This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
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There’s no doubt that watching TV is one of the all-time great hobbies. Who doesn’t love a good session in front of the box after a hard day’s work? But sometimes your home life can get in the way of your TV time. So, if you’re a proud TV addict, you need a pair of good headphones.
You might live in a busy household where people are constantly in and out, playing loudly around you, or are working on their own activities and hobbies. Simply put, your family or housemates might annoy the hell out of you when you’re trying enjoy your latest Netflix obsession. Or maybe you annoy them with your loud TV watching.
Thank goodness, then, for wireless headphones. Wireless headphones make it possible to fully immerse into a show or movie without bothering people around you.
Do you need headphones for watching TV?
Reasons for having headphones for the TV can vary. Perhaps viewers are hard of hearing, or maybe you don’t want to disturb everyone else in the house. In the day and age of everyone having different devices — often in the same room — it makes sense to have headphones for the TV. Even if you’re not using them all the time. And, hey, there’s always the option of getting a pair that double up for TV and everyday use.
What should you look for when buying headphones for the TV?
Sound is important when you’re buying any pair of headphones, but if you’re buying specifically for watching TV, you’ll need to consider the sort of things you’ll be watching. Will you need heavy bass for the rumbling carnage of action movies? Or nuanced detail for quieter, pensive moments? Or maybe all-round, un-fussy performance for casually watching sport and comedy?
If you’re relaxing in front of the TV, chances are you don’t want to actually be connected to the TV — what you need are wireless headphones.
What’s best, Bluetooth or radio frequency technology?
Most wireless headphones are Bluetooth-enabled, the standard technology these days for hooking your headphones to a smart device. It might be standard, but this is not necessarily the best tech for wirelessly watching TV. There might be some lag between what you’re watching on the screen and what you hear in your headphones, which means the picture and sound might be slightly out of sync. Bluetooth is a good option for podcasts or music on your smartphone or laptop, but it’s not always the best for watching TV.
Believe it or not, headphones that use old school radio frequency technology (RF) are excellent for watching TV because lag or latency is minuscule and virtually seamless between picture and audio. This doesn’t mean there aren’t good Bluetooth options out there, but it’s something to consider when shopping.
What are Bluetooth codecs?
If you do want to buy a Bluetooth-enabled set of headphones, check out which codecs they support. These encode and decode digital audio signals. Codecs decode at a specific bitrate, which determines whether the headphones have a high or low latency (AKA lag), which is measured in milliseconds. High latency means your picture and sound may be out of sync.
Look out for headphones with low latency that support Qaulcomm’s aptX codecs, which are generally rated as the best codecs for streaming video content or hooking up to a TV.
Do you need noise cancelling headphones to watch TV?
Ultimately, it’s down to personal preference but if you want a totally immersive experience, noise cancelling headphones will block out the world and put you right at the centre of a movie or show.
There are two kinds of noise cancellation — passive and active noise cancelling. Passive noise cancellation is achieved by the design and build of the headphones, which physically block out noise. Active noise cancellation (usually called ANC) uses a system of small microphones which pick up incoming sounds and create anti-noise sound waves to cancel them out.
What are the best headphones for watching TV?
If that seems like a lot of information to take in, don’t worry, because we’ve scoured the reviews and have come up with a list of your best options for watching TV. We’ve lined up all the best wireless headphones for watching your favourite show or movie, including popular devices from top brands like Sony and Bose.
There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list. We recommend taking your time and considering everything that has made the cut. Weigh these headphones up against your priorities and a favourite should emerge.
These are the best wireless headphones for watching TV in 2023.