Whether you’re using the best projector and want to round off your home cinema setup with quality audio, or simply want to enjoy your films without the distractions of a busy household, a good pair of TV and movie headphones can go a long way. As a bonus, you’ll never have to scramble for the remote every time a character’s conversation turns into a roaring explosion late at night.
Choosing the right headphones for the job can be tricky and will entirely depend on what you want from them. If you’re all about audio quality, then Sennheiser has you covered with a rich soundscape. Those of you in a shared living space will benefit from Sony’s lauded active noise cancelling to shut everything out. And if you never want to plug your headphones in again, SteelSeries has the solution to keep your battery ticking.
It’s important to check compatibility before purchasing, however, as your device’s version of Bluetooth could impact the quality. Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest with a 40m indoor range compared to Bluetooth 4.2’s 10m, but both have come a long way in reducing audio lag and keeping lips synced. If your TV is running an older version or doesn’t have Bluetooth at all, then don’t fret because there are third-party transmitters you can buy, and some of our suggestions come with their own docks. Here are the best headphones to watch TV shows and movies.
Here are the best headphones for movies and TV:
- Sennheiser RS 175 – best overall
- SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless – best wireless Bluetooth option
- Avantree Audition Pro – budget wireless choice
- Sony WH-1000XM4 – best for noise-cancelling
- Sony WF-1000XM3 – best wireless earbuds
- Apple AirPods Max – best option from Apple
- JVC XP-EXT1 Wireless Theater System – best from Doly Atmos
1. Sennheiser RS 175
The best headphones for TV and movies.
Sennheiser RS 175 specs:
|17Hz – 22,000Hz
|18 hours per battery
- Base station connects up to two headphones
- Outstanding audio quality
- Virtual surround sound
- Bass delivery varies significantly
- Poor sound isolation
Sennheiser makes some of the greatest headphones around, but none are better than the RS 175 to sit down and enjoy your favorite movie because you can share it with someone else. The RS 175 includes an HDR 175 pair of cans and a TR 175 transmitter that cleverly doubles up as a charging headphone stand. If you grab another pair of HDR 175s, you can connect it easily and binge Netflix with a loved one.
Adding a transmitter into the mix might sound complicated, but it’s as simple as plugging the provided optical audio cables and 3.5mm jack into your TV or streaming device to get things working. It sounds terrific out of the box, but virtual surround sound and dynamic bass boost modes are there to give your audio an extra kick.
2. SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless
The best wireless Bluetooth headphones for TV and movies.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless specs:
|10Hz – 40,000Hz
|2.4GHz and Bluetooth 4.1 simultaneously
|10 hours per battery
- Low latency connection
- How-swappable battery so you never need to plug it in
- Comes with Bluetooth dock
- Bass quality varies significantly
- Sound isolation could be better
SteelSeries’ Arctis Pro Wireless is one of the best gaming headsets out there with rich sound profiles and a comfortable ski-band design, but it also outclasses other wireless headphones on this list thanks to its hot-swappable battery. It only lasts around ten hours, letting you watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League two-and-a-half times before you need to juice it up, but it comes with a second battery that sits on charge inside the dock so you’ll never need to remember to plug it in.
The dock takes up an outlet and in return provides you with low latency, removing audio lag and synchronizing lips. It also lets you customize your EQ settings, source, and volume levels, although you can fiddle about with these options using the on-ear controls. It’s super easy to set up and you can even connect the Arctis Pros to the dock and to another Bluetooth device at the same time if you wanted to bring your smartphone into the mix.
3. Avantree Audition Pro
The best cheap wireless headphones for TV and movies.
Avantree Audition Pro specs:
|20Hz – 20,000Hz
- Long battery life
- Value for money
- Support for aptX low latency is an option
- Might be uncomfortable for large-eared people
- Default volume settings very low
You often get what you pay for with headphones, but Avantree packs an impressive amount of value into its sub-$100 Audition Pros. They’re sleek, and comfortable, and the battery life is rated at around 40 hours – which isn’t far off the near-50 hours it’d take you to binge the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While it’ll connect to any Bluetooth-compatible device, it’s also one of the only pairs of headphones on this list that supports the aptX low latency codec. There aren’t too many TVs out there that are compatible with this, but if you decide you notice any lag, you can pair it with one of Avantree’s own aptX low latency transmitters to cut out any delay. You won’t want to venture too far though, as the range is limited to ten metres.
4. Sony WH-1000XM4
The noise-cancelling headphones for TV and movies.
Sony WH-1000XM4 specs:
|4Hz – 40,000Hz
- Unrivalled active noise-cancelling
- Sleek, understated design
- Comes with a free carry case for travel
- Battery life could be better
Sony’s active noise-canceling is the best in the business, which is why its flagship mouthful always tops the charts. The WH-1000XM4 launched late in 2020, and although it looks a lot like its predecessor with the same premium comfort, build quality, and Bluetooth connection, it’s much more than just a refresh.
Its new DSEE Extreme sound processor makes movies sound even better with more detailed audio, which becomes even clearer when the world around you is completely blocked out. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant return for voice commands, and touch controls let you pause, play, or skip songs without any garish buttons. Quick Attention also carries over, letting you cover the ear cup with your hand to lower the volume, but its new Speak to Chat feature does this even better, letting you hold a conversation without moving a muscle.
5. Sony WF-1000XM3
The best wireless earbuds for TV and movies.
Sony WF-1000XM3 specs:
|20Hz – 20,000Hz
|6 hours (24 hours with charging case)
- Remarkable active noise-canceling
- Brilliant battery life
- Responsive touch controls
- Not water resistant
- Expensive for what it is
If you don’t want a pair of headphones wrapping around your skull, earbuds are the perfect low-footprint alternative. Once again, Sony dominates by packing the same impeccable active noise-canceling, touch controls, and features seen in its larger cans into its WF-1000XM3 buds – including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
They stick out of your ears a little more than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, but what Sony sacrifices in form, it more than makes up for in function. Since ears come in all different shapes, it includes more tip sizes than any other pair so you can get a perfect fit. It also blocks out a /lot/ of sound, boasts excellent battery life, and makes movies, TV shows, and music sound fantastic.
6. Apple AirPods Max
The best Apple headphones for TV and movies.
Apple AirPods Max specs:
|Apple-designed dynamic driver
- Fantastic audio quality
- Easy pairing with Macs, iPhones, and iPads
- Comfortably padded design
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- Smart case could be improved
The AirPods Max are Apple’s first over-ear closed-back headphones produced in-house, and they’re nothing short of extraordinary if you’re rocking an orchard of iOS devices. They probably aren’t suited if you /just/ want to connect them to your smart TV, but they offer a wonderful user experience that allows you to seamlessly hop between iPhones, iPads, and Macs after a one-tap setup or share your audio with other AirPod devices.
If Apple’s high asking price puts you off, then rest assured you can use just about any headphones with your iOS device, but none are quite as good as AirPods Max, which bakes in Siri for voice commands, immersive 3D Spatial Audio, and stunning sound quality.
7. JVC XP-EXT1 Wireless Theater System
The best Dolby Atmos headphones.
JVC XP-EXT1 Wireless Theater System specs:
|12Hz – 24,000Hz
|2.4GHz or 5GHz
- The best virtual surround sound up to 7.1.4
- Connects to multiple devices
- Immersive audio
- Sounds placement can be a little vague
- Struggles with poorer quality sound sources
Just about any pair of headphones can use the Dolby Atmos or DTS:X software to push 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, but if you want dedicated hardware for multi-channel audio, the JVC XP-EXT1 wireless theater system is the way to go. It comes with its own audio processing console that can connect up to three devices via HDMI, while the headphones pair with the console using 2.4GHz and 5GHz for low latency.
It won’t replace the Logitech Z906 as the best computer speakers for surround sound, since it’s all virtualized to fit inside two 40mm drivers, but it has a vast soundstage and upmixes effectively to keep you immersed. You can even control everything with a smartphone app.
Will wireless headphones work with your TV?
Wired headphones don’t suffer interference like their cordless counterparts and often sound much better, but you don’t want cables strung across your room, which is why the best headphones to watch TV shows and movies are all wireless. Most use a version of Bluetooth, which was previously known for its latency but has improved significantly in recent years and most smart TVs manage the delay well.
If you don’t have a Bluetooth-compatible TV or your version is outdated and slow, you can plug an adapter like the TaoTronics TT-BA07 into the 3.5mm jack to make it Bluetooth 5.0-friendly. The TaoTronics can even transmit to two pairs of headphones at the same time, making it a cheaper alternative to the Sennheiser RS 175.
Alternatively, 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequencies rule the roost when it comes to eliminating lag entirely and extending the range up to 91 meters. They are susceptible to interference if you have a busy household, though, and no TV comes with either connection built-in as these signals come from the provided docks and dongles.
Can you play sound through your TV and headphones simultaneously?
This entirely depends on the model of your TV and has nothing to do with the headphones you use. Most TVs automatically shut off their internal audio when another source is activated, much like a Windows 10 PC handling one device at a time, but there are some out there that can do both.