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The 6 best TV headphones

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Whether you want to watch TV without disturbing anyone or hear dialogue more clearly, the best TV headphones stream audio wirelessly without causing lip sync delays and are easy to set up, even if your TV doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth. Plus, they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours.

“For watching TV, you're going to want a pair of wireless headphones that have great connectivity while having that comfort that makes you forget you're even wearing headphones at all,” Matthew Paxton, tech enthusiast and founder of the gaming site Hypernia, tells Inverse. Below, you’ll find over-ear headphones and earbuds, so you can choose what’s most comfortable. And to reduce background distractions, some options also feature active noise canceling. Beyond that, your choice depends on how you want to stream audio.

Bluetooth

Many newer TVs have built-in Bluetooth, but not all Bluetooth headphones are good for watching TV. To prevent lip-sync delays, make sure both your TV and headphones use a Bluetooth codec that supports low latency. Generally, it’s best to choose headphones that use aptX (there are several versions) or LDAC (Sony’s proprietary software) to minimize lag when you’re watching TV. Ahmed Gelby, a researcher, music producer, and mix engineer with a master’s degree in sound design, recommends aptX HD, “which meets the demands of high-resolution audio with minimal latency.”

If your TV doesn’t use a low latency Bluetooth codec (or you want to stream to multiple headsets at once), that’s easy to fix with a Bluetooth transmitter.

Radio frequency (RF) & Frequency-hopping broad spectrum (FHSS)

If your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth or you want to avoid potential latency issues, choose headphones with RF or FHSS transmitters, which plug into your television. These devices transmit audio using 2.4GHz wireless technology and don’t cause noticeable sound delay, but interference from devices that use electromagnetic signals — like the microwave — may cause static.

Read on for the best TV headphones, including a few expert-recommended picks.

1. The overall best TV headphones

  • Battery life: Up to 24 hours
  • Active noise canceling: Yes
  • Codec: aptX HD

These wireless Bluetooth headphones use aptX HD to deliver high-definition audio with less latency, offering great value for the price. The headphones feature active noise cancellation to help you get immersed in what you’re watching, while ambient mode allows you to hear background noises. The soft earpads provide a comfortable fit, and they’ve got a folding swivel design for easier storage. Plus, the USB-rechargeable headphones offer up to 24 hours of battery life at a time.

According to a reviewer: “[...The] Tranya H10 headphones have no perceptible audio lag when watching videos and movies on a variety of streaming platforms. Bluetooth pairing and connectivity are superb [...].”

2. Upgrade pick: The expert-recommended TV headphones

  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Active noise canceling: Yes
  • Codec: LDAC, SBC, AAC

If you’re looking for top-notch TV headphones, this pick comes recommended by Paxton — similarly, Gelby is a fan of the previous model. “The Sony WH-1000XM4 may not be the cheapest in the market, but it's definitely a premium product that's worth your money,” Paxton says. According to Sony, their proprietary LDAC codec supports low latency, high-resolution audio, and Paxton agrees: “You can expect absolutely no delay when it comes to syncing the sound with what you're watching.” Plus, these headphones boast other cool features, including digital noise canceling, ambient sound control, touch control, and an optional speak-to-chat mode that pauses audio when you start a conversation. They’re also voice control compatible with Alexa.

While these headphones are the priciest option on the list, they’re good for TV, music, and phone calls, so it may be worth spending more for a set you’ll use all the time. And with up to 30 hours of battery life, these headphones offer the second-longest playtime on this list. Reviewers describe them as comfortable and lightweight, and the ear cups swivel inward so they’re easy to store in the included case. Choose from three colors: black, blue, and silver.

According to a reviewer: “Wonderful sound. I use them for calls, music, and with my TV. A great gift to myself!”

3. The best budget-friendly TV headphones

  • Battery life: Up to 48 hours
  • Active noise canceling: Yes
  • Codec: aptX, SBC

While these affordable TV headphones may not be suited for an audiophile, they’re still a highly rated pick with low latency Bluetooth technology. Beyond that, the headphones offer active noise canceling to help you focus on what you’re watching, and they boast the longest battery life on this list. These headphones have imitation leather ear pads that reviewers describe as comfortable, and the ear cups swivel for compact storage in the included case.

According to a reviewer: “[...] While they seem decently constructed, they do feel like <$100 headphones as far as the build goes. Otherwise, they seem to be a very good value for the money. The tonal quality was really good for movies/TV [...].”

4. The best wireless TV earbuds that are expert-approved

  • Battery life: Up to eight hours in-ear, plus 24 hours in the charging case
  • Active noise canceling: No
  • Codec: aptX, SBC, AAC

If you find wireless earbuds more comfortable, this pair is among Gelby’s favorites. They offer high-quality sound with low latency Bluetooth and feature the same audio engineering as this brand’s home theater speakers. There’s also a signal-boosting external antenna that helps create seamless Bluetooth connections with your devices. Plus, the contoured oval ear tips help keep you comfortable through long hours of use. While these earbuds don’t offer active noise cancellation, they do isolate noise and feature a transparency mode that allows you to hear ambient sounds. The earbuds provide up to eight hours of use on a single charge, and the included charging case provides an additional 24 hours of battery life. Choose from gunmetal or silver. (And if you prefer in-ear headphones but want a budget-friendly option, these affordable earbuds are a good alternative.)

According to a reviewer: “[...] There is no audio lag when watching video. I own a lot of high end buds. These are up there with the best I own. They just put out loud crisp audio. It is so well done [...].”

5. The best RF headphones for TVs without built-in Bluetooth

  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours
  • Active noise canceling: No

If your TV doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth, these comfortable wireless headphones use a radio frequency transmitter for a quick and easy connection and lag-free listening. The transmitter offers compatibility with multiple devices and includes AUX/3.5mm, RCA, optical, and AV ports. The transmitter doubles as a charging base, and the headphones will give you up to 12 hours of battery life at a time. This brand also offers a similar model with a Bluetooth transmitter.

According to a reviewer: “[...] This will work on an older TV, and does not require any other components to function as intended. The RF transmitter means that the only thing you need on your TV is a headphone jack. No bluetooth, no built-in RF or anything fancy. The transmitter ensures that your TV will work with the headphones and that the connection will be stable [...].”

6. The best TV earbuds with customizable sound

  • Battery life: Up to seven hours
  • Active noise canceling: Yes

These wireless earbuds are designed with TV-watching in mind and offer customizable sound settings to help you hear clearly. You can adjust the tone based on your sound frequency sensitivity and make left and right volume adjustments for balanced audio. To pause the TV sound, you can press a button on the headset. And if you want to use these headphones to listen to music and watch TV, you can easily switch from mono to stereo sound. These earbuds use FHSS technology to transmit audio without any lag, and the transmitter connects to TVs with AUX/3.5mm and RCA outputs. (If you need an optical connection, this similar model will work.) These earbuds are rechargeable on the transmitter base, giving you five to seven hours of use at a time. The under-chin headset features flexible headphone arms, memory foam ear tips, and decompression loops to maximize comfort. But because of the weight placed under your chin, these may get uncomfortable after long periods of time.

According to a reviewer: “Works very well. I can hear the tv much more clearly and the controls which allow you to adjust tone are important for me as my hearing deficits are mostly for sounds that are higher pitch.”

Also great: A Bluetooth transmitter

  • Codec: aptX

If you already own low latency Bluetooth headphones that you like, this Bluetooth transmitter is compatible with most TVs on the market. Also helpful: It allows you to stream to two sets of headphones at once. You can also play audio simultaneously from headphones and your soundbar, which is helpful if only one person wants to watch TV with headphones on.

According to a reviewer: “Perfect, simple set up and pairing to my Bluetooth headphones and no sound delay between the TV and headphones with APTx. Works simultaneously with the external speakers, if we want the house quiet but someone can still watch TV we just turn the soundbar off, headphones still get the audio from the TV in perfect quality [...].”

Experts:

Matthew Paxton, tech enthusiast and founder of Hypernia

Ahmed Gelby, a researcher, music producer, and mix engineer with a master’s degree in sound design

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