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How to connect headphones to a TV

Believe it or not, most people do not know that they can connect headphones to their television, nor do they know how. However, that is hardly a surprise – most modern TVs do not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the traditional connection for personal viewing. But all hope is not lost. Even if there is no headphone connection and there is no USB adapter, you always have the option to connect a wireless headphone.

This is the route that we recommend to most people, because it eliminates the risk of setting up camp somewhere between television and the viewing area, because the wire is not long enough. Don't like the sound of this approach? There are many more that you can take, such as routing the audio from the remote control of a streaming device to a number of normal wired earbuds, so the problem of the wire is not solved long enough.

Here is an in-depth look at all your options.


Nowadays, there are much more convenient ways to silence your TV than wiring, which we explain below. But if your setup is conducive to wired headphones ̵

1; meaning you're close enough to the TV or audio device to easily cover the distance – there are a handful of good connectivity options.

Adapters [19659007] If you connect via an adapter, you must first determine what type of audio output your TV has. At the back or side of your TV – wherever your inputs are – there must be some form of audio output. With older TV & # 39; s there can be a 3.5 mm (standard headphone) output, making connecting and playing easy. More common, however, older models sport stereo RCA audio jacks, which require an RCA to 3.5 mm female adapter, such as those from Amazon . Depending on how far you are from the TV, you may also want to purchase an extended adapter cable to get some reach. This type of setting is simple and affordable, but not ideal for most scenarios – you probably don't want a long cable to swing through the middle of the living room.

An example of audio output formats, including 5.1 out, RCA (2-audio) and optical (digital). Vladimir Logutenko / 123RF

Newer TV's are a bit trickier. Many TV manufacturers long ago dropped analog outputs in favor of a digital optical output. The exit looks like a small square door, often outlined in bright red light (or with a rubber cap as shown above). For this configuration you need a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) . This not only allows you to connect a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but also converts the audio output to the correct format to play in your headphones.

Again, you probably also need an extension cable for headphones, like the ones above, so you can relax.

Connecting to the remote control of a streaming device

Another (and much more convenient) option is to connect the remote control that belongs to a set-top streaming device. If you are thinking about getting a set-top box, this is the perfect time to get in. Streamers such as the Roku Ultra and Nvidia & Shield's TV have built-in remote controls with a headphone jack. The Amazon Fire TV controller gaming also has a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but not the standard remote, so you have to buy the game bundle to use it. Even the remote control for the TCL & # 39; s 6 series Roku TV has one.

  chromecast ultra vs roku premiere xiaomi mi box 1

The only drawback for the streaming devices is that you can only listen to the content they offer. If you usually watch TV from a cable box, it falls on deaf ears.

Connecting via external audio devices

Devices such as A / V receivers or even external speakers usually have an accessible location around headphones. This is especially useful if you have multiple source devices (for example, a cable box or antenna, a streaming device, etc.). You must view your hardware to see if there is a headphone output, or you can use one of the output adapter configurations mentioned above (such as the RCA or digital optical adapters). Most A / V receivers have a quarter-inch headphone input on the front, which requires nothing more than a simple adapter.

Wireless connection

For the vast majority of users, wireless headphones and adapters will be much more convenient for living room setup, even if the connection process is a little more complicated.

TV Bluetooth streaming

TV & # 39; s are gradually adding Bluetooth streaming as a standard function. If you have Bluetooth headphones, you can check if your TV supports Bluetooth. This information must be located somewhere in the audio section of the settings. If your TV supports Bluetooth, simply put your headphones in pairing mode and follow the on-screen instructions to get everything started.

One thing to keep in mind is latency. Many Bluetooth connections cause a slight delay between the TV and the headphones. Although this is not a problem for music streaming, even nominal delay can cause synchronization problems between the video on the screen and the audio, meaning that the on-screen actions will take a few fractions of seconds before you hear the sound. It can be extremely annoying, especially for people with an audio behavior, so you want to make sure that your combination of TV and headphones does not trigger a delay before you invest in this route. Models with newer versions of the Bluetooth codec (version 4.0 or higher) may be your best choice, although many factors can cause latency.

Bluetooth via your set-top box

Stream video devices such as Apple TV 4K or Amazon's Fire TV Cube also streams audio via Bluetooth. After putting your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode, simply follow the on-screen instructions under the Bluetooth settings for your streaming box and you can start streaming in no time. Remember that with this method you can only listen to streaming content from the device to which you are linked and does not work as a comprehensive solution. Again, you will always want to make sure that none of your devices – the box or the headphones – cause latency.

  Amazon Fire TV Cube
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

External Bluetooth adapter

If your TV has no Bluetooth connectivity and you do not have a streaming device with Bluetooth, you can equip your TV with a Bluetooth transmitter . These devices, which are connected to your TV and radiate a Bluetooth signal, come in various forms, including USB dongles, 3.5 mm dongles or even breakout boxes. If you can find a Bluetooth adapter that supports the audio output format of your TV, you can easily pair Bluetooth headphones with it by following the pairing instructions for each device. Most devices also display latency issues, so check this before you buy.


Some sound bars, such as the HT-Z9F from Sony, not only allow you to stream Bluetooth audio to them from your phone, but also allow you to from to stream via Bluetooth. This is a great solution for people with Bluetooth headphones, because all the audio that is sent to the bar can be streamed. Again, we warn lag, but more soundbars packed with functions can also be adjusted for latency, or allow you to do this in the settings. Of course you don't just want to buy a soundbar for this purpose, but if you are looking for better audio in general, this is worth considering.

RF Headphones

Radio Frequency (RF) headphones from companies such as Sennheiser and others connect to a base charging station that is directly connected to a TV or other output device. As such, you must match the connection types between the base station and your TV or other source device. Check the connection types (optical, RCA, 3.5 mm output, etc.), as you may need an adapter to make the link. Despite these possible additional steps, RF headphones are excellent for wireless connection because they often have a better range and much less latency (or none at all) than Bluetooth headphones.

Gaming consoles and PC

  Sony Platinum PS-4 headset review "data-image-id =" 1144670
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Gaming consoles are another easy way to connect with your TV with regular headphones or, ideally, a special gaming headset. Most consoles are equipped with a form of headphone connection, so you can stream TV programs & movies from apps such as Netflix and Hulu, and play Blu-ray, along with gaming. We discuss how you can connect to any main console via wired or wireless connections.

PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro

The PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro are probably the easiest consoles for connecting headphones or gaming headsets due to their support of various common connection types and easy installation (although it should be noted that many common Bluetooth headphones may not be supported). The connection methods are identical between the two versions of the console.

If you follow the wired route, the standard Dualshock 4 controller of the PS4 has a 3.5 mm connection, just below the PlayStation button and between the thumbsticks. Simply connect your headset and you can start.

If you use a wired or wireless USB headset, you can connect the dongle directly to one of the PS4's USB ports. Your console must quickly identify the headset and start playing. Note that some USB headsets are designed for PCs and drivers must download or require additional software to use functions such as surround sound or EQ settings. Although you get basic functionality with these headsets on PS4, it is best to search for PS4-specific models for the best experience.

Finally, selected supported Bluetooth headphones are also an option on PS4. To pair the headset, make sure it is in pairing mode (usually turned on by pressing and holding the pairing or on / off button on the headset). On the PS4 home screen, select the Settings tab. Scroll down and select Devices and then Bluetooth devices . Your Bluetooth headphones should appear if they are in discovery / pairing mode, although you may need to give the console some time to find them and only play headphones supported by PlayStation. If this does not work, you can also connect the device to the PS4 with a USB cable and have the console recognize the new headphones for a few moments.

One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X

Using headphones is a bit trickier and more restrictive on Xbox One and the recent iterations, the Xbox One S and the 4K-ready Xbox One X. With wired headphones and headsets, check if your controller has a 3.5 mm connection. The newer editions of the Xbox One controller have this, but older versions require a Microsoft adapter.

A wireless connection is another animal. Xbox One consoles do not support Bluetooth and do not support most wireless USB headsets. Instead, you should look for Xbox One-specific wireless headsets and then follow the manufacturer's instructions to connect them.

Nintendo Switch and Wii U

The newest console from Nintendo, the hybrid Nintendo Switch, has a few options for connecting 3.5 mm and Bluetooth headphones. For the direct connection to the switch there is a headphone connection in the top left of the console (Note: this connection only supports audio output and no microphones. If you want to use a microphone for voice chat, you must connect via the Nintendo app for smartphones voice chat ). This can be used regardless of whether the console is docked or disconnected – only consider the distance between you and the console when it is docked, so that it is not pulled out and released accidentally.

There are two options for connecting Bluetooth headphones. The first is to purchase a Bluetooth receiver dongle that connects to the 3.5 mm jack and connect your Bluetooth headphones to it. Again, you want to be careful not to use an adapter that causes latency, so shop carefully and read the reviews.

The second option is to connect the dongle of the Bluetooth headphones to one of the USB ports on the Switch Dock. To do this, you must have updated the 4.0 Switch firmware or higher (you can double-check your firmware version in the System menu and check for updates), but if you have the correct version, all you have to do is use a plug in a USB Bluetooth dongle and wait until the headset is paired.

Although this can only be done while the system is connected, there is a solution for handheld mode. You must again perform firmware update 4.0 or higher and need a USB to USB 3.0 adapter to connect to the USB 3.0 port under the system. This setup is not ideal, but it is nevertheless an effective solution.

The Arctis headphones from SteelSeries, such as the excellent Arctis 7 or the Arctis 3 Bluetooth, offer excellent choices because they offer both 3.5 mm and simple Bluetooth connectivity

On the Wii U you can put a headset on the connect the top of the Wii U gamepad. Unfortunately, USB headsets and Bluetooth devices are not supported.


Finally, if you happen to have connected a PC to your TV, you are lucky – most PCs support almost any pair of headphones or headsets, both wired and wireless. PCs often have a 3.5 mm jack on the front or back of the tower (or both) where you can connect them directly – just look for the small headphone symbol above the jack.

USB headsets can also be directly connected to any open ports on your PC. Headphones and headphones are usually plug and play, but sometimes drivers or operating software are required to work properly. Check the installation manuals or user materials from your manufacturer.

Bluetooth is also possible on most PCs. To pair, put your Bluetooth device in detection mode and enable Bluetooth on your PC via the audio settings. Your PC must identify the device and you will be set up as soon as it is connected.

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