Enjoying your favourite movies or TV shows with the volume turned up is one of life’s simple pleasures. But, if you share a home or want to watch late at night, then the other members of your household might not share your enthusiasm.
In these moments, headphones are the way to go, but how can you use them with your TV? We show you a few different methods for connecting headphones to the biggest screen in the house.
Connect headphones to your TV with cables
The most obvious route is to find the 3.5mm jack in the back of your TV and plug in a pair of traditional headphones.
While older TVs are almost guaranteed to have the normal connection, some newer, slimmer ones have ditched the old port. Not to worry, there are still ways to connect your cans.
If your TV does have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, then you’re in luck, but you’ll still probably require an extra cable. Most headphones only have short leads, as they’re designed with the presumption of you being near a PC, smartphone or tablet. This isn’t ideal when watching a TV, as you can end up far too close to the screen for comfort. If this is the case, we recommend investing in an extension lead for your headphones.
These come in various lengths and prices, but you can usually pick up a 3m or 5m cable for less than £10/$10, such as the Amazon Basics 3.6m extension that costs £5.99 or the 10ft Audio Extension cable that you can pick for $7.99 on Amazon USA.
Digital to Analog converters
If your TV doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, the chances are it still has an optical audio port you can use. This will be clearly marked on the back of your set, but it usually looks like a square plastic door that you need to open in order to plug in a cable.
To get the optical signal into your headphones, it will first have to be converted from digital to analogue. This can be achieved very easily via converters built specifically for this purpose. It might sound a bit specialist, and therefore pricey, but you can buy converters for around £10/$10 which will do the job perfectly.
These devices usually come with the optical cable required but do check before buying. The principle is straightforward, in that you plug one end of the optical cable in the TV and the other into the converter. Then you plug in your headphones into the 3.5mm port on the converter and Bob’s your amplified uncle!
Use Bluetooth to connect headphones to your TV
If cables aren’t your thing and you have a reasonably modern TV, then you should be able to connect wirelessly to the device via Bluetooth. Obviously, for this to work you’ll need a set of Bluetooth headphones or wireless earbuds.
With those in hand, go to the settings on your smart TV and look for an option either labelled audio, sound or Bluetooth. Each manufacturer locates these in slightly different places and under their own naming conventions, but the principle should remain the same.
Once you’ve found the relevant setting, follow the instructions to pair up your headphones, just as you would when using them with your smartphone, tablet or PC.
Don't panic if your TV doesn't have Bluetooth, as you may be able to use one of your set-top boxes instead.
Connect headphones to a TV via a streaming device
Indeed, devices such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromecast and Apple TV all have Bluetooth.
It’s also worth noting that most of the remote controls for Roku streaming devices have an audio jack on them that you can use for traditional wired headphones.
If you have a Chromecast, then you can pair Bluetooth headphones with it. For more details on how to achieve this, read how to connect Bluetooth headphones to Chromecast.
Amazon’s Fire TV also supports Bluetooth connections for headphones, which you can enable by going to Settings > Controllers and Bluetooth Devices > Other Bluetooth Devices and selecting your headphones to pair them.
If you own an Apple TV, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
In every case here, make sure the headphones are in pairing mode, and they should appear in the list of discovered devices.
Connecting headphones to a TV via a gaming console
Another option for those who have a gaming console is to see if the controller has a headphone jack you can plug into. These are standard on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X machines, along with older models, where you'll find the port on the underside.
There you have it, plenty of ways to get the audio from your TV into headphones. If you’re just looking for ways to improve the sound of your TV though, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best soundbars or possibly best TV.