With all the many features included in today's televisions – from HDR and 4K resolution to local attenuation and quantum dots – most of the newer models have lost a feature that has always been very simple: connect hearing aids to TV.
This is not an immediate problem for most users. After all, if they come with an incredible audio configuration, what's the need to connect a pair of headphones? However, those who seek to reduce noise when children or other family members sleep in the next room, know that a good pair of hearing aids can be a great blessing. Whether it's wired, wireless or playing, these are the best solutions.
If your case is that you have a wired headset, and you are relatively close to the TV, there are a handful of options that will be useful.
The connection through an adapter requires – before anything else – to identify what type of audio output your television has. On the back or side of your device, there must be some form of audio output connection. On older TVs, there may be a 3.5mm output (standard hearing aids), which makes everything as easy as connecting and playing. However, the most common in the newer models are the left / right RCA audio outputs, which will require a 3.5mm RCA adapter like this one that Amazon sells . These are not only simple to use, but also very economical.
On newer TVs the issue can be a little more complicated. Many television manufacturers abandoned analog outputs long ago in favor of digital optical outputs. This exit looks like a small, square-shaped door, often outlined with bright red light (or equipped with a rubber cap like the one pictured above). For this configuration, you will need a digital audio to analog audio adapter . In any of these cases, you may also need an extension cord for hearing aids of this type that allows you to "stretch" up to 50 feet.
Connect to the remote control of a transmission device
Another option is to connect the headphones to the remote control of a set-top transmission device. If you've been thinking about getting a decoder, this is the perfect time to do it. Devices like the Roku Ultra , or consoles like Nvidia Shield have remote controls with an integrated headphone jack. The Amazon Fire TV game controller also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but not your standard remote control.
The only drawback here is that you will only be able to listen to what the device on which you are connected is transmitting. If you are watching a program through a cable box, for example, this will not be the best solution.
Connect through external audio devices
Devices like audio receivers , or even external speakers, generally allow you to plug in a pair of headphones. This is especially useful if you have several interconnected devices (for example, a cable or antenna decoder, a transmission device, etc.). You should take a look to see if there really is an output for hearing aids, or you could use one of the output adapter configurations that we mentioned earlier (RCA, or digital optics). Of course, most A / V receivers come with a quarter-inch headphone jack in the front, which requires no more than a simple adapter .
Adapters and wireless headphones are likely to be most convenient for a living room configuration, although the connection process can be a bit more complicated.
Televisions are adding Bluetooth transmission as a standard function. If you have a pair of wireless headphones, you can check if your TV supports Bluetooth: this information should appear somewhere in the audio section of the configuration (Menu). If your TV is compatible with Bluetooth, simply configure your hearing instruments in the synchronization mode, following the instructions on the screen so that everything works correctly.
One thing you should keep in mind here is latency. Many Bluetooth connections arrive with a small fraction of delay. While this is not a problem when listening to music only, the nominal delay can create synchronization problems between the video on the screen and the audio, which means that what happens on the screen will occur a few fractions of a second before listening to any sound. It can be extremely annoying, so you'll want to make sure that your TV / earphone combination does not cause too much latency before investing in this solution. Models with newer versions of the Bluetooth codec (version 4.0 or higher) may be your best option.
Bluetooth through your decoder
Video streaming devices, such as Amazon's Apple TV or Fire TV, also transmit audio via Bluetooth. After putting your Bluetooth headsets in sync mode, simply follow the Bluetooth configuration instructions for your decoder. Do not forget that this method will only allow you to listen to content that is transmitted from the device you have paired, and it will not work as a general solution. Again, you want to make sure that none of your devices have a latency problem.
External Bluetooth adapter
If your TV does not have Bluetooth connectivity and you do not have an Amazon Fire, Apple TV or other Bluetooth compatible decoder, you can equip it with a Bluetooth transmitter . These devices – which connect to your TV and emit a Bluetooth signal – come in various forms, including dongles or USB devices, 3.5 mm connectors, or even junction boxes. If you can find a Bluetooth adapter that supports the audio output format of your TV, you can easily pair the Bluetooth headset by following the pairing instructions that come with each device. Most of these devices also have latency problems, so you should check it carefully before buying it.
RF hearing aids
Although they are technically wireless, radiofrequency (RF) hearing aids from companies such as Sennheiser and others are connected to a base that is directly connected to a television or other output device. As such, you should match the types of connection between the base station and your TV (or other device). Double check the connection types (optical, RCA, 3.5 mm output, etc.), since you may need adapters to connect. Despite these possible additional steps, RF hearing aids are an excellent option, since they can have a better range and much less latency (if any) than Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.
Consoles for games and PC
The game consoles are another simple option to connect your TV with traditional headphones or, those that are designed for games. Most consoles are equipped with some type of connectivity for hearing aids, which allows you to broadcast TV shows and movies from applications such as Netflix and Hulu, and play Blu-rays, as well as games. Discover how to connect your hearing instruments to each main console, through wired or wireless connections.
PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro
The PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro consoles are probably the easiest to connect headphones of any type, due to its compatibility with several common types of connection and a simple configuration (although you should keep in mind that those who want to play Blu-ray 4HD UHD, they will have to use the Xbox One). The methods to connect are identical with the two versions of the console.
If you go for the cable option, the standard DualShock 4 controller on the PS4 has a 3.5mm jack, just below the PlayStation button and between the thumb bars. Simply plug in the hearing aid and you're done.
If you are using a wired or wireless USB headset, you can plug the security device directly into one of the USB ports on the PS4. In theory, your console should quickly identify the hearing aid and start playback. It is important to know that some USB headphones are designed for PC and require driver downloads or additional software, to use functions such as surround sound or EQ settings. While you will get basic functionality with these headphones on PS4, it is best to look for specific models of PS4 to get the best experience.
On the other hand, Bluetooth headsets are also an option on PS4. To attach them, first, make sure they are in pairing mode (this option is enabled by holding the pairing or power button on the headphones).
On the PS4 start screen, select the Settings tab. Scroll down and select Devices > Bluetooth devices . Your Bluetooth headsets should appear if they are in Discovery / Link mode, although you may have to give the console some time to find them. If this does not work, you can also connect the device to the PS4 with a USB cable and wait a few minutes for the console to recognize the new hearing aids.
Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X
The use of hearing aids is a bit more complicated and restrictive in an Xbox One and its recent iterations, Xbox One S and Xbox One X 4K. If you have wired headsets, you should verify that the controller has a 3.5 mm connector. It is important that you know that the latest editions of the Xbox One driver have that, but older versions will require a Microsoft adapter.
However, if you have a wireless headset, the story is different. Xbox One consoles are not compatible with Bluetooth, or with most USB wireless headsets. Therefore, instead, you should search for specific Xbox One wireless headphones and then follow the manufacturer's instructions to connect them.
Nintendo Switch and Wii U
The latest Nintendo console has some options for connecting 3.5mm headsets and Bluetooth. For direct wiring to the Switch, you can use a headphone jack located on the top left of the console. It is worth noting that this connector only supports audio and not microphones. To use a microphone for voice chat, you must connect through the Nintendo voice chat application for smartphones.
There are two options for connecting Bluetooth headsets. The first is to buy a Bluetooth receiver device that plugs into the 3.5mm jack and pair it with Bluetooth headphones.
The second option is to plug the security device of the Bluetooth headset into one of the USB ports of the connection base. To do so, first, you must have updated firmware 4.0 Switch or higher (you can re-verify your firmware version in the System menu, as well as check for updates). Once you have the correct version, connect to a Bluetooth USB dongle, wait for the headphones to be paired and you're done.
But if this option does not work for you, do not worry, there is an alternative solution for portable mode. To make it work, you will need to run firmware update 4.0 or higher and a USB to USB 3.0 adapter to connect it to the USB 3.0 port of the system. This configuration is not ideal, but it is an effective solution.
It is worth noting that the Arctis line of SteelSeries headphones, as well as the excellent Arctis 7 or the recently launched Arctis 3 Bluetooth, are the best options as they have a simple 3.5 mm Bluetooth connectivity.
On Wii U, you can plug a pair of headphones into the top of the Wii U Gamepad. Unfortunately, USB headsets and Bluetooth devices are not compatible with Wii U.
If you have a PC connected to your TV, you're in luck !: Most PCs can support virtually all types of headphones, both wired and wireless. In addition, regularly, PCs have a 3.5 mm connector on the front or back of the tower (or both) where they can be plugged directly.
USB headsets can also be plugged directly into any open port on your PC. Remember that the hearing aids usually work under the simple steps: connect-play, but sometimes require that the controllers or control software work properly. Check again your manufacturer's installation guides or user materials.
Bluetooth is also possible on most PCs. To pair them, place your Bluetooth device in discovery mode and enable Bluetooth on your PC, from the audio settings. Your PC must identify the device, and once it is connected, it will be configured.
* Updated by María Teresa Lopes on July 19, 2018.