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You'd probably expect to be able to connect any pair or Bluetooth headphones or wireless earbuds, be it a pair of Apple's AirPods or Sony's latest noise-canceling headphones, to your Xbox. However, Microsoft opted not to use the standard Bluetooth protocol and instead created its own Xbox-specific frequency for connecting to controllers and headsets to the gaming console.
But there is a workaround that makes it possible to use any pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds with your Xbox. You just need to pick up a Bluetooth adapter.
If you're willing to go to an added expense in order to use your headphones of choice, keep reading to find out how to connect your Bluetooth headphones to your Xbox and a couple of things to watch out for when you do.
How to connect any Bluetooth headphones to an Xbox
To connect a Bluetooth headset to an Xbox, you'll need some extra hardware. Namely, you'll need a Series S/X Xbox Controller, a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds, and a Bluetooth adapter that's specifically designed for use with newer Xbox controllers. Looking through Amazon search results, there are a few options that I'm sure all work fine; the model I tested was this $36 Bluetooth adapter.
1. Charge the Bluetooth adapter fully
Make sure to charge up the adapter before trying it the first time. My unit came with a partial charge, but I have a feeling long gaming sessions are in your future. If you got the model I linked to, the adapter's battery should last about 10 hours.
2. Connect the adapter to the controller
When you're ready to start gaming, connect the adapter to the bottom of your Xbox controller. Next, long-press the power button on the adapter to turn it on.
Put the adapter in pairing mode by double-pressing the power button on the adapter. You can confirm it's in pairing mode by watching the LED; it should flash twice, in quick succession, every second.
3. Pair your headphones with the adapter
Next, put your headphones or wireless earbuds in pairing mode. On earbuds like the Pixel Buds Pro or AirPods, that means putting the earbuds in the case and then long-pressing the button on the back of the case until the indicator light starts flashing.
After a few seconds, the adapter will find the headset and complete the pairing process. It may take a couple of tries.
I was able to tell the two devices were connected based on the LED indicators on both devices going back to their normal state. Your experience will vary based on the type of headset you're connecting to the adapter.
4. Remember to switch off mic and power
Once the connection is established, you can put the headphones or earbuds on and start playing. You'll be able to hear all system, friends audio, and gameplay audio through the adapter.
However, your microphone audio won't come from your paired audio device. Instead, there's a microphone built into the adapter that's used to pick up your chat audio. That means the microphone picks up audio from you mashing buttons or joysticks on your controller, which is surely something that's going to annoy your squad.
What I found myself doing was using the switch to turn the mic on when I needed to chat, but leaving it off the vast majority of time. It's not ideal, but it works.
You'll also need to remember to turn the adapter off when you're done gaming. It takes about an hour to charge, and you'll get 10 hours of use out of it.
Can I connect AirPods to the Xbox?
Yes! Using the method outlined above, you sure can. I tested the adapter with a pair of Google's Pixel Buds Pro and it worked without issue.
Is there any latency or audio delay?
I played Call of Duty for a few hours using the adapter and Pixel Buds Pro and never noticed any sort of audio lag or latency. That said, your experience may vary depending on the game you're playing and the type of audio device you're connected to.