What Is a Jack Socket?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A jack socket is a fixed electrical connector with one or more receptacles for a movable plug, also known as a jack plug. Connecting the plug to the socket allows a user to complete an electrical connection for the purpose of conducting sound, powering a device, or performing other activities. The jack socket is known by a variety of names, including receptacle, plug, or female connector, depending on the type of system and how it is used.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The key distinguishing feature of the jack socket is usually its fixed nature. It is the connector that is mounted into the system itself to receive a connector that is movable. For example, computer users may have some jack sockets on the side of their computer for headphones, microphones, and so forth. Likewise, sockets in the walls allow people to plug in electrical equipment. Each socket is designed to work with a specific kind of connector.

Many nations have a standardized code for sockets and connectors to make it easier for companies to design universal equipment and supplies. Electrical outlets and their corresponding plugs have fixed designs in given nations or regions. Users never have to wonder if they will be able to plug a toaster in, for example, because as long as they buy the toaster in their home region, the plug will fit the jack socket at home. Likewise with audio and recording equipment, where industry standards enable musicians to travel comfortably with their gear and swap out equipment as necessary.

The jack socket, acting as the fixed connector, is anchored in place with screws and connects to wiring in the rest of the system. Wiring a jack socket requires access to the interior of the system to make the necessary connections and check them for integrity. For both wiring and repairs, it is important to power the system down first to prevent electrical shocks and damage to the components.

Sometimes, both the jack and the plug are movable. Extension cords, for instance, have a socket on one end and a plug on the other. It is possible to run several together. This can also be seen with audio wiring for concert venues and similar environments where participants in events may need cables of varying lengths. In this case, the jack socket is not fixed, but it is still designed to accommodate a plug, rather than acting as a male connector to plug into a different socket.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Charred - Sometimes you run out of electrical outlets in your house. Of course you can have additional sockets installed. I don’t recommend that you do this yourself. But it’s better to use extension cables and run them to your existing sockets.

If that proves to be too unsightly, then you can go ahead and install additional sockets, and in this regard there are more aesthetic options available to you.

For example, you can use a concealed power jack socket which is retractable and can be hidden within your desk and other furniture. No one will know it’s there. You just pull it out and use it when you need it.


@hamje32 - The 3.5 mm jack plug has to be the most universal audio plug around. I have it on my camcorder, stereo, little radio and mp3 player.

Having this plug means that I can hook these devices to just about any audio amplification system or hook it up to subwoofers and things like that.

You can even get a portable theater boom sound system for your little mp3 player, so that you can play it without headphones and get some big concert sound out of that little thing.


I’m so glad for international standards as they exist for phono plugs and other sockets. I lived overseas for several years and the audio electronics I bought over there were compatible (in terms of their audio sockets) with the headphones I bought over here.

What was not compatible was the voltage (they used 220 volts) and the power supply plugs. The power supply plugs had prongs for their receptors and so I had to buy an adapter to convert the pronged plugs to regular plugs like we have here.

Also I was able to buy a transformer to take care of the voltage discrepancy. At some point it’s just better to buy new equipment however.

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