ThinkWrite Answers: 3.5mm Jack or USB Plug?
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ThinkWrite Answers: 3.5mm Jack or USB Plug?

ThinkWrite Technologies

Is a headset with a USB plug a better option than a headset with a 3.5mm jack when participating in video conferencing programs and apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype?

This is a common question (and misconception) we hear from customers: whether a listening device with a 3.5mm jack provides different, or even inferior, sound quality than those with a USB plug.  Whether utilizing 3.5mm jack or USB plug headsets for remote office work, distance learning initiatives, or just keeping in touch with your favorite people around the world, ThinkWrite has found that assertion to be untrue. Headsets with either connector provide the same great quality of sound and vocal articulation when used with video conferencing applications.

To better understand how that’s possible, let’s dive into the differences and similarities between the two connectors.

The main difference between the two types of plugs is how they transmit the audio source to your headset. A USB (or Universal Serial Bus) plug uses a digital-to-analog converter to change the 1s and 0s of a digital signal into analog audio in order to transmit it as an audio source. Meanwhile, a 3.5mm jack transmits an analog audio source directly to a listening device; there’s no need to convert a digital signal because there isn’t one.

The other important difference is which devices each type of connector can be used with. Common devices that use 3.5mm jacks include most iPads, mobile phones, tablets, and some Chromebooks. USB inputs are also often found on Chromebooks, as well as desktop computers and gaming systems. Make sure to check out the personal computing device to which you’ll be listening in order to decide which type of plug it will require.

Headphones and headsets with either connector often share features like an in-line volume control, durable cables, on- or over-ear cushions, and strain reliefs of equal quality. 

For many users, sound quality is more important than an in-line volume control, digital signal, or analog signal. After extensively testing both types of headset connectors with various team video conferencing apps (as seen in the accompanying video), we’ve come to the conclusion that headset models using 3.5mm jacks or USB connectors both provide the same clarity of sound, vocal articulation, and diminished background noise.

When it comes to the connector attached to the headphone or headset of your choice, the only factor driving your decision should really be into which devices you intend to plug your headset. If you’re looking for a reliable headset to stay connected with remote co-workers, educators, classmates, friends, or family, ThinkWrite has the right models to keep you plugged in. Check out our classic over-ear Ultra Durable Headset, and keep an eye out for the release of the unique on-ear Ultra Ergo Headset, both available with either a 3.5mm jack or USB plug for ultimate flexibility.