Author Topic: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?  (Read 572 times)

Offline Drifter

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4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« on: April 06, 2021, 06:14:18 PM »
So my iFi ZEN DAC offers a "balanced" out connection in addition to the standard headphone output.
The single ended connection is a standard 6.5mm jack and the balanced via something called a 4.4mm Pentaconn socket.

I would like to test the difference between s/e and balanced but none of Google searched for a 6.5 -> 4.4 adapter or a 1.5 -> 4.4 adapter was successful.

Has anyone ever encountered something like this?

Offline naughty

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2021, 06:32:15 PM »
yep - you can even get 4.4mm petaconn adapters for your 3.5mm jack as well as for 2.5mm balanced jacks

most newer DAPs and headphone amps which feature balanced outputs will now be using 4.4mm pentaconn instead of 2.5mm since the 2.5mm is considered very fragile and easy to break

my buddy who owns Govan Mani here in Durban managed to get a 3.5mm to 4.4mm adapter - not sure if it was from E-Bay or from Amazon - will ask him where he sourced it from - also not sure how it would work (procedurally) or how effective it would be since a 3.5 jack is single ended and the 4.4 is supposed to be balanced - so i need to some reading on this - will also ask him if i can try his one out for a day or two to see if it works with my DAP whcih has three different headphone outputs (2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm)

its also easy to source 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapters - thats balanced to balanced so should in theory be a much better adaptation

there's loads of headphone fans on the forum that are using 4.4mm pentaconn for their headphones currently who even have imported the connectors to make their own cables

Offline GoodEnoughGear

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2021, 07:03:55 PM »
You need balanced wiring for the headphones for starters. There's no point trying to adapt BAL to SE, you end up SE anyway. Or potentially hurt something. There are 2.5mm and 3.5mm 4-pole balanced connectors that can adapt to pentaconn, NOT the 3-pole connectors (or the 4-pole connectors that are for an integrated mic).
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Offline ron g

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2021, 07:35:29 PM »


pretty sure the hiphibian on the forum could make you up a decent cable with correct wiring.

i have / had 2 4.4mm balanced / 3.5mm se daps, & in both cases the 4.4mm balanced was noticably better.

& you sit there in the rubble, till it starts to feel like home
mary gauthier

Offline Hi-Phibian

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2021, 08:31:46 PM »
I have male 4.4mm Pentacon connectors in stock.  Thank you Ron. 
I also have 4 pole and 3 pole 3.5mm sockets. 

However as mentioned.   There is no point doing pentacon to a 3 pole connector.  It will not be balanced.  Not likely to be any better and possibly it could hurt the amplifier.

To get any benefit from the Pentacon balanced output the headphone needs to be set up for “4 conductor” use to be balanced. 

Some headphones just need a plug change and some will need complete new wiring and connections to the cups.




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Offline naughty

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2021, 09:36:54 PM »
However as mentioned.   There is no point doing pentacon to a 3 pole connector.  It will not be balanced.  Not likely to be any better and possibly it could hurt the amplifier.

To get any benefit from the Pentacon balanced output the headphone needs to be set up for “4 conductor” use to be balanced.

look - no reason for me to mistrust you on this

BUT

have a lookie here



as i said i need to do more reading to understand the reasoning behind why they say this - but i have read it elsewhere too ie on a page that was supposed to be an explanation behind balanced vs unbalanced where they state that you can do an adaptation like this (can't find that page now - but i will post it when i do)

Offline Hi-Phibian

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2021, 10:20:23 PM »
look - no reason for me to mistrust you on this

BUT

have a lookie here



as i said i need to do more reading to understand the reasoning behind why they say this - but i have read it elsewhere too ie on a page that was supposed to be an explanation behind balanced vs unbalanced where they state that you can do an adaptation like this (can't find that page now - but i will post it when i do)


You can make an always safe 4.4 Pentacon to 3.5 mm adaptor. 
You would take the 5th connection from Pentacon, ground,  and then hot right and hot left to the 3.5 mm 3 pole.  Ignoring the cold phase for left and right.  Safe, but not  balanced.  Just single ended from a 4.4 mm Pentacon output.  Not sure why one would want to as there is no performance benefit unless you have no single ended output or you are wanting to bypass some summing circuit used on single ended. 
If you join cold left and right to form your headphone “ground” you can damage your amplifier.  Some may tolerate it. But not all.  However, it’s not balanced that way either. 


You can also wire up Pentacon to 4 pole 3.5 mm as a balanced connection. A few DAP and DAC used the 3.5 4 pole for balanced.  Your headphone would have to have a 4 pole 3.5 mm wired for balanced connection.  This makes sense if you have a device using penta and another that uses 3.5 balanced. 

So back to the OP question.  Unless one configures the headphone in to a 4 pole (or more) headphone he is not running his headphones balanced and unless some strange design decision was made for the 4.4 vs 3.5 output, no performance gain. 





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Offline Hi-Phibian

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4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2021, 10:23:32 PM »
If anyone ever imports this adaptor I would be really keen to measure its pin outs as the claim rather strange things.   




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Offline Drifter

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2021, 04:59:57 AM »

You can make an always safe 4.4 Pentacon to 3.5 mm adaptor. 
You would take the 5th connection from Pentacon, ground,  and then hot right and hot left to the 3.5 mm 3 pole.  Ignoring the cold phase for left and right.  Safe, but not  balanced.  Just single ended from a 4.4 mm Pentacon output.  Not sure why one would want to as there is no performance benefit unless you have no single ended output or you are wanting to bypass some summing circuit used on single ended. 
If you join cold left and right to form your headphone “ground” you can damage your amplifier.  Some may tolerate it. But not all.  However, it’s not balanced that way either. 


You can also wire up Pentacon to 4 pole 3.5 mm as a balanced connection. A few DAP and DAC used the 3.5 4 pole for balanced.  Your headphone would have to have a 4 pole 3.5 mm wired for balanced connection.  This makes sense if you have a device using penta and another that uses 3.5 balanced. 

So back to the OP question.  Unless one configures the headphone in to a 4 pole (or more) headphone he is not running his headphones balanced and unless some strange design decision was made for the 4.4 vs 3.5 output, no performance gain. 


This is really interesting - something that I have never investigated before, so I learned something new today. Thanks for all the responses so far.

So I guess the next question is whether the Beyerdynamics DT770 will benefit from running it from the balanced out? It has a fixed cable, so you cannot swap the actual cable out - the standard connector looks like 3 poles only. I guess you can open the ear-cup and solder in a new aftermarket cable.

Offline CAD

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2021, 08:03:00 AM »
Very interesting as I was reading up on the same thing last night after viewing the new Zen DAC signature

https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-dac-signature/



and they offer the cables https://ifi-audio.com/products/4-4mm-to-xlr-cable/





As others have stated ,I would get Hi-Phib to make up a set  :thumbs:

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Offline GoodEnoughGear

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2021, 08:20:41 AM »
That is a properly balanced cable of course.
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Offline Hi-Phibian

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2021, 08:22:38 AM »
This is really interesting - something that I have never investigated before, so I learned something new today. Thanks for all the responses so far.

So I guess the next question is whether the Beyerdynamics DT770 will benefit from running it from the balanced out? It has a fixed cable, so you cannot swap the actual cable out - the standard connector looks like 3 poles only. I guess you can open the ear-cup and solder in a new aftermarket cable.

IMO it depends on the source and the volume level required or achievable in SE mode.

Balanced drive gives more voltage swing so if the amp cant get enough in to the headphone to play loud enough in balanced configuration balanced will most certainly help. I firmly believe its popularity is due to this, allowing device makers to get massive voltage swing from low more manageable voltage rails and low voltage power sources (battery and wall warts).

For actual performance benefits of balanced line over just volume level the source IMO needs to be balanced too. Rather, with a balanced differential amplifier you are able to retain the benefit of the balanced source. A cable adaptor converted source is not balanced. It either has 2 phases (lines) per channel or it does not.

I am uncertain of the Beyer 770 but I suspect it uses a 3 conductor wire lead so balanced configuration requires more surgery than just the plug to be changed. This is the case with many single entry headphones. Dual entry virtually guarantees 4 conductors.  With the exception of the 3 wire proviso I think this page explains things quite well. They seem all for folks cutting plugs off but one really needs to check a little deeper on single entry cans.


https://www.headphonesty.com/2019/05/balanced-vs-unbalanced-audio-connections/
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Offline Hi-Phibian

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2021, 08:26:31 AM »
Very interesting as I was reading up on the same thing last night after viewing the new Zen DAC signature

https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-dac-signature/



and they offer the cables https://ifi-audio.com/products/4-4mm-to-xlr-cable/





As others have stated ,I would get Hi-Phib to make up a set  :thumbs:



This type of cable is the cable to use from a genuinely balanced audio source in to the Zen amplifier.
Croak Audio
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Offline Doge

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Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2021, 03:33:09 PM »
This type of cable is the cable to use from a genuinely balanced audio source in to the Zen amplifier.

You could just use this one going from the Zen DAC to CAN https://ifi-audio.com/products/4-4mm-to-4-4mm-cable

To answer @Drifter I wouldn't really hold my breath, I had the pentacon balanced cable that came with the 660 S, used it with the 6XX since it's the harder to drive, didn't detect any discernible difference with the Zen DAC other than increased volume, my other SE kit still sounds better than the Zen.

Offline dionysus69

Re: 4.4mm headphone jack - anyone ever encountered one?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2021, 09:20:43 PM »
I have sennheiser hd800s going into ifi pro dsd. Using1\4 inch jack. How can i use the 4.4 balanced input on ifi without purchasing a r6500 balanced cable from sennheiser? Dont mind spending but 6 jimmys for s small cable not on