Connecting wireless headphones to your television does not have to be difficult, and there are several ways you can pull it off, regardless of what TV you have.
>Dedicated wireless headphones
If you are like most people, your TV does not have built-in Bluetooth. But the workaround for connecting wireless headphones is so simple and cheap, it’s not a huge problem.
One the most straightforward ways to use wireless headphones with your TV is to purchase dedicated wireless headphones. These typically come with a base station that plugs into the television via 3.5mm analog jack or optical and work over radio frequency instead of Bluetooth, which comes with one main advantage: range. Bluetooth headphones are typically limited to 30 feet, give or take. RF headphones often have a far superior range — closer to 300 feet when unobstructed.
There is a catch, however. If you do not have another audio device connected to your television through that jack, such as a sound bar, you will have to swap it for the headphones when you want to go wireless.
But if your sound bar is connected through either optical or digital outputs, you can leave the wireless headphones connected without interfering with normal audio playback.
You can find wireless headphones for your television for anywhere from $20 to upwards of $300 and the audio quality will vary substantially.
A dedicated set of headphones for your TV might have its advantages, but if you already have a nice pair of headphones you’d prefer to use, you might be able to make it work with things you already own or for even less.
If your headphones are Bluetooth, all you really need is a Bluetooth transmitter. Transmitters can be found online or at your local electronics retailers for as little as $15.
Basically, it takes the 3.5mm or RCA output from your television and transmits it as a Bluetooth signal. You will need a power source — usually USB — which you might be able to tap from the USB port on the television or plug into a power strip around your entertainment system. Once you pair the transmitter with your Bluetooth headphones, setup is complete and you can begin watching shows or movies with the audio streaming through your favorite headphones.
Using a Bluetooth transmitter will leave you with the same issue as a pair of dedicated wireless headphones, though. If you’re not using another 3.5mm output device, like a sound bar, you may have to disconnect the Bluetooth transmitter from the 3.5mm or RCA jacks to restore volume to the television’s internal speakers.
Some set-top boxes — such as Roku, Apple TV and Android TV boxes — allow you to connect headphones and listen to your movies and TV shows in private. This is often one of the most hassle-free ways to connect headphones to your television.
Support for Bluetooth audio devices on Android TV boxes is hit or miss. Some support Bluetooth, but only for use with a keyboard and mouse. Others, do support Bluetooth headphones, and you pair them just as you would with any other Android device. Put the headphones into pairing mode, go to Settings > Bluetooth and select the headphones when they appear.
The Nvidia Shield Controller also has a headphone jack built-in, so you can use wired headphones with the controller if you don’t have Bluetooth headphones on hand.
Apple TV will allow you to connect Bluetooth headphones. Just put the headphones into pairing mode and go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth. Wait for the headphones to appear and select them to pair and connect.
>Amazon Fire TV
You can pair Bluetooth headphones with the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Just put your Bluetooth headphones in pairing mode and on the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, go to Settings > Controllers and Bluetooth Devices > Other Bluetooth Devices. Once your headphones appear under Discovered Devices, select them to complete pairing.
Depending on which model Roku and Roku remote you have, you can either use private listening through the Roku app or plug wired headphones into the jack on the remote.
To use private listening with the Roku app, download the Roku app to your Android or iOS device and make sure your phone is connected to the same wireless network as your Roku. Open the app and connect either wired or Bluetooth headphones to your phone and private listening will be enabled. Disconnect the headphones to disable private listening.
The Roku 3, Roku Premiere+, Roku 4 and Roku Ultra all come with remotes that feature headphones jacks.
If you have a gaming console plugged into your television, you can use it for wireless audio. But there’s a catch. Bluetooth support is spotty and you’ll need wired headphones.
The PlayStation 4 will only supports specific Bluetooth headsets. There is also a workaround which requires a USB Bluetooth adapter that circumvents the restriction, but it still doesn’t work with all Bluetooth headsets and headphones.
Your best bet is using wired headphones and plugging them into the 3.5mm headphone jack on the controller. Just make sure to select the proper audio device in settings, under Settings > Devices > Audio Devices > Output to headphones.
The Xbox One does not support Bluetooth, so your hopes of a truly wireless experience are dead. But, like with the PlayStation 4, you can plug your headphones into the 3.5mm jack on the controller.
Unfortunately, not all Xbox One controllers are created equal. Newer models have the 3.5mm jack built-in. With an older wireless controller, you will need to purchase the Stereo Headset Adapter, which plugs into the bottom of the controller and gives it a 3.5mm jack and volume and microphone controls.