The rise of streaming television and video-on-demand services has meant that many of us are watching more TV than ever before. No longer constrained by rigid broadcast schedules, we’re free to binge our favorite shows late into the night. However, tuning in at all hours can be disruptive to the whole household – especially if your partner or kids are trying to sleep in the next room!
That’s where a good pair of wireless headphones come in. Going wireless allows you to watch as much late night TV as you want without disturbing anyone. You can even pace around the house or yard while still listening to your shows or movies. No more getting tangled up in cords or accidentally yanking your headphones off the table.
Wireless headphones free you to watch TV wherever and whenever you want. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right model for your needs and budget? Keep reading this buying guide to learn what features matter most when picking wireless headphones for binge watching bliss.
Key Factors to Consider For TV Viewing Headphones
Choosing wireless headphones optimized for television requires examining some different factors compared to wireless headphones designed primarily for music listening or making calls. Key aspects to evaluate include:
Comfort and Fit
Since you’ll often be wearing wireless headphones for extended viewing sessions of two hours or more, comfort becomes extremely important. You want something that will stay secure on your head without clamping too tightly and causing headaches or pain over time.
Over-ear and on-ear headphones tend to provide better comfort than earbuds for long stretches. Over-ear models with thick padding around the earcups block out external noise while preventing your ears from getting sore. Brands like Bose and Sony are known for their comfortable over-ear fits.
On-ear headphones rest right on your ears instead of encircling them. This makes them a bit more compact, though still comfortable for most. Some people find on-ears apply more pressure on the ears which can cause discomfort over time. Evaluate your ear size and sensitivity when deciding between over-ear and on-ear designs.
Meanwhile, earbuds rely on a snug in-ear fit. You have to insert them properly to get a tight seal that enhances bass response and blocks ambient sound. While some find earbuds uncomfortable over extended periods, others appreciate how lightweight and portable they are compared to bulky over-ear cans.
Sound quality should be a top priority. After all, you want to actually hear what people are saying on screen!
Look for headphones that offer clear reproduction across the frequency spectrum – crisp highs, dynamic mids, and deep low extension on bass notes. The drivers (speakers) should be capable of handling everything from dialogue-driven dramas to explosive action movie soundtracks without distortion.
Some wireless headphones will sound better than others. Keep in mind that the wireless transmission method can impact audio quality. Most wireless TV headphones today use Bluetooth, which compresses the audio signal before sending it wirelessly to the headphones. Higher quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX or AAC mitigate this issue and should be enabled if your source device supports them.
RF (radio frequency) wireless headphones transmit audio via radio waves rather than Bluetooth. This avoids Bluetooth compression for optimized sound quality akin to what you’d get over a direct wired connection.
One of the biggest complaints about wireless headphones for TV viewing is lag or lip sync issues. This occurs when the video and audio get out of alignment. You’ll notice it as a delay between when someone’s lips move on screen and when you actually hear their voice come through the headphones.
Lip sync problems typically stem from excessive latency, which is the time it takes for audio signals to be transmitted wirelessly to your headphones then decoded. While imperceptible for music listening, even small amounts of latency can cause distracting lags for video.
To avoid laggy performance, choose wireless headphones utilizing low latency transmission technologies. For Bluetooth models, look for support of aptX Low Latency or aptX Adaptive. These advanced codecs significantly minimize delays.
RF wireless headphones also provide inherently low latency transmission without delays. Just make sure to choose an RF model designed for video use rather than one made solely for music.
Controls and Customization
Convenient controls for managing volume, playback, and other functions are desirable when using headphones for TV viewing.
Many wireless headphones have onboard controls built into the earcups. You can quickly turn volume up or down and playback as needed without fumbling around for remote controls. Models with tactile, easy-to-locate buttons work better than fussy touch controls.
Other headphones offer smartphone apps to control the headphones and customize their sound. This allows you to tweak the EQ profile and save presets for different types of content. But app-based control can be slower and less convenient compared to having direct onboard controls.
Some wireless headphones also offer voice assistant integration with Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and others. This allows you to ask questions, get information, or control smart home devices completely hands-free, without breaking your focus on the TV screen.
No one wants their wireless headphones going dead in the middle of a movie or show binge! To avoid interruption, battery life is key.
The best wireless TV headphones can play continuously for 15+ hours on a single charge. Some can even go over 30 hours. This allows you to watch movies and shows day after day without constantly recharging.
For added convenience, some models include charging cases. You can top up the battery by placing the headphones in the case whenever not in use. Just a few minutes in the case provides hours more playtime. Cases with multiple full recharges are most useful.
Pay attention to battery specs that differentiate playback time vs standby time. Some headphones boast long standby battery life spans but have more limited playback times. It’s the continuous play time that matters most for extended TV viewing.
Wireless Signal and Range
The stability of the wireless connection determines if your audio will reliably reach you anywhere around your living room, kitchen, or yard. Short signal range or frequent dropouts force you to stay within a tight radius of the TV or streaming device.
For the longest range, look for RF wireless headphones that operate over a dedicated radio frequency. RF provides a stronger, more stable signal that isn’t subject to the same interference as Bluetooth. Just take note of the specified wireless range – 30 feet or more is ideal.
Bluetooth range maxes out around 30 feet in optimal conditions without obstructions, but the actual stable range is often less, especially through walls. Newer version Bluetooth 5.0 offers extended range over older versions. But RF still holds the edge when it comes to wireless robustness.
Positioning also matters. Try to maintain line of sight between the headphones and TV or transmitter for best reception. Outages are more likely if objects or walls block the signal path.
The ability to hear your shows without distraction relies heavily on blocking out ambient household noise. Barking dogs, humming appliances, upstairs footsteps – these types of noises interfere with clarity.
Noise cancelling headphones help remove surrounding distractions using advanced digital signal processing. They actively analyze incoming sound waves then generate inverse waves to cancel unwanted noise. This leaves just the audio you want to hear coming through cleanly.
There are two main types – active and passive noise cancellation.
Active noise cancellation uses sophisticated electronics to digitally tune out ambient noise in real time. This works excellently but requires batteries to power the noise cancelling circuitry.
Meanwhile, passive noise cancellation relies on the physical design of the headphones to passively block noise. Large, over-ear models with sealed earcups and padding naturally muffle outside sounds through physical isolation. This passive method doesn’t require powered electronics.
Combining both active and passive methods gives the highest degree of noise reduction. But even passive isolation alone makes a significant difference compared to earbuds or basic headphones without any noise cancelling capabilities.
One note – extended high volume listening on noise cancelling headphones can negatively impact hearing over time. Be mindful of volumes, especially for children.
Unless you’re truly isolating yourself, chances are you’ll need to interact with housemates or take the occasional call even while watching TV. So pay attention to microphone quality when choosing wireless headphones.
For taking calls or talking to your smart assistant, prioritize headphones utilizing noise cancelling mics that actively suppress ambient noise. This results in clear voice pickup without background chatter or noise distracting the person on the other end.
Echo cancellation is another key feature for clear microphone performance and avoiding vocal feedback. Without it, the person you’re speaking to may hear their own voice echoed back through your headphones’ mic.
Overall, the best wireless TV headphones will allow you to quickly take calls or talk to your home assistant without having to change devices or remove your headphones. Convenient controls for managing volume levels between TV audio and microphone pickups are also useful.
Ease of Pairing and Switching
You want wireless headphones that connect to your TV painlessly every time you sit down to watch – no excessive pairing or setup rituals required.
Bluetooth headphones should quickly pair to your smartphone, television or streamer automatically once initially connected. Seamless NFC (near field communication) tap-to-pair by touching devices can shorten connection times.
Some wireless headphones also support convenient features like multipoint pairing to maintain connections with two source devices simultaneously. Or auto device switching to automatically shift between paired devices as needed.
For home theater setups, try to choose wireless headphones that include transmitters to simplify establishing the wireless link. The transmitter plugs into your TV’s RCA or digital optical audio output and streams audio to the headphones using RF or Bluetooth. No manual pairing needed – just put the headphones on and open the transmitter channel.
While the initial pairing process varies, your wireless TV headphones should be ready to receive crystal clear audio as soon as you want to start watching once paired. Minimal lag or effort makes wireless headphones seamlessly integrate into your entertainment experiences.
Top Recommended Models For TV Viewing
With all the key considerations covered, let’s look at some top recommended wireless headphones tailored for television and home entertainment. We’ll cover options in different price tiers ranging from affordable to premium:
Budget Wireless TV Headphones Under $100
If you’re looking for the basics on a budget, consider the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 wireless over-ear headphones.
The Life Q30 punch above their price class, with strongly balanced sound and respectable noise cancelling that dampens ambient distractions. The generous 40 hour battery life provides marathon viewing sessions. Simple controls on the earcups make volume adjustments a cinch. While not the most premium design, the soft memory foam earpads remain comfortable hour after hour. For cost-conscious buyers, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 deliver great TV headphone performance without breaking the bank.
Mid-Range Wireless Headphones $100 – $200
In the popular mid-range category, it’s hard to beat the venerable Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise cancelling headphones.
The WH-1000XM4 have earned their reputation as one of the finest all around wireless headphones on the market. They deliver excellent sound quality with deep bass response and lively detail across frequencies. The adaptive noise cancellation dynamically adjusts to your environment for superb ambient noise reduction. Plush leather and foam earpads provide exceptional comfort for extended wear. Though not cheap, the WH-1000XM4 justify their price with a wealth of premium features including multi-device pairing, Qi wireless charging, wear detection, and up to 30 hours of battery life. For a top-tier mid-range package, the Sony WH-1000XM4 makes an outstanding choice.
Premium Wireless Headphones $200+
If budget is no concern and you want the ultimate wireless TV experience regardless of price, look no further than the AirPods Max over-ear headphones.
The AirPods Max exemplify premium design and engineering. Their sound performance astounds with incredible clarity, huge dynamic range, and theater-like spatial audio when paired with an Apple TV. The build quality is immaculate with aluminum and metal everywhere. The bowl-like memory foam earcups embrace your head in long-lasting comfort. Active noise cancellation is simply the best in the industry. And features like seamless Apple device switching, hands-free Siri access, and Find My tracking give them outstanding smart integration. Without a doubt, the AirPods Max deliver the most exceptional wireless audio experience money can buy. Just be prepared to pay handsomely for it.
Great Earbud Options
While less common, wireless earbuds can also work nicely for television viewing. One standout pair of earbuds to consider are the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
Despite their diminutive size, the Galaxy Buds Pro produce impressively huge, detailed sound. The active noise cancellation punches above its weight class to block ambient sounds. You can choose between multiple levels of ANC intensity or enable an Ambient Mode to let surroundings in when preferred. Touch controls make it easy to change listening modes and volume right from the buds. With a 6 hour battery life plus wireless charging case for extended use, the Galaxy Buds Pro make remarkably capable wireless earbuds for TV watching. Just be aware, smaller earbuds like these can’t isolate sound leakage to others nearby as well as larger over-ear models.
For the gamers out there, don’t overlook gaming headsets when choosing wireless cans for your home entertainment center. One of the best is the SteelSeries Arctis 9X designed for Xbox consoles and Windows PCs.
The Arctis 9X really excel at reducing latency, making them ideal for gaming or watching video. The lossless 2.4GHz RF wireless connection delivers ultra low lag for perfectly in sync audio. DTS Headphone:X spatial audio places you at the center of an immersive surround soundscape. The ski goggle suspension headband provides a comfortable fit suited for hours of racing or questing. With up to 20 hours of battery life, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X supply excellent wireless performance tailored squarely for gaming.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wireless TV Headphones
If you’re still uncertain which wireless TV headphones suit your needs, common questions and answers below should help you decide:
How much latency is acceptable for watching video content?
For ideal sync between video and audio, you want wireless headphones or earbuds with latency under 100ms (milliseconds). Going above 150ms latency starts to make lip sync noticeably “off”. Models with aptX Low Latency or RF wireless offer the lowest latency for flawlessly synced TV viewing.
Do I need noise cancellation for TV viewing?
Noise cancellation definitely helps eliminate distracting ambient noise from interrupting your TV time. But it’s not absolutely necessary if isolating from household noises isn’t a concern. Passive noise isolation from the around-ear seal and padding of over-ear headphones can also be effective at blocking moderate levels of background noise without powered ANC. Quality noise cancelling provides the most complete ambient sound removal, but at an added cost.
Is there a major difference between Bluetooth and RF wireless headphones?
Bluetooth headphones offer more widespread compatibility with phones, tablets, computers and smart TVs compared to RF models. But RF wireless headphones provide stronger signal strength and range along with minimal latency. They also don’t suffer from potential Bluetooth interference from other wireless devices. RF headphones almost always include their own transmitter while Bluetooth pairs directly with your TV or streamer. If you’re experiencing signal cutouts or lip sync lag, upgrading to an RF wireless model may help.
Can I connect wireless headphones directly to my smart TV?
Some smart TVs allow pairing Bluetooth headphones by enabling a pairing mode in the settings and selecting the headphones from the list of available devices. If your smart TV lacks Bluetooth capability, you’ll need an inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the TV’s RCA or digital optical audio output to stream to your headphones. Refer to your TV manual for specifics on adding Bluetooth connectivity.
Do wireless headphones work with streaming devices like Roku or Fire TV?
Yes, you can pair wireless headphones to these media streamers either through built-in Bluetooth support or by using a transmitter plugged into the media device’s headphone jack or HDMI port. Most current generation Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and other media boxes include Bluetooth for direct headphone pairing. For older devices, low cost transmitters bought separately enable wireless headphone usage.
How do I get audio from my cable box to wireless headphones?
Most cable and satellite TV boxes include RCA or digital optical audio outputs for sending audio to home theater systems. You can convert this audio feed for your wireless headphones by using an inexpensive digital optical to analog (RCA) audio converter connected to a Bluetooth/RF transmitter. The transmitter streams the audio signal directly to your headphones. Just set the cable box audio output to PCM stereo.
Can I use wireless headphones for watching TV on my computer or tablet?
Absolutely. If your computer or mobile device includes built-in Bluetooth support, you can directly pair compatible wireless headphones to the device for private TV viewing. Make sure to enable advanced Bluetooth audio codecs like AAC or aptX in your device settings where available for the best sound quality. The latency will be low enough to avoid lip sync issues in most cases. No transmitter needed – just pair and enjoy.
How do I get the best sound quality from my wireless headphones?
To optimize audio quality from your TV:
- Use wireless headphones that support advanced, high fidelity Bluetooth codecs such as aptX or AAC.
- Enable/select these advanced codecs in your device’s Bluetooth settings if available. Default SBC codec provides lower quality.
- For smart TVs, make sure any audio enhancements like surround effects or equalizers are disabled. These will degrade the pure sound.
- Stream your shows and movies at the highest quality bitrate possible for best audio fidelity.
Taking these basic steps helps ensure what you hear through your wireless headphones replicates the studio master audio as closely as possible. Your shows will sound amazing.
Watch Your Way With Wireless Headphones
Being able to enjoy late night movies or your favorite series without compromising silence or comfort takes wireless headphones to fully realize the promise of streaming home entertainment. Whether opting for the plush over-ear isolation of noise cancelling cans or the sleek portability of tiny earbuds, going wireless frees you to watch television your way.
While everyone’s needs and budgets differ, the models profiled above deliver proven performance for enhancing TV viewing. From premium picks to more affordable options, the headphones highlighted in this guide offer great ways to hear every line of dialogue, intense soundtrack, and hidden audio detail without cords holding you back.
TV technology continues improving rapidly. Larger, brighter panels deliver cinematic visuals right in your living room. Streaming and on-demand services give unlimited access to captivating content. Don’t let lackluster audio ruin the experience. With the right wireless headphones or earbuds, you can submerge yourself in clear, dynamic sound perfectly synced to the on-screen action.
Cut the cords, grab a pair that fits your needs, and enjoy your favorite entertainment with the freedom that only wireless provides. Television your way awaits – all you have to do is listen.