First, an assumption: given what I know about tip-sleeve and tip-ring-sleeve connections, using a TRS cable between two TS jacks just yields an unused contact/conductor in the cable.

Other than cost, all else being equal, is there any reason I should buy and use TS cables instead of TRS cables for various connections in my small studio?


No, for a small studio, other than the cost difference, you can use TRS in the place of TS cables.

When you start looking at cable runs over around six meters (20 feet) you can start seeing some issues with resistance, depending on what you are using the wire for. The dual wire TRS cable will sometimes have a smaller gauge wire than the coaxial cable that is often used for TS.

Usually there is no significant difference though.

EDIT: thinking about it, there may be some slight durability difference in the two types of cables as well, if you are using the TRS cables in applications where they get flexed often, such as for a guitar cable. The tensile strength of the single wire is likely higher, resulting in a longer life before breakage in high flex use.

  • I'm pretty sure, at extreme distances, there's also an element of reinforced interference in the 'spare' core, but I don't have the math to defend that speculation.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 19 '18 at 19:57
  • Having just ordered a good few trs plugs ( at good price) I wonder if it's worth shorting the r and s, for better conductivity.
    – Tim
    Feb 19 '18 at 20:13
  • @Tim I have used two wire unified to tip in a TRS plug before, when I didn't have regular TS on hand. Feb 20 '18 at 19:53
  • @Tetsujin Unless the spare core is somehow connected to your circuit, it should just be dead mass with no EM characteristics. I could be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure you have to have poor insulation or a large amount of metal for reinforced interference to happen. Feb 20 '18 at 19:58
  • For me, the tip is the tip. I'm more concerned about the point on the shaft which contacts the sleeve. If the ring is anywhere near, here may be problems.
    – Tim
    Feb 20 '18 at 21:01

I wouldn't use a TRS cable in a TS socket because it's a tossup whether or not R makes contact or not. So you have a connection that will willy-nilly add a twisted core redundant core in parallel to the shield and not. This is quite unlikely not to result in handling noise.

In addition, a TS cable is coaxial and usually intended for high-gain high-impedance connections. A TRS cable (the twisted-pair variant for balanced connections, not a stereo cable) is not coaxial and intended for low-gain low-impedance connections. Not being coaxial means that it has quite higher parasitic capacities and inductivities than a straight coaxial cable which has a fixed geometry and dielectric between shield and core. This is important for high-impedance connections.

In contrast, a TS cable in a TRS socket is well-defined behavior and is often used for audio equipment that may accept balanced or unbalanced connections.

  • This is very interesting. Exactly the kind of electrical concerns I was wondering about. Is it then accurate to say that the S contact point position in a given jack could sometimes be contacting the R on the plug, or even bridging R and S?
    – JYelton
    Feb 19 '18 at 22:05
  • Could you translate the middle paragraph into words that make sense to the man in the street, please. I'm lost.
    – Tim
    Feb 20 '18 at 8:06
  • I didn't get into it in my answer because there are too many variables in wire type used in the construction of the TRS cables. From what I've seen in audio cables, the shielded twisted pair wire is less common than parallel cladded wire. Seeing a detectable difference should only show up in long cable runs. Feb 20 '18 at 19:49
  • Also, if the manufacturer of the connection parts are following industry specification, then the sleeve connector should not be connecting to the ring location. It would have to be a highly deviant input connector to do that. Feb 20 '18 at 19:57
  • @Tim A coaxial cable means that one conductor is nestled within the other; think of the wire shielding on a cable with a center conductor (like "coax" cable you use for cable television) wrapped in a plastic or synthetic material (the dielectric). What user48234 is saying is that the cable construction has certain characteristics which may be better for applications that just use TS jacks.
    – JYelton
    Feb 22 '18 at 4:03

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