0
\$\begingroup\$

I want to create a TRRS splitter / joiner that can be used to combine two 3.5mm jacks, one for headphones and one for a microphone, into a single 3.5mm TRRS male jack. It'll use the CTIA standard so that I'd be able to connect it to a standard PC or mobile phone headset port.

The issue is that the sort of microphone I want to connect (here's an example) uses a TRS jack, and with a TRRS cable only one contact / wire is used to carry the mic signal (which with the CTIA standard is the sleeve). I'm fairly certain it's an electret microphone, it's mono, and it's unbalanced.

What do I do with the ring contact on the mic's TRS jack?

Here's a (crude) illustration of the issue:

TRRS splitter illustration

Perhaps I connect both the mic tip and ring to the TRRS sleeve? Or maybe the mic ring should be connected to the ground?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ "No datasheet? No sale!" An Amazon ad page is no use. \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor Jul 5 at 14:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Transistor I wish I could provide a datasheet, but I haven't been able to find any description on how those microphones are designed! And I've spent some time searching too. The only clues I have is that they're electret mics, they're unbalanced, and use a TRS jack. \$\endgroup\$ – GuyGizmo Jul 5 at 14:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It depends on the mic. A stereo mic would provide 2 channels on tip and ring, common GND on sleeve. A balanced mic might provide hot and cold on tip/ring, screen GND on sleeve. An unbalanced mono mic might ignore the ring. That's why you need the datasheet, or do some experimenting. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond Jul 5 at 16:04
1
\$\begingroup\$

The de facto standard for PC microphone power and audio is commonly called “plug-in power”. You can find some documentation of it using that search term.

  • Sleeve: common
  • Ring: 3-5 V power, current limited through a series resistor
  • Tip: audio, AC coupled through a series capacitor

In practice, since electret microphone capsules have only two contacts and expect the power combined with the audio, tip and ring are often shorted together by the wiring of the microphone.

Some sound cards support stereo microphones by using tip and ring as two channels each with combined power and audio; this is backwards compatible since the microphone will get power from one channel and send audio to the other or both.


In your case, since you have only the two wires of a TRRS headset connection's microphone circuit, you have two options:

  1. Wire the TRRS sleeve microphone channel to the TRS jack's tip and ring. This is suitable for electret microphones.
  2. Insert a DC-blocking capacitor in series with the tip connection and a resistor in series with the ring connection. This will enable compatibility with un-powered microphones or other audio sources using a TS connection, whereas the first option will be shorted out by a TS plug (since TS is equivalent to TRS with ring shorted to sleeve). However, it might impair the audio quality or level since you are adding additional impedances on both lines.
| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the explanation! I think wiring the TRRS mic channel to the TRS jack's tip and ring is the way to go. I tested out a store-bought TRRS splitter with my multimeter and found they had the mic TRS jack's tip and ring shorted together. \$\endgroup\$ – GuyGizmo Jul 5 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've confirmed the mic works only if the mic channel is wired to both the tip and ring. \$\endgroup\$ – GuyGizmo Jul 7 at 2:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.