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How To Use a Headset Mic With One Jack on PC

For many years, quality headsets came with two jacks, one for audio input from the microphone and the other for audio output through the headphones. But more modern headsets have a single jack, even though PCs still have two ports. So how can you connect your single-jack headset to your dual-port PC?

There are the three steps to follow when using a single-jack headset mic on your PC:

  1. Use a splitter.
  2. Activate the headset’s microphone in the computer’s settings.
  3. Just plug it in. (No extra steps needed!)

This guide will walk you through the different ways to use your single-jack headset on a PC. If your computer is new enough, you may not even have to do any work. Keep reading to figure out which method will work for you and your computer setup.

1. Use a Splitter

A splitter is a device that divides (or “splits”) your headset’s single jack into two jacks, one for input and one for output. 

Instead of plugging your headset directly into your PC, you plug the single jack of your headset into the “female” end of the splitter. Then you plug the two “male” ends of the splitter into your computer, matching the input and output jacks to the correct ports. Input is typically labeled with a microphone symbol, while output has a headphone symbol. 

Splitters are relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase through Amazon.com. If you can have the time to wait for an Amazon delivery before you need to use your headset mic, a splitter is your best choice for using a single-jack headset. 

Before you choose which splitter is the best for you, here are some things to think about. Consider where you will be sitting with your headset mic in relation to your PC’s audio ports. Do you need a long cable to reach the ports, or will a short one suffice? Will the cable be bent or twisted? How you answer these questions will determine which splitter is right for you.

Most Durable Splitter: JSAUX Headset Splitter Cable for PC

The JSAUX Headset Splitter Cable for PC on Amazon.com is available in silver and red and has a braided nylon sheath for extra durability.

Both ends of the splitter have a protective plastic coating to prevent the wires from breaking when plugged in. You can bend this cable over 10,000 times without breaking it. The short length and durable texture make it resistant to tangling with other wires.

If you have a history of bending and breaking cables like phone chargers or earbuds, this splitter is perfect for you. It’s very unlikely that you’ll break this rugged splitter, even with regular usage.

Best Budget-Friendly Splitter: KOOPAO Headphone Splitter Mic Cable

When you’re on a tight budget, every dollar that you can save counts. If you’re looking for the least expensive option that will still get the job done, look no further than the KOOPAO Headphone Splitter Mic Cable for Computer on Amazon.com.

This splitter has a relatively short cable and braided nylon exterior, making it less likely to tangle or break. It’s not quite as durable as the JSAUX, but it’s less expensive. With thousands of positive Amazon reviews, the KOOPAO splitter is a quality piece of equipment that you can rely on when using a single-jack headset. 

Best Long Splitter: DUKABEL Long Headset Splitter Cable

Maybe your PC’s audio ports are located far away from where you’d like to record. Maybe you want to have a little more freedom of movement when using your headset mic without investing in a pricey wireless headset. Whatever the reason, you might want a splitter with a longer cable.

The DUKABEL Long Headset Splitter Cable on Amazon.com measures almost four feet (1.21 m) long. It has a break-resistant nylon exterior, but its long length means it could easily tangle with other cables. You should also be mindful of any tripping hazards posed by your splitter when walking near your computer.

Do I Really Need a Splitter?

People who use splitters tend to get better audio quality than those who opt not to. Splitters aren’t strictly necessary for using a single-jack headset, but they deliver good results. Splitters allow you to use your headset’s audio input and output simultaneously. A single TRS port on your PC may restrict you to only using input or output.

You need a splitter if you plan on using your headset mic in any kind of professional setting. Suppose you’re using your headset for Zoom calls, online classes, or recording presentations. In that case, you need a splitter to ensure you’re getting quality audio.

But if you’re only using your headset mic as a microphone, with no need for audio output at the same time, you can get by without a splitter. You can plug your TRRS jack into a PC’s TRS port, and your headset will still work.

However, if you want professional-level audio quality, a splitter may not be enough. If you’re doing any kind of music recording, you’ll need more than just your headset mic.

For the best possible audio quality, consider purchasing a USB microphone or audio interface. A headset with a splitter is sufficient for a Zoom call or online gaming. However, it won’t help you sound like a professional recording. 

2. Activate the Headset’s Microphone in the Computer’s Settings

Maybe you don’t want to use a splitter, or maybe you just don’t have time to purchase one. Fortunately, it is still possible to use a single-jack headset on a PC. Just be prepared for your audio quality to suffer or for your headset to stop outputting sound altogether while you use the microphone.

  1. Plug your headset into your computer’s audio output port. This port should have an icon of a pair of headphones beside it.
  2. Click the Start button.
  3. Open the Control Panel. If you can’t find your Control Panel right away, try typing it in the search bar beside your Start button.
  4. Select “Sound.” You might find it under “Hardware and Sound.” A window should appear with a list of several devices.
  5. Click the “Recording” tab of the window.
  6. Scroll down the list of devices until you find the headset you’re using. 
  7. When your headset is selected, click “Set as Default.” This option will let your computer know to use your headset for audio input as well as output.

If you don’t see your headset in the list of devices, try clicking “Set Up Microphone.” Your computer should detect any microphones plugged in, including the microphone on your headset.

Depending on the kind of ports your PC uses, you may not be able to use your headset for input and output at the same time. You might also find that the quality of sound on your headset is not very good. If you’re not happy with your headset’s sound quality, it might be best to invest in a splitter.

3. Just Plug It In (No Extra Steps Needed!)

Many newer computers and laptops don’t have ports dedicated specifically to audio input and output. These more recent PCs have TRRS audio ports, which means you can plug your single-jack headset into either one with no problems.

Are you unsure if your PC has dual-purpose audio ports? Look at the icons by your computer’s audio ports. A dual-purpose audio port will have two icons: a headphone and mic or a headset and mic. A port with both of these symbols is capable of running a single-jack headset with no extra steps. 

Why Does My Headset Have Only One Jack?

You might be wondering why your headset has only one jack when your PC has two. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of your headset jack to understand the difference between single-jack and double-jack headsets. 

Modern headsets have one jack instead of two because it is more convenient. Advancements in technology have allowed us to consolidate a headset’s multiple functions into a single jack. Having fewer wires means your headset is less likely to get tangled or damaged.

If you have a close look at your headset jack, you should see three black rings. These three rings divide your jack into four sections, called the Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve, or TRRS. A TRRS jack can output sound in stereo, and it can input sound through a microphone. 

But headphones didn’t always have TRRS jacks. Older jacks had only two rings and were called TRS, or Tip-Ring-Sleeve. These jacks could output audio in stereo, but they were not equipped for audio input. Even older headphones had Tip-Sleeve or TS jacks, which could only produce mono sound. 

TRRS jacks allow you to house several wires in a single headset cable. Anyone who has ever had multiple wired devices at their computer desk knows how frustrating it can be when cables become tangled.

Not only do you have to untangle your devices to use them, but you also run the risk of damaging the delicate wires inside. TRRS jacks consolidate your headset’s wires into one cable, reducing the risk of tangles or breakage. 

While most modern headsets use TRRS jacks, not all computers use TRRS ports. TRRS ports are common on mobile devices such as cell phones and laptops, which handle all audio capabilities through a single port. Desktop computers, especially older ones, still use TRS ports instead.

A computer with two TRS ports can send and receive audio input and output, but not through the same port simultaneously. 

Troubleshooting Common Problems With a Single-Jack Headset

If you’ve followed the steps listed above and still can’t get your single-jack headset to work on your PC, there are several steps you can take to fix it.

These fixes range from simple DIY changes to professional repairs. But before you call a computer repairman or consider purchasing a new headset, try these simple fixes first:

  • Be sure your headset jack is firmly plugged into the audio port. If you’re using a splitter, make sure the headset jack and both jacks from the splitter are fully pushed in.
  • Make sure your splitter is plugged in correctly, matching the output and input jacks to the right ports on your PC. Input jacks and ports typically have a microphone icon, while headphones represent the output. Some PCs use green for output and pink for input. 
  • Try plugging one of the jacks into each port until it works. This option is for when you don’t see any symbols or colors on your splitter or PC.
  • Check to ensure your volume is turned on. Make sure that your computer isn’t set to “mute.”
  • Check that your headset is still the default device for audio input. (Follow the steps listed above for using your headset mic without a splitter.) Make sure your mic isn’t listed as “disabled.”
  • Try testing your microphone. Click Start, go to Settings, and select the Sound tab. Under the Input section, make sure your headset mic is the selected device. Then talk into your microphone. There should be a moving bar that responds to the sound of your voice.
  • Allow your microphone access to your device. Microphone access is sometimes restricted for privacy reasons. Click Start, go to Settings, and select Privacy Settings. Look for a toggle that allows your device access to the microphone, and switch it to On.

You may need to reinstall or update your audio drivers. Microsoft has a detailed explanation of how to do this, complete with handy screenshots. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace your computer’s audio ports. It could be that there is an issue with the hardware. Just be sure you’ve exhausted your other options before you resort to replacing parts on your PC.

Final Thoughts

The good news is you can still use your single-jack headset with your PC, whether it has one audio port or two. You probably won’t get professional-level sound quality, but it will still work.

If you’re still having trouble getting your headset to work on your PC, check out Microsoft Support. There’s a good chance someone has had a similar problem to you, and you can find answers from the professionals. 

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