How To Identify Headphone Wire? What Kind of Wire Is Used?

Headphones can be an essential part of our daily life, listening to music, watching movies, or learning a lesson. The cable or the wire of headphones is an essential part; if it has low quality may cause noise or distortion. So, how to identify headphone wire? What kind of is used?

How To Identify Headphone Wire? What Kind of Wire Is Used?

To identify any headphone wire or cable type, you have to look at the cable’s plug; the plug is the key to identifying the type of your headphones cable. The plug size determines the wire’s type; it can be 3.5 mm, 2.5 mm, or 6.3 mm. The 3.5 mm can be found in portable applications such as MP3 players.

The 3.5 mm is very common and used in many other devices, for example, computer desktops, computer speakers, and CD media players. The next type, the 2.5mm has a smaller diameter; this makes it more suitable for some mobile phones and two-way radios. Finally, the 6.3 mm is more for the big devices.

For example, the electric bass/guitar, amplifiers, and home stereos, and this cable can also be called the 1/4-inch cable or jack.

What Kind of Wire Is Used?

The headphones wires and jacks can be made from copper, gold, rhodium, and silver; meanwhile, connectors may be made from cheaper materials and then plated like brass. The connectors can also be made from the same material as the wire, and recently, the silver-plated copper wire became more demanded than solid silver wire.

The plated silver-copper wires are cheaper than the solid silver ones; however, copper is the most common and demanded cable material because it has the highest electric conductivity among all the non-expensive “precious” metals.

Copper Wires

The headphone wire is made from twisted/braided strands of copper; as it resists damage due to vibration/twisting, is flexible, and its high conductivity is the same as a single strand of copper. The method used to determine the purity of copper is called #-nines; the # refers to the number of the nine in the copper’s purity value.

For example, if a type of copper has 99.999% purity, it’s called 5-nine copper; meanwhile, if the copper has 99.99999% purity, it’s called 7-nine copper. The nine-coppers start from N1 to N7, each has its purity and impurity ppm; for example:


Copper Nines Purity Copper Parts Matrix PPM Impurity PPM
N1  90%  1,000,000 900,000 100,000
N2 99%  1,000,000 990,000 10,000
N3 99.9%  1,000,000 999,000 1000
N4 99.99%  1,000,000 999,900 100
N5 99.999%  1,000,000 999,990 10
N6 99.9999%  1,000,000 999,999 1
N7 99.99999%  1,000,000 999,999.9 0.1

The copper used for headphones cables, the oxygen in it is reduced using OFC “oxygen-free copper,” the oxygen’s level can be reduced to 0.001% or below. For example, the C101000 copper, a distinctive type of copper that is very costly and highly refined, can sometimes be used in premium headphone wires.

However, this type of copper is higher in conductivity than oxygen-free copper with only one percent, although the oxygen in it is reduced to 0.0005%, and it has no silver impurities.

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What Are The Types of Headphones’ Jack?

Any headphone must have one of these types TRRS and TRS jacks. First, TRS audio plug or TRS jack can also be called the 3 wire or 3 pole jack; meanwhile, the TRRS audio plug or TRS jack can also be called the 4 wire or 4 pole jack. An interesting fact about headphone jacks is that the jacks are the ones in the devices.

The jacks are found in devices, for example, computers, laptops, and mobile phones; meanwhile, the one in the headphones is called a plug. You can find plugs in aux cables, earphones, and headphones. The plugs have different sizes, such as 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 6.3mm, and they are connected to the jacks.

3 Wire Headphone Jack or 3 Pole (TRS)

The TRS stands for the 3 main parts of the jack tip, ring, and sleeve. The TIP is responsible for carrying the left audio channel signals. The RING is responsible for carrying the right channel signals. Finally, the SLEEVE is responsible for carrying the ground for ground signals of right and left channels.

The TRS plugs are frequently used with old headphones, audio cables, and aux cables; the TRS plug doesn’t support the mic features. The color coding for a headphone jack is green, blue, and red, but different colors can be used if the manufacturer changes. Typically, red refers to right signals, blue refers to left signals and green for grounding.

4 Wire Headphone Jack or 4 Pole (TRRS)

The TRRS stands for the 4 main parts of the jack tip, upper ring, lower ring, and sleeve. The TIP is responsible for carrying the left audio channel signals, the UPPER RING is responsible for carrying the right channel signals, the LOWER RING is responsible for the microphone, and the SLEEVE is responsible for carrying the ground for ground signals of the right and left channels.

TRRS Color Coding

Unlike the TRS, the TRRS has four terminals, not three red, blue, yellow, and green. The red is used for the right audio signals, the blue is used for the left audio signals, the yellow is used for the microphone feature, and the green is used for grounding. However, these standards can be changed from one manufacturer to other.

The tip is connected blue-colored terminal, the upper ring is connected to the red-colored terminal, the lower ring is colored to the yellow-colored terminal, and the sleeve is connected to the green-colored terminal (the ground).


What Are The Issues of Headphones Wire?

Headphones wires can face many problems like tangling, disconnecting, tearing, and wearing; however, the tangling appears to be the most common problem for all headphones wires. The tangling issue can cause many other issues, so it must be dealt with quickly.


If the headphones cable has a bane, it’s tangling; it damages the cable contents and integrity; besides, the cable doesn’t look good when tangled. The main reason causing the wire to be tangled in the material or the components used in it, for example, thicker cables don’t tangle. This is because the thick cable has a fabric layer around them.

The outer layer of the thick cables reduces the tangling problem; another solution to the tangling problem is flat cables; as their design makes it impossible for them to tangle. You may think that avoiding tangling problems will have no consequences; however, it has downsides when you try to tide up your cable.

The wires will resist being coiled or tidied up; this may be the only disadvantage for the tangling-free cables. However, you can use other ways to tide up your cables. Flat wires are the most known cables with this problem, so you should know before purchasing them. In addition, you can buy another fabric wire for the headphones.


Headphones cable manufacturing has standards; the most important factors when constructing the cables are the insulation and the prevention of the noise whenever the cable is bumped or coiled. Unfortunately, the low-quality headphones cables cause distortion and noise whenever they are bumped or coiled.

Fortunately, the budget headphones presented a solution to this problem, and it’s a well-known fact that low-quality cables have disappeared from the market. The cable material is the main factor in avoiding noise and distortion; the cable cover doesn’t interfere with this problem.


To sum up, the headphones’ plug is the key to identifying the type of the headphones’ cable type; the type can be 2.5mm, 3.5mm, or 6.3mm. The 3.5mm is the most common type of headphones plugs; you can find it in most portable devices, the 2.5mm plug is known for its small diameter, and the 6.3mm is found in big devices.

The headphones wires or cables can be made of copper, silver, rhodium, and gold; meanwhile, connectors may be made from cheaper materials and then plated like brass or the same material as the wire. The copper wires are the most popular and frequently used ones, and they have the shape of twisted/braided strands.

The headphones jack and plug are not the same things; the jack is the part you find in the devices such as computers, laptops, and mobile phones. The headphone plug is the part found in the aux cables or headphones, and it has two types TRS and TRRS. The TRS has three main parts:

  • TIP
  • RING

Meanwhile, the TRRS has four main parts:

  • TIP

When purchasing headphones, you have to be sure that the cable’s materials are excellent quality and the cable is tangling-free to avoid problems like tearing, wearing, and disconnection.

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