Best TV Headphones
Most folks will find the best headphones or headsets for TV watching are wireless headphones. Wireless headphones can be bluetooth, RF (radio) or digital transmissio types. These headphones are made for TV watching, so the volume can be adjusted via TV speakers and headphones independently with most televisions. They also are designed for good speech intelligibility.
Choosing the Right Wireless Headphones for Your TV
Choosing the right headphones will depend on if you have a digital or analog connection on your TV. If you have both, a digital connection will give you slightly better sound quality. All of the headphones listed above have analog connections. The Sony MDR-DS6500 also has a digital opitical connection, and the Sennheiser RS220 has digital optical and coaxial connections.
Your TV will most likely have either Analog or Digital connections, or both. The illustrations below will help you to identify what type of connections your TV has. (Some older TV's may only have a headphone jack. Headphones can be used with these TV's but all sound will go through the headphones only and will not be available through the TV speakers.)
HeadRoom Wireless Headphone Recommendations
Sennheiser makes a great line of wireless headphones; they all use the KLEER digital RF transmission system which provides excellent clarity, and each of them is a very good value in their own way. Using a battery powered base-station, the basic Sennheiser RS 160 is a closed-back headphone and is great for a bedroom TV, or for kids in the back seat of a car with built in video screens. Movie fans will prefer the clarity and isolation of the closed Sennheiser RS 170, which includes a surround and bass boost function. The open back Sennheiser RS180 design is a great wireless headphone system at an affordable investment. Both the RS170 and 1RS80 employ KLEER's extra long-range digital transmitter and will cover most the entire home. One of the top-sounding wireless headphone systems we've heard is the Sony MDR-DS6500, which also uses digital wireless transmission and has a number of excellent modern TV features like digital optical audio inputs, Dolby Digital and Pro Logic decoding, plus audio compression for better speech & dialogue intelligibility. Easily the best wireless headphone we've ever heard to date at HeadRoom is the Sennheiser RS220 which purports to offer same high-end audiophile sound quality as the 'wired' Sennheiser HD650 model -- and comes pretty darn close!
About Speech Intelligibility In TV And Movie Listening
An important aspect of TV and movie watching is how clearly you can hear and understand the film dialogue; this is called "speech intelligibility." Speech intelligibility is essentially determined by how well the TV speakers can reproduce lower-treble sounds. The frequency range which determines audible differences between "S" and "F" sounds, for example, occurs between 3kHz and 7kHz, often called the 'presence' region. Your average TV has lousy fidelity here and, in many cases, simply turning it up louder increases distortion modulation and, therefore, worsens speech intelligibility. This is where headphones can be so helpful since they provide improved fidelity in the critical lower-treble frequencies (across the board, really) and allow users to listen at a lower, safer volume overall. And they will also allow others in the room to listen to television at regular volumes via the TV speakers.
How do Wireless Headphone Connect to My TV?
Wireless headphones consist of a base station with a transmitter inside, and the headphones with a wireless receiver in it. You can also plug the base station audio into the headphone jack on your TV, which will turn off the speakers. However, the best place to get quality audio for the base station transmission is the "Audio Line-Out" connection on the TV panel. In this case, the speakers will typically still work on the TV and remain controlled normally; the headphone listener will use the volume control on the headphones (keep in mind older televisions do not have dedicated rear panel audio connections so you must use the headphone jack, if available). If more than one person wants to wear headphones, extra wireless headphones can be purchased and used from the same base station. The sole caveat is since most of the wireless headphones recharge their batteries on the base station itself, only one headphone may be charging at a time.
For those who simply want to watch TV or movies without sound coming out the TV speakers, all you have to do is plug any pair of headphones with a 1/8" [3.5mm] 'mini' plug into a TV headphone jack -- provided your TV has one. On most modern TVs, connecting headphones automatically turns off the TV speakers and you'll be able to adjust the headphone volume with the volume for the TV set. You an even use wired headphones along with an extension cord; you'll find many others in our vast HeadRoom accessories/cables page.