In this article, weâll examine the standout features of this new product line and how itâs impacted the importance of water and contaminant protection in audio technology.
But first, let's recap/introduce what is meant by the IP rating.
What is IP?
IP, or international protection, aka ingress protection (links to a full list of IP grades), is a manufacturer rating that refers to the extent to which contaminants and moisture can (if at all) seep into an electrical and/or mechanical product.
Ingress protection ratings always include 2 characters that immediately follow the letters âIPâ, and theyâre usually numbers, with 0 always representing the weakest possibleâand therefore non-existentâlevel of ingress protection. (You can, however, sometimes see the letter âXâ as either the first or second âIPâ-suffixed character, if the manufacturer could not ascertain the right numerical rating.)
The first digit that sits immediately next to the âIPâ part addresses the level of ingress protection from any form of electrical contaminants, such as grime, sand, and other debris (the IP rating system puts this all under the umbrella of âdustâ); and the second digit refers to the level of protection from moisture.
In the case of CUIâs audio connector product line, the â6â and â7â in its âIP67â grade are, respectively, out of a total of 6 and 8. This means that its dust protection gets top marks: 6 out of 6, i.e. full protection from solid contaminants; whereas its water and other moisture protection is one down from the best possible score (given that itâs 7 out of 8). That is, as far as audio connectors go: the best of the best resistance scoreâat least water pressure-wiseâis in fact â9Kâ, but thatâs much more applicable to jet cleaning-required equipment, such as that found in automotive and food processing factories.
This 7-out-of-8 level of moisture protection means that CUIâs new stereo connectors are able to survive for 0 to 30 minutes in up to 1 metreâs worth of water immersion (as opposed to an even better grade 8: able to survive comparatively long-lasting water immersion in higher depths still).
With this in mind, letâs now look at what this means for CUIâs (namely its Interconnect Groupâs) new product line of 3.55 mm Waterproof Audio Jack Connectors, which are both dust and waterproof by the said industry definitions.
Introducing CUIâs Audio Jack Connectors
Aside from featuring a 1A input current, a flammability rating of UL94V-0, and an insulation resistance that covers 100MÎ© at 500VDC, each member of CUIâs product line also shares these three crucial qualities, which respectively grant high sanitation, reusability, and durability to the stereo jack connectors:
- The compliance to RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) standards;
- The ability to endure up to 10,000 plug/unplug (i.e. mating) cycles; and
- An operational temperature tolerance that ranges between â30Â°C and 85Â°C.
An example of 3 entries in CUIâs product line of ingress protection 67-based, 3.55 mm Waterproof Audio Jack Connectors. Image courtesy of CUIâs Interconnect Group.
The Benefits of CUIâs IP67 Rating
Alongside the fact that all of CUIâs new stereo connectors are RoHS-compliant, another maintenance-related benefit of the audio devices is, of course, in their said IP67 chassis themselves.
As mentioned, such a level of ingress protection prevents (aside from water) all electrical contaminants, such as dust, sand, and other debris from damaging the audio connectors in question. Plus, many of the CUI products also have elastomer O-rings (see below photo and caption for an example) to further reinforce the protective seal between the connector and its corresponding enclosure.
A member of CUIâs IP67-rated Waterproof Audio Jack Connectors portfolio: the SJ-3541A-TR-67. Also note the black, elastomer O-ring beside it, which when attached, offers extra ingress protection. Image courtesy of CUI.
To quote the product press release from CUI:
âThese waterproof audio jacks help designers create a sealed barrier between their device and the environmental contaminants often encountered in consumer electronics, mobile, and industrial applications.â
The obvious advantage of such dust and waterproof protection is thatâaside from making the stereo technology more fit for outdoor consumer (and even industrial) useâupkeep-wise, the audio jack connectors will stay well-maintained on their own. And they can remain that way indefinitely; or at least, for as long as they don't succumb to excessive wear and tear (bearing in mind the said mating cycle threshold of the devices: 10,000 instances of plugging/unplugging before each CUI product may need to be replaced).
Plus, the IP67 rating is great news if youâre part of the minority of people (often audiophiles, in the interest of avoiding debris-induced electrical signal reduction) who clean their stereo connectors to improve sound quality. Now, not only will cleaning the CUI devices be purely optional, you can even rinse them thoroughly without the risk of over-exposing them to waterâa precaution that competing technology has long rendered unavoidable in the past. After all, other audio equipment has until now been chiefly limited to deoxidation and/or alcohol-based cleaning solutions, due to their lower-level protection.
All in all, the popularity of audio technology is never going to slow down, and along with this popularity comes A) an increase in the number of people who wish to use their stereo devices outside (where rain and outdoor contaminants are an inevitability); and B) the publicâs much-needed interest in cleaning their electronics devices.
Keeping this in mind, CUIâs Waterproof Audio Jack Connectors reflect the need for safe, washable and altogether resilient electronics components that can withstand consumer and industrial uses alike.