So, this begs the question: is it possible to use a single jack headset on a PC without using a splitter?
Luckily, you can use a single jack headset on your PC by connecting your headset jack to the headphones (green) port and configuring the recording tab settings on your PC or Mac.
We’ll cover this guide for each operating system along with other topics such as
Guide on how to use a single jack headset on PC without splitter
Understanding the different types of headphone jacks
Benefits of using a single-jack headset
Understanding the different headset/headphone jack adapters
Common questions regarding headset jacks and adapters
Let’s unplug and get into it.
Table of Contents
Guide on How to use Single Jack Headset (PC) without Splitter
Setting up your single jack headset on a computer is not so straightforward. You cannot just “plug and play” headset jacks into either of the 3.5mm receptacles on your computer and expect the speakers and the microphone to work.
So in this section, I’ll guide you on how to set up a single jack headset on PCs and Macs when you’ve got two separate jacks for audio input and headset mic.
Older PCs with Windows
Here’s how you set up a single jack headset on older computers with two jacks for audio and microphone. (Specifically Windows 7 and 8.)
Plug your single-jack headset into the audio input port on your PC.
Click on the start button at the bottom left of your desktop or click on the search bar. (that’s right next to the start button.)
After that, select or search for the “Control Panel” and open it up.
After the control panel has loaded up, open sound settings. If you can’t find these audio settings right away, you can change the control panel layout by clicking on the drop-down menu beside a label called “view by:” and select “Large icons.”
After clicking on the “Sound” button, the audio settings window will pop up. This window will initially open to a tab called “Playback,” which includes all audio input settings and devices.
On this window, click on the “Recording” tab.
A list of several devices will be shown here. From this list, click on the entry for your headset/headphones.
After that entry is highlighted, click on the button titled “Set Default.”
Click on Apply and close the window by clicking on “Ok.”
Luckily, in most modern PCs and laptops (usually running the Windows 10 operating system), you will find a dual-purpose port that will work seamlessly with your single-jack headset.
In most cases, the headset will work as soon as you plug it in (This includes stereo sound and microphone capabilities). However, if the computer doesn’t recognize the device or defaults to the headset automatically, you can change the playback/recording devices by following the steps shown below:
First, open up your desktop.
After that, right-click on the volume icon at the bottom right of your taskbar.
From the drop-down menu, click on “Open Sound settings.”
The same control panel settings for the sound settings will open up.
From the output tab, open the drop-down menu and select your headset.
Then, pick the headset from the input tab
Close the window and check the sound quality and recording capabilities of the headset microphone.
For Mac OS
Luckily, MacBooks and Mac computers have (almost) the same procedure for setting up a single-jack headset. Here’s how:
First, open up the Spotlight search tool.
Then, type in “Sound” and open the sound settings/sound preferences window.
After that, click on the “Input” tab; a list of available audio devices will be shown.
From this list, click on the headset you want to connect.
Do the same for the “Output” tab and check if your headset/headphones work properly.
Understanding the Different Types of Headphone Jacks
Headset jacks have a difficult job. They have to transmit audio to the drivers and microphone while keeping these electrical signals free from noise or distortion. On top of that, these cables have to be strong and durable while also being compact enough for average consumers.
So in this section, let’s talk about the basic structure of headphone jacks and identify the different types of headphone jacks that might come in handy depending on your requirements.
Single Jack Headphones
Let’s be real: a single jack headphone or headset is easy to use since you don’t need to have another piece dangling around. Besides, most modern devices (phones, computers, and laptops) come with a dual-purpose port that takes in microphone input and gives out sound output at the same time.
That said, not all single-jack headsets are the same; you need to be able to figure out if the headset you are using has the “three rings setup” i.e., the TRRS jack configuration. Otherwise, your headset will only have sound output without microphone recording functionality.
So before you purchase a new single-jack headset for working on your PC, always check if the 3.5mm headphone jack has three rings. (Always be careful when purchasing wireless headphones with a wired option, as these devices tend to have a two-ring setup that’s only fit for stereo sound.)
Dual Jack Headsets
People who are gaming and working on older PCs might already be familiar with dual-jack headsets. These headsets have two separate jacks, one dedicated audio input for transferring audio signals (Tip-ring-sleeve for stereo) and another jack for microphone signals.
In most cheap gaming headsets, they will have a TRS jack for the microphone as well. This is mostly due to symmetry as most headset mics only record via a single channel; hence, they can make do with a TS jack but chose to use a TRS.
Headphone Jacks with Different Sizes
Most wired headphones and input devices use the 3.5mm (1/8″) male and female headphone jacks. However, for studio applications and heavy-duty audio equipment (such as home stereos and audio interface devices), headphones need to be connected via the larger 1/4″ headphone jack.
Although the design of both sizes is the same (utilizing the TS, TRS, and TRRS configurations), there is no significant difference in the audio quality. You can use a 1/4″ to 1/8″ (3.5mm) adapter and be able to use studio headphones on your smartphone or laptop with ease. (That is unless they need to run through an amplifier.)
Quarter-inch (1/4″) jacks are preferred for studios and larger devices because they are sturdier, can handle more power, and are less likely to come loose.
Luckily, most studio headphones already include adapters to switch between 3.5mm and 1/4″. So if you need to plug them into a computer or laptop, you won’t need to purchase additional adapters.
Understanding the Different Types of Headset Jack Adapters
Female to Two Male Splitters
So far, we’ve been avoiding splitters because we won’t ever need to use them when we have a single jack headset with the TRRS configuration. However, this won’t always be the case, and you might have to get an adapter if you switch devices; hence, it won’t hurt to know more about them.
Even though there are various types of adapters, they all have different designs and are used for different purposes. For a single jack headset, a female to two male Y-splitter audio cables is the adapter we want to keep around. This device “splits” the single jack into separate audio and microphone male jacks so they can be plugged into the two female ports on your PC or laptop.
Male to Two Female Splitters
When buying splitters, you might also come across adapters designed the other way around. Technically, these are identified as male to two female splitters, but they are also (loosely) termed “Splitters.”
So whenever you buy adapters, make sure to check the photos and description for the correct configuration. If you have a headset with one jack, and you need to pair it up with two separate ports in your computer, try connecting them via the above guide or purchase a female to two male Y splitter.
On the flip side, if you have a headset with two jacks and want to connect it to a modern computer with a dual-purpose port, get a male to two female splitters instead.
Apart from these two types of splitters, there are other adapter devices such as aux splitters, male-to-male aux cables, male-to-female aux cables, DAC, and many more. Most of them are termed under “Splitters” so it’s easy to get lost if you don’t define the adapter connections based on your input device and headset jack configuration.
Although it can get overwhelming with different types of headset jacks and separate ports on laptops and PCs, you can always get your headset to work if you have a single jack headphone with the TRRS configuration and follow the guides mentioned above. As long as you understand the different headphone adapters and know how to identify TRRS single-jack headsets, you won’t need to run to the store to get an adapter or carry them around with your other devices.