Whether you’re being polite to your fellow residents by watching movies with headphones late at night, or you simply want to block out exterior noise, it’s easy to hook up a set of wireless headphones to your TV for uninterrupted entertainment.
While there’s a lot of appeal to hooking up a beefy sound system or soundbar – such as the quite excellent but pricey Sonos Arc– to your TV for movie night, if you’re watching later on when the kids are in bed, or your housemates are off doing… whatever-it-is-that-they’re-doing-privately-don’t-ask, there can be some big issues with your big explosions or brassy showtunes blasting throughout the home.
That’s where a set of headphones can save the day, taking your entertainment private while loosing little of their oomph no matter whether you’re watching a vital match fixture, the latest Hollywood blockbuster or your secret shame reality TV addiction.
While you could run a ridiculous length of headphone cable through to the 3.5mm jack on your TV, that’s a clunky solution that somebody’s going to trip on eventually.
Wireless headphones are a much better bet, but how do you go about connecting up a set of wireless headphones to your TV anyway?
There’s essentially two options to pick from depending on your technology of choice.
Go full wireless with a dedicated set of RF headphones
There are plenty of headphone options that utilise RF frequencies through dedicated receivers that you can buy, many of which are sold specifically with TV use cases in mind. You simply find the 3.5mm jack on your TV, connect up the receiver and the headphones themselves pair automatically over radio frequencies.
The big advantage here is range, and while most of us don’t sit more than a few metres from our TV sets, the difference in range between a set of RF headphones on a dedicated frequency and a set of Bluetooth headphones can amount to more than 50 metres in additional range. Having a dedicated set of TV-specific headphones also lessens the chances you’ll use them for some other pursuit and find that they’ve annoyingly gone flat the next time you fancy an action movie binge.
RF Headphone options
Avantree HT280 2.4G RF Wireless Headphones $151.89+delivery
A simple pair of headphones using 2.4Ghz frequencies with a claimed battery life of up to 12 hours
RF900 Wintal Wireless Headphones $69.95
A simple set of stereo headphones with their own inbuilt charging dock.
Sony Premium Lightweight Wireless Home Theater Headphones $168.50 plus delivery
With 20 hours of charge and an inbuilt charging base, Sony’s RF-based headphones should provide plenty of binge-worthy-but-silent-to-others action.
Go full wireless with Bluetooth headphones
Chances are pretty good that you’ve got a set of Bluetooth headphones already, given how many smartphones have dropped standard 3.5mm jacks and the popularity of models like the Apple’s AirPods Pro or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live.
So what could be easier than connecting up to to your TV via Bluetooth and enjoying a little couch potato action that way?
Not much, it turns out, but whether or not you’ll be able to connect easily very much depends on the capabilities of your TV, or in some cases the capabilities of the set top box you may be using connected to it.
If your TV has a Bluetooth connection mode – check the manual if you can find it, or within the TV’s menu settings if you can’t – then in theory all you should need to do is throw your headphones into pairing mode and get your TV talking to it. You may need to disconnect other sound sources such as soundbars when you do so in order to ensure the audio goes where you want it to at this point.
If it doesn’t, don’t give up just yet! First of all, check if any connected devices that you may be using also support Bluetooth streaming, or some other form of effectively-wireless-streaming.
Some Android-TV set top boxes may offer Bluetooth support, but not all of them cover the specific Bluetooth audio codecs that you’ll want for wireless sound. They’re more using Bluetooth for folks who want to connect wireless mice or keyboards using Bluetooth, so some experimentation may be needed there.
If you’ve got a PlayStation 4 and you do a lot of media streaming as well as gaming through that, there’s a small range of Bluetooth headsets that will work directly with it for everything from gaming to Netflix binges. Alternatively, you could always hook up a set of simple wired headphones to the Dualshock 4. Is that true “wireless” headphone use? Strictly no, but it should work for as long as the DualShock’s battery lasts.
On the other side of the gaming fence, Xbox One owners can use the same not-quite-wireless trick with their controllers, although owners of older Xbox One controllers may have to spend a little extra for the 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, which is built into newer models.
By now, if none of those solutions work for you, you might think your dreams of simple Bluetooth pairing are out of reach.
Thankfully, as long as your TV does have a standard 3.5mm output socket, you can pretty easily add Bluetooth even if it’s not explicitly built into your devices. All you need is a simple Bluetooth transmitter, which doesn’t do much more than plug into your TV’s audio output and transmit to a paired set of headphones at will. Quality and feature sets can vary a little, from this ultra-cheapy Taotronics Bluetooth Transmitter to a fancier model that promises full aptX Bluetooth audio compatibility from Avantree that should deliver lower latency, more important than you might think to avoid lip sync issues.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.