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Audio connectors are used to affix cables to other audio equipment, providing electronic signal transference and grounding protection. Applications for audio connectors can be general purpose, telephone, or microphone. Most audio connectors are for commercial purposes, but some may conform to military specifications.
Types of Audio Connectors
Connectors may be plugs, jacks, or combinations, and may have an integral switch.
Plug type audio connectors are a plug, or male, connector includes pins that can be inserted into a socket.
Jack type audio connectors are a jack, or female, connector consists of sockets that are aligned to mesh with a pin-type connector.
Combination plug and jack connectors are also available.
System signals for audio connectors can be mono or stereo.
Mono, or monophonic, describes a system where all the audio signals are mixed together and routed through a single audio channel.
Stereophonic sound systems have two independent audio signal channels.
Important parameters for audio connectors include conductors and maximum diameter or side dimension.
Conductors are the number of conductive elements in a connector that mate with a corresponding element to provide an electrical path.
Maximum outer diameter or maximum side dimension of connector does not include dimension of flanges, if applicable.
Housing materials for audio connectors can be plastic or metal.
Some audio connectors have no housings; they are open frame.
Mounting options include right angle, panel or flange mount, threaded housing, strain relief, DIN mount, PCB mount, and BNC.
Contact platings for audio connectors can be nickel, gold, silver, or none.
Plated contacts are used for a more reliable connection, but do not have to be plated.
Terminal connections for audio connectors include crimp sleeve and solder cup.
Crimp sleeve terminals have electrical connections made using a wire crimp.
Mechanical compression during the crimping process causes a functional union between the conductor and crimp barrel.
In solder cup terminals the electrical connections are conditionally detachable, and are made by soldering. Connections may be soldered directly, or through use of a solder cup, hollow cylinder, eyelet, or hook.
More information on types of connectors can be found here.
Audio connectors must adhere to standards to ensure proper design and functionality.
BS 7947 - Gives guidance on identification and application of connectors and definitive electrical and mechanical standards, such as IEC 60130 where these exist. To be read in conjunction with BS 6840-11:1994
IEC 61076-3-112 - These connectors are designed based on IEEE standard 1394a-2000 and applicable for high performance serial bus used for consumer audio/video equipment. These connectors consist of fixed and free connectors having four contacts.
MIL - DTL - 55116 - This specification covers waterproof, polarized, five and six contact electrical connectors (plugs and receptacles) for use in audio frequency circuits at 60 volts maximum potential and 0.5 amperes maximum current.
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Heavy Duty Rectangular Connectors
Heavy duty rectangular connectors are designed to accommodate large electrical loads and direct signals under a multitude of operating conditions.
Military (MIL-SPEC) Connectors
Military (MIL-SPEC) connectors are built in accordance with military specifications. Their design takes into account the need to protect the connection from environmental factors, allowing them to be used in military and aerospace applications.
Modular Connectors and RJ Connectors
Modular connectors and RJ connectors includes two similar, yet distinct styles of connectors. Modular connectors are made of "plug-in units" which can be added together to make the system larger, improve the capabilities, or expand its size. Registered Jack (RJ) is a telephone and data jack application specific connector registered with the FCC.
USB connectors are used with universal serial bus (USB) ports. They can be used to connect USB products together, or to connect USB wires and peripherals to other standard port types.