A Guide to Audio Connectors

Click to ExpandA Guide to Audio Connectors

An audio connector is the end portion of one cable, wire, or component that joins it to another through a jack, passing audio signals between them. These connectors will be either male or female in design, with input or output capabilities. They are available with a variety of options for better application flexibility, including adaptors for handling compatibility issues or locking devices such as screw bolting or blade locking to prevent broken or improper connections. Learn more about audio connectors, how the connections work, and the types of audio connectors available at Amphenol NEXUS Technologies, Inc.

How Audio Connections Work

TAC Connectors

Making an audio connection is not difficult, nor do you need extensive knowledge on the subject. However, knowing the basics will help you avoid confusion when connecting audio components. An audio connection consists of multiple thin wires twisted into a bundle inside an insulator. Utilizing a larger copper wire as the bundle’s core, the surrounding wires are typically also copper, though gold- or silver-plated options are also available. The thick protective layer of insulation around the twisted wires is most often made of rubber construction. If, however, space is limited or oddly configured, audio connections may use ribbon coverings or braided wires.

The wires conduct the sound’s electrical signals, which pass from the signal’s source, or the audio output, to the signal’s destination, or the audio input, which ultimately projects that sound. To do this effectively, you will need not just any male and female audio connection component, but endpoints that have the compatible pins and holes to properly affix together. Some connections have threaded linkages and blade locking mechanisms to screw the proper connections together and prevent them from disconnecting accidentally.

Common Audio Connection Terms

When reviewing audio connection components, it is helpful to be familiar with the terminology commonly associated with them.


Telephone Plugs And Jacks

This component, which is typically connected to the end of a cable or wire, is the male connection point of an audio connector. It has a small point that inserts into the audio jack.


A jack, or port, is the female connection point of an audio connector into which you insert the plug. Every jack is compatible with a specific type of plug. For instance, you cannot connect an XLR plug to a TRS jack.


Most jacks only form a connection with a single plug type. However, adapters enable you to join a dissimilar plug type into an incompatible jack, allowing greater flexibility in audio connections.

If you are unsure whether or not a jack and plug are compatible or will require an adapter, refer to their labeling, as that will usually assist you.

Types of Audio Connectors From Amphenol NEXUS Technologies

There are numerous types of audio connectors available on the market to fulfill various needs. One of the more common varieties is the stereo minijack, or headphone jack, connector that has applications in phones and portable music players for listening to music through a headset. It has a standard audio jack size of 3.5mm. Another connector type is the TRS plug or jack, which is useful for keyboards, pianos, mixing desks, and other such hi-fi devices. The list goes on for both professional and consumer audio applications, including such connectors as:

  • RCA (Phono)
  • Banana plugs
  • Speaker pins
  • 3-pin XLR
  • TOSLINK/Optical
  • SpeakOn
  • Micro-miniature coaxial (MMCX)

At Amphenol NEXUS Technologies, we focus on audio connectors for the military, telecommunications, and commercial aviation electronics sectors. However, we serve clients in a variety of industries as new clients learn of the advantages that our reliable commercial and military audio connectors have to offer their operations. We have a variety of audio connectors available, and our company integrates features in their designs that allow these connectors to withstand severe conditions and environments in their areas of application.

TAC Connectors

Current commercial and military applications may require connectors with reduced weight and size that still maintain their expected performance. The Miniature M55116-Type connectors by Amphenol NEXUS Technologies are a solution to this challenge. These connectors are helpful in wearable applications for soldiers, ruggedized communication systems, and radio systems.

At 50% of the size of standard TAC connectors, our design meets MIL-DTL-55116 specs. Therefore, these TAC connectors from Amphenol NEXUS Technologies emerge as the optimal selection wherever the need for an M55116 connector arises on a new system for cutting both weight and size while continuing to offer the same level of performance benefits.

M55116 Mil-Spec and Mil-Spec-type Connectors

Our company offers a full line of Mil-Spec product offerings, with MIL-DTL-55116-qualified 5- and 6-pin connectors. The line comprises polarized, waterproof receptacles and plugs. These connectors have applications in circuits of audio frequency that utilize a maximum current of 0.5 amps and a maximum potential of 60 volts. Audio connectors can use solder cup or crimp sleeve contacts. The spring-loaded or pogo-pin receptacle contacts mate with the rigid plug connector contacts. These audio connectors are useful in commercial or military radio and intercom systems for ground, naval, and airborne communications.

In addition to standard varieties, our company also offers an array of customization options, including:

  • Shielded and grounded connectors
  • Right-angle plug connectors
  • PCB contacts
  • Unique shell geometries
  • Miniaturization series

7- and 10-Pin Waterproof Breakaway Connectors

7- And 10-Pin Waterproof Breakaway Connectors

We are an industry leader in manufacturing watertight breakaway audio connectors that can withstand harsh environments. The connectors are watertight up to a maximum of 6 feet. Their wiping-action contacts are molded on and feature self-cleaning capabilities, removing any problems with open pin/socket contacts. Our 7- and 10-Pin connectors are compatible with several cable diameters. You can find them in shielded varieties, including field-replaceable insulation piercing contacts or solder-type contacts.

Several 7- and 10-Pin audio connectors have miniature versions, which are half the size of a standard connector. These connectors are useful in C4I and soldier systems, ordnance and missiles, military and commercial aircraft, industrial and commercial equipment, and ground vehicles for military applications.

Telephone Plugs and Jacks

A long-time supplier of airborne audio connectors for the military, Amphenol NEXUS Technologies’ ruggedized designs have set industry standards in manufactured headsets and helmets for military and commercial use. We offer several connector varieties for diverse mounting styles, soldier attachments, and switch functions. The connectors have the following environmental, mechanical, and electrical features:

  • High resistance for cross-talk
  • EMI/RFI protection
  • Environmental resistance
  • Capabilities for low-level circuits

Besides communication system applications, other sectors are finding these connectors useful due to their design for severe environments.

Microphone Plugs and Jacks

Amphenol NEXUS Technologies also has vast experience supplying the commercial and military headset and helmet industries with highly functional microphone plugs and jacks. Our microphone plugs and jacks are available with two or three pins as well as a mechanism for locking. You can also find other selector switch or connector designs that are compatible with our standard products.

Learn More About Audio Connectors and Request a Quote Today

Audio connectors are the crucial elements that bring an audio communications system together, enabling the transmittal of audio signals to achieve effective output and input. Understanding their basics can help you pick the one that suits your needs, and the team at Amphenol NEXUS Technologies is here to help.

Amphenol NEXUS Technologies got its start in 1961 with the goal of perfecting the design and quality of audio jacks, plugs, and other related components. Since then, our connectors have had common applications in OEM headsets for breakaway-style connections and set the standard for both commercial and military communication headsets.

We design and manufacture our high-quality, reliable products in our 16,000-sqft., ISO 9001:2015-certified facility, with a quality assurance system that meets or exceeds military standards such as MIL-STD-45662, MIL-I-45208, MIL-Q-9858, and sampling requirements for MIL-STD-105. To learn more about our capabilities or our audio connector selection, contact us today or request a quote to begin your project.