to Top

How to Add Bluetooth Headphones to Your HDTV

Sign in to Post your reply.

Topic:   How to Add Bluetooth Headphones to Your HDTV


How to Add Bluetooth Headphones to Your HDTV

Adding wireless headphones to your HDTV set is a great way to watch TV as just the volume you want without disturbing everyone else in the process. Read on as we show you how to outfit your HDTV set with wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Why Do I Want to Do This?

There are two elements to the “Why?” section of the tutorial. First, why add headphones to your HDTV set? There’s a variety of reasons why you might be so inclined to do so. If you’re hearing impaired (or a member of your family is) adding a set of wireless headphones allows for listening at the perfect volume. Even if nobody is hard of hearing but you and your spouse can’t agree on how loud the TV should be then a pair of wireless headphones is a great compromise. If you want to watch movies or game late and not disturb everyone else in the house, it’s easy to close the door to block the light of the TV but you need headphones to contain the sound.

But why add Bluetooth in the first place? Why not use an RF headset? Wireless TV listening headsets have been available for ages now such as the Sennhesier RS120s,  a highly rated RF wireless set that we’ve owned, used, and can attest deserves the thousands of positive reviews it has received. Despite the quality of the higher-end RF headsets there’s one big disadvantage: the headphones are permanently tied to the system you purchase. You might love the sound of the RS120s but you can’t use them without the bulky base/charging station that’s tethered to your TV.

The beauty of using Bluetooth as a solution to this problem is that not only is just as wireless but it’s also extremely flexible. You can buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones and pair them with your HDTV, your smartphone, your iPod, and whatever else you have that supports Bluetooth audio and seamlessly switch between them. It’s a lot easier to justify buying a really nice pair of headphones if you can use them for nearly everything.

Further, because Bluetooth headphones are ubiquitous at this point it’s much easier to find exactly the kind of headphones you want without having to settle for the only model or two offered by the company making your RF-type headphones (or dealing with the headache of trying to determine if different brands use the same frequency).

Let’s take a look at how to add Bluetooth to your HDTV. It’s easy peasy to add Bluetooth headphones to your smartphone as Bluetooth has been a standard feature on new phones for some time now. When it comes to adding Bluetooth headphones to your HDTV set, however, things are a bit trickier. Despite the fact that HDTV sets should come with Bluetooth support built in at this point they don’t. It’s up to you the consumer to retrofit your HDTV set with Bluetooth support.

What Do I Need?

The first stop in retrofitting your HDTV is to determine how sound exits your HDTV set and/or media center so that you can both purchase the correct adapters (if necessary) and ensure you’re jacking in your Bluetooth audio at the appropriate location in your setup.

Identifying Your Setup

If you have just the HDTV set and no larger media center attached (no receiver with satellite speakers and/or other equipment) you want to check the available ports on your HDTV set. If you have a media center where all your audio sources feed into a receiver (e.g. the audio from your cable box, your Bluray player, your HDTV, etc. all gets piped into a receiver that controls all the audio and then pumps it out to your surround system) you’ll want to check the ports on the receiver instead of the TV. This way your new wireless headphone setup will work for not just watching TV but for listening to music and whatever other audio you pipe through your home media center.

The image above highlights the relevant audio ports for our purpose (as this particular television conveniently had the three primary audio port formats on it). It has composite Left/Right audio output (see at the top of the highlighted area as the white and red ports). It has a standard 3.5 mm headphone-style jack labeled “AUDIO” in the above photo. It also has an optical TOSLINK jack (the gray jack that looks like a little dog door).

The vast majority of television sets have at least a TOSLINK optical port and, in addition, either a headphone jack or the L/R composite audio jacks. The headphone jack and L/R composite jacks output the audio in analog format and require no conversion (although depending on the model Bluetooth adapter you purchase you may need to buy a cheap L/R to headphone adapterlike this one).

If for some reason your television doesn’t have an analog output then you’ll need to purchase a digital to analog audio converter to change the digital optical out feed into an analog stereo signal. We’ve used this model with success. Even though a good optical-to-analog converter costs less than $10 you should still carefully check your ports before running out to purchase one. Most people won’t need one (but it’s good to know what you need if you do find yourself with only an optical audio out).

Selecting a Bluetooth Transmitter

The biggest decision you need to make regarding which Bluetooth transmitter you’ll purchase hinges on how many headphones you want to pair with the transmitter. Every Bluetooth transmitter on the market will pair with a single pair of headphones but very few of them will pair with two pairs of headphones and if you want more than two pairs of headphones you’re out of luck.

If you only need a single pair of headphones attached to your HDTV set up your options are nearly limitless (there are thousands of Bluetooth transmitters on the market). Among them, we’d highly recommend the Mpow Streambot. At $28 it’s in the $25-30 range you’d expect to pay for a quality Bluetooth device but it has two neat features: an internal battery and the ability to both transmit and receive. As such you can repurpose it to serve not just as a transmitter for your headphones but as a receiver for Bluetooth audio. Thus when you’re not using it for headphones on your TV you can use it to turn any speakers, boombox, etc, into a Bluetooth speaker. Pretty neat extra feature that really adds value to the unit.

If, on the other hand, you want two pairs of headphones so you and another listener can enjoy headphones simultaneously, the market shrinks considerably. There are very few multiple-output Bluetooth transmitters on the market. Where as you can pick up a single-output transmitter for around $25, expect to pay $50-80 for a good multiple-output Bluetooth transmitter. The multiple-output compatible unit we use in our own media center is theAvantree Priva ($57). An alternative option that is also well reviewed is Miccus Mini Jack TX4 ($58).

Selecting Bluetooth Headphones

The market for Bluetooth headphones is enormous and just like the regular headphones market there are budget headphones you can pick up for twenty bucks and there are premium headphones that cost as much as a modest car payment.

While it is well beyond the scope of this tutorial to coach you on purchasing the perfect pair of headphones, we can certainly offer advice for those of you looking for the good enough and cheap variety. For our home media center setup we useBeyution Stereo Bluetooth Headphones ($23). Do they feel weighty in your hand as if engineered by German craftsman? No, absolutely not. But they sound good, they hold a charge well, and they’re comfortable to wear. We’ll save the premium headphones for the times we’re listening to music that merits it and enjoy some comfortable and cheap headphones for catching up on Sci-Fi shows.

How Do I Set It Up?

You’ll most certainly spend more time reading over the feature lists of the Bluetooth adapters you’re interested in and shopping for headphones than you will actually setting the system up. Setting up a Bluetooth audio receiver is a straightforward affair.

In the previous section of the tutorial you identified which audio jack your source (either the HDTV or the media receive) had. Now it’s time to plug everything in. If you have a dedicated headphone jack or a L/R composite audio output, you can plug the Bluetooth receiver directly into the ports (using the supplied headphone-to-composite adapter if necessary).

If you are using the optical audio port then you simply add in the aforementioned TOSLINK converter in the sequence, linking the TOSLINK port to the converter and then plugging your Bluetooth adapter into the converter.

Once everything is hooked up the final step is to pair the headphones with your Bluetooth transmitter. In the case of the Priva unit and most other similar units, you simply press and hold the main button on the unit and wait for the light to blink. Once the light on the base unit is blinking, hold the pairing button on your headphones. A few blinking lights later and you have a link between the two. Pop the headphones on, turn the TV on, and test the audio.

If for any reason you can’t hear audio from the TV you can easily test whether or not the headphones are paired properly by unplugging the Bluetooth receiver from the TV and plugging it into another audio source (like the headphone jack on your smartphone, a radio, or such).

If you can hear audio when troubleshooting the headphones with a second audio source but the TV audio isn’t working, you likely need to go into the menu on your HDTV set or media receiver and look for an entry related to the headphone jack or “auxiliary speakers”. Some units won’t pipe sound out to the auxiliary audio ports unless instructed to do so. Barring that potential minor hiccup, however, the entire experience should be plug and play.

With just a little extra hassle and a small purchase you can give your HDTV a Bluetooth upgrade and enjoy wireless sound hassle free. Have questions about your HDTV, media center, and/or how to enhance your enjoyment there of? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to iron out the wrinkles in your setup.


Joel1988,  2015-06-28 23:03:03