TVs & Home Theaters forum


How can I use headphones on tvs without output jacks

by laurieje / March 23, 2012 2:26 PM PDT

We are searching for a TV that will allow the use of headphones. My father is hard of hearing and he uses Bose headphones to listen to music. We thought it would be awesome to get him a TV that he could plug the Bose headphones into. Unfortunately, it seems that the newer TVs do not have headphone jacks. It seems that there is not even a jack that could take an adapter. Is there another way to use headphones with the newer TVs?

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All Answers

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Use an Amp
by KenHusveg / March 23, 2012 3:04 PM PDT

Run your sound through a tuner or amp of some sort. Some DVD players have headphone jacks as well. An XBox would work.

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If you are more adventurous...
by edhuenn / March 29, 2012 10:42 PM PDT

You can open up the back of the TV, find the internal wires going to the TV speakers, cut them, and splice in your own wires leading out of the back of the TV, ending them in whatever connectors you need for your headphones. You might have to actually drill a hole in the back of the TV to get these out. I actually did this one time, but, you've got to have a bit of couraage!

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With some newer HDTVs...
by Pepe7 / March 30, 2012 3:57 AM PDT

...this may not be possible.

I think it's important to suggest what's practical for a newbie vs what's possible from an absolute sense. Considering the OP hasn't even bought an HDTV yet, I would start by looking for one that actual DOES have headphone jacks. Easier than drilling a hole into one, eh?

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headphone jacks
by blurrier / March 30, 2012 11:43 AM PDT
Perhaps the newer tv's don't have headphone jacks, but they have 'audio out' jacks and you can buy cable/plug adapters at Radio Shack that will allow you to use your Bose heads. Or go wireless. I bought my old man some wireless headphones at Radio Shack and he can wander around the house listening to the Tv or even go outside and mow the lawn while listening to Fox News, music, or whatever.
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The best advice you'll ever receive! And the cheapest too!
by Refractor_999 / March 30, 2012 12:09 PM PDT

Here's my advice: odds are you have an "digital/optical out" on the back of your television that is a small sqaurish shaped hole where an optical cable, normally used for connecting an external receiver or game console, plugs in. I'm betting you do. If so, why don't you forgo the suggestion of adding on a sound system/receiver, which will run you upwards of $200-3000! And won't be doing you much of any good except supplying you with a 3.5mm hole to plug your headphones into - while your high-priced 5-7 speaker system sits in a box, or collects dust on your end tables, making good paper weights & drawing enough electricity per hour to kill a cat! And while your at it, I'd skip on drilling a hole into the back of your television too! I actually thought that answer was a joke at first. Wow. I won't even go there. But instead, why don't you fire up the computer and log onto and go here: (or many other places) and buy yourself a $4.12 optical to female 3.5mm adapter? Problem solved.

OH - BUT WAIT, it doesn't end there! Here's an even better and less expensive idea.. do you know what RCA plugs are? They are those red & white female plugs (sometimes there will be a yellow one too, but that's just your video feed) on the back of your set, which practically EVERY old & new television has? They are used for supplying audio from your television into whatever you're connecting it to, such as when connecting a DVD player or a VCR... Well anyhow, Amazon sells a RCA to 3.5mm plug for a buck! Yes! One dollar! Go to: Even Radio Shack sells this stuff! That's less than the cost of wire! Or a few butt connectors! Even less than your standard drill bit! And you won't even have to risk electrocution, nor void your warranty! And forget using up little Johny's college fund on a premium sound system. Nope, everything you need for less than 5 bucks! And no user input or hard work is required. So put away your drill and your checkbook & get online or go up to your closest electronics store. It's a sure deal no doubt!

C'mon guys...(

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Houston we have a problem
by Pepe7 / March 30, 2012 2:10 PM PDT

There are a large number w/o digital optical, analog or headphone jacks, especially on some smaller, bargain models. RCA audio output is mostly going the way of the do-do bird on newer HDTVs. that's for certain. You definitely missed the memo(!) Wink

The OP's first sentence is 'we are searching for a TV'. While I'm with you, TV before converter is usually how it progresses 8-).

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Headphones on TV's without headphone outlet socket
by stevef99 / March 30, 2012 5:42 PM PDT

If you use the "audio out" sockets , I think you will find that the signal may be too low to drive headphones. You will probably require some amplification. Wiring a headphone socket to the speaker cables could be hazardous, ~ you have to ensure that your TV has FULL isolation from the AC mains, otherwise you could electrocute grandpa. I would suggest buying a TV that has a speaker outlet jack.

Steve, Brisbane

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Toslink to 3.5mm??

This is not possible without the use of a converter. Optical audio cables are a digital signal, sending the information in 1's and 0's. 3.5mm is an analog signal. The information is sent in the form of a continuous wave ( I won't go into extreme detail here). In order to go form digital to analog, you must use a converter box, a simple adapter will not work (I shouldn't say that for certain, there may be some custom applications in which it will work, but for the everyday user, it will not).
The idea for the RCA to 3.5mm adapter/cable is probably the best option (providing the TV is equipped with RCA connections) unless you will have a receiver to plug in to.

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headphones to tv
by weaver15ny / March 10, 2013 10:23 AM PDT

A year has passed since this advice appeared. Didn't need it then but I do now. Hope someone is still around to help.
I know some about computers...nothing about tvs and the new one i just bought raises the question asked a year ago. But I need, if possible, a more specific answer for my specific devices.
I just bought Vizio E420-A1 which has an analog output 3.5mm. The headphones I have now have RCA jacks... i.e. red and white plugs which I was able to plug directly into the analog audio outputs in the old TV. This Vizio has only that 3.5mm. I am expecting to buy Sennheiser rs120 headphones which I believe have RCA plugs too.
Would someone be able to check these two products and tell me which specific cable(s) I would need to plug the Senn into the Vizio without turning off the tv speakers. and

I really need to know and cannot find anyone who can give me the specific answer related to these specific products. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Those should be fine together, but I have ....
by Pepe7 / March 10, 2013 3:41 PM PDT
In reply to: headphones to tv question for you. What do you mean precisely when you state '....without turning off the TV speakers'(?)

The Sennheiser kit includes the 3.5mm connector/cable so you can plug it into the headphone jack on the side of the Vizio HDTV.

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Thanks again, Pepe7
by weaver15ny / March 10, 2013 4:32 PM PDT

I just submitted a reply to you but not to your reply above. I just reread this one and realize that i missed something before. I notice now (my bad) that you say that the Senn rs120 has a 3.5mm connector/cable. If that works, there is no doubt that I will buy that headphone. But I read somewhere (I really have been searching) that there is a difference between an analog audio out named Headphone Jack and one named just Analog Audio Out 3.5mm. Maybe I should write or call Sennheiser instead of Vizio. Thanks for answering... if you have any other ideas they'll be always welcome.

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Headphones to TV without and RCA out port
by birdy1928 / March 21, 2013 6:33 AM PDT
In reply to: headphones to tv

The Samsung 43 inch plasma TV has no RCA audio outputs to plug my headphones into.

I just bought every possible connector, cable, converter and toslink Amazon has to offer to solve the problem. Nothing worked.

Turning the Directv mothership cable box around (there's something called a "Genie" sitting on top whose purpose is emitting a nice blue light plus some other unknown purpose...) I found enough RCA jacks to plug anything into. My wireless Radio Shack phones are now working fine thanks to the dock's RCA plugs.

I can turn the TV audio down to a whisper and still have plenty of sound in the headphones with their own volume control. That solves the problem of sending an undesirable sound volume into the area behind the TV which sits on a room divider cabinet.

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Optical Audio out and headphones
by TVHeadphone / September 15, 2013 11:23 AM PDT

I recently bought Samsung Smart TV and wanted to connect wireless headphone Sennheiser RS 120 ( The challenge was my TV only has an "Optical Audio out" and headphones connects to RCA jacks (red and white outputs). To bridge this gap I bought Digital Optical Coax Coaxial Toslink to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter ( It now works fine but I am facing two problems.

1.Too much of wires: Power adaptor and cable of Toslink to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter, Power adaptor and cable of Head phone. Is there a way to get rid of the Power adaptor and cable of Toslink Adapter?
Can I use "Mini Optical Female to Toslink M Digital Audio Adapter" in place of 'Toslink to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter'?

2.The head phone work fine with other channels but don't work for ABC News24 Channel? Don't know why.

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Simple solution
by ronniebad / November 3, 2012 11:50 AM PDT

newer TVs attach via HDMI cable to high def cable box. This usually leaves at least one right and left RCA audio output available on the cable box. Plug your headphone into the cable box via RCA jacks and mute your speakers. Control the volume from your headphones.

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This will be trial and error
by Pepe7 / November 4, 2012 9:47 AM PST
In reply to: Simple solution

Some cable boxes may not allow this. Sometimes you have to specify the type of output you are using, then the other one may not still be active. YMMV.

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headphones and tv
by weaver15ny / March 10, 2013 1:44 PM PDT
In reply to: Simple solution

But I don't want to mute the tv speakers unless i am watching tv alone. I need the headphones but the others who are in the room only need the tv speakers. The very long letter titled "The best advice you'll ever receive! And the cheapest too! by Refractor_999 - 3/30/12 7:09 PM " way at the beginning of this thread says something about a jack that can be bought for a dollar or so. Could I be needing that? and if so, how do i use it.
I'm a reasonably-computer-savvy old lady who knows nothing about TVs. And the thing that should have been simple, isn't. My old TV was no problem except except that I wanted a much bigger one with interesting features.. I think I need a tv-dictionary. Thanks loads. I appreciate your responses.

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Now I understand your comment above
by Pepe7 / March 10, 2013 3:53 PM PDT
In reply to: headphones and tv

I am not 100% certain you can simultaneously listen to headphones & the internal speakers on this model. Even calling Vizio support might not net you the accurate answer. It's going to be trial and error unfortunately, unless someone else has the same model and can verify it works.

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Headphones and TV
by birdy1928 / March 21, 2013 1:22 PM PDT

Weaver and Pepe:

With the headphones plugged into the cable box, one can regulate the volume even when the TV's sound is muted. I guess that should work for ALL satellite box-connected models.

Thus one can listen through the headphones only, the TV speakers only, or to both if there are others watching who do not need headphones. The best of all worlds!

It may work differently when a TV comes with RCA audio out ports.

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Thank you, birdy
by weaver15ny / March 21, 2013 4:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Headphones and TV

Excellent! Thank you! I was going to try plugging into the STB but my old faithful headphones Died...decided they just didn't want to do that so they gave up the ghost moments before I could do it. But your reply tells me it will work and it sure does deserve a try with new headphones and the tv i am going to order as soon as it's released. Vizio E390i-A1. Wouldn't it be sumthin' if the STB turned out not to be necessary? But you and Pepe helped me and lots of others I know have the same problem. Thanks again.

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Headphones to TV without RCA jacks
by birdy1928 / March 22, 2013 3:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank you, birdy

My pleasure, weaver15ny.

My Directv satellite receiver box is the newest model and even comes with what they call Genie boxes to insure better reception on additional TVs elsewhere in the home. If your headphones worked on an old CRT TV before, they'll work when plugged into the proper RCA jacks in back of the box.

We're now enjoying the system both with and without the headphones. Just pressing the TV remote's mute button will kill the TV's sound without affecting the volume control on the wireless headset. There's no need to venture into the menu of the TV to change settings to an external speaker. Make sure that the batteries in the controlling headset are being charged at all times. Even though the dock is plugged into an AC outlet, if the push button on the headset is not turned off when being replaced on the dock, it'll wear down the charge.

Since this seems to be an old threat, I DO hope that others benefit from this simple solution. I am not an audio engineer, just an old young man with bad hearing from artillery fire in WW.II.

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Ready for the next step, birdy
by weaver15ny / March 22, 2013 7:27 AM PDT

The TV I'm replacing isn't an old CRT... it's an old HDTV. Still working very well but I want a bigger screen and a couple, not too many, bells and whistles. The headphones are Sharper Image's best... cheap and very serviceable until they died without responding to treatment or battery replacement. The tv I am waiting for has 3.5mm outputs not RCA but now that I know that the STB can be used for headphones, it really doesn't present a problem anymore.
I hardly know what I'm doing but now everything is a new learning project for me... a young old lady with hearing problems and not terrific eyesight.

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Headphones to TV
by birdy1928 / March 22, 2013 10:46 AM PDT

Young Lady: Kudos for your courage!

My still serviceable headphones are Radio Shack. The flat screens I bought were my first and thus I thought that they couldn't possibly be less user friendly than my old Sony and JVC. I was wrong because none of my old equipment can be connected without wire tangles, converters and something called "toslink" (don't ask...). Despite purchasing all those extras, proudly made in and imported from the sweat shops in China, none of my external speakers is working no matter what make or original purpose.

Being able to use the headphones, however, obviates the need of extra speakers.

At least there is a pair of RCA-in jacks for a DVD player to view the DVDs I make as a hobby with my camcorder.

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it works!
by baratiner / June 1, 2013 1:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Simple solution

i connected the rca red and white connectors mentioned above by refracter999,and available from amazon to the back of my digital cable box. I then connected an fm transmitter to the rca connecter, turned down the tv sound and listened to the tv sound on my fm radio station. you set your fm transmitter to any non occupied fm frequency, and then tune your radio to that frequency. i got the fm transmitter from cc.crane. thanks ronniebad

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A good headphone for old man
by khadkashivaram / March 11, 2013 4:22 PM PDT

Your problem is very difficult but there are many possibilities for your father to make him listen TV's sound. Every TV has output AV panels. You can use woofer for loud sound if possible, or if it is not possible you can use short distance wireless FM microphone in stead of distance sound. But you need a mini fm radio or wireless fm sound cathcher too. The wireless microphone can be made mini fm transmeter if you connect TV's speaker to wireless micro phones speakers with similarly connect each other. If you do this, your father can listen tv's sound clearly with stereo FM quality without disturb to others. I think you will do this.

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