Deciding on which connection type to go with depends on a lot of things.
You have to decide what you’re looking to accomplish as well as understand different types of connection and how they’re used.
Of course audio production work requires that you use good connections that can deliver noise free recordings.
This post will discuss TRS and TS connections particularly whether you can use TRS as TS.
If you’re a person that deals with recording equipment or basically any audio equipment these two connection types are probably something you’ve come across.
With that said, let’s get right into it.
Can you use TRS as TS?
Using a TRS to TS Adapter or converter, you can use a TRS cable as a TS cable.
The letters TRS basically stand for Tip, Ring, and Sleeve, and refer to the 3 parts of the jack plug that the different conductors are connected to.
A TRS cable has three conductors unlike the two that you’ll find on a standard guitar TS cable.
The jack plug at the top is a TS jack. The pointed metal bit at the end, is logically enough, the tip, and the longated metal shaft is the sleeve.
The black band you see between them is simply an insulator that prevents the two parts of the jack from shorting together.
Notice i said ‘band’ and not ‘ring’.
It’s easy to get confused and look at a TS jack and assume that the black insulation ring is the ‘R’ in TRS but it’s not. So don’t be confused by this.
The TRS jack has a metal ring in the middle which is the third conductor.
The three conductors are separated by two black insulation bands.
There are other types, like a TRRS which has two rings, and four conductors in total.
TRRS jacks are often used for stereo headsets with microphones where four conductors are needed for ground, left channel, right channel, and mic.
When we speak of a TRS cable, it normally means that there is a TRS jack at both ends.
However, there is also another variant of a TRS cable that is usually called a TRS Insert cable or TRS Y cable.
The insert cable has a TRS jack plug on one end and two TS jack plugs on the other.
They are called insert cables because they can be used to connect outboard equipment to insert points on a mixer, as well as connect stereo signals between equipment where device 1 uses separate jacks for left and right channels, and device 2 uses a combined TRS jack.
TRS cables come with different and various jack plug sizes. The most common in professional audio is the 1/4″ jack. The outside diameter at the sleeve is 1/4″.
These are sometimes called phone jacks because they originated in the 19th Century for use in the first manual telephone switchboards. They are some of the oldest.
The smaller common jack that you’ll find on some devices are the 3.5mm for computers and 2.5mm for handheld devices.
ince much of the world had switched to the metric system by the time these smaller jacks were created, we now have to deal with the mixed units of measurement of the 1/4″ phone jack from the 1800’s and the modern metric computer audio plug.
A 1/4″ jack is 6.35mm
A 3.5mm jack is approx 1/8″
A 2.5mm jack is approx 3/32″
Plugging TRS into TS
One of the main issues of plugging a TRS Cable into a TS jack is that it results in unbalanced audio.
Unbalanced audio is typically more susceptible to external noise that is generated by electromagnetic interference.
Balanced audio isn’t prone to noise or interference and can be run over long distances.
Even though TRS cables typically carry balanced audio, plugging one into a TS jack can “unbalance things”.
Unbalancing issues aside, plugging a TRS cable into a TS jack creates a very unreliable connection.
To understand why this may happen, it’s essential to understand the components of TRS cables and TS jacks.
A TRS cable plug and jack have three contact points, while a TS’s jack and plug have two.
By having a TRS plug in a TS jack, you’re taking a gamble on whether the Ring makes contact. This results in an unbalanced and an unreliable connection that’s more susceptible to noise, which isn’t ideal.