The mess that became the 3.5mm headphone jack

So for decades we had 3.5mm (⅛″) and 6,3mm (1/4″) headphone jacks on nearly any audio equipment. From the Revox A77 all the way down to the Sony Walkman and Apple iPhone. Nowadays they often carry a fourth ring, usually for the microphone for handsfree use on cell phones.

In the second week with the Nokia Booklet I thought to finally checkout the audio quality. Well, what should I say, I nearly fall off my office chair when I plugged in my V-Mode Vibe Duo headphone ( I got for use with the iPhone). It sounded like good old PC speakers (well beeper) plugged into a coke can. Awful, at best. Still shocked, I plugged in the standard headphone that came with the Palm Pré, which was not a bit better, rather worse.

Puzzled if it should be possible to mangle a DA convert’s output lines that badly, I grabbed the box, in which Nokia shipped the Booklet, from the shelf to give the Nokia headphones, which came with the Booklet, a try. All to my surprise they sounded somewhat better. Still sub-standard, but at least not like a PC beeper thrown into a tin.

I quickly checked the headphones in front of me:

  • the iPhone’s work in the iPhone (obviously), the Pré, a MacBook, but not in the Booklet
  • the Pré’s work in the iPhone, Pré, MacBook and neither in the Nokia Booklet
  • the Booklet’s only have reasonable sound quality in the Booklet itself, in the iPhone, Pré or a standard outputs, such as the MacBook, they sounds awful
  • at least a regular Sennheiser (without microphone ring) worked in all devices, puh

I get the feeling Nokia uses a different signal combination. One could have thought the vendors would be smart enough to all use the same, … Well, I guess they where smart enough to all use their own variant, sell matching accessories.

At least Apple and Palm where smart enough to make their variants work with good old standard devices, while Nokia somehow managed to make them incompatible with probably all the last decades audio equipment, …

One Response to “The mess that became the 3.5mm headphone jack”

  1. Fanatic Says:

    I got the same mess when I tried to connect Nokia earphones into my Sony PSP 3000 :)) It sounded exactly like a PC speaker in a bucket :)))))

    Other type of phones work excellently there, as well as my 5.1 system amplifier jack - I usually enjoy the sound from PSP on my 5.1 home theater.

    Nokia just aren’t friendly to Sony (and viceversa), as well as maybe, it could be so with other brands :)

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