If you want to immerse yourself in your favorite movie or TV show, there are lots of different headphone options out there for you to enjoy. Gaming headsets can be great for watching TV since they tend to be comfortable and have very low latency, but some people find them difficult to set up. Dedicated TV headphones that use a wireless RF transmitter stand are usually easier to use but can be expensive. Most Bluetooth headphones have too much audio lag to be suitable for watching TV, but some models can achiever lower latency with a dedicated Bluetooth dongle.
Regardless of what kind of headphones you choose, sound quality, isolation, and leakage will be important to consider. Open-back headphones tend to have a more spacious, immersive sound, but they also leak a lot, which can be disturbing to others. Closed-back headphones might not have the same open sound, but they tend to have better isolation, especially if they have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature.
So far, we've reviewed nearly 400 headsets and below are our recommendations for the best TV headphones of 2019. See also our recommendations for the best wireless TV headphones and the best gaming headsets.
The best TV headphones we’ve tested so far are the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They’re comfortable, well-built gaming headphones that you can set up with a variety of home theater systems thanks to their versatile wireless transmitter. They also support Bluetooth, making it extra easy to take a call on your smartphone while remaining connected to your TV. If you happen to also be a gamer, their great boom microphone will be a welcome addition.
These headphones have very good sound that is well-suited for not only movies and TV shows but is versatile enough for a wide variety of music genres or even audiobooks and podcasts. They come with two swappable batteries, so you can keep one battery in use in the headset and the other always charging. They last for about 15 hours when their battery is fully charged, but when it finally runs out of power, you just swap it for the other one.
The dual-battery system of these headphones is great, but some may prefer the dedicated charging stand of the Astro A50 Gen 4 2019. Both isolate rather poorly for closed-back headphones, but the Astro leak much more sound, so these headphones are a better choice if you have roommates or a partner you don’t want to disturb. If you like the design of these but find them a bit too expensive, you can also check out the similar SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition, which are much cheaper but aren’t as feature-packed.
If you don't need a microphone or don't like the bulky design of gaming headsets and want a more traditional pair of TV headphones for watching TV and movies, get the Sennheiser RS 185 RF, which are some of the best TV headphones we've tested. They don't have Bluetooth like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, but they're easier to set up with most home theater systems. They come with a dedicated RF transmitter stand that plugs into your TV and connects wirelessly with the headphones; it also works as a charging base for your headphones when you aren't using them.
These open-back headphones sound quite well balanced overall. Some may find them a little bright; however, this could help with dialogue and make the headphones feel more spacious. They use a pair of AAA batteries for power which can be charged when the headphones are placed on their dock; a single charge will last for up to 22 hours.
On the downside, they don't feel quite as well-made as you may expect in this price point. In addition, since they're open-back, they aren't ideal if you have a noisy home environment as lots of background sound will seep in. They also leak a lot of sound, so those around you will hear what you're listening to. That said, their charging stand and on-ear audio control are both convenient, making them a decent pair of dedicated TV headphones.
If the Sennheiser RS 185 are too expensive or you don't want to disturb those around you with the sound from your headphones, then go with the Sennheiser RS 165. They feel even cheaper-made and their base station only has a standard line-in audio jack, but they sound good and their stand charges the headphones as well. Unlike the RS 185, their closed-back design means they leak much less sound and do a much better job at blocking out noises around you. They're just as comfortable as the other Sennheiser headphones, though they are a bit more breathable, which should help for longer TV binging sessions.
Get the RS 185 if you need digital audio or RCA connections for your home theater setup, but if you're worried about sound leakage and only need a standard audio jack connection, go with the RS 165.
If you prefer the casual design and added noise isolation of ANC Bluetooth headphones but want to be able to use them wirelessly with your TV as well, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, the best TV headphones with Bluetooth. They don’t isolate as much noise as other ANC headphones nor do they have a dedicated wireless transmitter, but with the right accessories, they make for decent TV headphones thanks to their satisfying bass-rich sound and intuitive controls.
Since they are Bluetooth headphones, you’ll have to purchase an aptX Low Latency dongle to get the best latency performance for watching video content. It might take some time to get them set them up initially, but thankfully they support multi-device pairing so you can keep them paired to your TV even if you connect to another device. They have an excellent 30-hour battery life and a comfortable and durable build that's easy to use with intuitive controls.
On the downside, they have a rather bulky design that isn’t the most aesthetically appealing. You may want to consider the Dolby Dimension if you’re looking for more stylish Bluetooth headphones that’ll look great on your TV stand, but the Dimension are rather expensive and might not provide as good value as the BackBeat Pro 2 for most users.
If you’re looking for TV headphones that won’t break the bank and you don’t mind a wired design, the best headphones for watching TV in the budget category are the Logitech G433. They don’t have the convenience of wireless headphones, but their low latency wired connection makes them a suitable option for watching a lot of video content without any lag.
They have a casual, closed-back design that comes with a mobile-friendly cable so you can also use them with your phone. They have a surprisingly well-balanced sound that's on par with much more expensive headphones, which makes them a good choice for gaming too, especially since they can be customized with the Logitech Gaming Software app on PC.
Although they feel fairly well-made overall, they don’t feel quite as durable as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. You also may need to purchase an AUX extension cord, depending on your home theater setup. If you happen to use a PC or a PS4 to watch TV instead of a traditional cable box, you may want to consider the Corsair HS70 Wireless. The Corsair feel much better-built, but they don’t have the universal compatibility of the wired Logitech G433.
If you prefer an open-back design and also like listening to music at home as well, then get the Philips SHP9500, which are some of the best home theater headphones that we've tested. They don't have a microphone or any customization options like the Logitech G433 Wireless, but are a great-sounding pair of simple, budget headphones. However, due to their open-back design, they don't isolate noise and leak quite a bit of sound, so they may not be the best choice if you watch TV in a noisy room.
Get the Logitech if you want a versatile headset with a closed-back design that’s also decent for casual use, but if you want more comfortable, immersive headphones to watch movies or listen to music with by yourself, then you’ll want to go for the Philips.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for movies and TV shows for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones that are good for home theater use. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones for watching movies. Personal taste, media content, home environment, and listening habits will matter more in your selection, especially if you have a lively home or wish not to disturb anyone around you with leakage.
10/21/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.