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In the UK, the terms jack plug and jack socket are commonly used for the respective male and female connectors.[1] In the US the more fixed connector is called a jack.[2]


Do not mix mating connectors of different metals. The contact resistance will go up with dissimilar metals, causing all sorts of problems.[3]


The jacks and plugs commonly used for creating synthesizer patches are the 1/4" (exactly 6.35mm) and the 3.5mm (approx 1/8") mono phone connectors - also known as TS connectors (for tip sleeve), the 4mm banana and the 0.141" (3.58mm) Tini-Jax, these are all monophonic. The reliable and solid feeling 4.40mm Bantam or TT (tiny telephone) jacks, widely used in professional audio, are an option offered by Wiard and Hinton Instruments.[4][5]

Banana plugs vs. other plugs

Banana are unshielded but CVs don't need shielding and because audio levels are usually high, this won't be a problem. When patching into external synths or other devices use a shielded cable with both ends of the shield connected to ground. Banana sockets are cheaper because they are mechanically simpler. They are also much more durable since there is less to go wrong. They are widely available and come in a range of colours.[note 1][6]

Banana plugs are stackable i.e. one can plug into the end of another. Most banana synths are designed with stackable plugs in mind, whereas most 1/4" and 3.5mm jack systems include multiples.[6]

On Buchla synthesizers the audio and contol paths and control are kept seperate. The control path uses banana connectors and swings between +/-15V, while the audio path is at 1.228V RMS, (+4dBu professional line level)[7] and uses 0.141" Tini-Jax.[8]

Regular jacks provide an extra switched connection enabling normalization (connections when there is no cable plugged in).


MIDI cables terminate in a five pin 180° DIN connector. Standard applications use only three of the five conductors: a ground wire, and a balanced pair of conductors that carry a +5 Volt signal. Some proprietary applications, such as phantom-powered footswitch controllers, use the spare pins for DC power.[9] Opto-isolators keep MIDI devices electrically separated from their connectors, which prevents ground loops from occurring.[10]

External DC connector

The coaxial power connector is the miniature power connector used for attaching extra-low voltage devices such as consumer electronics to external power supplies. Also known as barrel connectors, concentric barrel connectors or tip connectors, these small cylindrical connectors come in a variety of sizes.

Internal DC power supply


For internal power distribution, a Eurorack case typically has a distribution board with 16 pin headers. With Doepfer these also includes +5 Volts, and Gate and CV which are used by a few modules to normalise these signals. The power cable is typically a length of ribbon cable with a female 16-pin IDC connector on one end and a 10-pin on the other. Incorrectly connecting one of these connectors can damage the module. The stripe on the ribbon cable indicates the -12V side of the connectors.[11]

See also Eurorack


To distribute DC from the power supply to the modules MOTM and Oakley Sound Systems implement a star distribution with 4 way AMP MTA-156 headers or 4 way Molex KK 0.156" headers on a PCB.[12] The CGS uses a power distribution bus.[13]

Modcan and Cyndustries have the same type of connector as MOTM to distribute power to modules except they only use a 3 pin version which provides +/-15v only. Power is also distributed from the power supply via a bus board.[14] implements a DC star distribution via cable harness, connected to the power supply by a 4 pin .093 Molex connector while six pin keyed MTA-100 connectors on the harness connect to male headers on the modules, with +/-15V, +5V and a ground shared between these.[15]

See also Comparison of 5U module brands

Other formats

Frac and Wiard 300 series use the same 4 way MTA-156 connectors as MOTM.


  1. ^ For example Serge use red to indicate logic, (triggers, gates, and other positive-going pulses), blue for positive only control voltages, black for audio signals, and violet for synchronisation.


  1. ^ Radio Production by Robert McLeish, Newnes, 2005, ISBN 0-240-51972-8
  2. ^ Reference Designations for Electrical and Electronics Parts and Equipment, ASME Y14.44-2008, ASME, Fairfield, 2008, Section
  3. ^ Molex Connectors Explained, as used in Pinball.
  4. ^ Bantam (TT) Jacks
  5. ^ Bantam Jack Patching
  6. ^ a b Banana plugs vs. other plugs on Muff Wiggler forum
  7. ^ The Good Thing About Standards: So Many To Choose From, Buchla Tech blog, 7 October 2007
  8. ^ Why Buchla?, Buchla Tech blog, 4 October 2008
  9. ^ TC Electronic G Major by Dave Lockwood, Sound On Sound, December 2001.
  10. ^ Digital Theory by Allen Mornington-West, Sound Recording Practice, 4th edition, Edited by John Borwick, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  11. ^ Eurorack Power Cables
  12. ^ Dizzy User Manual and Builders Guide v3.2.0 by Tony Allgood
  13. ^ CGS, Power Bus Board
  14. ^ Muff's Modules & More:Power distribution - updated
  15. ^, Power System Components, DC Power Harnesses

External links

Power connectors