Early laptops used to have a separate jack for headphones and mics. When combo jacks began getting popular, some laptops came with two combo jacks that allowed users to connect two different sets of headphones to a laptop. Those models are rare, if not extinct. If you need to connect two headphones to a single 3.5mm jack on either a Macbook or a Windows/Linux PC, you’re going to have to buy hardware to do the job.
The hardware you need to buy is called an ‘Audio splitter’, and it’s not expensive. In fact, you can get a fairly good one for under $20. This isn’t something you need to buy from a particular brand. If you want to pay attention to quality, look at the device’s build. The pin and jacks should be well made and the wire shouldn’t be too flimsy. A good knock off will do the job just as well.
This is what an audio splitter looks like;
Using an audio splitter
Using an audio splitter is really easy. If you’re able to connect a single pair of headphones to your Macbook or PC, and they work without any problems, your splitter is going to be able to work just as easily.
Connect the splitter’s pin to the 3.5mm jack. Connect the two headphones you want to use to the splitter’s own input jacks.
That’s about it. Your laptop or your Macbook will both automatically detect that a device has been connected to the headphone jack. The sound should be routed accordingly and it will be balanced i.e., sound will come through both the right and left buds.
If the device isn’t detected, you might have to select it from sound settings. On a Mac, open System Preferences and go to the Sound preference. Select the ‘Output’ tab and select the ‘Headphones’ device.
On Windows 10, click the speaker icon in the system tray. If there’s a dropdown next to the listed audio device, click it and select your headphones.
The volume that you set on your system, and within the app that you play media in, will be set equally for both headphones that are connected. This works for headphones but if you have other audio devices that connect via a 3.5mm jack, they’ll work too e.g., a pair of headphones and a speaker.
If the headphones have built-in mics, or if one of the devices that you connect to the audio splitter is an external mic, it won’t work.