Connecting headphones to a TV that doesn't have a headphone input?
September 3, 2016 5:59 PM   Subscribe

I like watching concert movies and music documentaries, and listening to TuneIn, on my smartTV. Unfortunately, the sound quality of the TV is terrible, and, while I'd like to able to listen with headphones, the TV doesn't have a headphone input. Is there any other way to hook headphones up?
posted by BadgerDoctor to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you give us the model of the TV?
posted by demiurge at 6:10 PM on September 3, 2016

Samsung UN65KS8000 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2016 Model)
posted by BadgerDoctor at 6:14 PM on September 3, 2016

The internet tells me that it has bluetooth headset support. Have you tried that?
posted by sheldman at 6:19 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Looks like you also have a optical out port. I think you can get optical out headphones, but you can also just get an adapter box like this.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2016

And if you're searching, you need to search for a headphone output, not input.
posted by bongo_x at 7:33 PM on September 3, 2016

Weird, I just solved this exact same problem a couple weeks ago. Well, it was a different model TV, but the same problem.

First, semantics: your TV does not have a headphone input jack, it has an OUTPUT jack.

However, it almost certainly does have RCA jack outputs, two little round jacks, one red and one white, that output right and left audio (in that order). Those outputs are "line level", not powerful enough to drive headphones, even if you did get an adapter cable.

However, you can drive headphones from those RCA jacks using what's called a "headphone amp", and this is the one that I'm now using:

IT COST TEN BUCKS. You plug three things into it:
1. Audio signal from TV (you'll need an adapter cable for this, RCA to 1/8-inch headphone)
2. Your headphones.
3. USB cable from wall wart, so that the batteries don't die.

It consumes like 5 watts, so I wouldn't bother turning it on and off, just leave it plugged in forever.
posted by intermod at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

There's no sign on Samsung's site that it actually does have RCA jack outputs. You can check on your own system of course. A TOSlink audio converter seems like the easiest option after Bluetooth. You might be able to use the audio reverse feed from the HDMI cable but this will require more fiddling.
posted by demiurge at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2016

Wow, you're right, this model does not have RCA audio output jacks. (brain explodes)
posted by intermod at 9:09 PM on September 3, 2016

If you go the bluetooth route, you can get relatively inexpensive bluetooth receivers that will have an output jack that a pair of normal headphones can plug into, in case you don't want to get a new pair of bluetooth headphones.
posted by Aleyn at 12:38 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you prefer wires (I do), the specs say you have both HDMI audio out and Optical out. It looks like you can get converters for both of those. These were a couple I found from a quick search, but if sound quality is important you would want to do some more research: Depending on whether the converter has a headphone jack or only RCA outputs, you may still need intermod's adapter as well.
posted by matsho at 2:00 AM on September 4, 2016

If there's a USB port on the television, you might be able to use a USB adapter. We have one for a laptop, and it works well -- perhaps it will work in your case, too. Here's an Ars Technica thread about USB adapters.
posted by Francolin at 6:52 AM on September 4, 2016

Fair warning; I would not expect a USB sound/headphone adapter to work with a television unless it explicitly mentions having support for such devices in the manual. Typically these require a computer to work.
posted by Aleyn at 10:32 PM on September 4, 2016

I have a Samsung TV with no headphone or RCA jacks. Only an optical out. To solve this problem I bought a DAC (digital to analog converter) with a TOSLINK input. Specifically I bought this model because it had a volume control. Ordinarily you'd have to connect a headphone amp to your DAC if you wanted to be able to adjust the volume. I don't think an audiophile would approve of my setup, but it works for me. I mostly wanted an easy way to turn the sound down.
posted by timelord at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2016

You don't say if you have the headphones already. A good wireless solution I use is Astro A50s. The little mixer hooks up to the optical audio out, and the headphones are wirelessly connected to them.

Marketed mostly to gamers, I think they sound excellent for movies/shows.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:46 AM on September 6, 2016

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