How to Connect Your Headphones to Any TV With Bluetooth

Listen privately without disturbing others

This article explains how to connect your wired or Bluetooth headphones to any TV, HDTV, or smart TV to enjoy video in sync with wireless audio. Information here applies to televisions from a variety of manufacturers including, but not limited to, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

Choose and Connect a Bluetooth Transceiver

Many Bluetooth transceivers (a combination of transmitter and receiver) and transmitters are on the market, but only those with the right hardware will support a superior TV experience. The key is to choose one that features Bluetooth aptX with Low Latency (not just Bluetooth aptX) so that the audio will remain synchronized with the video. Otherwise, there will be a delay between what you see and hear.

Woman holding a baby while wearing Bluetooth headphones to watch TV

Lifewire / Miguel Co

If your Bluetooth headphones don't support low latency—or if you intend to upgrade your wired headphones with Bluetooth—you'll need a pair of these Bluetooth transceivers. Set one to transmit mode and connect it to the TV/receiver audio output. Set the other to receive mode and plug it into the 3.5 mm jack on your headphones.

After installing the Bluetooth adapters you need, follow the instructions to set them up with your headphones.


How to Connect Headphones to Any TV Via Bluetooth

Fixing Delayed Audio

Sometimes, you might hear everything a split second after it happens on the screen. If your TV is a recent model, check for an audio delay/sync setting (or something similarly named) under the sound options in the TV's system menu. If present, the adjustment is a slider or a box with values typically set in milliseconds. You might see a list of inputs/outputs that can be adjusted. Bringing that slider/number down should minimize the delay so that the audio syncs with the video.

Fixing Delayed Video

In rare instances, you'll experience video instead of audio delay, typically when streaming high-definition content. The extra moment the video takes to appear (typically due to buffering) causes it to lag behind the sound. In this case, adjust the sound settings to increase the audio delay, slowing it down so it syncs up with the video. Make small adjustments and test until you find the perfect match.

If You Still Have Sync Problems

Check to see if any of your TV’s sound settings are not set to standard. Enabling various sound modes (for example, virtual, 3D audio, surround, or PCM) can inject a delay. If you're streaming video through an app or separate device (such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PS4, a Blu-ray player, or stereo receiver/amplifier), doublecheck the physical connections as well as the audio settings on each.

For best results, keep your smart television updated with the latest firmware.

Low Latency is Key

Look for Bluetooth aptX with Low Latency when shopping for both the headphones and the transmitter. Low-latency Bluetooth incurs a delay no greater than 40 milliseconds, which keeps what you hear and see synchronized. For reference, typical Bluetooth wireless headphones exhibit audio delays ranging from 80 ms up to 250 ms. Even at 80 ms, human brains perceive audio delays.

To browse Bluetooth aptX-compatible products, visit the aptX website. Although the lists are updated frequently, they won't necessarily show everything that is on the market.

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