A Guide to Using Singe Jack Headset on PC without Splitter

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How to Use Single Jack Headset on PC without Splitter

The biggest consideration when buying a good headset is sound quality. However, headsets with good-great sound quality come at a premium. On top of that, up till a few years ago, quality headsets came with two jacks – one for sound output and other for audio input (mic). Although still available, these headsets have been replaced by headsets with a single, dual-purpose jack.

Most PCs still have two separate ports though. So, how do you use a single jack headset on PC? One simple answer is to invest in a splitter. But, is there a way of using such headsets without a splitter?

Using a Single Jack Headset on PC

The number of people using headphones has increased over the years, with wireless headphones gaining a significant rise in demand in 2019. Over the period of 5 years (2013-2018), the demand for wireless headphones increased from 1.7 million to 6.7 million, while their noise-cancelling counterparts (wired as well as wireless) grew to 8.3 million.

Using a single jack headset on PC usually requires a splitter, a device that essentially distributes a single headphone jack’s functions into two; input and output.

Understanding the Input & Output Functions on a Headphone Jack

To get a better understanding of how this works, we first have to understand the basic structure of a headphone jack. If you look at some of the recent, high-end headphones, you are bound to see three ‘rings’ that separate the golden contacts.

Old headphones had one ring, which meant that the headsets were mono. Two rings meant its stereo, but had no input capabilities. Three rings, separate the contacts into four parts, indicating that not only the headphones are stereo, they also have input capabilities.

If you look at headsets with two headphone jacks, you’ll notice that the input and output jacks (usually pink and green) have two rings each. While one is a stereo output, enabling you to hear sounds, the other is for input, letting you communicate through the mic.

Using Single-Jacked Headsets

Recent PCs

Fortunately, recent PCs come with two ports not specific to output or input. If you look closely around the headphone ports, you’ll see that one of them only has a headphone icon assigned to it, while the other has either a headset icon or a headphone icon beside a mic.

This means you can plug your headsets with a single jack in the second port and use it for input as well as output. Laptops and MacBooks usually have a dual-purpose headphone port to allow for easy headset usage.

Old PCs

For older PCs, you might have to tweak some settings or, unfortunately end up having to invest in a splitter since they might have ports specific to input and output.

Tweaking the Settings

If your microphone isn’t working despite having a dual-purpose jack,

  • Click on Start
  • Control Panel
  • Sound
  • A pop-up will open. Click on Recording
  • You will see a list of devices. Find the one you’re using and make it default
  • If you can’t see it, click Set up Microphone. Windows will automatically detect any input devices inserted
  • Once done, apply your changes and test the device out

On MacOS,

  • Click on the Volume icon or search for Sound in the Finder
  • Open Sound Preferences
  • Head into the Input tab in the popup that opens
  • Select your device and set it as default

If none of the above mentioned steps work, you might have to either get your headphone port replaced or simply invest in a splitter.

Using single jack headset on PC without splitters might require some efforts, even replacement in extreme cases, but is definitely doable. Splitters usually cost around $1 to $5, depending on the type you’re getting – a bargain compared to repair costs and efforts.

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Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.