How To Use Lightning Headphones on Laptop

Struggling to work out how to use your lightning headphones with your laptop? It’s actually very easy. Read on!

Apple decided to do away with the 3.5mm headphone jack in 2016 when they introduced the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Since then, all Apple products use a lightning connection instead.

And headphone manufacturers have responded with a whole host of great headphones to accommodate Apple’s invention.

While this type of connection does have benefits, it makes things complicated if your headphones use the standard 3.5mm jack. To smooth things over, Apple and other manufacturers created a lightning adapter. This adapter allows you to connect your 3.5mm jack cable to your device.

But for those of you who are lightning cable converts, connecting headphones with a lightning connection to your laptop is not a difficult task. But it will require you to purchase an adapter. The question of what adapter to buy will depend on the ports of your laptop.

The Lightning Connection Explained

Apple invented they’re 8-pin connectors to replace the previous 30-pin dock connector. In some ways this connection is better. The connector is thinner and reversible so you can use the connector in more than one way.

In terms of the audio quality, there is a little difference between the sound from lightning headphones vs 3.5mm jack ones. Any differences will be down to the sound and quality of the headphones themselves.

Pros of Lightning Headphones

  • They work with all Apple products
  • Good audio quality
  • Some top headphones use this connection

Cons of Lightning Headphones

  • You need an adapter for devices without this connection
  • Most devices and laptops do not use this type of connection

Different USB Ports

The question of what adapter to buy will depend on what port your laptop has. Laptops have either a USB-A or a USB-C port. These allow you to connect hard disks, other devices, printers, and external audio equipment.

The industry standard has been USB-A, but more laptops are using the USB-C connection now. USB-A ports are larger than USB-C ones. To check which one you have, you will need to look at the rectangular shaped ports on the left and right side of your laptop.

The Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and iMac devices all use the USB-C ports, so even if you have an Apple laptop you will need to purchase a lightning connection adapter to use theirs and other brands headphones.

USB-C Adapter

USB-C Adapter

The USB-C adapter is easy to find online or in-store. As mentioned above, most of Apple’s products use this port. Dell, Lenovo and HP also use the USB-C connection so you will need an adapter for these brands as well.

If you are unsure as to what USB your laptop uses, then see if you can identify it. The USB-C is smaller than a USB-A. They are a thin oval shape more akin to a micro-USB port.

If you are using an Apple laptop, you will need to change the settings so that the adapter works. Follow these simple steps to do so:

STEP 1: Connect the adapter to your laptop and plug in your chosen headphones.

Connect the adapter to your laptop and plug in your chosen headphones

STEP 2: Go to System Preferences.

Go to System Preferences

STEP 3: Select Sound.

Select Sound

STEP 4: Head to the Output menu.

Head to the Output menu

STEP 5: Select your headphones from the menu.

USB-A Adapter

USB-A Adapter

The USB-A port is the most common in the laptop world and devices that usually connect to them. Despite this, this type of adapter is more difficult to find than the USB-C adapters.

A USB-A adapter is easier to use as all you need to do is plug it in and connect your headphones. They should start to work immediately.

Using a USB-A adapter is the only way to connect headphones with a lightning connection. If you can’t find an adapter or the one you have isn’t working, unfortunately the only option is to buy a new set of headphones.

To avoid having to connect them to anything, go for a Bluetooth set. These are universally compatible with all devices with a Bluetooth connection no matter the brand, age or connection.

How To Choose The Right Adapter

Once you have worked out which USB port your laptop has, you will need to make sure you choose the right adapter.

Some adapters can only be used for charging, so check they can also be used for playing audio before you buy.

The Final Word on Lightning Adapters…

Is this – they are really the only solution to your audio issues unless you want to buy a new set of headphones. While lightning connections can be annoying, the offerings from Apple and other companies make for some great headphones. Getting a USB-A adapter may be a challenge, but worth it if it means you can enjoy your favourite tunes with your current headphones.

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Paul Goral

I am the founder of North Creek Music and I have a master’s degree in Engineering Acoustics. Sound is my passion. I wanted to start this blog and share my passion with others.

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