How to listen to TV with your headphones?

When watching TV with friends, your TV speakers (or better yet, headphones) aren't always available. soundbar) allow everyone to hear what's going on. When you watch TV alone, you don't need to share that sound with everyone around you. In fact, you probably don't want to bother your spouse, roommates, kids, or neighbors if you're the only one watching TV late at night, or if you're...using your TV as a second screen while working from home. You can mute the speakers and rely on closed captions if you really want to be quiet, but we have a better solution: Use headphones.

Headphones let you listen to whatever you want without disturbing those around you. You probably use them mostly for listening to music or podcasts, or even watching videos on your phone or computer, but they're not limited to mobile devices or PCs. There are several ways to connect your headphones to your TV to enjoy the combined benefits of private audio and a big screen. Here's how you can use your favorite headphones or earphones with your TV.

Direct cable connection

3.5mm cable

It's the most direct and obvious way to use your headphones with your computer. TV. It is also the least practical. If your TV has a 3.5mm headphone jack, plug your wired headphones into it. If your TV doesn't have a 3.5mm jack, but has stereo RCA outputs, get an RCA to 3.5mm adapter and use your headphones that way.

The obvious problem here is that you need a really long cord to listen from a comfortable distance from your TV. And even if you have this wire, then you are physically attached to your TV. You have to be careful not to pull on the cable or trip over it, and it's not very pleasant to use. We don't really recommend this method unless your TV is a small screen right next to you, and even then it's probably not the best way to go.

Amazon Fire TV: Bluetooth

Amazon FireTV

If you have an Amazon Fire TV media streamer (such as the Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Stick), or a TV that uses Amazon's Fire TV platform, you have a built-in wireless option: Bluetooth. Fire TV can connect directly to Bluetooth devices such as gamepads, keyboards, and headsets. This means you can simply pair your favorite Bluetooth headphones (or a dedicated second pair, if you want to keep TV headphones nearby) with your Fire TV device as if it were a smartphone.

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From the Home screen, go to the Settings menu and select Controllers & Bluetooth devices. Choose Other devices, then Add new device. Put your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode and select them when they appear on the screen. Your Fire TV will now stream audio to your headphones when connected.

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Android TV/Google TV: Bluetooth


Much like the Fire TV (which itself is Android-based), Android TV and Google TV devices can be paired with Bluetooth devices. This means you can use your Bluetooth headphones with any Hisense or Sony model powered by Android TV, or a device from the Google TV range. Nvidia Shield TV or TiVo Stream 4K A media streamer. It's very similar to pairing a Bluetooth headset to a Fire TV device. Google TV, the Android TV replacement, also supports Bluetooth pairing, so you can easily connect Bluetooth headphones to a Fire TV device. Chromecast with Google TV or any Google TV powered model like the Sony A90J.

The process is the same for Android TV and Google TV. From the Home screen, go to the Settings menu and select Remote & Accessories. Choose Add Accessory and put your Bluetooth headphones in pairing mode. Select headphones from the menu when they appear. Your headphones are now paired with your Android/Google TV device.

Roku TV: Smartphone App


Media streamers and Roku TVs like the Hisense R8F and TCL 6-Series don't have Bluetooth, but they still let you listen to what you're watching wirelessly. Roku's answer is called Private Listening, a feature that streams audio to a connected smartphone or tablet through the Roku app.

Install the Roku app (available on Android and iOS) on your mobile device and configure it to work with your streamer or Roku TV. Once the app is connected, plug headphones into your phone or tablet to automatically redirect audio directly to the headphone jack.

Some Roku devices, like the Roku Ultra and Roku Streambar Pro, don't even need the Roku app to work (the same goes if you have a Roku Voice Remote Pro). If your Roku remote has a headphone jack on the side, it can offer private listening without your smartphone. Just plug your headphones (or the headphones that come with the Roku Ultra) into the jack and listen to what you're watching, privately.

Other Smart TV Platforms

LG webOS

Your TV may have Bluetooth, even if it's not one of the three most common platforms. LG's WebOS and Samsung's Tizen operating system both support Bluetooth headsets and headphones. Click the links for instructions for each TV platform. You're likely to get Bluetooth on higher-end TV models here; they may not be available on older or lower-end televisions.

Bluetooth transmitter

Bluetooth transmitters

If your TV or media player doesn't support Bluetooth technology or audio streaming through an app, you need to get some form of transmitter for wireless listening. Bluetooth transmitters are inexpensive devices (usually $20-$50) that you plug into the back of your TV to wirelessly stream audio to a nearby paired Bluetooth audio device.

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There are many, many Bluetooth transmitters available on Amazon, but not all of them are suitable for TVs. Cheaper transmitters only connect using 3.5mm sockets, which are present on some TVs but are not the best connection available. Look for a transmitter with an optical audio input (TOSLink or SPDIF); optical outputs are the most common audio outputs on televisions and offer excellent and stable audio quality thanks to their digital connection.

Although we haven't tested many of these transmitters, it's very common to find them cheaply online. The TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter is one of the highest rated devices in its class on Amazon, and supports both 3.5mm and optical audio (though we can't directly comment on its quality without the have tested).

Wireless TV headphones

Makemate BKM2000

If you don't yet have a favorite earphone to use while watching TV, or don't want to bother with Bluetooth pairing, you can always get an all-in-one solution in the form of earphones wireless. You just need to make sure they are not Bluetooth headphones.

The vast majority of "wireless headphones" are Bluetooth, and that's fine for most users. However, if you want to get headphones specifically for use with a TV, you need a non-Bluetooth set with a dedicated transmitter. We haven't tested many of these headphones, but some of the top-rated models on Amazon are Avantree HT4189 and Makemate BKM2000.

Of course, you are not going to listen to your television with headphones all the time. So when you put them down, check out our guide on how to set up your speakers to get the best possible sound for your home theater experience. And for the ultimate home theater experience, be sure to read our five simple tweaks to get the best picture on your TV.

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