What do you get when you cross the Xbox One with Apple Headphones? This isn’t a lame joke – you end up with a mess. There’s a problem with the way that the Apple headphones are designed that can cause awful screeching noise in your ears that’s a lot like an intergalactic robot catfight.
The easiest thing to do is probably to pick up a new set of non-Apple earphones that are made for use with the Xbox, like these inexpensive VersionTECH earbuds or these very comfortable over-ear Turtle Beach headphones.
However, if you want to know how to use Apple headphones on Xbox One to talk to your friends while gaming, it is possible to fix this messy situation. So, I’m going to show you a quick fix for the noise that can otherwise drive you crazy.
Easy Fix for Using Apple Headphones on an Xbox One
It doesn’t matter if you have the original Xbox One, the Xbox One S, or even the fancy-schmancy Xbox One X console. As soon as you try to plug Apple headphones into your controller, you’re bound to notice terrible interference and feedback noises that make them completely unusable.
Or so you thought
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this issue. Although, as I’ll explain later, it does mean a sacrifice in the performance of your headphones. Here’s the solution to the problem of how to use Apple headphones on Xbox One to talk.
- Plug your headphones into your controller. If you can’t, make sure you have headphones with a 3.5mm jack. If you have headphones with a flat Lightning connector for iPhone and iPad, they simply won’t work with Xbox.
- Press the Xbox button on your controller to open up the left-screen menu. Navigate to System > Audio.
- From this menu, find the slider for Mic Monitoring and turn it all the way down to zero.
That will get rid of the terrible noise and allow you to use your favorite Apple headphones with your Xbox One in peace. Next, I’ll briefly explain why this works.
Apple Headphone’s 3.5mm Jack
There’s a basic technical reason why Apple headphones don’t work properly on non-Apple devices. An audio round pin connector for headphones, a 3.5mm jack or 1/8” jack, uses different parts of the pin to transmit different information. There’s the tip, rings, and the sleeve, and these are separated by insulating plastic rings to keep signals apart.
Have you ever wondered why Apple is trying to get rid of 3.5mm jacks on their devices?
The answer is that the pins aren’t standard. Some have mono audio, and some use left and right stereo channels. Some have mic signals, and some don’t.
In the case of every other brand of stereo headphones with a mic, the order of the signals from tip to sleeve is Left, Right, Mic, Ground. But for some reason, Apple decided to switch their headphones, so the order is Left, Right, Ground, Mic.
So when you plug Apple headphones into anything non-Apple, you can end up getting signals messed up. In the case of the Xbox One, this causes intolerable static and feedback noises, rendering the headphones unusable.
[I don’t want to speculate or promote any conspiracy theories here. Apple’s engineers may have a really good reason why they swapped the mic and ground on their 3.5mm jacks. It doesn’t have to be because they wanted to force people to buy Apple headphones to use with their products! But then again…]
Mic Monitoring on Xbox
So why does turning the mic monitoring off on your Xbox One solve the problem? To answer this, we have to understand what mic monitoring is.
Imagine a singer on stage
She can probably hear the drums behind her so loud that it’s hard to know if she’s singing at the right level. Or she might not be able to hear the guitar so she can follow the rhythm.
To solve the problem, she’ll use monitor speakers that point back at her (or else in-ear monitor earphones), so she can hear the mix properly and be able to judge how loud to sing to fit well with the rest of the band.
Mic monitoring on a gaming console is the same thing
It takes the sound from your mic and puts it back into the earphones so you can hear how loud you are talking. Why? Without mic monitoring, gamers tend to start raising their voices and eventually shout into their headsets, especially in games with lots of background noise.
So, mic monitoring helps you work as a team and hear yourself clearly while saving everyone else’s eardrums. But with Apple’s messed up 3.5mm jack, the mic signal gets fed back into the audio mix, causing that awful sound you know and hate. When you turn the mic monitoring off, it nips that feedback problem in the bud and leaves you with a clear audio signal.
At the same time, though, now you’re playing without mic monitoring. So be aware of your communication with other players. If people can’t hear you, you’ll have to speak up. If you are too loud, tone it down a bit. Because you basically can’t tell on your own how loud your mic signal is anymore.
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How To Use Apple Headphones On Xbox One To Talk – Final Thoughts
The final answer is that it is possible to use Apple headphones on Xbox One to talk to your team and gaming buddies. You just have to turn off mic monitoring, and all the line noise you previously experienced will disappear.
But remember that with mic monitoring off, you’ll have to work harder at keeping the level of your voice right for other players to hear.
That’s if you insist on using Apple headphones with your Xbox One. But a better long-term fix is simply to buy some new headphones that are made for use with the Xbox, so you can make use of the benefits of mic monitoring while you play.
Until next time, game on.