How Radio Uses a Headphone Antenna


Leaving home without your headphones can mean the difference between a musically charged workout at the gym and a boring exercise bike ride plagued with constant clock watching. Knowing how the radio built into your cell phone or MP3 player uses your headphones as an antenna may ensure you are more mindful about bringing them along in the future.

Radio Requirements

  • Because of consumer desire to keep devices small, internal radios do not come with a bulky antenna built in. They must rely on an external source (such as a pair of headphones) to act as an antenna instead.

Headphone Functionality

  • The wires in a pair of headphones are used by internal radios as antennas. Much like radio alarm clocks and Walkmans, the thin wires act as receptors that allow your phone or iPod to more accurately tune in to available stations.

Reception Considerations

  • In order to ensure that you are receiving the best reception, you must completely uncoil and extend your headphones, even if you are using an external sound source like a speakerphone. If the cable is not unwrapped, your reception will be severely limited and sound quality will suffer as a result.

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  • Photo Credit Headphones image by bluefern from
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