Magnetic 3.5mm Connector on Kickstarter

In my experience the most common failure item on a portable player is the jack. It gets yanked around too much and eventually ends up becoming intermittent. In fact, Apple at one point was thinking about making a flexible headphone plug so it wouldn't put as much strain on the jacks. It looks like they abandon the idea in favor of the new Lightning jack, however. None the less, I'm afraid we'll be seeing 3.5mm jacks for quite some time into the future, and living with products that are strained, or broken, in the process.


Well, the guys starting up Magzet on Kickstarter think they've found a solution. Just like the power plugs on an Apple laptop are held in place with magnets, they're proposing to make an adapter that has a plug on one end and a jack on the other and magnetically snaps apart in between. The advantage, of course, is that it will snap apart when tugged preventing strain on the jack, or worse, a fall to the floor. And if left in it will prevent dirt from entering the jack.

150416_Blog_Magzet_Diagram_JackSwitchingThe additional advantage they're touting is that if you buy multiple plugs, you can leave them in many devices and simply switch between them using the magnetic part. They say they've solved the problem of devices that detect when a plug is present to reroute the audio, which will allow you to use the device's speakers even with the plug inserted. This may work for most smartphones but many jacks re-route the audio by mechanical switches within the jack itself as shown in the diagram C. and D. to the right. I don't see how they're going to solve that. 'Course you can just pull the plug out.

Regardless, it certainly seems like an idea that may be worthwhile if you commonly forget you're wearing your headphones as you get up and walk away from your desk. Though, I actually think it's more common for me to come up short as I stand up with my foot on the cable.

COMMENTS
ultrabike's picture

For TRS balanced connections (which may be convenient) they may just have found a way to circumvent a brief short circuit issue. From wikipedia:

"A disadvantage of using phone connectors for balanced audio connections is that the ground mates last and the socket grounds the plug tip and ring when inserting or disconnecting the plug. This causes bursts of hum, cracks and pops and may stress some outputs as they will be short circuited briefly, or longer if the plug is left half in."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_connector_%28audio%29#Balanced_audio

Hifihedgehog's picture

This would solve a world of issues for some headphone amplifier designs that are damaged from this brief electronic short. Several buffers or other components on the output are prone to burn up on account of this very instant short. I personally know the PIMETA V1, when combined with LMH6321 buffers, will fry those buffers if there is a short whilst unplugging headphones. Posting this there...

TheAudioGuild's picture

Depends on the plug.

Check out this telecom grade TRS by Switchcraft. The insulation between tip and ring is not only wider than on commercial plugs, but it's also rounded, which prevents shorting of tip and ring.

http://q-audio.com/images/switchcraft1.png

se

TheAudioGuild's picture

And if you want a jack to go with it...

http://q-audio.com/images/switchcraft2.png

I can't believe multi-thousand dollar amps out there just using cheapie 1/4" jacks.

se

zobel's picture

Standard TRS stereo phone connectors also have a position when partially connected that grounds one or both of the T or R (left or right signal contacts)? From what I gather, at voltages suitable for headphones, this grounding is generally not a problem in that it doesn't cause damage to the amplifier, especially if there is a small amount of output impedance, true?

Thanks, zobel in Montana

ultrabike's picture

AFAIK, there is a risk of short-circuit with TRS. I think Sleve and Ring (ground a right channel). Could also happen if accidentally using a TS into a TRS jack I think.

Will things like this damage the amp or speaker/headset? Possible. Maybe depends on the amp and the speaker/headset themselves.

riker1384's picture

As someone who has accidentally yanked my Macbook across the desk a few times, I have only this to say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwVDDxoKBk4

markanini's picture

>Though, I actually think it's more common for me to come up short as I stand up with my foot on the cable.

There's an advantage to detachable cables.

Jim Tavegia's picture

It was an oval shaped connector with multiple pins inside, spring loaded, so it could break away if pulled too hard. This will drive me crazy the rest of the day until I can remember this.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I know someone else as seen this.