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TS vs TRS vs TRRS Audio Cables – What is the difference?

When it comes to audio cables, there are a few types that you might commonly come across – TS, TRS, and TRRS. While they may seem similar at first glance, each of these cable types serves a distinct purpose and has its own unique capabilities. Understanding the differences between them can help you choose the right cable for your specific audio needs.

So, let’s find out what makes each one special and when you should use it in my in-depth comparison of TS vs TRS vs TRRS Audio Cables.

Let’s start with…

TS vs TRS vs TRRS Audio Cables

TS Cables

TS stands for Tip-Sleeve, and these cables are the simplest of the three. They consist of two conductors, yes, you’ve guessed it… a tip and a sleeve. The tip carries the audio signal, while the sleeve serves as the ground connection.


TS cables are particularly well-suited for instruments that generate mono signals, which means that the audio is not split into separate left and right channels. The simplicity of TS cables makes them reliable and easy to use. They provide a direct connection between your instrument and the audio device, ensuring a clear and uninterrupted audio signal.

In addition to their use in musical instruments, TS cables can also be found in other audio applications. For example, in the professional audio industry, TS cables are commonly used for patching audio signals between devices. These cables make it easy to route audio from one piece of equipment to another, whether it’s a mixer, an effects processor, or a recording interface.


In summary, TS cables are a fundamental component in audio setups, particularly for instruments that generate mono audio signals. Their simplicity, reliability, and wide range of applications make them an essential tool for musicians, audio engineers, and enthusiasts alike. So, whether you’re plugging in your electric guitar or patching audio signals in a professional studio, TS cables play a crucial role in delivering high-quality audio.

TRS Cables

TRS Cables

TRS cables, also known as Tip-Ring-Sleeve cables, are a versatile type of audio cable that plays a crucial role in transmitting stereo audio signals. These cables consist of three conductors: a tip, a ring, and a sleeve.

The tip of a TRS cable carries the left audio channel, while the ring carries the right audio channel. The sleeve serves as the ground connection, ensuring a stable and noise-free audio transmission. This configuration allows TRS cables to deliver a true stereo audio experience, providing separate audio signals for the left and right channels.

TRS cables are essential for transmitting stereo audio signals accurately and efficiently. Whether you’re enjoying music through headphones, setting up a professional audio system, or connecting music equipment, TRS cables ensure a high-quality stereo listening experience with proper channel separation. Their versatility and widespread use make them a go-to choice for various audio applications in both consumer and professional settings.

And finally, we have…

TRRS Cables

As you’ve probably worked out, TRRS stands for Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve, and, as you also might have guessed, these cables have four conductors. The tip carries the left audio channel, the first ring carries the right audio channel, the second ring carries the microphone signal, and the sleeve serves as the ground connection. This configuration allows TRRS cables to transmit stereo audio while also facilitating microphone input or output.

TRRS cables offer a convenient solution for devices that require both stereo audio and microphone functionality. They are widely used in smartphones, gaming headsets, and other communication devices, allowing users to enjoy high-quality audio while facilitating seamless voice communication. With their versatile applications, TRRS cables play a significant role in modern audio and communication technology.

Where should you use TS, TRS, and TRRS Cables?

Now that we know the differences between these cable types, let’s discuss their applications in more detail.

TS Cables

TS Cables

These are commonly used in musical instruments and audio equipment that require a mono signal. If you play an electric guitar, bass guitar, or keyboard, chances are you’ll be using TS cables to connect to amplifiers, effects pedals, and other audio gear. Since these instruments typically generate mono signals, TS cables are sufficient for transmitting the audio without any loss of quality.

TRS Cables

These find widespread use in various audio setups that require stereo signals. One of the most common applications of TRS cables is for connecting headphones and earphones. When you plug your headphones into a smartphone, laptop, or audio interface, chances are you’re using a TRS connector.

This enables you to listen to music, movies, or any audio content with accurate stereo separation, where different elements of the audio are assigned to the left and right channels.

TRS cables are not limited to headphones, though. They are also widely used in professional audio setups, recording studios, and live performances. For example, studio monitors, which are used for critical audio monitoring and mixing, often require TRS connections to receive the left and right audio signals separately. TRS cables are also used in patching audio signals between various devices, such as connecting audio interfaces, effects processors, or mixers.

TRRS Cables

TRRS Cables

With their ability to carry both stereo audio and microphone signals, TRRS cables are essential in today’s communication-centric world.

One of the most common applications of TRRS cables is in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These devices often feature a 3.5mm TRRS jack, which enables users to connect headphones or earphones that come with an integrated microphone. The TRRS cable allows for listening to stereo audio, making phone calls, voice chatting, and even recording audio using the built-in microphone.

Gaming headsets also commonly use TRRS cables…

These headsets are designed to provide both audio output for game sound and voice chat functionality. The TRRS cable allows gamers to immerse themselves in the game’s audio while communicating with other players in real time. The integration of stereo audio and a microphone in a single cable simplifies the setup and provides a seamless gaming experience.

Additionally, TRRS cables can be found in other communication devices and applications. They are used in voice recorders, video cameras, laptops with audio input/output capabilities, and other devices where stereo audio and microphone functionality are required.


It’s worth mentioning that while TRRS cables are compatible with devices that have TRS connectors, the reverse is not always true. TRS cables are not designed to carry microphone signals, so using a TRS cable with a TRRS port may result in audio issues or the microphone not functioning properly.

Looking to expand your Recording setup?

Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Audio Interface, the Best Portable Audio Recorders, the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Multitrack Recorder, the Best iPad Audio Interfaces, as well as the Best Audio Mixers that you can buy.

You might also enjoy our reviews of the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording, the Best Portable DAC/Amp Combo, the Best Digital Audio Players, the Best Desktop DAC/Amp, the Best Hardware Sequencers, the Best Beat Machines for Hip Hop, or the Best Electronic Drum Pads currently available.

Or, if you’re after a new microphone, how about our reviews of the Best Microphones for Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Vintage Microphones, the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals? Plus, for the best possible signal chain, you might also need one of the Best Microphone Preamps on the market in 2023.

TS vs TRS vs TRRS Audio Cables – Final Thoughts

TS, TRS, and TRRS audio cables serve different purposes and cater to specific audio needs. TS cables are used for mono audio signals, TRS cables for stereo audio signals, and TRRS cables for stereo audio and microphone signals.

Understanding the differences between these cables will allow you to choose the appropriate one for your specific audio setup, ensuring optimal audio quality and compatibility. So, next time you’re setting up your audio gear or plugging in your headphones, pay attention to the type of cable you’re using, and enjoy the best audio experience possible!

Happy recording!

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