How to Use Headphones With Your TV

headphones

So you’ve got a nice big widescreen TV and an amazing home theater setup. Your speakers offer excellent sound — there’s just one problem. You want to use it while people are sleeping or otherwise busy. That means turning to headphones.

Unfortunately, you won’t find a clearly marked headphone jack on most TVs. But you can connect any old pair of headphones to your TV if you know what you’re doing.

A Remote or Controller With a Headphone Jack

Depending on the device you’re currently using on your TV, there are a number of ways to connect headphones to it.

For example, if you have the Roku 3, it includes a remote with a built-in headphone jack. While watching anything on the Roku 3, you can plug any old pair of headphones into the Roku 3’s remote and it will be transmitted wirelessly to you.

Many game consoles offer similar features. The PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 wireless controller offers a built-in headphone jack you can plug any pair of headphones into, although you’ll have to go into your PlayStation 4’s settings screen and configure it to send all audio to the controller’s headset — not just voice chat. The Nintendo Wii U’s GamePad also has a built-in headphone jack.

Microsoft’s Xbox One controllers don’t, so you’ll need a special headset jack adapter. Whether you’re playing console games or watching videos on a service like Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu, any audio your console outputs can be sent to those headphones.

The PlayStation 4 also supports USB headsets if you plug them into any of its USB ports, although the Xbox One does not.

ps4 dualshock 4 audio jack

Your TV or Another Device Might Offer a Headphone Jack

Some TVs actually have headphone jacks, allowing to connect any headphones with the typical 3.5mm audio connector to them. Just plug the headphones in and go — you may need to change your audio output settings to have the TV send the audio over the headphone port, however. This solution is convenient because it sends all the TV’s audio over the headphones, no matter what device they come from.

If you’re watching TV coming from a cable set-top box, that cable box itself may have a headphone jack. Check your devices and see what they offer.

audio jack

Get an Adapter or Converter

Your TV probably doesn’t offer a headphone jack, so you’ll need an adapter that can connect your headphones to the type of audio output it offers. Check which types of audio output your TV supports for this — examine its specifications or just peek at the back of your TV set and see what’s there.

Old-style RCA audio output is becoming less common, but it’ll work really well if your TV has it. RCA audio is analog, just like a standard pair of headphonse with a 3.5mm audio jack. This means you can just purchase a cheap RCA-to-3.5mm adapter and use it to connect a pair of headphones to the back of your TV. Amazon sells the adapter you’ll need for only $1.50. Use this to connect headphones to your TV.

Modern TVs may no longer have analog RCA audio outputs. They may just have digital audio output. In this case, you can’t just get an adapter- – you’ll need a converter that will convert the digital signal to an analog one as well as provide the appropriate jack. You’ll want to look for something like this digital-to-analog audio converter that will take a digital audio signal from your TV, convert it to an analog signal, and provide a 3.5mm headset jack.

back of tv


For a wireless solution, you can get a pair of wireless headphones with a transmitter that plugs into the audio jack on your television. You can then listen to any audio that would normally come out of your TV entirely wirelessly with no cables getting in the way. Wireless headphones make a lot of sense for a home theater system, especially if the cable would otherwise coming from the back of your TV all the way across the room.

Image Credit: Philippe Put on Flickr, Hernán Piñera on FlickrWIlliam Hook on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 04/27/15
More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!