Audio Connectivity for iPads: How to Use USB-C Headphones with a Lightning Port


“What is the recommended method for connecting USB-C headphones to an older iPad model that is equipped with only a Lightning connector and a traditional headphone jack? Specifically, I am looking to utilize the USB-C cable of Bluetooth headphones, disregarding their wireless capability, to enable audio functionality for children using these iPads. Despite attempting various adapters, none have proven successful. Could you provide a solution to this connectivity issue?”


In the realm of technology, ensuring compatibility between different generations of devices is a common challenge. For those looking to connect USB-C headphones to an older iPad model that only has a Lightning port and a headphone jack, the solution lies in finding the right adapter that bridges the gap between the two different connectors.

Older iPads come with a Lightning port, which is Apple’s proprietary connector, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, as technology progresses, newer accessories like headphones are now equipped with USB-C connectors, which are not directly compatible with the older Lightning port.

The Solution:

To connect USB-C headphones to an older iPad, you will need a two-step adapter solution. First, use a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter to convert the USB-C end of your headphones into a standard audio plug. Then, connect this plug to the iPad using a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter.

Recommended Adapters:


USB-C to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter:

This adapter converts the digital signal from USB-C to an analog signal for the 3.5mm jack. Apple and various third-party manufacturers offer such adapters.


3.5mm to Lightning Adapter:

Apple provides an official adapter that allows you to connect devices with a 3.5mm audio plug to your Lightning devices.

Step-by-Step Connection Guide:

1. Plug the USB-C connector of your headphones into the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.

2. Insert the 3.5mm plug from the adapter into the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter.

3. Connect the Lightning end of the adapter into the iPad’s Lightning port.

4. Adjust the audio settings on the iPad if necessary to ensure the audio output is directed to the headphones.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • Ensure that both adapters are fully plugged in and secure.
  • Check the audio settings on the iPad to confirm that the output is set to the headphones.
  • If the headphones are not recognized, try restarting the iPad with the headphones connected.
  • Verify that the adapters are functioning correctly by testing them with other devices.


While it may seem cumbersome to use two adapters, this method is currently the most effective way to connect USB-C headphones to an older iPad with a Lightning port. It’s important to use quality adapters to maintain audio fidelity and ensure a stable connection. With the right setup, you can extend the usability of both your modern headphones and your older iPad, providing a seamless audio experience for the users.

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