What are wireless headphones for TV?
If you’re looking to get the best possible audio experience on your television without cranking up the volume and waking the neighbors, a pair of wireless headphones for TV might be just the thing you’re looking for. Most wireless headphones come with a receiver that you can hook up to your television. From there, you can put on your headphones and listen to your favorite shows in peace. In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of different brands and styles, and hopefully help you find the pair of headphones that are ideal for your needs.
What are the best wireless headphones for TV?
That depends on a few things. One of the most important factors to consider when looking at wireless headphones is the type of transmission system they use. Many lower-end wireless headphones utilize either FM (radio) or IR (infrared) signals to wirelessly beam audio from the receiver to the headphones. These systems have some advantages, such as a long listening range, but this comes with an attendant loss of quality.
The higher-end wireless headphones tend to use a straight Wireless transmission – Sennheiser has Kleer, which they themselves designed – or Bluetooth, which has the advantage of hooking up to multiple devices without a separate receiver unit.
When looking for the best model, it’s important to remember that everybody has different needs. If you’re a hardcore audiophile, any level of hiss or static might be a dealbreaker for you. On the other hand, if you like listening to your TV wirelessly while doing household chores, a long range and reliable signal might be the most important attributes to consider.
When it comes to wireless headphones specifically designed for TV use, two brands stand tall above the others: Sony and Sennheiser. Both companies offer wireless headphones at a wide variety of price points, and they all have generally positive reviews.
Let’s go over a few of the top models:
Quality On A Budget
If you’re in the market for wireless headphones but ambivalent about dropping a few hundred dollars on your first pair, the RS120s are a great choice. They have received excellent reviews from consumers and tech magazines, no doubt due to their price point. The RS120s utilize an FM transmitter that can project audio up to 100 feet from the source. Since it’s FM, the signal can also travel through walls.
Another quality budget option is the Sony MDRRF985RK Wireless RF Headphones. These are likely one of the cheapest quality headphones you’ll be able to find, at a retail price of just $75. They are quite comfortable and broadcast a full-throated signal over RF (radio frequency), with a maximum range of about 150 feet. Like the Sennheiser 120s, they can transmit a signal through walls, so you don’t have to worry about getting cut off when traveling from room to room.
As for the downsides, many consumers complain about intermittent static hiss, especially when there’s any obstruction between the receiver and the headphones. Yes, you’ll be able to hear the audio from another room, but you’ll have to sacrifice some sound quality to do so.
The Higher End
Sporting a Wi-Fi range of up to 95 feet, the Sony MDR-DS6500 Headphones are a solid mid-level choice. They feature a battery life of up to 10 hours, as well as a beefy Surround Sound mode that utilizes a subwoofer in the earpieces. The bass is adequate, but it won’t shake you to your core.
One potential drawback is its Wi-Fi transmission system. If you tend to run multiple internet-enabled devices around your TV simultaneously (such as an Xbox 360 or PS3), their signals might interfere with your audio.
If you’re looking for audiophile-level sound for a not-too-outrageous price, it’s hard to beat the Sennheiser RS170s. These headphones feature the lossless Kleer Digital Wireless System, which provides an especially crisp sound quality for up to 260 feet. They also feature Automatic Level Control, which compensates for variances in the volume of TV programs and enhances speech intelligibility. This keeps your audio consistent – and your hands off the volume buttons.
If you’d like to get more functionality beyond just TV-watching out of your headphones, the Bose AE2w Bluetooth Headphones might be the best fit for you. Unlike the other wireless headphones on this list, the AE2w headphones utilize Bluetooth, rather than an FM or digital transmitter signal, to wirelessly connect to your devices. This means that you can use your headphones with an iPhone, iPad, car stereo system, or any other device that’s Bluetooth enabled.
There are a few downsides to this, however. First and foremost, these headphones can only sustain a meager 7-hour battery life. This is nowhere near the battery of life of even the lower-end FM wireless headphones, and might be annoying for regular TV usage. Plus, if your TV is older and not equipped with Bluetooth, you won’t be able to use them at all.
The Bluetooth signal is also not quite as strong as an FM signal, so you may not be able to stray as far from your TV without impacting sound quality. That said, Bose has a well-earned reputation for making stellar audio equipment, and the AE2w headphones don’t skimp on sound quality in the slightest.
This model is for serious audiophiles only. The RS220s have all of the advanced features of the RS170, such as the Surround Sound and Dynamic Bass modes, but it ups the ante by featuring better dynamic range, as well as both digital and analog inputs.
The RS180s also score high marks for their insane level of comfort. They sport an open-back design that keeps you from sweating during long viewing and listening sessions.
There aren’t many downsides to the RS180s, but one common complaint is the awkward placement of the control buttons. All in all, however, they pack a serious audio punch that rivals the best wired headphones out there.
Which wireless headphones for TV will best suit your needs?
There are a few factors to consider besides price when you’re deciding which headphones to buy. One is the battery life. The higher you go in price, the longer battery life you’re going to get. The Sennheiser RS120s, for example, have a batter life of about 10 hours. The RS170s, on the other hand, boast over 16 hours of battery life. On the highest end, the RS180s can be used for up to 24 hours straight.
Another important factor is the transmission range. The lower end headphones, some of which rely on FM transmitters, sport ranges of about 100 feet. On the higher end, the range can reach as high as 300 feet or more. If you have a small apartment or your TV is in a relatively confined area, you may not need all that extra range.
Which one should you purchase, then?
If you’re looking to get the best possible value for your dollar, I recommend getting a pair of the Sennheiser RS170s ($205). They provide excellent sound quality and a fantastic transmission range. They are also feature excellent Surround Sound and Dynamic Bass settings that give your audio a definite boost. If you really want to, you could opt for the RS180s, but it’s questionable that the handful of added features are worth an extra $60. If the open-back design isn’t a deal breaker for you, the RS170s should suit your needs quite well.
Currently, the Sennheiser RS170s are the highest-rated wireless headphones on Amazon.com (an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars). They certainly aren’t the cheapest set on the market, but chances are you’ll be able to rely on them for years.