The 12 Best Headphones for TV in 2020

Watch your favorite television shows without disturbing others

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The Rundown
"When it comes to precision audio quality, Sennheiser is lauded as one of the best manufacturers of luxurious audio equipment."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 at Amazon
"The wireless functionality is really solid, offering up to 100 feet of range via the Bluetooth protocol."
"With great sound and easy-to-use technology, they provide a lot of bang for your buck."
Best Noise-Canceling:
Jabra Elite 85h at Amazon
"Premium noise-canceling, wireless headphones are ideal for wire-cutters or those just hoping to optimize their entertainment."
Best Splurge:
Sony WH-XB900N at Amazon
"If you're consuming any video content, pumping up the bass is key to conveying drama and underlining a punchy soundtrack."
"Stronger penetrability, further wireless range, steadier signal transmission and lower distortion."
"If you do any amount of gaming on your TV, then the Astro A50 is the headset for you."
"Like most other RF-style headphone offerings, they use a 2.4Ghz connection to send the audio from the charging base to the headphones."
Best for Home Audio Systems:
Avantree HT5009 Wireless Headphones at Amazon
"The Avantree unit is perfect for those who want to fold the wireless headphones into their existing surround sound setup."
"he RS120 is a no-frills option for people who want wireless TV-friendly headphones."

When you’re looking for the best headphones for use with TV, there are two key categories. First is the familiar Bluetooth-friendly headphones, but these aren’t particularly friendly with almost all TVs on the market. That’s because a standard TV isn’t compatible with a Bluetooth pair of headphones unless you get a separate receiver. However, in the modern landscape of binging shows on a tablet or watching movies on your laptop, you can totally use Bluetooth headphones for a lot of your TV-watching.

But, if you want a pair of headphones to connect easily to your TV, with very little latency, you should look into the RF-style connectivity that transmits audio via an included audio receiver. These headphones aren’t typically as sleek or full-featured as all-around Bluetooth headphones but will be ready for your TV right out of the box.

Our top pick, the Sennheiser RS 195 F from Amazon is perfect for the in-home TV experience. It all comes down to what you want to use your headphones for most. Below are our picks for the best TV headphones.

Best Overall, Wireless: Sennheiser RS 195 RF

What We Like
  • Clear, powerful sound

  • Customizable sound profiles

  • Stable wireless connection via RF

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky design

  • Clunky removable rechargeable batteries

  • A little expensive

The Sennheiser RS 195 RF headphones are perhaps the best classic example of a television-friendly = pair of wireless headphones. Using a radio-frequency-style connection via 2.4–2.48 GHz line-of-site wireless, the receiver is plugged into your TV, and then it transmits audio to the headphones. This allows you to have a truly wireless headphone experience on a traditional TV set. The receiver also doubles as a storage base that allows you to adjust to the balance and different sound profiles. The sound profiles can actually be user-saved so that you can lock in a preset for the right style of sound for you, and then recall that preset whenever you sit down—making these headphones great for full families with different preferences.

On the sound quality front, you can expect the Sennheiser level of excellence, with an all-encompassing frequency response of 17 Hz to 22 kHz and less than 0.5% harmonic distortion. But, Sennheiser has also enlisted the help of the IDMT for signal processing (a leading organization in the development of hearing aids) to better process the wireless signal for full, clear audio response. This latter fact makes these headphones great for those who need a bit of help hearing their TV shows. This also means that Sennheiser has built headphones that aren’t necessarily that sleek. At 340g they are quite a bit bulkier and heavier than what you’d normally expect from modern headphones.

The bulkier design also means that the plush padding is very big and ultra-comfortable. Another downside is that these headphones use interchangeable, rechargeable AA batteries rather than internal options. At just under $300 the price is also a little higher than you might expect, but for the quality, it’s worth it. These headphones do one thing really well—connect wirelessly to your TV—and if that’s your goal, then you’d have trouble finding a better option than these.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

When you’re talking about wireless headphones designed specifically for TV, there are two options. Traditionally, you would want a radio-frequency units that connects using a docked receiver (because TVs usually don’t have Bluetooth functionality). However, with many people consuming television and movies on tablets, laptops, and phones, a good pair of “TV watching headphones” can totally include Bluetooth units. The Plantronics PLT BackBeat Pro 2s are a solid overall option for a few reasons. First off, the sound profile lends itself very nicely to entertainment programs—because Plantronics is known as a business headset brand, the sound spectrum tends to be really clean across the spectrum, with plenty of detail where the human speaking voice lives. This is great for sitcoms, dramas, and most top 40 music.

The wireless functionality on the Backbeat Pros 2 is also really solid, offering up to 100 feet of range via the Bluetooth protocol—about as modern as you could expect. The modern Bluetooth protocol also means that there will be less lag between the visuals and the audio, which is important for headphones meant for video. There’s also active noise cancellation built into these headphones, which makes them a truly premium option from a feature set perspective. The Backbeats also offer a totally respetable 24 hours of playback on a single charge. This last factor makes the headphones great for watching video on the go, during your commute, or on a plane, without worrying about running out of juice. While similar marquis offerings from the likes of Bose and Sony will run you well over $300, these headphones come in at just about $130, which is a steal for what they bring to the table—earning them a spot at the top of our list.

Best Budget: Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Consistent sound quality

  • Comfortable and design-forward build

What We Don't Like
  • No Bluetooth 5.0

  • Long charging time

The Mpow 059's are one of the most popular affordable Bluetooth headphones on Amazon (with an insane 37,000 reviews and counting), and that’s because they provide a surprisingly versatile feature set for a mere $30, new. The first thing you notice is the design. Taking some cues from the first generation of Beats headphones, the black, red, and silver look feels modern but also customizable.

There are about a half dozen colors to choose from that range from bright lime green to a more subtle black gray, though this red color is the most popular. What makes the 059s great for watching TV and movies on your tablet or phone is the flat, no-frills, well-rounded sound quality. These aren’t the most detailed headphones on the market, nor do they purport to add any substantial degree of bass, but they do offer even reliable sound across the spectrum. 

The Bluetooth 4.1 does mean that you won’t get the modern stability (and multi-device support) of Bluetooth 5.0, but that is one of the compromises you’ll have to make for the low price tag. One surprising point of quality for these headphones is how plush and comfortable the memory foam earpads feel at this price level. There’s also about 20 hours of battery life on a single charge—nothing super impressive, but also not disappointing—but the headphones take a while to charge up The package comes with a charging cable, a nice little carrying pouch, and a 3.5mm aux cord for wiring in a connection when the battery dies.

Best Noise-Canceling: Jabra Elite 85h

What We Like
  • Excellent noise cnacellation

  • Solid battery life

  • Sleek design and build

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat quirky Bluetooth connectivity

  • Pretty expensive

Jabra has really made a name for itself in the consumer Bluetooth wireless space—an interesting turn for a brand that was once known for single-ear Bluetooth headsets. The Elite 75t earbuds are often considered Jabra’s flagship, but the new over-ear Elite 85h Bluetooth headphones have really earned a spot as a truly premium audio offering, especially as it pertains to watching TV and entertainment. The SmartSound active noise cancellation technology makes for a truly isolated listening experience, and it’s one of the best features of the 85h.

Jabra has also managed to fit an estimated 36 hours of battery life into these sleek headphones, which is important when relying on them for phone calls, daily listening, and evening tablet time. That sleek design is also an interesting feature point here, because the clean, one-color look and the sharp-yet-oval earcups look really unique, but don’t sacrifice spacious comfort for your ears.

With 8 microphones built into the headphones, the call quality on the 85h is truly impressive—no surprise from a brand like Jabra. But it’s not all positives here: though the noise cancellation is top-notch, the price tag matches, climbing to almost $250. While the Bluetooth protocol is modern and stable, it isn’t quite as user-friendly as options from Sony or Apple. And, though the sound quality isn’t bad per se, you might find better results with a more premium brand.

Best Splurge: Sony WH-XB900N

What We Like
  • Great noise cancellation

  • Plenty of bass for epic shows and movies

  • Great design and comfort

What We Don't Like
  • Fairly expensive

  • Limited on-board control

  • Lacking some detail in the mid-range

When you’re talking about Sony Bluetooth headphones, a lot of attention is turned to the flagship WH-1000X line, but the WH-XBN900 provides some interesting features that make it a great choice for TV and movie watching, even with the somewhat bloated price tag. Some initial points: Sony’s premium noise cancellation is here in spades, and with 30 hours of battery life plus a 10-minute quick charge (for partial power) these headphones feel every bit as flagship as the 1000Xs. The key differentiator for the XBN900s is that they feature Sony’s quick-toggle “Extra Bass” functionality. This is important for multimedia use because many movies and TV shows nowadays can benefit from epic sound emphasis for explosions, music, and atmospheric moments. While the 1000Xs are more well-rounded, the XBN900s feel great for entertainment.

The design and feature set here aren’t limited to just the Extra Bass though. With soft, pleasing lines and a subtle, no-frills approach to headphones, these will look great inside or outside the house. And, with Sony’s truly impressive, super-soft plush earcups, the comfort should be excellent on these. While there aren’t quite as many touch controls as more flagship headphones, you’ll find a few bells and whistles like Sony’s “Quick Attention” mode, though it would have been nice to get more on-board control. All in all, even though the Extra Bass can blow out some of the detail in the sound spectrum, these headphones look, feel, and sound excellent—if you can afford the $300 price point.

Most Versatile: Artiste Wireless Over-Ear TV Headphones

What We Like
  • Solid RF style connection

  • Decent battery life

  • Pretty good sound quality

What We Don't Like
  • Lacking in premium features

  • Somewhat clunky design

  • No extra features like ANC

The most TV-friendly headphones will typically use an RF-based receiver dock, and the ARTISTE ADH300s definitely fit into this category. Rather than Bluetooth-connected headphones (a protocol not found on many TVs and one that entails a bit of audio lag), the 2.4GHz wireless protocol used by the ARTISTE allows for rock-solid connectivity up to 100 feet, even through walls. It also transfers audio very quickly, meaning there will be much less (if any) noticeable lag—perfect for gaming and movie watching. Covering 25 Hz to 20 kHz of the hearing spectrum, these headphones don’t extend all the way to the bottom of the human hearing range, but they get really close. The solid, even sound quality isn’t the best on the market, but it has been tuned for use with TV, and because the earpads isolate sound really well, the soundstage is very clean (and likely won’t bleed very much to other people in your area).

The reason these headphones get our most versatile pick is because of the connectivity. Simply plug the stereo cable of the sound receiver base into whatever device you’re looking to stream from (from a TV to a tablet and beyond) and you can transmit audio via radio frequency, rather than the sometimes clunkier Bluetooth parking situation.

The rechargeable battery inside the unit will allow for about 20 hours of use, definitely solid for the category, but because you store the headphones on the same receiver bass and it charges them up, you’ll rarely find a time where they aren’t charged (unless you store them off the base). They aren’t the most premium offering, and the fit and finish definitely leave something to be desired, but for a price point well under $100, the offering feels reasonable.

Best for Gaming: Astro A50 Wireless Gen 3

What We Like
  • Video game optimized sound

  • Low-latency wireless connectivity

  • Durable build

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky design

  • Somewhat limited battery life

If you’re looking for a wireless gaming headset that will work for console use, there actually aren’t a ton of options that truly fit the bill, but the Astro A50 is one of them. This second version brings with it a new and improved balance of sound, focused on giving you equal emphasis on game effects, music, and dialog and you can even adjust the levels via a knob on the side. That’s important because many headphones try to give you emphasis across the spectrum but tend to be lacking in some part (either dialog or bass or something else). If the out-of-the-box sound isn’t right for your use, there are EQ settings you can toggle on the unit to further customize the sound. 

The other factor that makes these headphones great for console gaming is the fact that they transmit audio via the lower-latency 2.4GHz method, as opposed to the Bluetooth protocol. The attached boom mic provides a crisp way to communicate with your team in online games, and will automatically mute when you flip it upward. The 15-hour battery life isn’t the best we’ve seen, but because the receiver base doubles as a charging storage cradle, the headphones will always be charging when they’re in standby.

Another interesting consideration is the option to connect these headphones via USB to your PC. This allows you to use a slightly better digital-to-analog converter than your PC might have, giving you a better, more optimized in-game audio experience. The design is bulky, but that means the headphones will likely be durable. You’ll pay for the premium experience here though, as this unit costs $300.

Best Connection Stability: Sony RF995RK Wireless RF Headphone

What We Like
  • 150 foot range

  • Great sound for movies

  • Excellent signal strength

What We Don't Like
  • Lackluster build quality

  • Dated design

When you look at the Sony RF995s, you might not think they’re terribly modern or terribly premium, and that’s because they leave a lot to be desired on the design front. But that’s okay when you consider that the key focus of these headphones are to make it easier to hear the sound from your TV set. Like most other RF-style headphone offerings, they use a 2.4Ghz connection to send the audio from the charging base (plugged into your TV) to the headphones. And because the signal is so strong, Sony puts the range at about 150 feet, which should cover your use even in the largest rooms.

The sound response is also really impressive, covering a frequency range of 10 Hz to 22 kHz (much more than the human range) and strong, bass-bolstered 40mm drivers. This makes for a great listening experience when it comes to TV and film, because it enhances the atmosphere and environment. Sony claims that the headphones will work for 20 hours on a single charge, which is decent, and because the batteries are recharged via the receiver base, it’s easy to keep them juiced up. As mentioned, the whole build feels really plastic-y and the look feels decidedly plain—more similar to Sony’s 90s products than their modern offerings. But for under $150 from a top-notch brand, these headphones offer a pretty solid value.

Best for Home Audio Systems: Avantree HT5009 Wireless Headphones

What We Like
  • Bluetooth connectivity with versatile audio pass-through

  • Premium Bluetooth codecs

  • Excellent sound quality

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more comfortable

  • NO RF-style connection

  • Long time to recharge

When choosing wireless headphones for TV, you usually have to choose between Bluetooth headphones that won’t work with a TV out of the box or RF-style headphones that won’t work with your Bluetooth-enabled devices. With the Avantree HT5009, you get the best of both worlds, because the unit comes with a Bluetooth-enabled receiver that seamlessly syncs with the headphone unit. The Bluetooth receiver also allows for audio pass-through, meaning you can hook up a soundbar, a stereo receiver, or the like. This makes the Avantree unit perfect for those who want to fold the wireless headphones into their existing surround sound setup. And for using the Avantree Oasis device, you can even use these headphones for whole-home audio. 

To account for the latency often inherent in Bluetooth connectivity, Avantree has decided to include a Qualcomm chipset to minimize that delay. Even though an RF-style connection would have been more seamless in this regard, it’s nice to see an attempt to mitigate this Bluetooth shortcoming. With 40 hours of playback time on one charge, these are among the longest-running headphones we’ve seen, and with solid sound response (20 Hz to 20 kHz) and powerful bass for film and TV, these things sound good. While Avantree claims that the pads are extra plush and soft, the thinness of the ear pads seems like they might be a little less friendly than something from a brand like Sennheiser. The whole package goes for just over $100, which is surprising considering how versatile these headphones are.

Best Slim Design: Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Headphones

What We Like
  • Warm, rich sound quality

  • Slim, elegant design

  • Solid RF range

What We Don't Like
  • Limited sound isolation

  • Nothing special for battery life

Sennheiser’s headphone offering can be a little daunting sometimes, with models focused on high-end production, premium on-the-go consumer headphones, and even multiple options for RF-style wireless headphones. The RS120 is a no-frills option for people who want wireless TV-friendly headphones, particularly because they don’t try to overdo anything on the feature front. The first thing you notice is how slim and simple the design is, and that’s largely due to the fact that these are on-ear headphones, rather than over-ear headphones.

This may be bothersome for people who want a truly isolated soundstage, but if you hate wearing bulky headphones, these are the ones for you. You only have the option to plug the receiver into a TV using a 3.5mm aux cable, which limits the quality of audio you can transfer, but once connected, the receiver then sends the sound via radio frequencies. One nice feature is that you can swap between channels of wireless connectivity, which means you can avoid any possible interference. 

Because these headphones are from Sennheiser, it’s no surprise to see a rich, warm audio response that’s perfect for most applications—as long as you’re okay with the openness inherent in on-ear headphones. The 20-hour battery life is par for the course for headphones like these, but because they’re intended for in-home use, as long as you store the headphones on the super-sleek charging base, you shouldn’t have a dead-headphones problem. The most surprising part of this package is that, right now, you can get these headphones for less than $100—making it one of the best values on this list.

Best In-Ear: Giveet Wireless Earbuds for TV

What We Like
  • Nice Bluetooth versatility

  • Very affordable price

  • All-in-one receiver and charger

What We Don't Like
  • Thin, earbud-style sound quality

  • No RF connectivity

The Giveet wireless earbuds are essentially just a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that come packaged with a Bluetooth-enabled receiver for your TV. This does mean that there aren’t any headaches when you first set it up, because this particular receiver is paired specifically for the headphones. But Giveet has set this up so you can pair both the headphones to any Bluetooth-enabled device or receiver, or you can pair any other Bluetooth headphones to the receiver dongle you get with this package.

There isn’t any optical output, so you’ll have to be okay with 3.5mm aux or RCA connectivity. Bluetooth 5.0 is the protocol included here, which should help with latency and stability, but you’d have virtually no perceptible delay if you went with an RF-style wireless setup, so that’s something to keep in mind. 

The headphones recharge via the USB-C input on the receiver, making a nice singular docking point, and once you fully charge the earbuds they offer about 16 hours of playtime on a single charge. While Giveet claims that these headphones provide plenty of power and volume (largely owed to the fact that they nest tightly into your ear) but because of the small driver inherent on in-hear headphones, you won’t get a ton of richness in these headphones. With a virtually unbeatable $55 price tag, these are a great option to buy and just toss on your coffee table the next time you need a little quiet in the living room without having to turn off your show.

Best for Seniors: SIMOLIO Hearing Protection Wireless Headphones for TV

What We Like
  • Perfect for senior viewers

  • Comfortable feel

  • Excellent RF connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Boring, plain design

  • Lackluster battery life

  • Average sound quality

One key application for TV-centric wireless headphones is when you have older TV watchers who are hard of hearing. Even turning up a TV to make volume isn’t enough sometimes, and using headphones will isolate your ears and allow you to keep the volume lower while not sacrificing being able to hear what’s going on. The Simolio Hearing Protection headphones are designed specifically to help seniors hear what’s going on on the TV without blasting volume. These headphones use the 2.4 GHz band of wireless transmission, so there will be very minimal delay between the picture and the sound. The plush ear cups allow for long listening sessions, and because there’s a pass-through aux port on the side of the headphones, you can even patch in a loved one to listen to your show on their own headphones.

The headphones allow you to adjust the L/R balance on the fly, which is important for those who hear better out of one ear than the other, and you can even use the Personal Sound Amplifier function to make the rest of the sound in the room louder—making these headphones great as an actual hearing aid-style unit. The 500mAh battery only allows for about 10 hours of listening on a single charge, which means it’s important to put them back on the charging base after each use. The sound and the design also aren’t particularly impressive, offering a flat standard response and not much in the way of aesthetic touches. But at well under $100, these headphones are perfect for older listeners who need a little help hearing their favorite shows.

Final Verdict

The Sennheiser RS 195s (view on Amazon) are a standard example of the best you can get in RF tech, with seamless, low-latency performance, and a sound profile optimized for epic TV and film. The best Bluetooth TV headphones, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro (view on Amazon) earns its spot for pure sound quality, extra features like active noise cancellation, and overall value for the price.You really can’t go wrong with either, but be sure to figure out your end-use case (at-home gaming or on-the-go TV watching, for instance) to make the right choice.

About our Trusted Experts:

Jason Schneider: With around 10 years of experience writing for tech websites and reviewing consumer audio products, alongside a degree in Music Technology from Northeastern University, Jason Schneider brings a nuanced, well-informed, and unbiased view to his Lifewire reviews.

What to look for in Wireless TV Headphones

Connectivity: There are two camps for connecting headphones for TV: Bluetooth and RF-style wireless. Bluetooth headphones won’t work out of the box with most TVs unless you have a Bluetooth receiver connected, whereas RF-style units require the receiver base to transmit audio wirelessly. Consider this when purchasing because it will affect what devices you can use your headphones with.

Sound quality and latency: Determining your key use case is important. If you want to use your headphones for console gaming, then low-latency RF connectivity is important and full bass response is important. If you just want the headphones for some quiet late-night TV watching, a simpler sound profile and some latency is okay. 

Price: There is a wide range of prices for this product class (covering around $40 all the way to above $300), and because these headphones are meant to augment or improve a quiet TV-watching experience, budget sensitivity is a very real consideration.