What are the ringtones for a headphone jack really used for? We discovered

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welcome to More details, a series dedicated to the ubiquitous but little-known elements hidden on your favorite products. This week: the bands on your headphone jack.

The advent of wireless headphones is slowly putting the headphone jack to rest, but it doesn’t turn off without a fight. Design, which goes back to its roots in the late 1800ss is sure to find its place on wired headphones, laptops and various audio equipment for years to come.

If you’ve ever considered plugging your old set of wired EarPods or other headphones for even a second while you go to insert it into a socket, you’ve surely noticed the series of colorful little plastic rings it contains. a in various socket-to-socket numbers. What’s the point ?

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The job of a headphone jack and jack is actually quite simple: communicate audio signals from the source and pass them to your headphones where they are played back as audio. These rings play a crucial role, not because of what they do, but because of what they don’t.

Made from a non-conductive material (usually plastic), these rings are used to divide the plug into different conductive sections, called pins, that actually do the job. Each plug should have at least two pins (and therefore, at least one ring to separate them): one section to carry the signal, while the other to serve as a return and ground path, which allows to override any distortion or interference the audio signal picks up along the way.

As a result, you can tell a lot about the headphones by looking at their jack. One ringtone means mono playback. This basic jack delivers only one channel of sound to the left and right earbuds. Two rings mean stereo. These plugs have three pins, one for the left channel, one for the right, and one for ground. Three split rings mean you have two stereo pins and a microphone pin as well, and this is the one you’re most likely to come across when looking at smartphone earbuds.

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