How to get audio from headphones and TV speakers at the same time?
November 14, 2020 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Planning to buy a wireless headphone for a hearing-impaired family member and wonder if it is possible to get audio from both headphones and TV speakers at the same time so people without headphones can watch together and still listen to the audio playing back from TV speakers. My experience with stereo or computer is that once headphones are plugged in the native speakers will be switched off. Any way or device that might help?
posted by lanhan to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could stick a "Y" cable in the headphone socket of the TV. One branch goes to the transmitter for the wireless headphones, the other branch goes to a couple of small powered speakers (tons of computer speakers kicking around for little $.)

Most TVs have optical out audio ports, many of which are still active regardless of what's going on with the TV's internal speakers. You could get an optical to analog converter and use that to drive the wireless headphone transmitter (or find a headphone transmitter which accepts an optical "Toslink" signal.)
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: A quick google reveals that there are wireless headphone transmitters which directly accept the optical audio output from TVs. That's probably the best way to do it.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

It might be helpful for you to share the make/model of your TV. Mine can simultaneously play audio on its speakers and to audio out.
posted by JackBurden at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Any wireless headphone is probably going to have some latency, which could make listening to two sources simultaneously really annoying. Can you hook up a sound bar to the TV? There are ones with headphone jacks, and you could connect wired headphones to that.
posted by jonathanhughes at 3:57 PM on November 14, 2020

Best answer: Sennheiser wireless headphones are the solution to your Quest.
posted by jointhedance at 4:08 PM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been trying to do this exact thing for other reasons and it absolutely depends on the model of the tv. My older tv cannot do this--Larry David Syndrome's suggestion is the only work around I can think of for your situation. My newer tv can do speakers and audio out at the same time.
posted by jessica fletcher did it at 3:37 AM on November 15, 2020

Best answer: I recommend TV Ears to my patients for this purpose. They will connect to almost any TV and can be used with the TV speakers also on. They are also infrared rather than Bluetooth, and so the latency is much lower and is not noticeable.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:07 PM on November 15, 2020

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