters. There are 6 different screw-on adapters in that box. I don't know which goes with which headphone or which ones fit best with various headphones. I much prefer the style of adapter that just plug in with no screw-on malarkey. I prefer adapters that look like this because they will work with any of my 3.5mm cables.
    LitHum05 and mackat like this.

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