How to use lightning headphones on laptop

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How to use lightning headphones on laptop


The latest gadgets from Apple (iPhone5 and beyond) comes with a “Lightning connector”. Apple rolled out this upgraded version of connector to replace the old 30-pin dock connector. The 8-pin Lightning connector is way more compact than its predecessor. All iPhones starting from iPhone 5, iPads of 4th generation and beyond along with three successive generations of iPod Touch including the 5th, 6th and 7th generations currently have this kind of connector.

However because of this technical design change, the peripheral electronic accessories also needed a complete revamp and one question remains constant i.e. How to use lightning headphones on laptop?  Headphones, chargers and other accessories had to be made compatible with the new port for daily usage. Thus this engineering evolution from Apple has introduced two kinds of dilemma.

  • Firstly, the electronic accessories designed for the older models of Apple devices have become completely incompatible without an adapter.

For example, the newest models do not contain a traditional 3.5 mm female audio jack in them (the hole on the body of a smartphone where the sharp end of a normal earphone is plugged). Instead one has to use Lightning headphone adapter. This special adapter has one end compatible to be connected to the Lightning connector of Apple devices and other with the standard 3.5 mm audio plugs. It converts the digital form of audio coming out of the iPhone and converts them into analog signal which is then delivered to the headphones connected to the port.


  • Secondly, the peripheral accessories compatible for the Lightning connector were rendered useless for direct usage with any other devices except the selected few we have mentioned earlier.

This means that gadgets like Lightning headphones (headphones designed to plug into the Lightning connector) cannot be directly connected to older apple devices or any other electronic gadgets that are not manufactured by them; including laptops, most of the smart phones and tablets.


The second problem is more far reaching because it affects way too many consumers. And when there is need there is always a way. Detecting the seriousness of this issue, electronic companies have started manufacturing adapters and this will solve the problem of how to use lightning headphones on laptops and other gadgets. There are two ways an audio device can be physically attached to a laptop body. The first one is through the USB port of the laptop, while the other one is through the dedicated 3.5 mm audio jack port. So, depending on that the adapters can also be of two types:

  • The ones with one end compatible to be attached to a lightning headphone plug and a 3.5 mm male audio jack on the other. You can attach your lightning headphone to the adapter and connect the other side of the adapter to the audio jack of your laptop!
  • The ones with one end compatible to be attached to a lightning headphone plug while the other end can be inserted into a dedicated USB port of the laptop. These are called lightning (female) to USB adapters. There are not many reliable single adapters in the market which can do this conversion though. You first need to get a lightning female to USB-C (or USB-A) adapter and then add another USB-C (or USB-A) to USB adapter to it.
Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.