How to use wireless headphones with your TV
Want to listen to your TV through wireless headphones? Here's how
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Whether you're binge-watching some Netflix late at night or are hard of hearing, using headphones with your TV is an easy way to turn up the volume without bugging your roommates or family.
But how do you actually use wireless headphones with your TV? It's easier than you think. We walk through the most common scenarios below, including listening to Netflix, giving you a high-quality theater experience inside your headphones, and using headphones that enhance tough-to-hear sounds for those who are a little hard of hearing.
How to listen to Netflix with headphones on your TV
There are a variety of ways to watch Netflix on a TV while listening to the audio on headphones, but the easiest option by far is just using a Roku streaming device. Though Roku used to include a headphone jack on almost all of its remotes, now it is only found on the top-end Roku Ultra and some older Roku Premiere+ models. We think it's worth the expense, though, as it's our pick for the best streaming device.
Just plug in any pair of wired headphones and you can listen to anything playing on your Roku Ultra, with volume control right on the remote itself (models without a headphone jack can usually stream wirelessly to the Roku app on your phone).
I do this at my house all the time, and the range is good enough that I can be more than two rooms away and still hear what's playing on the TV. The only downside is that this only works for media streaming through your Roku, so it's perfect for Netflix but doesn't work with my cable box. Which is why you may be wondering...
How to listen to everything on your TV with wireless headphones
To solve that problem, you have two solutions. Most smart TVs today have Bluetooth, meaning you can pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with your TV and listen wirelessly to anything that would otherwise be playing through the TV's speakers—cable and antenna content included.
If your TV doesn't support Bluetooth, it likely still has a 3.5mm headphone jack on the back. You can purchase a Bluetooth transmitter such as the Sennheiser BT T100 to add Bluetooth to your TV via the headphone jack.
If you want something higher-end, the best solution is to utilize something like Sennheiser's line of wireless headphones for TV. There are a few different models to choose from, but the best option is the Sennheiser RS 185. These high-quality open-back headphones provide a premium experience that is meant to decently mimic what you'd find with a home theater sound system (without the chest-thumping bass, of course).
The Sennheiser RS 185 headphones utilize RF transmission to communicate between the headphones and a base station that is wired into your TV by either a 3.5mm headphone jack or the digital optical audio port (which most newer TVs also have). Though the range for this method won't be quite as good as with some other methods, the trade-off is much higher quality sound reproduction.
How to use assisted listening headphones with your TV
One of the most common reasons you'd want headphones for your TV is that you (or someone you know) has hearing challenges that are not easily solved by just turning up the volume on your TV. Headphones are a great solution for that, letting the viewer listen at a volume comfortable for them.
If the person just needs the audio to be louder—without shaking the entire house—any of the above solutions should work great. If your hearing needs are more specific, you'll want to look into more specialized headphones like the Sennheiser RS 195 over-ears or the Sennheiser RS 5000 in-ear headphones.
Both are wireless (the Sennheiser RS 195 is just like the 185), and both feature special adaptive hearing control that lets you turn up higher frequency sounds (such as speech) which are often the areas where our hearing sensitivity declines first. This can make listening to your TV not only possible, but much more pleasant.