Headset info PART THREE

Understanding headset plugs & jacks


Despite the recent boom in cordless/wireless headsets, most headsets use plugs to connect to telephones. There are several similar-looking plugs used for telephone headsets. The situation can be very confusing, so be sure you get the right type of headset for your phone.

There are unimportant and important variations in the plugs.

  • Unimportant variations include the material used to make the plug body, whether the tip is pointed or rounded, and whether the plug body is straight or right-angle.

  • The important variations are the diamater of the plug "pin" (i.e., 2.5mm or 3.5mm.) and the number of conductors.

  • By conductors, we mean the number of individual wires inside the cable attached to the plug, which corresponds to the number of metal contacts on the plug (the tip and the rings). The more conductors and contacts, the more functions the headset can have.

  • It's also critical that the body of the plug is not too thick to fit into a recessed jack in some phones.

    (A) The 2.5mm plug is used for most monaural (one ear) headsets.

    (B) The single 3.5mm three-conductor plug can be used for either monaural headsets (with microphone) or stereo headphones (no microphone)

    (C) The single 3.5mm plug with four conductors is used for headsets that provide both stereo sound for listening and a microphone for speaking. They are commonly used with smartphones such as the iPod and Samsung Android phones.

    (D) The dual 3.5mm plug arrangement is used for headsets designed to connect to PCs. Some PC headsets use USB plugs.

    (Photos from Panasonic, MCM Electronics, Plantronics)

Is Jack male or female?

The little connectors on the ends of headset cords are plugs. Plugs fit into jacks. Plugs “do it” to jacks.


Despite their male name, jacks are female. And plugs are male. Plug and Penis begin with the same letter.


That should be easy to remember, but lots of people get it wrong. Some folks talk about “jacking in,” instead of “plugging in.” Google shows over 60,000 links for the phrase “jacking in.” That's stupid.

Many electricians call (female) electrical outlets, plugs. That's even more stupid. If you don't understand hardware gender, or phone sex, find someone of the opposite sex, get naked, and look in the mirror. Maybe you’ll get lucky.  

Or you could study Michelangelo's “Temptation and Fall” (at left) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome.

Smartphones and headsets

Smartphones such as most iPhones and Samsung Android phones have 3.5mm jacks, normally used to play stereo music through "headphones." You can also use a wired telephone "headset," but will need one equipped with a 3.5mm plug, or a 3.5mm-to-2.5mm adapter to use with a headset that has a 2.5mm plug. You can also use a wireless Bluetooth headset.

Don't confuse headsets with single 3.5mm plugs (for phone use) with headsets with dual 3.5mm plugs (for computer use).

Apple altered the iPhone design starting with the number seven, to use a proprietary connector. You can use an iPhon 7-type headset to connect directly, or get an adapter.