The other day I was wondering if AirPods are good for gaming so I decided to test them out. In terms of audio quality, AirPods don’t come close to gaming headsets, but they can be used for casual games. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about how to use AirPods for games.
Are AirPods Good for Gaming?
AirPods are not recommended for gaming but they can work with any platform that supports Bluetooth audio. The problems with using AirPods for gaming are they lack deep bass, the microphone doesn’t work, and the battery runs out fast.
However, in a pinch, AirPods can be used for gaming with no noticeable issues. Having said that, there are some things you need to know. I’ll share some tips below to get the best gaming experience from your AirPods.
Gaming with AirPods on a PC:
If your PC has Bluetooth, you can pair AirPods to it like any Bluetooth audio device.
1 – Buy a USB Bluetooth 5.0 Dongle
If your PC does not have Bluetooth, I recommend buying a USB Bluetooth dongle that either has Bluetooth 4.1 or 5.0 (recommended).
Certain motherboards have Bluetooth built-in too. To check if your PC has Bluetooth, open the start menu, and type in “Bluetooth”, open “Bluetooth and Other Devices”, and toggle Bluetooth on.
If you don’t see a Bluetooth toggle, your PC probably doesn’t have Bluetooth, and you’ll need a USB Bluetooth dongle. Once the AirPods are paired to your PC via Bluetooth, they’ll act as an audio device.
2 – Disable the Microphone to Improve Audio
The problem is Bluetooth can’t support much bandwidth. So when you enable the AirPod’s microphone, the audio quality will drop significantly. It’s best to disable the AirPod’s microphone and only use the AirPods as an audio device. The feature is called “Hands-Free” mode in Windows 10.
For that reason, for Discord calls, it’s best to use an external USB microphone, instead of the AirPod’s microphone. Of course, if you play single-player games, and don’t voice chat, you don’t need to worry about the mic.
In short, disable the microphone on your AirPods to improve the audio quality. It can also extend the battery life too.
AirPods for Gaming on Xbox:
Xbox does not officially support Bluetooth audio devices. None of the Xbox versions have built-in Bluetooth. However, you can get AirPods to work with Xbox by connecting a 3.5mm Bluetooth receiver directly to the Xbox controller or TV. Follow the steps on the Bluetooth device to pair your AirPods.
Just remember, there’s no way to configure the Bluetooth audio settings from the Xbox. In other words, you won’t be able to disable the microphone to improve the audio quality or change any other settings. You’re limited to the default settings which may not be good enough.
Instead of bothering with all of that, why not buy an officially supported console gaming headset?
AirPods for Gaming on Playstation 4 & 5:
Playstation 4 and 5 both do not officially support Bluetooth audio devices. However, you can connect a USB Bluetooth dongle to either the USB-A or USB-C port on your Playstation to enable Bluetooth audio. On the Playstation 5, I recommend changing the microphone to your controller’s built-in microphone and use the AirPods only for audio.
You could also connect a 3.5 mm Bluetooth transmitter to the TV’s 3.5mm port. If you try the TV option you’ll need to change the audio settings on your TV from built-in speakers to external speakers.
Just like with Xbox, you can’t adjust any of the Bluetooth settings on the Playstations.
Issues with using AirPods for Gaming:
1 – Latency Issues
Since AirPods use Bluetooth, you might notice a slight audio delay. The latency might not be noticeable in casual single-player games, but it could be in competitive shooters like CS GO. The AirPods Pro has lower latency than the original AirPods.
2 – Not Much Bass
While the audio quality on AirPods is good, it lacks the rich bass that you can get from proper gaming headsets. For that reason, surround sound audio won’t be very immersive. I don’t recommend AirPods for games that rely heavily on 3D audio cues.
3 – Battery Life
The battery life on the AirPods is good but you can lose track of it during gaming sessions. It would be a shame if your AirPods cut off in the middle of an intense gaming situation.
If you disable the microphone, you should expect 2 – 3 hours of battery life with the AirPods. With the microphone enabled, the battery usually only lasts for an hr or two maximum.
4 – Microphone Issues
Windows 10 doesn’t have the right drivers to support both the audio and mic from the AirPods at the same time. You can get them both to work with some “hacks” but even if you do, the audio quality will drop dramatically.
It’s not easy to use AirPods as a headset for Discord and other voice chat programs. The microphone will likely not work at all on consoles.
5 – Unreliable Connection
As you probably know, Bluetooth can be quite unreliable at times. For example, it can refuse to pair or disconnect at random times. Other wireless signals can interfere with Bluetooth signals too.
Not to mention Bluetooth’s range is quite limited and the signal can be easily blocked. I always recommend either wired headsets or non-Bluetooth wireless headsets.
The Bottom Line:
Long story short, AirPods are good for casual gaming but not recommended for competitive games that rely on audio cues. You won’t be able to hear subtle audio effects with AirPods.
Nevertheless, as long as your platform has Bluetooth, you can pair AirPods with it for a quick wireless audio solution. Should you buy AirPods for gaming? No. I do not recommend buying AirPods solely for gaming because wired headsets offer a much better experience.
What do you think? Drop a comment below if you used AirPods for gaming!