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How to connect your headphones to your HDTV

So, you are trying to figure out how to connect headphones to the TV, but to your surprise there is no headphone jack on your flat screen. It seems that the manufacturers have forgotten to include this feature on most on the new TV’s; but there might be a way around it. Look at the below outlined methods and see if one works for you.

  • Method #1 - RCA audio out ports
  • Method #2 - Toslink/optical or digital coax audio out ports
  • Method #3 - HDMI audio connection
  • Method #4 - composite or component audio connection

Method #1 (via RCA out)
RCA stereo audio out port on TV
Most older HDTV’s and even some newer ones still have RCA audio-out capability. RCA audio are two circles where one is red (right channel audio) and other one is white (left channel audio). See picture to identify the port. Make sure the port is isolated in the box with audio-out (or line-out) tag, just like in the picture. If you have it continue, otherwise try other methods.
You have it, Great! Next you will need to obtain a RCA audio to 3.5mm female cable which will help you plug your headphones to the TV’s audio ports.
Keep in mind that the cable listed above is only 6 inches long and will most likely not be sufficient to reach you all the way to wherever you are sitting. You will need to buy a 3.5mm stereo extension cable in the length that suits you. These cables can be found in lengths of 1.5feet, 3feet, 6feet, 12feet, 25feet and even 50feet. Choose the size that best fits you.
When using this method you will most likely need to tell your TV to use external speakers. Navigate to TV's menu and locate sound/audio setting. Under that submenu you should find an option to turn external or internal speakers on or off. The wording will vary from model to model. Once you do so all the sound that should come out of your TV's speakers will be channeled to the RCA audio-out ports. The down side is that if you want to use TV's speakers again, you will have to go to audio/sound menu again and turn external speakers off.

Method #2 (via toslink/optical or digital coax out)
toslink optical audio out port on TV digital coaxial port audio out port on TV
Most newer HDTV’s and even some older ones have toslink/optical and/or digital coax audio-out capability. See picture to identify the port(s). Make sure the port is isolated in the box with audio-out (or line-out) tag, just like in the picture. If you have it continue, otherwise try other methods.
You have it, Great! Next you will need to obtain a digital to analog converter which will help you convert the toslink/optical or digital coax audio, to a form that yor headphones underestand. There are cheaper versions of this converter, but make sure you get powered ones so you have no audio problems. Battery operated ones, will not last very long.
Don't forget to get a toslink/optical cable to connect your TV to your converter. Shorter the cable the better. Do not get a cable that goes all the way to your couch, as they are more expensive that 3.5mm extension cables. A short cable to reach the converter will do just fine, as I would recommend that you mount in on the back of the TV or in its vicinity.
Keep in mind that the cable listed above is short and will most likely not be sufficient to reach you all the way to wherever you are sitting. You will need to buy a 3.5mm stereo extension cable in the length that suits you. These cables can be found in lengths of 1.5feet, 3feet, 6feet, 12feet, 25feet and even 50feet. Choose the size that best fits you.
When using this method you will most likely need to tell your TV to use external speakers. Navigate to TV's menu and locate sound/audio setting. Under that submenu you should find an option to turn external or internal speakers on or off. The wording will vary from model to model. Once you do so all the sound that should come out of your TV's speakers will be channeled to the toslink/optical and/or digital coax audio-out ports. The down side is that if you want to use TV's speakers again, you will have to go to audio/sound menu again and turn external speakers off.

Method #3 (via HDMI audio extractor)
RCA stereo audio out port on TV
If you are getting your audio and video from HDMI connection, there is a way you can "extract" your audio signal that is carried on your HDMI cable and send it to headphones instead. It costs a bit more, but it will work.
You can get something called and HDMI audio extractor. This device will extract the sound from HDMI connection and present it as RCA out (somewhat like method 1) or SPDIF. For the tech nerds out ther, do not worry this device supports Ultra HD / 4K, 4096x2160@24fps or 3820x2160@30fps and HDMI v1.4; HDCP Pass Through; Support 1080P + 3D.
And just like in method 1, next you will need to obtain a RCA audio to 3.5mm female cable which will help you plug your headphones to the TV’s audio ports.
Keep in mind that the cable listed above is only 6 inches long and will most likely not be sufficient to reach you all the way to wherever you are sitting. You will need to buy a 3.5mm stereo extension cable in the length that suits you. These cables can be found in lengths of 1.5feet, 3feet, 6feet, 12feet, 25feet and even 50feet. Choose the size that best fits you.
Don't forget that this method needs two HDMI cables. One to run from video device to extractor and another one to run from extractor to TV. Unless you have an extra HDMI cable in the house, you will need to get another one. A short 3 foot cable should probably do the trick.

Method #4 (via RCA audio splitter)
component vs composite
If you are getting your audio through either component or composite audio cables, this method is for you. Both component (red, green, blue video cables with white and red audio cable) and composite (yellow video with white and red audio cable) connections run audio through RCA cables (white and red cable). All you will need to do is attach a splitter to the white and red audio cables and connect headphones to them. If you have the component (red, green, blue video cables with white and red audio cable) connection, make sure that you split the correct cables, as you will note that there are two red cables.
RCA splitter
In either case you will need just one RCA splitter for each audio cable and connect them up either on your video device or your TV. It does not really matter, whichever is more convenient for you.
RCA stereo to 3.5mm female cable
And just like in method 1, next you will need to obtain a RCA audio to 3.5mm female cable which will help you plug your headphones to the TV’s audio ports.
3.5 mm stereo male to female extension cable
Keep in mind that the splitter and converter cables listed above are only 6.5 feet in longth combined and may not be sufficient to reach you all the way to wherever you are sitting. You will need to buy a 3.5mm stereo extension cable in the length that suits you. These cables can be found in lengths of 1.5feet, 3feet, 6feet, 12feet, 25feet and even 50feet. Choose the size that best fits you.

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