Noob question about headphone cable connection terminals?
Feb 5, 2024 at 11:59 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

KaiFi

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How come some headphone cables have mono terminals going into the headphone and some have stereo? Will a stereo cable work with headphones whose stock cable has mono L and R terminals? Thanks.
 
Feb 5, 2024 at 12:18 PM Post #2 of 6
There's always just one channel going into one driver(the signal for the left channel going to the left driver). Maybe you're talking about headphone connections showing more than 2 contacts on one side? Those can be a number of things depending on the type of driver, but it's not stereo sent into one driver.

For your specific case, I suggest you mention the headphone and perhaps show the cables in question, because there is a lot that could be going on depending on brands, or single end VS balanced cables.
 
Feb 5, 2024 at 12:21 PM Post #3 of 6
There's always just one channel going into one driver(the signal for the left channel going to the left driver). Maybe you're talking about headphone connections showing more than 2 contacts on one side? Those can be a number of things depending on the type of driver, but it's not stereo sent into one driver.

For your specific case, I suggest you mention the headphone and perhaps show the cables in question, because there is a lot that could be going on depending on brands, or single end VS balanced cables.

Yes, I'm talking about headphone cables that have one vs. two contacts. Like a Meze 99 Classic is a one-contact 3.5mm, but a Focal is a two-contact 3.5mm (both unbalanced). What is the difference between those two? Would the Focal cable work on the Meze (or vice-versa)? What if they were balanced? It looks like the balanced cable for the 99 Classics that Meze makes also has one contact, but if I were to order a 3.5mm balanced cable from some custom cable brands, it will have two contacts by default. Would it not work?
 
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Feb 5, 2024 at 12:38 PM Post #4 of 6
I think you're asking why some headphone cables used TS connectors like this

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While other headphone cables used TRS connectors like this:

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And whether it matters which one you use for a particular headphone.

The answer is that it depends how the cable is wired and how the headphone is wired. Some manufacturers use TRS connectors like the 2nd example but they're not actually wired for stereo, they're still only connecting the tip and sleeve, so you could use either type interchangeably (Hifiman headphones are mostly like this). I don't own any Focal headphones, but it's entirely possible you can use the Meze cable just fine, you'd need to confirm how Focal wires their headphones first.
 
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Feb 5, 2024 at 1:07 PM Post #5 of 6
Yes, that is what I was asking. I didn't know the correct terminology.

For me the issue is with custom cables because often 3.5mm custom balanced cables are only available in TRS, even if the headphone (like the Meze or the ZMF Bokeh) have TS stock cables. I think I may still own the balanced Meze cable, so I guess I can try it and see what happens.
 
Feb 5, 2024 at 1:26 PM Post #6 of 6
If you're buying custom cables, they should list compatibility or at least how the cables are wired. Using TS vs TRS connectors doesn't really matter for most dual entry headphones, outside of a few edge cases (like the Philips Fidelio X3 or Audeze LCD-1), because you usually wouldn't be sending a full stereo signal to both connectors for the vast majority of such headphones. It's likely just a parts cost decision to buy fewer unique parts in most cases, because you can use TRS connectors in place of TS connectors, you just only wire it for the connection you need.
 
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