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Best wireless headphones for TV

Enjoy shows and movies without disturbing others

There are two main reasons people ask our Advisors about using headphones to watch TV. They have some hearing loss, which usually means they have trouble hearing what the people on the screen are saying. Or they want to watch TV without disturbing family members.

We offer a few headphone solutions for both situations. I’ll take you through your options, explain the advantages and limitations of each, and show you how they work.

What is the best way to watch TV with headphones?

My go-to recommendation is still a dedicated Wireless TV headphone system. These transmitter-based systems are the easiest to setup and use from scratch. In fact, I set up my own 90-year-old grandmother with one of Sennheiser’s popular RS-series headphones.

couple on couch with dog reading and listening to TV with headphones

Crutchfield Art Director Jason reads a book, undisturbed, while his husband Ryan watches TV using Sennheiser TV headphones.

But if you already own a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or plan on getting some soon, I’ve got good news. In the last few years, Bluetooth has become a viable way to listen to TV sound wirelessly.

How does a transmitter-based system work?

These systems consist of two main parts: a transmitter and a headset. The transmitter connects to your TV and sends an audio signal wirelessly to the included headset. You can get up to 300 feet of wireless range.

At my grandmother’s 90th birthday, she told me about her TV sound problem. The built-in speakers on her flat screen are not very good, and she has to blast the volume to understand dialogue in her shows. She recently moved in with my aunt’s family, and didn’t want to bother others by keeping the TV up so loud.

Sennheiser TV headphones with packaging

The Sennheiser RS 175 wireless TV headphones have been our best-sellers for years.

I knew right away that a transmitter-based system would be best, so I chose the top-selling RS 175. I knew it would be easy for her to operate. Volume controls and sound presets like “speech” are right on the headset.

Also, the transmitter and headset are paired out of the box. So she doesn’t have to re-pair every time she wants to use them, like she would with Bluetooth headphones.  

How do you connect the transmitter to the TV?

You can connect the transmitter to your TV, cable box, or stereo pretty easily. It typically only takes one wire. 

diagram of wireless headphone transmitter connected to TV

The wireless transmitter connects to your TV with just one wire.

All Sennheiser and Sony models include miniplug or RCA connection cables. Most of the Sennheiser RS series transmitters can also connect using an included optical digital cable.

Check your TV's output connections and manual before buying, or give us a call.

back of TV headphone transmitter

You can even connect the Sony WH-L600 via HDMI to a TV with an HDMI ARC (audio return channel) input.

What if others want to hear the TV while you use the headphones?

There are usually ways to make this work, though it depends on your TV/Audio setup. My grandmother pretty much only watches cable shows, so we connected the RS-175’s transmitter directly to the audio output on the cable box. Since the box is connected to the TV via HDMI, audio plays through both the headphones and the TV speakers.

diagram of wireless headphone transmitter connected to cable box

Connect the transmitter to your cable box's audio ouput, so that others can still hear sound from the TV.  

Are there TV headphones for people who have trouble hearing?

While the Sennheiser RS 175 headphones are more of an all-purpose choice, Sennheiser also makes wireless TV headphones that target specific hearing issues. The over-ear RS 195 headphones have special presets for those who have trouble understanding shows or movies. On-ear buttons let you boost speech, suppress annoying loud noises, and compensate for quieter television scenes.

Best wireless headphones for movies and gaming

Wireless headphones can be a cost-effective alternative to a home theater system. They take up very little space and can deliver cinematic sound — whispered dialogue, drama-building musical scores, explosive sound effects. Plus, when my wife and kids are asleep, I like that I can enjoy action movies without waking anyone up.

The Sony WH-L600 wireless TV headphone system features simulated, yet realistic 7.1 channel surround sound. I watched a Serena Williams tennis match through them, and could really sense the power and sheer force-of-will she puts into every strike. And the crescendo of the crowd grew with each set, pulling me further into the moment.

Sony's headphone designers took advantage of their company's connections in the entertainment world. "Theater" mode creates a virtual surround sound field that's based on a Sony Pictures sound-mixing process. And Sony's PlayStation® developers helped design the “Game’ mode. 

Man playing video games on couch with gaming headset

I tried out the Astro A50 headset for both video games and movies in the Crutchfield gaming lounge.

Speaking of video games, the Astro A50 wireless headset and base station is designed for gaming, but works well for TV and movies, too. It connects like the other transmitter systems. The base station plugs into the TV or game system and beams audio wirelessly.

Serious gamers use directional and spatial awareness cues they hear to their competitive advantage. The A50s sonic characteristics add realism to TV sound, too. I tried them in the Crutchfield gaming lounge, and they were just as effective with a high-speed movie chase as they were with a PS4 racing game. 

Can you use wired headphones to watch TV?

Most TVs don't have a headphone jack, but you can get the Sennheiser Flex 5000 wireless system. It works like the other wireless transmitter systems, but lets you plug in the headphones you know and love.

Plugging headphone cable into wireless adapter

The Flex 5000's wireless receiver has a 3.5mm minijack so you can connect and listen through your favorite wired headphones. 

How do you use Bluetooth headphones to hear TV sound?

The Soundcast VGtx transmitter is the best solution we offer. It connects to your TV or sound system and sends audio signals wirelessly to your headphones.

I’ve tried other Bluetooth transmitters in the past, and while they got the job done, they had their limitations. What sets the VGtx apart is the improved Bluetooth chipset and larger antenna. You get a much faster, stronger signal, with up to 150 feet of wireless range.

Bluetooth transmitter with headphones next to TV

The Soundcast VGtx transmitter beams audio wirelessly to your Bluetooth headphones. 

Just be warned – it can be a bit of a bear when you first pair up your headphones. That’s the main complaint we’ve heard from customers, and I had some trouble at first. There’s no onscreen menu, so you have to completely rely on what you hear.

The good news is that after you pair up once, the headphones usually connect to the transmitter pretty reliably after that. Our Tech Support team can help walk you through the initial setup.

What about TVs with Bluetooth?

Several newer TVs have built-in Bluetooth transmitting capabilities. They will deliver wireless audio to any pair of Bluetooth headphones. You can find this option in the TV’s sound setting menu.

Screenshot of TV bluetooth menu

I found the Bluetooth audio option in the sound menu of my LG OLED TV.  

I’ve tried this at home with my LG OLED TV, and it worked pretty well as long as I stayed in my living room. Standard Bluetooth has limited range, so the signal dropped out whenever I left the room and went in the kitchen.  

I’ve tested with this with a few other TVs here at Crutchfield, and I’ve noticed that audio and video don’t always sync up. You can occasionally get the dreaded "dubbed movie effect." No TV brand or model seems to be any better or worse for this, and it was more or less noticeable, depending on what I was watching.

Some TVs have settings and adjustments that help you correct this issue. But I found that other TVs won’t let you make adjustments when paired with Bluetooth. One suggestion is to turn the TV off and turn it back on with the Bluetooth audio "on" to re-pair.

This is another area where the superior chipset in the Soundcast VGtx transmitter helps.  It includes aptX™ Low Latency, a wireless technology that keeps the audio and video in better sync. To take advantage of this, your headphones also have to have the Low Latency aptX chip built in. And keep in mind the wired connection to your TV can also cause sync issues, so you still might have to dive into the TV settings and make adjustments.

Best Bluetooth headphones for TV

There are many headphones that will work well for watching TV. For the most part, the ones that sound good for music can handle all the high peaks and deep impact you get from a movie or TV soundtrack. But here are a few that I like for very specific reasons:

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: True wireless earbuds – the ones with no cord connecting the two earpieces – might not be the first type of headphones you think of for TV watching. But these Sennheisers have a lot going for them. They are not only the best-sounding true wireless earbuds available, but they're also our best-sounding headphones with aptX Low Latency.

True wireless earphones with case on desk

With no wires, I could turn and move however I wanted — nothing obstructed my head from sinking into the cushions.

I tried them with the SoundCast VGtx and the video and audio synced up nicely – no matter what I was watching. It was really liberating to move around with the ultra light earbuds and absolutely no cord to weigh me down or get caught up on anything. And when I sat on the couch, it was easier to relax wearing these than most of the over-ear TV headphones I’ve tried.

Audeze Mobius: These unique headphones were developed primarily as a gaming headset, but they are just as good for TV. I’ve written an in-depth review, but here are two quick reasons why these are a great choice for TV watching:

  1. They are the only wireless headphones with top-shelf planar-magnetic drivers.
  2. Audeze has incorporated head-tracking and surround processing for a one-of-a-kind headphone experience.

Here’s how I described that experience: “You get the audio equivalent of a Virtual Reality visual experience. You feel like you are in the scene unfolding on your screen or monitor.”

Woman wearing gaming headphones

Jenny, Crutchfield IT specialist, enjoys the Mobius headphones in our gaming lounge here at HQ.

When we first tried the headphones, I set up an informal demo at my desk. I played YouTube videos on my computer, connected the headphones, and invited my co-workers over.

We pulled up a clip of the martial arts classic House of Flying Daggers. Everyone enjoyed the sound of bamboo spears flying from all directions. And when the characters started speaking, I told everyone to move their head, so they could see that the dialogue was still coming from the “front.”

Sony WH-1000XM3: So far I’ve talked a lot about wearing TV headphones, so you don’t disturb others. But you can also ensure others don’t bother you with noise-canceling headphones. Sony’s flagship model features adaptive noise-canceling circuitry.

Close-up of Sony wireless headphones

Sony's best noise-canceling headphones help block out external sounds so you can focus on your show or movie.

This special technology takes your surroundings into account, then adjusts the level of noise-cancellation. The drivers are tuned for strong bass, so effects will have full impact – but it’s not at the expense of the midrange clarity and high frequency detail.

Need help with your selection?

Just ask our Advisors. They can discuss your setup and find the headphone solution that works for you. 

Email them or call 1-800-555-7088 if you have any questions.   

Last updated 1/24/2019
  • cesar from Miami

    Posted on 6/15/2019

    I have a Samsung UN53NU7300 (smartTV) with ony digital output. I also have 2 wireless headphones with RCA input. Should I buy an optical to RCA converter or headphones with digital input? Can you provide recommendations for either alternative? Thank you

  • Thomas Sykes from Bowie

    Posted on 3/5/2019

    Jeff, Do see any problems pairing headphones Sony WH-1000XM3 with a Sony XBR65A9F TV? At this point my Denon's are 12 years old and are showing the age.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    Jerry,

    Do you have separate speakers? Like a sound bar or home theater setup? If so, check out the SoundCast VGtx Bluetooth transmitter. It has a cool "pass through" feature that lets you hear a show through your Bluetooth headphones, and everyone else will still hear it through the sound bar or speakers.

  • Jerry Howell from Medon

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    Jeff, I want to hook up a system to increase my sound level from my TV, Hisense brand, due to decreased hearing.....but I don't want my wife to loose her sound from the speakers. I have a set of over the ear Bluetooth wireless headphones, but each thing I try don't pair up and/ or loss of total TV sound for other viewers.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/18/2017

    Andrés -- the Apple TV has an HDMI output, so you'll have to connect that to your TV or receiver. Then you can make the optical connection to your RT 195 headphones for audio.

  • Andrés from Bogotá

    Posted on 4/18/2017

    Hi, i have a sennheiser rt 195 wireless headphones and my home theater connected with the headphones via optic cable. I want to purchase the apple tv4. How do I do to use the rt 195 heeadphones? Thanks, Andrés

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/28/2016

    Don, I dove into the owner's manual for your receiver and it looks like the built-in Bluetooth is for playing music wirelessly from your phone or music device. There is no Bluetooth transmitter to send audio to your Bose headphones. Give our Advisors a call at 1-888-955-6000 to see if we can come up with another solution.

  • Don kern from Guyton ga.

    Posted on 12/25/2016

    I bought the marantz 6010 home theater receiver. And Bose quiet comfort 35 headphones. Can't get them to work together.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/14/2015

    Thanks for the feedback Kevin. We currently carry the Sony HWS-BTA2W Bluetooth® wireless TV/headphone adapter

  • Kevin from Tacoma

    Posted on 9/14/2015

    You can always buy a Bluetooth AUDIO Transmitter/Receiver rather cheaply. These plug into the AUDIO OUT on your TV set and then will stream Bluetooth Audio to a pair of Bluetooth headset. Just check the back of your TV as to which type of AUDIO OUTPUT you have, 3.5mm or RCA jack. You can get an adapter Y Cable to conver the White/Red Audio jacks to a 3.5mm to connect to your Transmitter. You can also buy another Transmitter/Receiver of the same kind, which has a 3.5mm Audio Out jack to let you use your own headphones or in ear buds. This allows TV's without built in Bluetooth to still stream your TV's audio to your own pair of headphones/in ear buds. The TV ears type that hangs down I found hurts your ears watching a long movie. Since they are upside down rather then fitting over your head like regular headphones, they pull on your ears and are very uncomfortable. I have not tried the Sennheiser SET 840 TV models but I would recommend going with something similar to the Sennheiser SET 840 S model which let's you use your own Headphones/In Ear buds for your personal comfort.