How Do I use Both The Headphone Speaker and Mic In One Port?
by Alex. Last Updated On July 6th, 2022.
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Most wired headsets – ones built for PC gaming – come with two ports. I remember getting my first RGB headset, a cheap Fantech HG14 captain. It was an over-ear headphone that was quite comfortable but got a little hot when wearing for more than 2 hours. Moreover, it started to emit a slight buzzing noise after four months of use.
I only wanted to use it for gaming and when using my laptop. However, I ran into a problem: I could not use the microphone because I could only plug the headphone speaker jack into the single port on my laptop.
Although my problem can be fixed using a splitter or a USB adapter (using it as a makeshift USB headset instead of a 3.5mm jack.) I wanted a more minimalistic solution. I didn’t want to carry another small gadget. (that I’ll easily lose.)
Now, this begs the question: is it possible to use both headphones and a microphone in one port?
Yes, it is possible to use a single jack headset or pair of earbuds with a single audio port on your PC/laptop or mobile device. However, you might need to do some tinkering on the settings.
In this article, we are going to cover several related topics such as:
How to set up a single port headset on your Windows OS.
How to set it up on MAC.
How to identify the different headphone jacks.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
How to set up a single port headset on your Windows OS?
A single jack headset would work on your laptop or smartphone. However, things are a little different on PCs.
On most older PCs, the sound card has dedicated ports for each audio out and mic input, and in this situation: you might only be able to use either the microphone or headphones at a given time. (no speaking and listening simultaneously)
However, there are several requirements for your headset to work with a single TRRS port, the primary concern being that the PC I/O panel should support this port instead of the usual TRS couple. (pink and green audio ports.)
Also, please note that your headphones/earbuds must be a single jack device, i.e, they shouldn’t have two separate green and pink jacks.
First, plug in the headset to your audio port.
After that, click on the start button and open up the “Control Panel” on your PC. You can also open up the control panel by searching for it in the search bar.
Then, choose the “Sound” options. You can also search for it in the control panel’s search bar.
The sound settings window will open up. From there, select the tab called “Recording.”
A list of all devices that have microphone access will show up. You can easily identify your headphones by the icon on the left. (a picture of headphones will show up.)
Left-click on the device and click on “Set default.”
If your headset doesn’t show up in the list of “Recording devices,” you will have to set it up using the “Set up Microphone” command. You can access this command in the Speech recognition section. (or you can just search for it on the search bar.)
This setting will automatically detect your headset and install any drivers. Also, if your headset came with special instructions or a CD, be sure to install the drivers for that device as well.
How to set up a single port headset on MAC?
Setting up your single jack headset on MAC (or even on other PC) without a splitter is not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s how you can do it:
You can open up the “Spotlight Search Tool” and search for the “Sound” button, or you can access the sound via the icon finder.
After that, select the option called “Sound” alternatives.
A new settings window will show up, from there select the “Input” tab on the top of the window.
A list of available devices will show up, select your device by clicking on the left corner of that device.
After that, you’ll be provided the option to change this device to the default option.
Finally, you can try the headset by listening to music or doing a mic check.
How to identify different headphone jacks
So, in the previous sections, we’ve figured out how to set up our headphones as our default speaker and microphone device. Therefore, whenever you reconnect your headset to your laptop or PC, the speaker and microphone settings will default to your headset so you can use them for listening and speaking.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work on all headsets and all soundcards. As I mentioned previously, you need to have a TRRS compatible port on your laptop/PC and a single jack on your headset. This seems pretty vague, so allow me to explain more about the different types of headphone jacks and how to identify them.
The 3.5mm jack is the same interface used to transmit and receive audio signals. There are three types of 3.5mm jacks you can see in audio devices such as headphones, speakers, and earbuds.
The different 3.5mm jacks
Tip Sleeve: The first is the mono 3.5mm jack characterized by one black ring on the plug. The black ring separates the plug into two sections: the tip and the sleeve. Where the former transfers audio and the latter acts as a ground.
Since there is only one audio interface (as you’ve guessed from the name,) the TS plug can only support mono audio. Therefore, you won’t have stereo features to identify the left and right sides of the earbuds.
Mono 3.5mm jacks are old and usually seen on cheaper or older earbuds.
Tip Ring Sleeve: Now, this is the most common 3.5mm jack seen in most headphones and headsets. In this plug, we’ve got two rings that separate the plug into three sections: the tip transfers audio for the left headphone, the ring (in the middle) transfers audio to the right, and the sleeve is for the ground connection.
Most headphones and gaming headsets use a couple of these TRS headphone jacks for the speaker and microphone. Therefore, the sound cards on many older PCs also use the same TRS interface for their audio ports, identified as the green and pink audio jacks.
Tip Ring Ring Sleeve: This is what we’re looking for: The TRRS 3.5mm jack has a stereo output and mic input bundled in one plug. You can identify a TRRS jack by the three black rings that separate the plug into four sections.
Most modern single jack headsets and earbuds use these to connect to smartphones and computers. Also, most modern PCs and laptops have started to include a single TRRS port instead of the usual dual TRS configuration.
Now, it’s usually a black-colored port with a headset icon (combining both headphones and microphone.)
So as long as your computer has a TRRS port and your headset has a TRRS headphone jack (three-ring plug) you will be able to use both headphones speaker and microphone through a single port at the same time.
Unfortunately, wired headphones and earbuds are slowly dying out. Most smartphone manufacturers are building their phones and tablets without a headphone jack. The only remaining option is to go fully wireless or use an adapter via the USB-C charging port.
In my opinion, wireless operation – for casual use – is the better option. It’s better to use Bluetooth than having a mess of wires tangling up everywhere you go.
However, if you are a gamer — or you need to listen to audio with the least amount of latency — you can use wired options such as a TRRS 3.5mm jack or USB to minimize it.
Moreover, if you want the best-wired sound for your PC gaming sessions, you can also use an affordable DAC to bypass the inferior sound cards on your PC.
So far, we’ve figured out how to set up a TRRS headset/ pair of earbuds on our computer, and we’ve learned how to identify a TRRS headphone jack. To summarize it all once again:
You can use both the headphone speaker and microphone through one port in your smartphone/computer. However, your headset should have a three-ring jack (TRRS,) and your computer should also support TRRS jacks for this to work. Otherwise, you will have to use an adapter such as a splitter, combiner, or USB DAC.
The technology used in wired headphones and earbuds is impressive. Beginning with just mono audio, it moved up to stereo, and now we have both stereo and mic input traveling through a single headphone jack without any latency. However, if we are to enjoy these technologies, we should be careful to pick out a headset or pair of earbuds with the TRRS (three-ring) jack. Otherwise, we will have to use adapters or rely on other devices for recording and listening at the same time.