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What is TRS?

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What is TRS?
on May 10, 2005 at 6:56:48 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm buying a snake and I'm wondering what TRS is... I'm so used to 1/4" and XLR but a lot of the snakes offer TRS but I'm confused as to what it stands for - the snakes still look like 1/4" or XLR. Thanks!


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Re: What is TRS?
on May 10, 2005 at 7:19:52 pm

TRS stands for Tip Ring Sleeve (I believe this nomenclature originated in telephone operations). It describes the three contacts on a 1/4" jack. The tip is the contact at the tip, the next contact is ring and the longest contact is the sleeve. In a balanced connection, typically, tip is high, ring is low and sleeve is ground.

Here's a site that goes into more detail:


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Re: What is TRS?
on May 10, 2005 at 9:52:22 pm

JRF's TRS explanation is AOK ;-)

But he failed to point out that TRS is a specific KIND of (although very COMMON) 1/4" plug.

A "stereo headphone" plug would be a typical TRS plug (either 1/4" or 1/8").
In this case:
TIP = Left Channel
RING = Right Channel
SLEEVE = Common/Ground

But a TS (or Tip-Sleeve) 1/4" plug is also very common (it is the standard "electric guitar cord" connector (It does not have the "ring" connection, but has a longer "sleeve" in that section of the plug.)
In this case:
TIP = Signal
Sleeve = Shield/Ground

So if the snake specifies "TRS" on its 1/4" plugs, then you are good-to-go in EITHER case, as a TRS plug will work for either a TRS or TS setup.

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Re: What is TRS?
on May 11, 2005 at 1:26:45 pm

You can also have TRS where one connector is both an input and output at the same time. This is common on some small mixers. I know Mackie mixers do this for inserts. I believe Tip is common, ring is send, sleeve is return. Additionally there are also balanced connectors (like XLR) that use tip as common, ring as signal+, and sleeve as signal-. Now that it is all clear as mud, hope it helps ;-)

Ronald Beal
Lighting designer/programmer/operator/crewchief/technician
TV and Rock&Roll

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