If you are an Apple user you will know that they always aren’t compatible with non-Apple devices. This poses a problem as you end up spending a ton of money buying Apple products and then struggle to use them with other brands. Off late, Apple has started providing lightning headphones for their iPhones and iPads.
So, how to use lightning headphones on a laptop?
In order to use your lightning headphones on a laptop, you will need to use an adaptor. An adaptor is an additional piece of hardware (mostly a wire with a connector) that acts as a bridge between your laptop and the headphones. With the use of the adaptor, you can get your lightning headphones to work with a host of devices.
In order for you to understand which adaptor will help you resolve your issue, we have provided a list of solutions below.
How to Use Lightning Headphones on your Laptop: Solutions
1. Use a USB-C adaptor
The USB-C port is primarily used by Apple in all its devices that were made before the advent of the lightning connectors. Even some Windows hardware uses the USB-C ports nowadays. This is why you will easily find the USB-C adaptors online and offline. To get your lightning headphones working with the laptop, use the USB-C adaptor.
Suggested Lightning to USB-C adaptor – UGREEN
If you are in the market for a USB-C adaptor then you can try this one by UGREEN. Available on Amazon, the UGREEN USB-C adaptor is MFI certified, is compatible with all the Apple lightning cables, and costs about $24. The adaptor works well with Apple iPhones, iPads, and USB-C smartphones without any reduction in quality.
The adaptor is plug-and-play without any driver installation, has a high-performance DAC chip, and is built to last for a long time. Made with high-quality aluminum alloy, the adaptor boasts of a braided cable with reinforced connectors. However, do note that this adaptor only works with laptops that run Windows 10 or above.
If you are using an Apple laptop then you might have to make changes to your Audio settings to use this adaptor. Once you have connected the adaptor, follow the next steps
- Go to System Preferences
- Click on Sound and then select the center, Output tab
- Here you need to select the right output device which you plan to use
2. Use a USB-A adaptor
Most of the laptops come with a USB-A port or commonly known as the USB port. This rectangle-shaped port usually is placed on the left or right-hand side of the laptop body. This USB port can deliver USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 speeds. Now you will need to find a lightning to USB-A adaptor to get your lightning headphones to connect the device.
Finding these adaptors might be a little difficult as they are not quite popular but you might be able to find online electronic stores selling them. Nowadays, USB-C adaptors are extensively used and USB-A adaptors are slowly getting phased out.
Once you do manage to procure the USB-A adaptor, all you have to do is to connect one end to the lightning headphone and the other end into the USB slot of your adaptor. This should get the lightning cable working with the laptop. You will read a lot on online forums that this option isn’t really possible as such adaptors are extremely hard to find. This is quite true.
If you are not able to find such an adaptor and your PC doesn’t have a USB-C slot, only the standard USB slot then you don’t have any option left. You will not be able to use the lightning headphones on your laptop and you will need to buy a fresh pair of headphones for your laptop, before which you might want to check out this guide on whether can you use apple earphones for mic on pc.
Types of USB Ports
Before you get into the buying process, you first need to check the laptop port. Laptops usually have one of these two types of USB ports
The most commonly used laptop ports are the USB-A ports which are much bigger than the USB-C port. This is the port you use to plug in your hard disks, flash players, charging cables, etc. However, some newer laptop models have started shipping out with the USB-C port. Apple’s own devices also use the USB-C ports. The newer models of the Macbook Air, Macbook, and Macbook Pro all come with the new USB-C ports. But surprisingly, the lightning earbuds aren’t compatible with these as well.
Once you have confirmed the kind of port your laptop has, you will need to figure out how to connect the lightning headphones to the laptop. Here are two ways you can do this.
Tips for selecting the right adaptor
Online stores and offline shops are flooded with various kinds of adaptors and selecting the right one can sometimes put you in a dilemma. While attempting to connect your lightning headphones to your laptop, you will need to buy a Lightning to USB adaptor.
Before you buy the adaptor, you need to know two things
- The lightning end of the headphones should be female
- The USB side should be male. This end goes into the laptop USB port
You also need to know that some of these adaptors are used only for charging and not for the transfer of audio. So, before you pay for them, do check if they play audio as well. Once you do get the right adaptor, especially a USB-A adaptor then take good care of it as those adaptors are really impossible to find!
Why is it difficult to use the lightning headphones?
Way back in 2012, Apple introduced the lightning port in the iPhone 5 that was used for charging. However, all their products still used the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. But then in 2016, when the iPhone 7 was launched, it removed the 3.5mm jack from the phones and started shipping products with the lightning port.
This meant that only Apple headphones could be used on the newest iPhones and iPads. And it also meant that the lightning headphones could work only with the iPhones and iPads. To counter this problem, Apple shipped their products with an adaptor with a 3.5mm jack that could plug into compatible phones and laptops.
But the lightning technology is primarily used by Apple and since other brands don’t support it, there are compatibility issues. And this is why these are adaptors in the market to connect such products with others. Apple has its own adaptors but they can be quite expensive. If you don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket, then you will need to look for 3rd party adaptors to connect the lightning headphones with your laptop.
Why do companies use lightning headphones?
Lightning headphones are a major advancement in headphone technology and they are considered to be much superior to the standard 3.5mm audio jacks. The lightning technology was invented by Apple and deployed in its iPhones and iPads since the connector is shorter and slimmer. This saves precious space on the phone and makes way for other parts.
However, once this technology was launched, compatibility issues started cropping up and that is why Apple and other manufacturers started making adaptors to remove the compatibility issue. But this still doesn’t remove all issues. As discussed above, if your laptop has the standard USB port then there is probably no way to get your lightning earphones to work with your laptop.
Unless you somehow do manage to find a USB-A adaptor. And the chances of that happening are very slim.
Should you use the lightning headphones?
- Better audio quality
- Short and slimmer
- More durable than 3.5mm jacks
- Newer technology
- Support a hi-fi connection
- Compatibility with non-Apple products
- Much more expensive than 3.5mm jack headphones
- You can’t charge your iPhone when the lightning headphones are connected
Do you need the lightning earphones?
If you haven’t yet got the lightning headphones and are about to buy them, then you need to rethink your decision. Yes, the lure of superior quality is very convincing, but at what cost? The major drawback of using these headphones is that you will face compatibility issues.
Each time you use the headphones on a different device, you might need to buy more adaptors. Is it really worth it? And, your headphones might end up lasting longer than the adaptors? Then what do you do! If you research online, you will find many good quality headphones that deliver amazing audio experiences.
Even though Apple products claim to be superior in quality to other products in the market, you can face compatibility issues. Apple’s ecosystem is very tight-knit and designed to work great with other Apple products. Yes, lightning headphones do have a definitive quality advantage over 3.5mm jack products. And Apple fans will swear by them!
However, when you decide to make Apple products work with other brands then you might face a challenge. Now in case you do use the lightning headphones then you now have two solutions to make them work with your laptop. Follow the above-mentioned steps, purchase the right adaptor compatible with the laptop and the headphones and you should be using your lightning headphones in no time.