Wireless headphones for TV: What to look for when buying

Here’s what you need to consider when buying wireless headphones for TV

Thomas McMullan
2 Jul 2018
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Finding the right wireless headphones for TV can be tricky. Wireless headphones make a lot more sense for watching TV than a wired pair; nobody wants to be tethered to their TV at an arm's length especially when they're trying to relax.

Investing in a good pair of wireless headphones for watching TV can make a huge difference in how you consume your entertainment. Not all wireless headphones are the same though, and our sister site Expert Reviews has an extensive guide to the best ones money can buy. But before you delve in to pick up the de-facto best wireless headphones on the market, there's a wealth of considerations that need to be made first as simply buying wireless headphones may not mean they'll work with your TV. So, here’s our guide to buying wireless headphones for TV, and a quick primer on how to get them working.

Wireless headphones for TV: How to buy the right headphones for you

Wireless headphones for TV: Does your TV have Bluetooth?

The first thing you’ll need to think about when buying wireless headphones is whether or not your TV has built-in Bluetooth. If it does, then you’re already all set for connecting to pretty much any pair of wireless headphones – although not every smart TV with Bluetooth will support headphones, so check your individual TV manual first.

If it doesn’t, your next step will be to consider whether you have a connected device with Bluetooth capability. Some soundbars will have Bluetooth transmitters built in, such as the Yamaha MusicCast YAS-306. Some streamers also have inbuilt Bluetooth capabilities:

  • Apple TV: Integrated Bluetooth
  • Fire TV box: Integrated Bluetooth
  • Old Fire TV Stick: No integrated Bluetooth
  • New Fire TV Stick: Integrated Bluetooth
  • Chromecast: No integrated Bluetooth

Devices with integrated Bluetooth can be set up by finding Bluetooth options within the Settings menu.

If neither your TV nor any connected device has Bluetooth, your best option is to buy a Bluetooth transmitter, which can be plugged into your TV’s USB or audio outputs. TaoTronics’ Bluetooth transmitter, for example, costs £24.

Another final thing to consider is, if you have a PS4 and Xbox One, you can use this as a source for wireless audio. It’s not the most elegant solution, as you’ll need wired headphones plugged into the wireless controllers, but it’s another way to play games and watch films with headphones.

Wireless Headphones for TV: Dedicated wireless headphones

A non-Bluetooth solution for cordless listening is to buy a pair of dedicated wireless headphones. These come with a base station that plugs into your TV via a 3.5mm headphone jack or optical port, and transmit over radio frequency (RF). This gives them a boost in terms of range and quality and tends to be pitched towards lovers of high-fidelity audio.

Although there are a few more affordable options, these tend to be on the higher end of price spectrum. Sennheiser is a manufacturer to know in this area, generally regarded as a go-to for high-quality wireless RF headphones.

Wireless Headphones for TV: What to consider

Whether you opt for a Bluetooth in-ear headphone, or a dedicated RF set, you’ll want to weigh up a number of points: style, comfort, sound quality and battery life.

Style and comfort

Inevitably there are a lot of subtle differences in headphone design, but we’re talking here about two main options – in-ear or over-the-head. If you’re looking for something portable, your best bet is an in-ear pair of earbuds. If you’d prefer some cushioning around your ears, you’ll want to consider an over-the-head pair. These are chunkier, but often more comfortable to wear. Many also offer noise-cancelling features, which will help keep the outside world from your TV show.

Sound quality

You’ll want to check out reviews to gauge whether the sound fidelity of your headphones are up to the task. One point to consider is that some devices will have better connections than others. Bluetooth range might be a factor here, as its range is limited to around 10 metres by line of sight. Unless your living room is the size of a small banqueting hall, though, this should be enough for most people’s TV-listening needs, although it’s worth checking – again, via a review, or by trying the headphones in-store for yourself.

Battery life

Wireless headphones need to get power from somewhere, which means they need recharging. The size and efficiency of their battery will dictate how long they can be used between charging sessions. High-quality models will tend towards the 30-hour mark, meaning you might not need to charge them for a whole week, depending on how often you use them. Cheaper headphones may only last around 15 or 20 hours. That’s still more than enough for a boxset binge, but the last thing you want to happen is for your headphones to die halfway through a film after you’ve forgotten to charge them overnight.

To look over our recommendations of wireless headphones, you can check out Alphr’s list of best headphones, and our sister-site Expert Review’s collection of Bluetooth headphones.

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