If the TV never seems loud enough and you find yourself blasting episodes of Grace and Frankie, there are two solutions to keep the general peace with a spouse or roommate. You can add a soundbar, which would boost voices and make audio louder and clearer, or you can look into getting a set of wireless TV headphones. The latter will allow you to hear everything better without disturbing anyone else. Here’s the key question, though: What’s the best wireless TV headset?
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Before I dive into my top picks for wireless headphones used for watching television, I’d like to clarify the two main types, because the landscape has changed in recent years.
How do wireless TV headphones work?
First, there are “traditional” TV headphones designed expressly for this purpose. These include a base station that connects to your TV and streams audio to your headphones using some type of wireless technology, usually RF, infrared, or Bluetooth. That base station will often double as a charging dock for the headphones.
Next, there’s Bluetooth, the short-range wireless technology now built into most TVs and streaming devices (Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, etc). This eliminates the need for a base station and, in effect, opens the door to any Bluetooth headset or wireless headset, perhaps even the ones you already own.
For example, I paired Anker’s Soundcore Space Q45 Bluetooth headphones with a Hisense U7H TV and presto: wireless private listening. No additional equipment required, no switching of modes or inputs. When I turned on the headphones, that’s where the sound was playing. When I turned them off, it reverted to the TV speakers. (Your mileage may vary depending on the age and capabilities of your TV and headphones.)
Similarly, if you have a Roku TV or streaming device, you can use the Roku app to activate a feature called Private Listening, which routes TV audio to any headphones or earphones plugged in or paired with your phone.
Which wireless TV headphone is the best?
So what’s the best option here? I can’t say that one type of wireless headphones for TV is vastly superior to another; they all have their merits. Ultimately, it depends on your budget and your level of tech-savvy – it’s hard to beat the convenience and simplicity of a dedicated TV headset with a drop-and-go charging dock, but you can probably save money by choosing simple headphones or earbuds. Bluetooth.
Below, I’ve rounded up what I consider to be the best wireless headphone options in all of these categories. Some I have tested first hand; others have earned a place here based on reputations and user ratings. Chances are you will be happy with any of them.
Avantree makes a variety of wireless TV headphones; the Ensemble distinguishes itself by offering excellent value for money. Its charging dock is also a Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter, which can be paired with a second set of headphones if anyone else wants to join in on the private listening action. The headphones themselves promise up to 35 hours of playtime on a charge, and can also be paired with a phone or tablet. There’s also a wired option if you want to connect to an old-school stereo (or iPod). I haven’t tested them, but the 4.4-star average from nearly 7,000 buyers indicates a solid set of headphones.
$100 on Amazon
TV Ears Inc
Don’t like the idea of bulky headphones that sit on top of your head and cover your ears? TV Ears look like the top half of a doctor’s stethoscope, sliding into your ears and dangling under your chin. The product has vastly improved over the years, with digital transmission replacing analog, a replaceable battery and a five-year warranty. Simply plug the base station into your TV’s optical or coaxial audio port.
$144 on Amazon
Sennheiser consumer audio
With age comes hearing loss; sometimes mild, sometimes more than mild. Sennheiser headphones address this problem, with a voice mode specifically designed to help you hear voices, and seven separate hearing ‘profiles’ (selected via a simple analog dial on the base station) to find the best audio for your hearing ability. These large, comfortable ear cups promise up to 18 hours on a charge, with a range of up to 100 meters (although line-of-sight is required). Keep in mind, however, that since these aren’t Bluetooth headphones, they won’t work with anything other than your TV.
$275 on Amazon
At first glance, they might look like typical Bluetooth headphones. And they are, with one exception: the same AccuVoice technology built into Zvox’s soundbars lives on here as well. Couple that with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which helps block out outside sound, and you’ve got a great, affordable option that’s good for your TV and more. Another nice bonus: you can get them in black, blue, pink or white!
$80 on Amazon
Think you prefer earphones to headphones? There’s no better option than Apple’s flagship AirPods, which offer unrivaled noise-canceling capabilities and up to six hours of battery life. And if you use an Apple TV device to stream, you’ll also be able to take advantage of the fantastic spatial audio capabilities of AirPods, which create a virtual yet highly realistic 360-degree surround sound effect.
$200 on Amazon
Similar to AirPods Pro in many ways, but much more affordable, these earbuds offer an impressive feature list and great sound. Since they promise low latency connectivity, you shouldn’t encounter audio sync issues while watching videos. Thanks to multipoint connectivity, you can pair them with more than one device (your phone and your TV, for example). And EarFun’s companion app lets you adjust the equalizer settings to better tweak the audio to your liking (handy if you’re having trouble hearing certain ranges). AirPods are great, no doubt, but I suspect many viewers would be just as happy with the EarFun Air S.
$63 on Amazon
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