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. Not all headphones are created equal, though - 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, there's a number of wireless headphones that 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.
So far, we've reviewed over 400 different pairs of headphones. 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 we've tested so far 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 headphones check off all the boxes. They connect wirelessly with no noticeable audio lag thanks to their unique wireless transmitter that's 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 not only provides a low-latency connection but also serves as a battery charging station and a customization center for the headphones. You can EQ the way the headphones sound and control the volume levels of the different input sources directly on the transmitter, which is very convenient. It also charges the headphones' removable battery, and since they come with two batteries, you can always keep one charging while the other is in use.
While these headphones have a slightly less gamer-centric look than many other gaming headphones we've reviewed, they're still quite 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 Astro A50 Gen 4 Wireless 2019 have a more ergonomic design that many people find more comfortable, but aren't as feature-packed as the SteelSeries, which are the best home theater headphones overall.
The best dedicated TV headphones we've tested so far are the Sennheiser RS 185 RF. They're not as versatile as the other options on this list since they won't work with any of your mobile devices, but they're some of the best wireless headphones for TV we've tested if you want something just for your home theater system. They're comfortable, well-built, and easy-to-use once you've got them all set up and ready-to-go.
They have a well-balanced sound with a bit of extra emphasis in the treble range to help make voices and dialogue clearer. Since this model's been around for quite some time, these headphones still use AAA batteries for power, but they come with rechargeable ones since their wireless transmitter also doubles as a charging station. You can expect around 22 hours of battery life, and leave them set up next to your TV while they charge, which is convenient.
These dedicated TV headphones have a have an open-back design, which means have a more spacious, open sound, but hardly isolate any noise. While this will be an issue if you're looking for something that won't disturb people in the same room, it's quite nice if you just want to enjoy your favorite film without a loudspeaker setup, which makes them one of the best headphones for movies.
If you're looking for dedicated TV headphones but want something with better isolation, then get the Sennheiser RS 165 RF. Due to their closed-back design, they don't sound as spacious as the Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless, but they leak less sound and isolate more noise. In general, they have a more bass-heavy sound profile that fans of action movies will appreciate. However, due to the way they fit, they tend to sound different to different people - so you might notice less bass than someone else wearing the same pair. The stand also only has a regular line-in audio jack, so they might not be compatible with all home theater setups.
Go for the RS 185 if isolation is less of a concern, but if you're concerned about bothering those around you, go for the RS 165.
The best Bluetooth headphones for TV we've tested so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. While Bluetooth generally doesn't make for the best headphones for watching TV due to issues with audio lag, these headphones 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.
These headphones 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 seen yet, boasting not only a whopping 30 hours of battery life but several power-saving features too, 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. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless do a much better job at blocking out the low hum of cars passing by, but their battery doesn't last as long, and they're significantly more expensive. All-in-all, the Plantronics provide the best value for the price and are very easy to recommend.
The best budget TV headphones we've tested so far are the Logitech G433. Although they're wired, they're comfortable gaming headphones that have a surprisingly versatile, lightweight design, especially since their microphone is detachable. You might need an audio cable extension if you're planning on watching TV from the couch with these headphones, but you'll still get good bang for your buck.
They have a surprisingly well-balanced sound that's on par with significantly more expensive headphones, and their wired connection helps ensure a latency-free viewing experience. They even come with an in-line remote that lets you control the volume, which is extra helpful when the TV remote is just out of reach. As a bonus, if you happen to have to your home theater system set up around a PC, you can even EQ the way they sound with the Logitech G HUB software and make presets for the different genres of movies you like.
On the downside, these headphones leak more noise than most closed-back headphones do, without many of the soundstage benefits you'll hear in a pair of open-back headphones. So if you're watching a movie while your housemates are trying to focus on something else, they might still overhear and get distracted. A cheap pair of wireless earbuds with aptX-LL like the AUKEY Latitude Wireless will do the trick since they hardly leak any noise at all, but they're a lot less comfortable and you have to keep an eye on their battery life.
If you prefer the more spacious qualities of open-back headphones for watching movies but don't want to spend a fortune on premium audiophile headphones, then get the Philips SHP9500. They're less versatile than the Logitech G433 Gaming Headset since they don't have any customization options or extra features, but they're more comfortable and provide a more natural soundstage that many prefer for watching movies. They lack quite a bit of low-bass, though, so you might find action movies missing some thump and rumble.
Get the Logitech if you're looking for something more versatile but if you prefer the sound of open-back headphones you'll want to go for the Philips.
04/01/2020: Verification for accuracy; text refresh to keep things up-to-date.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best home theater headphones 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 over-ear headphone reviews. 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.