Is the headphones port red or green? Plug differences explained
by Alex. Last Updated On November 14th, 2022.
SoundGearLab is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking on links on this page. Read our affiliate disclosure for more information.
Wired headphones are the older version of the now famous wireless headphones powered by Bluetooth technology. Wired headphones are known to perform better than wireless headphones because they don’t lose important data when transmitting sound from your device to the headphone drivers. But a massive downside to them is that they need to be plugged into to work.
Wired headphones have an audio jack or headphone jack that allows them to be connected to audio ports in your computers or mobile devices. Unless your computer is old, your audio ports are most likely color coded for easier identification.
Audio ports are color coded green for line out, which means you can plug your speaker or headphones in. Audio ports colored blue are for the line in, and the pink port is for the microphone. Sometimes, the audio ports have corresponding images near them for even easier identification.
In this article, we will tackle the motherboard audio ports of a computer, their differences, how headphone jacks and plugs work, and many more.
Let’s get right into it.
Table of Contents
What are the audio ports in a computer?
The audio ports in a computer are for when you want to connect your audio devices to your desktop. Since most audio devices like speakers, headphones, and home theatres are equipped with a headphone jack, computers are also designed to have tiny little holes at the front and back of your CPU that will allow you to connect your audio devices to them. You can also find these audio ports on the sides of your laptop computers.
These ports are not needed for Bluetooth-powered devices such as earbuds and wireless headphones because you connect the audio device to the Bluetooth chip on your computer.
Tell me the different audio ports on the motherboard.
There are different motherboard audio ports, all of which serve another purpose in producing a sound that can be heard in your audio device. The front of the CPU on your computer will most likely contain two 3.5 mm audio ports; one is for the headphone plug for getting audio signals, while the other is for the headphone plug for giving audio input such as for your microphone input.
At the rear side of your CPU, you can observe various color-coded headphone jacks that also serve varying purposes.
Three main audio ports
The three main audio ports can see on your CPU. The color coded green audio port is the one you are most likely to be familiar with, as this is the headphone jack that you will plug into when you want to listen to music, such as your speakers or headphones. The pink port is the headphone jack you will use to plug in microphones or other input devices. The last of the three main motherboard audio ports is the blue-colored audio port used for other audio equipment such as home theatres and subwoofers.
New color coded audio ports.
While the standard computer is equipped with three main audio jacks, the newer motherboards using the Sony/Philips Digital Interface feature six ports, which are all used to convert audio signals from one device to another without losing their quality.
The green audio port is still the primary audio port on your motherboard, which still serves the same purpose of allowing devices such as headphones and speakers to be connected to them. These line out green port are also called speaker jacks.
The pink colored audio port is also used to record audio from a separate microphone or the audio device with an already included microphone. Quite simply, this audio port is for microphone input. The blue colored audio port also still serves the same purpose of allowing you to connect even more other audio devices to your computer, such as an amplifier, woofers, home theaters, or even more speakers; this is also called the line in port.
One addition to the newer motherboard audio ports is the orange colored audio port which is used when you want the sound signals to be centralized in your audio system; this additional port allows you to feel that the sound coming from your audio device is playing at the center of the room, enabling you to hear conversations more clearly.
Another addition is the black colored audio port which is used for rear audio signals; this controls the back side audio channels to send the correct signals to the appropriate speaker, whether it is the left or right side speakers, depending on their frequency.
The last addition is the silver colored audio port used to play audio in the side speakers. However, you need at least the 5.1 audio channels to utilize these sound features. Since most audio systems still don’t support the latest 7.1 channels, only a few sound systems can use this last additional audio signal port.
The audio jack on laptops
The audio signal ports on laptops are not entirely similar to those installed on computers. Since laptops are much smaller, there is no space for up to 6 audio signal ports, so to work with the limited space they have, laptops are equipped with a single audio port that can send and receive audio signals at the same time. This means you can use the only single audio port to listen to music and transmit headphone input as well.
A downside to this convenient audio port is that they are prone to losing much of the audio quality compared to using different audio ports for the other audio signals.
How do headphone jacks and plugs work?
Now that you can identify the different audio ports on your computer, you might be asking yourself how do they exactly work. Headphone plugs are made of metal, and this metallic pin has conductors that allow them to transmit the audio signal from your device to your audio output system. Headphone plugs are made of varying metallic material, such as gold, or nickel, all of which differs in their durability.
The number on your headphone cable matches the number of conductors on your headphone plug, which means that if you insert your audio plug into a compatible audio port, the sound signal can pass through, thus resulting in sound playing in your audio output device.
Why are headphone plug conductors important?
Headphone plug conductors are essential because they serve as the contact point between the jack and the plug, closing the circuit and producing sound. There are different types of plug conductors, which means you have to ensure that your plug is compatible with your audio ports. Here are the different kinds of plug conductors.
2 conudctor plug (TS)
The two conductor plug, also known as the tip and sleeve plug, is the most straightforward configuration of all the conductors, as the tip connector carries the audio signal, while the sleeve functions as the return path and ground. Because of this configuration, the TS plug is significantly more prone to picking up interference noises if the cable is extended.
TS connectors can be commonly found on guitars, keyboards, and other musical instruments that don’t require a long cable connection from the output device.
Three conductor plug (TRS)
The three conductor plug is the market’s most commonly known headphone plug. It still uses both the tip and sleeve part of the TS plug, but the addition of the ring conductor allows for producing balanced mono signals and unbalanced stereo signals.
Four conductor plug (TRRS)
The four conductor plug has a microphone conductor and ground, right, and left audio channels. This configuration follows the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) standards, and the dedicated conductor for the microphone allows for more explicit audio transmission. This configuration is used in most modern smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles.
5 conductor plug (TRRRS)
The TRRRS conductor plug has five conductors that support balanced stereo signals; it has a ground conductor, right and left, and negative and positive audio channels. With this setup, each audio signal gets a dedicated conductor, allowing them to transmit audio signals with more clarity.
The TRRRS conductor plug ensures compatibility with newly invented products, such as multiple microphone inputs and active noise cancellation; this setup is used for professional sound and music production.
You might have probably seen a USB cable lying around in your homes. These are most commonly used for devices such as an external mouse and keyboard. There are two types of USB plugs, mainly type A and C; the larger USB A plugs are much larger and have four conductor pins, while the smaller USB C plugs have 12.
The newer USB C cables work similarly to USB A cables but are able to perform those functions at a much faster rate because of their higher power capacity of up to 100 watts.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced audio
Balanced audio is simply the arrangement of audio equipment that produces a sound free from external noise. To achieve balanced audio, you need to have an audio source capable of delivering balanced audio and a cable capable of carrying it.
The advantage of balanced audio is canceling external noise interference with something called Common Mode Rejection (CMR). External interference is canceled when the amplifier recombines the cable and the receiving equipment, which means balanced wires can run longer and operate even in noisy environments.
Unbalanced audio means that the noise is not canceled out, which could result from an audio source not being able to output a balanced sound or a cable not being capable of carrying a balanced sound.
Do wired audio devices produce better sounding music than Bluetooth connected devices?
Although Bluetooth connected devices are great if you don’t want to restrict your movement or if you wish for more effortless connectivity among different devices, Bluetooth connected audio output devices generally produce worse sounding music when compared to wired devices because wire-connected devices don’t lose many audio signals when they transmit signals from the source to the output device.; this also correlates as to why music producing studios still use wired gears for when they create music.
However, the sound difference is almost negligible for general music listeners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which jack is for headphones on my computer?
The 3.5mm Audio-in and Mic Ports are used for wired gaming headsets. Plug the headphone plug into the audio in port and the microphone plug into the mic port. However, if your headphone has an already integrated microphone, plug them into the audio port, and you can still hear sounds and talk into the microphone.
Does it matter where I plug my headphones in?
Technically, you can plug your headphones into your CPU’s port on any side, but the front ports are much preferred because they are less prone to interference.
Wired headphones are great devices if you want to listen to music, stream movies, and listen to high-quality audio. But to listen to them, you must first plug them into audio ports. Please take note of the different audio ports on your computers and their various functions listed in this article.
We hope this informative article has helped you become more knowledgeable about the different audio ports, their colors, and their functions.