Years ago, audio output was as simple as looking at the jack’s color. Green? Yep, that’s your speaker. Blue? That’s your line-in. Pink? That’s for your microphone. Now, however… things have changed.
Analog vs. I/O
The simplest difference now is the difference between the analog port and the green-blue-pink scheme. Since radios, laptops, music players, and motherboard panels are starting to simplify in looks and purpose, the analog jack was invented. It is a simple jack, denoted by a black port instead of green. By default it serves as an output interface, but given a peripheral that is a combination of a microphone and a stereo headset, the analog port will also serve as an all-in-one I/O jack. Examples of these analog-compatible peripherals are the HyperX™ Cloud headsets, and, with Dolby®, Plantronics® headsets.
USB 2.0/3.0 Port vs. Audio Jack
Somewhat more advanced these days is the USB interface that some headsets have adopted. The GAMDIAS® HEBE series is one of these, where a dedicated USB interface is required. Some headsets can manage around this, however, such as the SteelSeries® headsets of the 3rd quarter of 2017, which can have their interfaces changed using an adapter (the adapter turns the USB interface into an analog interface).
External Sound Cards
A relatively old, yet mostly overlooked technique to go around the audio port incompatibilities is by using an external sound card. Sound cards connect to USB ports, which is now a standard. Some, like, the Roccat 7.1 Virtual Sound series can connect to both analog and traditional colored I/O audio ports. Others, such as Sound Blaster cards, can even manage to work much better given the correct installed software.
Audio jacks have changed. Managing what type of jack to use can be hard to do without the right information. However, with just a little research and a little common sense, this is as easy as one, two, three – with the numbers being jack types, of course.