Whether you like to watch late-night TV while your family or roommates are asleep or just live in an apartment with paper-thin walls, TV headphones are a great way to enjoy your favorite shows and movies without disturbing those around you. However, not all headphones are created equal. Even the best-sounding headphones can be nearly useless for watching TV if they have lip-sync issues.
While wired headphones virtually guarantee a latency-free listening experience, it can be quite the bother to have a long cable running from the TV to your couch. Bluetooth headphones are a lot more convenient but can have problems with audio lag. Thankfully, a number of wireless headphones have low enough latency to be suitable for watching TV. Many are designed with gamers in mind, but there are a few models that are dedicated for TV as well.
We've tested over 565 pairs of headphones, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best TV headphones. See our recommendations for the best wireless gaming headsets, the best audiophile headphones, and the best wired headphones.
The best wireless headphones for TV that we've tested are the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. Many of the features that make for a great gaming experience are also important when watching TV, and these check off all the boxes. They connect wirelessly with no noticeable audio lag thanks to their unique wireless transmitter compatible with a wide range of home theater set-ups. They can even connect to a Bluetooth device simultaneously so you can mix audio from your phone and your TV at the same time.
The wireless transmitter provides a low-latency connection and serves as a battery charging station and a customization center for the headphones. You can EQ the way they sound and control the volume levels of the different input sources directly on the transmitter, which is very convenient. It also charges their removable battery, and since they come with two batteries, you can always keep one charging while the other is in use.
While they have a slightly less gamer-centric look than many other gaming models we've tested, they're still relatively bulky, especially since their microphone isn't detachable. The headband frame can also be too small for some people, which can get uncomfortable at the end of a long movie if your head presses against the frame.
The best wireless headphones for TV specifically designed for this purpose that we've tested are the Sennheiser RS 175 RF Wireless. They have a specialized receiver dock that directly plugs into most TVs and allows them to be used wirelessly with low audio latency. They're decently well-built and comfortable enough for binge-watching a couple of episodes at a time.
Thanks to their efficient control scheme located on the ear cups, you don't have to get up from the couch to adjust the volume or activate features like additional bass or surround sound. Although some users may find their sound profile is a bit bass-heavy by default, it doesn't completely overwhelm dialogue. Their extra thump and boom can also help make sound effects in action sequences seem a bit more immersive. Their continuous battery life is around 24 hours too, and they use rechargeable AAA batteries.
Unfortunately, their build quality is just satisfactory as the plastic elements used in their design feel low-grade and a bit cheap. They're also prone to inconsistent audio delivery, and you may especially notice a drop in bass if you wear glasses or have thick hair. That said, they're specifically designed for watching TV as they offer a low-latency experience and can be easily adjusted on-the-fly.
The best Bluetooth headphones for TV that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016. While Bluetooth generally doesn't make for the best option while watching TV due to audio lag issues, they use a technology called aptX-LL that helps reduce latency. You'll need to buy a dedicated Bluetooth adapter that supports aptX-LL and is compatible with your TV for them to work, but once you get everything set up, they provide a very well-rounded listening experience.
They have a very well-balanced sound profile that'll bring out the thump and rumble of your favorite action movie without muffling voices. Their battery performance is among the best we've tested, boasting not only a whopping 30 hours of battery life but several power-saving features, like an auto-off timer and smart pause mode. They can even connect to two devices at the same time, so you can take calls on your phone without needing to unpair from your TV, which is great.
While their active noise cancelling feature (ANC) will help with your everyday household noises, it won't do very much if you live next to a busy street and are constantly disrupted by the sound of traffic outdoors. All-in-all, they provide the best value for the price and are very easy to recommend.
The best headphones for watching TV under $100 that we've tested is the Logitech G433 Gaming Headset. While these over-ears are designed with gamers in mind, they have a wired design to help eliminate audio latency, and you can remove their boom mic to make them look more casual. They also have a lightweight and well-padded design so they're comfortable enough for binge-watching your favorite shows.
Thanks to their fairly well-balanced sound profile, they're suitable for a variety of audio genres. Still, if you prefer a different sound, G HUB companion software offers a graphic EQ and presets so that you can finetune it to your liking. Their wired design also has an in-line remote, which makes it easy to quickly adjust the volume without getting off the couch. Since their 1/8" TRRS cable is 6.5 ft long, you don't have to sit right beside the TV to use them.
Unfortunately, they struggle to isolate noise like ambient chatter. They also leak a lot of audio at high volumes, so if you share your home with others, you may want to use them in a quiet space. However, if you're on a budget, these wallet-friendly headphones have a customizable sound profile, and their wired design ensures low latency, which keeps lip-sync issues at bay.
If you prefer to use open-back headphones while watching TV, try the Philips SHP9500. While they can't block out noise by design and they leak a lot more audio than the Logitech G433 Gaming Headset, the Philips' open-back design helps create a more spacious and open soundstage to better immerse you in your audio. These over-ears feel durable and have a very comfortable fit. Their long audio cable is great if you want to sit a bit further away from your TV, and it also eliminates the issue of out-of-sync audio or battery life. Like most open-back headphones, they lack low-bass, so action movies lose out on a bit of thump and rumble. The rest of their sound profile is fairly neutral though, and it stills make them a suitable choice for a variety of audio content.
If you're looking for closed-back headphones that don't leak a bit less audio and that help cut down some ambient noise around you, try the Logitech. However, if you're looking for a more immersive audio experience that open-back headphones can give you, check out the Philips instead.
Feb 26, 2021: We've verified updated the text as well as checked for product availability. There has been no change in our picks.
Jan 29, 2021: Removed the Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless, the Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless, the Corsair HS70 Wireless, and the AUKEY Latitude Wireless from Notable Mentions as they aren't currently available through major retailers. We made slight changes to the text to ensure the accuracy and availability of our picks.
Nov 24, 2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in recommendations.
May 29, 2020: Removed the Sennheiser RS 165 RF and replaced the RS 185 RF with the RS 175 RF due to availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for movies and TV 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 are all our headphone reviews, sorted by their latency with aptX-LL. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones for watching movies or TV shows. 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.