2012 was a big year for Apple, mainly because they decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone. Instead, Apple users would only have the Lightning port, and Apple created special headphones with Lightning jacks to facilitate this. That said, owning a pair of Lightning headphones can be frustrating, to say the least. After all, the majority of laptops have regular headphone jacks, including Apple’s own Macbooks!
So, the problem you might face here is that you can’t connect your Lightning headphones to any device save for your iPhone. Buying separate headphones for your laptop and iPhone can be costly and impractical, but luckily several workarounds can help you avoid this. If you can’t abandon your Apple products, either because you are used to them or perhaps because you find them superior to the alternatives, you need to find a way to make your Lightning headphones more versatile. We have talked about how you can do this below, and following our tips can help you use a single pair of headphones with all of your devices.
What Are Lightning Headphones?
Lightning headphones use a proprietary Lightning jack invented by Apple. It has fewer pins than the standard 30 pin dock connector that older Apple products used. With just 8 pins, it provides a denser and more robust interface, and it also helps you charge your phone faster. An added advantage is that it can clear up audio quality too, which is why so many people swear by it despite its lack of compatibility with most other devices.
Using a Lightning to USB Adapter
A common misconception is that you can use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to use your headphones on a laptop. This won’t work because these two jacks process audio signals differently. 3.5mm jacks use analog audio signals, and Lightning jacks use digital signals. Converting analog audio to digital or vice versa is a highly technical process that a cheap adapter can’t fix.
Instead, you have to rely on your USB ports. Lots of people don’t know this, but your laptop can transmit audio signals to your headphones through the USB ports as well. That’s why using a Lightning to USB adapter is your best bet, but one thing to factor in here is whether your laptop has USB Type-A or Type-C ports.
You have to match your adapter to your laptop’s USB ports; otherwise, you won’t be able to connect your headphones. USB Type-A and Type-C are shaped differently, so you won’t be able to use one with the other. Lightning jack adapters come in both forms, though, and they can allow you to easily connect your headphones to your laptop.
An Alternative Solution
If you want headphones that you can use on your iPhone and your laptop, you don’t necessarily need Lightning headphones. You can connect a pair of headphones with a 3.5mm jack to your iPhone with a 3.5mm to Lightning converter. That’s quite useful because you wouldn’t need an adapter or converter to use your headphones with your laptop. People that use their headphones more often with their laptop than their iPhone might like this method. It can allow them to use their headphones on their main device without having to jump through hoops, and they can use the connector on the off chance that they want to listen to something on their iPhone.
Are There Any Benefits to Using Lightning Headphones?
Lightning headphones are actually relatively advanced. The fact that they are compatible with iPhones is not the only reason people use them. An added advantage is that they use digital audio signals rather than analog ones. Some people say that this results in crisper and clearer audio quality, although that might be entirely anecdotal. Another advantage of the Lightning port itself is that it helps make iPhones more waterproof, which might be why Apple decided to make the switch.
Can I Use a Lightning to 3.5mm Converter?
Lightning to 3.5mm converters are widely available, but you can’t use them to connect your Lightning headphones to your laptop. That’s because the 3.5mm jack would serve as an output, so you won’t hear anything when you put your headphones on. You need something that can transmit audio signals from your laptop to your headphones, and a 3.5mm jack isn’t capable of doing that.
Does Using Converters Reduce Sound Quality?
USB Type-A converters don’t transfer data as efficiently as Type-C, so you might face slightly reduced sound quality if you use them. However, a Lightning to Type-C converter does a much better job of accurately replicating audio signals. That means your audio will sound just as good as it would have through the lightning jack. Sound quality is a major concern, so it’s good to know that there’s an accessory out there that can maintain it.