New Future for the 3.5mm audio connector

max-trrrs-connectorOn July 29th without much fanfare ITU-T standardization committee approved a new “recommendation P.382”. The standard specifies critical physical and electrical-acoustical characteristics for the universal headset interface with more than 4 terminals. To put it in other words, the geometry and technical requirements for 3.5mm audio plugs and jacks that have 5 (or more) separate communication channels were outlined and standardized. That’s right, good old TRRS audio connector featured in  billions of audio devices used and produced anew each year is about to get a huge makeover.

Increasing a number of poles of the 3.5mm audio connector interface has been tried in the past several times. All attempts were not adopted by the market due to issues arising from backwards compatibility with existing 4 and 3 pole solutions currently in use.

However, just recently, MAX Solutions LLC began offering plugs and jacks that comply with P.382 recommendation while providing full backwards compatibility with legacy solutions. Backwards compatibility removes any friction from the market adaption standpoint. All legacy accessories can be connected to MAX TRRRS 5 pole jack without any issues. And vice versa, newly developed accessories with TRRRS plugs will be compatible with legacy 3 and 4 pole jacks. (5th channel notwithstanding)

So what is a big deal shall you say? What difference does one extra channel make?

Increasing a number of separate channels from 4 to 5 could have a huge impact on the market of affordable audio accessories. MAX TRRRS connector interface allows analogue two microphones and two transducers to be connected to a mobile device CODEC simultaneously. Therefore following new all analogue wired accessory applications become enabled:

  1. Inexpensive earbuds with Active Noise Cancelling
  2. Low cost/high performance Wired Hearing Aids and PSAPs
  3. Binaural Recording and Video Conferencing, think Facetime, Skype etc.
  4. Balanced Audio Listening and Recording straight to and from your smartphone

I sincerely hope audiophile community gets as excited about these opportunities as I am. The ground now seems to be staged for a wave of inexpensive all analogue wired advanced audio accessories to start penetrating the market.

It should be fascinating to watch how attempts to rid the world of one of the most popular connector interface in favor of a fragmentation (Apple via Lightning, USB-C) are received and compete with legacy TRRS and MAX’s newly developed and standards compliant backwards compatible TRRRS solution.

Are you intrigued? Please visit our web site at to get further info and contact us for potential future collaboration.

You are equally welcome to discuss this new development in the LinkedIn thread. I would be more than happy to answer any follow up questions.

Oleg Los
MAX Solutions LLC
Phone: (847) 912 3463