What are Wireless TV Headphones?

R. Kayne

Wireless TV headphones are designed to provide a convenient listening experience for TV and home entertainment pleasure by eliminating the tethered headphone wire. Instead, the headphones use radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR) waves, generated from a transmitter placed near the sound source. The transmitter is plugged directly to the audio-out ports of the system, broadcasting the signal. Headphones fitted with a matched receiver pick up the broadcast and translate the signal into audible sound.

Wireless headphones make it easy to enjoy a movie without distracting others with the sound.
Wireless headphones make it easy to enjoy a movie without distracting others with the sound.

When consumers are shopping for wireless TV headphones, they should consider the differences between RF and IR technologies. RF or radio waves transmitters can have a broadcast range of up to 300 feet (~100 meters), and can penetrate walls and go around objects. They can also pick up interference, however, from competing radio waves in the same band. IR waves occupy a different area in the electromagnetic spectrum, eliminating most interference issues. These devices require a clear line of sight, however, and most products in the line have a relatively small range of less than 30 feet (~10 meters).

Wireless headphones are not connected to a power supply.
Wireless headphones are not connected to a power supply.

Aside from broadcast range, if a person will be using the headphones with the home entertainment system, he or she should look for built-in Digital Theater Systems (DTS) and Dolby® decoders that will provide surround sound environments for encoded movies. Shoppers should also check the frequency response that indicates the range of sound the headphones are capable of reproducing, from low basses to high trebles. The human ear is capable of hearing sounds from 20 hertz - 20 kilohertz.

Humans have a hearing range between 20 and 20,000 Hertz.
Humans have a hearing range between 20 and 20,000 Hertz.

Wireless TV headphones can be very handy for listening to television, a movie, radio or music when the house needs to be quiet for other household members. In the case of RF models, it’s also nice to be able to roam the house to work, cook, or clean without losing volume or audio quality as a person would when the speakers are located in a single room and the listener's activities keep him or her mobile.

Many online outlets that sell electronic products allow buyers to post reviews, listing pros and cons that can help potential buyers choose wireless headphones wisely. Consumer comments can be supplemented with professional reviews to help a shopper come up with a very satisfactory choice that will meet his or her needs and expectations while fitting a budget.

If a person will be using wireless headphones with a home entertainment system, they should look for built-in Digital Theater Systems (DTS) and Dolby® decoders.
If a person will be using wireless headphones with a home entertainment system, they should look for built-in Digital Theater Systems (DTS) and Dolby® decoders.

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Discussion Comments


My husband has trouble understanding the sound from the TV. He wants to get some wireless headphones. I hear just fine. We watch TV together. If he is wearing headphones, can I still hear the TV or is the sound only coming into the headphones?


I have a pair of fairly cheap wireless TV headphones that I use whenever my husband is taking a nap on the couch. We only have one TV, and it's in the living room.

If he falls asleep while watching TV, I can hook up the headphones and change the channel without him ever knowing. Sometimes, if I switch channels without the headphones, the sudden change in sound will make him wake up, and he will complain and say that he was watching that.

The audio isn't fancy, but all I'm really interested in is hearing what is being said. I don't need the headphones that make everything sound like it's being played in a big theater.


I think it is so important for wireless TV audio headphones to come equipped with surround sound. I have gotten so used to having this feature on my TV that audio without it just sounds so canned and tinny.

Surround sound is especially great if you listen to radio stations through your satellite TV. I can do my dance workout while wearing the headphones, and having a great sound motivates me to work out better.


@seag47 - That's why I love RF wireless headphones. I am a multitasker, and I just can't sit still and watch TV in one spot.

I need to be folding laundry, cooking, and doing dishes, and I can do all that without missing the audio from the television. As long as I'm watching something that doesn't require me to look at it in order to understand what's going on, this works great.

My husband is usually watching TV in the other room, and if one of us isn't wearing headphones, the sounds clash. I often volunteer to wear the headphones, since they don't cramp my style at all.


My dad bought some infrared wireless headphones after my mom kept complaining about the noisy TV shows he liked to watch. Since he always sat in the same recliner to watch TV, range wasn't an issue.

One day, I put the headphones on just to see how they sounded. When I got up to go to the bathroom down the hall, I lost the clear sound. I didn't realize how limited their range actually was.


I've just discovered that my new Plasma Panasonic only has a digital/optical audio outlet whereas all wireless headphone manufacturers only have analog connections. So I cannot connect a wireless headphone to my TV, period.


There are a lot of considerations to take into account when buying wireless headphones for newer technology. Analog audio ports are a must for most IR systems, but there can also be interference due to the TV and the IR both sharing a 95 KHz oscillator.


jbw, I have the same need. I need the extra sound boost and my husband does not. We have a Sony KDS-R60XBR1, about three or four years old, I think. According to the manual, plugging a wireless headset into the Audio Out can only be done with the speakers turned off.


@jbw713: This is exactly what wireless headphones are. My boyfriend hogs the 50" television and also has a 32" sitting right next to it. He plays his video games on the 50" and I'm stuck trying to watch Hell's Kitchen while trying to drown out the sound of Sonic the Hedgehog's tiring background music.

I've owned wireless headphones before and they're the greatest thing. I can sit next to boyfriend while he's gaming and tune both him and the gaming noises out while. To answer your question, specifically, yes you can. Hey but then I reread your post and you're asking too, if you can wear headphones while others cannot, why would you want to do this anyway?


Depends on if you are using the headphone jack or audio out ports. Headphone jack usually cuts off speakers. Audio Out ports usually don't. Wireless headphones use a transmitter that plugs into the audio out ports, so try wireless cans versus standard cans.


It's how the receiver/TV/whatever is wired. Some equipment is internally wired to cut audio to the external speakers when you plug an RCA cable into the Audio-Out ports. The designers figured if you wanted audio coming out the AUX port, you don't want it coming out the speakers. This is more likely to be found on older TVs/etc than newer ones, but that's not to say ALL new equipment will allow sound from both sources. IAC it's not the headphones that cut the external speakers off. They just receive a signal from the audio out ports. I have a newer LCD TV and Sennheiser RS120 wireless headphones. The headphones have their own volume control on the headset itself, and the TV volume has to be turned down or muted if I don't want sound coming from the speakers AND headphones. So yes, you can do what you want to, but you might need a new TV. :)


I need to know if, specifically, I can buy a headphone, wireless or not, that can allow me to listen to the tv/stereo/whatever, while allowing others in the room to listen also, but without a headphone. Does anyone know of a product like that?


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