A headset is a great way to maximize workplace communication, and it all starts with getting your headset connected to your devices. However, there’s not a standardized connection type that all headsets use, so it can be tricky to know exactly what chords (if any) you’ll need.
That’s why we’re here: to walk you through headset connection types and make some sense out of all the cords you’ll come across when dealing with headsets. This article will break down the types of headset connection, explain what they’re for, and help you pick products that fit with them. Let’s get into it.
USB headset connection
Just like headsets, computers need different connector types. USB headset connectors come in a variety of shapes and sizes that all serve the common purpose of hooking your headset up to a computer. Regardless of the type of computer you have, you’ll probably find a USB headset cable that works, but sometimes it’s hard to know what’s what. Here are the most common headset connectors you’ll see for computers:
The USB-A connector is probably the one that your mind goes to when you think of USB ports in general. It’s that rectangular connector that you’ve probably tried to plug in upside down a million times. Lot’s of devices have ports for this type of connector, from computers to TVs to printers. Until the last few years, it was a pretty universal plug; you could find it on most laptops, regardless of the brand.
Recently, Apple has been transitioning away from USB-A ports in their laptops. However, many devices still have them, including your old MacBook. Of course, you should check your individual device to confirm, but you can often work under the assumption that if you’re not using a 2015-or-later MacBook model, your computer can connect to your headset via USB-A.
It’s also worth noting that even if your device doesn’t have a USB-A port built in, it’s neither difficult nor expensive to find an adapter.
If you stopped reading the UBS-A section because you’ve got an Apple computer that came out any time since 2015, you can tune back in now. A USB-C port is the one you use to charge your newer MacBook. The connector is an elongated oval shape. You might know it from the relief you felt when you realized it was a USB that you couldn’t plug in the wrong way.
More and more manufacturers are incorporating USB-C ports into their products nowadays, so there’s a chance your device will be compatible with USB A and USB C plug-ins. Some newer Microsoft devices, for example, have both. Just check your device’s ports to confirm before purchasing a USB-C connector cable.
Mini-USB and Micro-USB
The micro is pretty much a newer version of the mini. They were both created to connect smaller devices (like flip phones or MP3 Players) to larger devices and power sources (like computers or outlets). Both of these connector types are becoming less common, but you’ll still find plenty of devices that utilize them. A Leitner wireless headset, for instance, has a mini-USB port on the base that can be used to connect to a computer.
While the USB-A and USB-C are more commonly found on the devices you’re connecting your headset to, mini- and micro-USB connectors are what you’re more likely to find on the headset base itself.
Different jack sizes
All jacks have similar shapes. If your name is Jack, forgive the generalization. A jack is the long, thin connector that you’d find on an old pair of headphones. The shape probably looks familiar, but it’s important to note that different sizes serve different purposes. Both of the jacks listed here will connect a headset to a phone, but the types of devices that each one works with vary.
- 2.5mm jack: This tiny jack can be used to connect cordless desk phones to headsets. It also works for some cell phones, but those are mostly older models.
- 3.5mm jack: The 3.5mm jack is newer and slightly larger. The more recent release date coincides with more modern connectivity. This jack won’t work with a desk phone, but it’ll connect some corded headsets to any cell phone with a port. If you can plug a traditional pair of headphones (not the kind with the Apple lightning connector) into your phone, then your device has a 3.5mm jack port.
Jacks, regardless of their size, can come in a couple different configurations. While it’s more common to come across a single-prong connector in your day to day life, some phone systems require double-prong jacks. They’re less common, so you won’t find them at every headset seller, but they’re certainly available if your device calls for one.
You won’t see “RJ” - short for registered jack - as a standalone phrase. It’s always followed up by a number (often 9, 10, or 22). These connectors will tether your headset to your phone. This type of headset connection can be a little bit confusing at first, but there’s a pretty simple way to break it down:
RJ9, RJ10, and RJ22 are not three different things. They’re interchangeable names for a single type of connector that can connect your desk phone to a headset, a handset, or a headset amplifier. The varying numbers are a result of some low level technological intricacies that aren’t particularly important to the vast majority of headset users. So for all intents and purposes, RJ9 is to RJ22 as Rob is to Robert.
Bluetooth & wireless headsets
This one is worth discussing, but note that it isn’t an entirely separate category from the above headset connection types. A headset can utilize wireless or Bluetooth technology and, say, a mini-USB connector.
Let’s go back to the example of the Leitner LH270. It’s wireless, which means that the headset itself won’t have a cord connecting it to the phone or computer you’re using it with. However, you’ll still need a connector cord in order to get the headset up and running. That’s because, in addition to the device that goes on your head, you’re utilizing a headset base.
A wireless headset’s base will always need some sort of cord; the LH270 base has ports for multiple connector types, and you’ll use different ones based on the device you’re syncing your headset to. If you want to use it with a computer, for instance, you’ll need a cord with a mini-USB to plug into the base, and whatever USB connector the computer needs.
When a headset is described as wireless, that means the actual wearable device doesn’t need a connector cord. However, the headset is not operable without communication between the base and device that’s hosting your calls. Usually, that connection is established with one of the connectors described above. The only exception is a Bluetooth headset base, but those still need to connect to a power source, so they can’t be cordless either.
Moral of the story: Headset connectors aren’t just for people with corded headsets. Make sure you know the proper setup that’s required to get your base up and running.
To sum it up, there are lots of ways to connect a device to your headset. If you’re not sure what type of headset connection your phone, computer, or tablet requires, reach out to our Headset Advisors for some extra guidance! Just call 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.