Almost everyone into the sound system or music system or any kind of audio production would have heard about TS and TRS Cables. Even if you don’t know the names you would have at least come across them without knowing. We’ll try to understand which cable is better and why TS Vs TRS. They are in general referred together as quarter-inch cables because the ends of each connection have an approximate diameter of ¼” mm. They are mostly used interchangeably so there isn’t any need to know the actual difference between them but it is always good to know right? The fact that which one is better and what they are used for?
TS Cables And Connectors
TS cables and connectors are mostly used to connect guitars with amplifiers and in unbalanced signals. They are also used for mono signals but mainly used for connecting guitars. They have two contact points separated by the Tip and the Sleeve from which they get the name TS, pretty lame right?
Yeah but gets the job done. Each part of the connector is electrically insulated. TS cables and connectors only carry one audio signal which is why they are called as mono cables whereas TRS cables and conductors carry two audio signals simultaneously. This is because TS cables have only one signal conductor whereas TRS cables have two signal conductors.
When Can You Use TS Connectors?
In old times it was used in telephone exchanges to connect calls but now whenever you have an unbalanced signal and whenever you have to connect a guitar with an amplifier or a keyboard you can use a TS cable. As they carry only one audio signal they should be used along with unbalanced TS jacks. DI boxes or instruments with Hi-Z inputs are some of the examples of unbalanced inputs. Although you need to remember that you have to use TRS cables or a TRS connector to transmit balanced audio.
TRS Cables And Connectors
So we saw the genius naming technique with TS cable right? Same here but with a slight difference. T stands for Tip, S stands for Sleeve and R here stands for Ring because there is a wedge between the tip and sleeve. So each part of the TRS is the cable is electrically isolated and they carry two different audio signals. One of the signals is transmitted through the tip labelled as ‘+’ and another is transmitted through the ring and is labelled as “-“
TRS cables are usually called as Stereo cables as they transmit two audio signals. To be simple you have seen headphone jacks right? Those 3.5mm ones? Those are TRS cables.
We know that TS cables carry unbalanced signal and TRS cables are simply opposite of that. In case you are looking for a cable to use with professional recording applications then you should go for TRS cable as they have low noise interference. Even if the cable is long the connector manages to give a balanced audio output.
When Can You Use TRS Cables?
TRS signals can be used to transmit both Mono and Stereo signals from balanced sources and not unbalanced. Only TS cables are used for unbalanced sources. A condenser microphone or a 3.5mm headphone jacks are some examples for balanced mono signals and monitoring headphones is an example for balanced stereo signals.
What Are These Cables Made Up Of?
Even though you don’t need to know the materials that a cable consists but when you go into professional audio production it will help you at some point down the line. Cables are made of copper wire cores, PVC for insulation and the connectors.
The copper wire cores are the ones which carry audio signals.
Even though both of these cables may seem similar and are usually used interchangeably they are completely different. It is highly recommended to use them according to the need or situation to get the best result.
What Are The Respective Prices Of These Cables?
Their prices do not change much but TRS cables are a bit costly compared to TS ones. TRS cables are not available at low prices and can go to premium range whereas TS cables and connectors are comparatively cheap. It is because TRS cables carry two signals and are used at professional levels so they are priced high.
The Ultimate Question: Which One Is Better, TS Vs TRS?
The answer is none. It all depends upon the need. Even though many people may have their own opinion that TRS cables are better, when it comes to unbalanced inputs and instrument connectivity TS cables are a must.
The application of TRS is just wide which is why many professionals, let it be musicians or YouTubers or audio producers prefer TRS cables. Instrumentalists go for TS cables because it is needed for their connections.