Although headphones are traditionally associated with music, as the world of movies has progressed from silent film to intense cinematic sounds, audio technology has improved with it. We have compiled a list of the best headphones for movies and watching TV, that can upgrade your audio experience from standard built-in speakers to high-quality sound.
If you are looking for the best surround sound headphones to complete your home cinema set up then read on. We are going to explain why you should choose headphones to maximize your movie’s impact and tips on what you should look for to find the best set for you.
Why Use Headphones For Watching Movies?
One of the reasons people love going to the cinema is for the completely immersive experience that surround-sound creates. Why just listen to a film, when instead you can feel like you have stepped through the screen, and it is happening around you! So it is no surprise many of us like to replicate this experience at home.
This may have your mind jumping to thoughts of complex speaker systems and amplifiers, trailing cables all-around your home. Whether that thought sounds appealing to you or not, a quality pair of surround sound headphones can give you some of the best depth of audio in a much smaller package.
Whether you are trying to block out distractive sounds around your home or during a busy flight, or you have a midnight movie marathon planned and you don’t want to disrupt your neighbors. Finding the best pair of headphones for watching movies is not only a practical solution to a modern-day problem, but it allows you to hear every detail with impressive clarity.
Surround Sound – Headphones VS Speakers?
If you aren’t an audiophile, when hearing the term surround sound your mind may jump to a complicated and often expensive set up of various speakers and boom boxes. All positioned to literally surround you with sound from different angles within the room, creating a much more realistic soundstage.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a soundstage is the ability to create a 3D sound image, allowing the brain to perceive the spaciousness of a sound. For example, when watching a movie you can hear the source and location of where a sound is coming from without relying upon the picture, creating a much more realistic experience.
Headphones use a variety of techniques to provide a soundstage that has the ability to recreate a traditional physical surround sound set-up but in a more compact design. The most common is the use of complex algorithms to process the sound and create a virtual soundstage, making it seem as if the sound you are hearing is coming from more than just two speakers.
Virtual surround sound attempts to mimic the natural discrepancies between what our left and right ears hear that enable us to sense the direction a sound is coming from. Another method that some headphones use to achieve this is “True” surround sound.
A headphone with a True surround sound will house several mini speakers, complete with a subwoofer within each earpiece. This often leads to a bulkier design but allows for audio to be played through specific speakers at specific times, physically replicating those natural discrepancies to create an ultra-realistic listening experience.
What is Latency and why does it matter?
Have you ever been watching a film or your favorite series and noticed that the audio isn’t quite matching up to the picture? When the words the characters are speaking just do not match up with their moving lips it can become incredibly frustrating to watch. This is known in the audio world as latency and to put it simply, the word latency just means “delay”.
The brain won’t notice audio delays of 3 – 10 milliseconds, but more than this and it will begin to impact your viewing and listening experience. The best headphones for watching TV or home theatre use are low latency, allowing for the best possible synchronicity of sound and picture. To avoid latency, look for a strong connection. The faster the signal can be transmitted from your device to your headphones, the less chance of experiencing latency issues.
Wired vs Wireless Headphones For Movies
One way in which headphones have evolved over time is the way in which they can connect to your device. A wired connection is no longer your only option, with the advancement in Bluetooth wireless technology. However, new doesn’t always mean better. Both options offer their own pros and cons, that may impact what works best for you.
Wired headphones offer a more stable connection than wireless, meaning they have less chance of latency ruining your viewing and listening experience. However, wires can be incredibly impractical if you are watching on a TV set across the room from you.
Wireless Bluetooth headphones give you more freedom of movement, with no cables to restrict where you sit, watch and listen. Wireless headphones are more prone to latency issues, and they will also require charging. However, with Bluetooth 5.0 technology now available and larger battery life on offer, wireless headphones are much more dependable for movie watching than ever before.
Earbuds For Watching Movies
Over-ear headphones are much larger than in-ear earbuds, which allows for a larger sound driver to be built-in. A bigger sound driver will create a much larger sound space, which is important if you want to recreate cinema-style virtual surround sound at home.
However, modern age earbuds come equipped with a wide range of audio technology that will still provide quality sound with excellent clarity. Earbuds that come with active noise cancellation are particularly good for watching movies. By blocking out background noise you can immerse yourself in your film, and if over-ear headphones are uncomfortable for you then earbuds are a great alternative.
It is important to note that cost can represent quality when purchasing both earbuds and headphones. Therefore, you may find a more expensive pair of earbuds that can deliver better quality sound with less wireless latency than a budget pair of over-ear headphones. Ensure whichever product you choose has the capabilities you are looking for to achieve the best audio experience.
Review of the Best Headphones For Movies
So you have decided to see which headphones are best for movies? Fantastic! We understand that trailing through hundreds of products and specifications can not only be daunting but tiring. Thankfully we have taken that hard work out of the equation for you and have put together a list of the best headphones for watching movies and TV – read on to see what we recommend!
Sennheiser RS 175 RF Wireless – best overall
Without a doubt, Sennheiser is one of the best brands in the audio market. If you are looking to buy from a trusted name, the Sennheiser RS 175 RF wireless headphone system is a fantastic addition to any home cinema setup. With its 330ft wireless range, you can sit back comfortably in your seat without cables confining you to one spot.
Thanks to its multi-purpose transmitter stand, you and a friend can listen together, as an additional headset can be supported at the same time. The stand also doubles as a charging dock, neatly storing your headphones when not in use and ensuring the battery is full again for next time. Be mindful that the initial charging time has been reported as quite lengthy, so plan for this before first use, and ensure your headphones are positioned correctly on the stand to avoid disconnecting.
Although these headphones can be used as wireless for up to 18 hours, the audio cables included allowing you to decide whether you want an analog or digital experience. The transmitter provides a strong connection, but if you want to reduce your chances of latency or preserve battery life you can switch up your connection to suit your needs.
Finally, let’s talk about the sound that Sennheiser is famous for. The RS 175 offers surround-sound listening as well as bass boosting modes to give you fantastic levels and range of sound. The closed ear cups effectively reduce background noise and the ergonomic fit allow you to comfortably enjoy the cinematic sounds for hours on end.
- 330ft Wireless Range
- 18 Hours Battery Life
- Multi-Purpose Transmitter Stand
- Surround-sound listening mode
- Bass Booster
- Closed, noise-reducing ear cups
- Long initial charge time
- Charging dock can be sensitive
If you are searching for the best acoustical performance, to really deliver a depth of space to your audio when watching a movie, check out the Philips Fidelio Z2HR headphones. The open-backed design not only creates a wider sound space but also helps to reduce air pressure build-up behind the drivers delivering a smoother sound. Keep in mind that an open back will increase sound leakage, potentially disturbing those around you.
The 50mm high definition neodymium drivers ensure you hear defined bass, treble and high frequencies without distortion. A fifteen-degree tilt of these powerful drivers ensures the sound is precisely directed into your ears, and the headphone’s double-layered ear shells reduce vibrations that could compromise the quality of your sound, so you can enjoy clarity during every scene.
Unfortunately, these headphones do not come with the option of wireless use, but the 3.5mm connection will reduce latency issues more prevalent in Bluetooth headsets. This headset does not depend on battery life like Bluetooth headsets do so you can enjoy watching your favorite movies with no interruption, as long as they do not become too heavy.
- High-Resolution Sound
- Wide frequency range
- Open-backed for heightened acoustics
- 50 mm high definition neodymium drivers
- Layered ear shells reduce vibration
- Tilted drivers
- Increased sound leakage due to the open-back design
- Can become heavy over time
- Cannot be used wirelessly
JLab Audio Epic Air ANC True Wireless Earbuds – best budget
Headphones aren’t to everyone’s taste, whether for comfort, practicality, or portability. However, with the improvements in audio technology earbuds can now offer some of the best sounds for watching movies in a more compact form. The JLab Audio Epic earbuds are both small and lightweight, making them great for listening to films while traveling. Although for those of you with small ear canals, you may find the in-ear design more of a discomfort.
With Bluetooth 5.0 and the Epic’s low latency movie mode, you can be assured a strong, fast connection with perfect synchronization of sound and picture for a pleasurable viewing experience. This great budget option may not have as wide a range of sound as over-ear headphones but still, give good quality, seamless audio.
Earbuds are great at reducing noise leakage so if you want to relax knowing you are not disturbing anyone around you they are a brilliant design. The Epic earbuds also feature active noise cancellation, so you can ensure that nothing disturbs you either, eliminating background noise so you can fully tune in to whatever you watch.
- Small and Lightweight
- Low Latency Movie Mode
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Low noise leakage
- Good budget option
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Can feel uncomfortable for small ear canals
- Sound Quality Lower than Over-ear Headphones
A higher-end earbud option for watching movies are the Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling earbuds. Bose manages to deliver their acclaimed sound into a smaller in-ear design. Although the smaller drivers do take away from the strength of the bass, the audio is still crisp and clear so you never miss a moment of what they are saying on screen.
11 levels of noise cancellation
With an impressive 11 levels of noise cancellation, you can tailor the level of background noise you let in. If you like to watch your favorite series during your commute, but need to stay aware of your surroundings, the noise reduction personalization of the QuietComfort makes sure you never miss your stop.
Although potentially uncomfortable over time for smaller ear canals, the soft silicone material provides a well-fitted and secure feel for most wearers. And with 6 hours of battery life, plus an additional 12 in the charging case, these Bluetooth 5.1 wireless earbuds will allow for hours of audio entertainment, perfectly synchronized to your device’s display.
- 11 levels of noise cancellation
- Bluetooth 5.1 Technology
- Soft silicone material for a comfortable fit
- 6 hours battery life with 12 additional hours in the charging case
- Acclaimed Bose Sound delivers clear and crisp audio
- Bass not as strong as over-ear headphones
- Can feel uncomfortable for small ear canals
If you really want to bring the theatre into your home, then the Sony L600 Surround Sound Headphones offer one of the best audio experiences for watching movies at home. Developed with assistance from Sony Pictures, the L600s come equipped with a Theatre Mode to truly encapsulate cinematic sound. This impressive technology creates a virtual sound field to deliver a wide depth of sound matching that of major motion pictures.
Providing 17 hours of battery life, you can get lost in the immersive Dolby Audio 7.1ch3 surround sound for as long as you find it comfortable. Some buyers have reported a heaviness over long periods of wear, however, overall most agree that for such a powerful set of headphones they are incredibly stylish and lightweight.
Not only has Sony developed a sound mode to perfectly complement your choice of movie, but they also offer a range of other tailored sound settings.
If you enjoy transporting yourself into whatever game you are playing, the L600s game mode was made with PlayStation creators to pump up the action. As well as Sport and Voice modes so that you enjoy every match and never miss a line.
When you are done appreciating the clear bass delivered by the 40mm drivers, and perfectly synced audio and picture, simply pop your headset on the charging stand. With the ability to connect inputs for various devices, it is not only functional but practical for safe storage.
- Sony pictures developed Theatre Mode
- 17 hours battery life
- Dolby Audio 7.1ch3 surround sound
- Charging stand with multiple connectivity inputs for various devices
- 40mm drivers for clear bass
- No active noise cancellation
- Can become heavy
Although great for listening to all types of media, the MEE Audio Matrix Cinema Headphones are the perfect partner for any home cinema setup. Using the CinemaEAR audio enhancement you can easily switch between 4 sound modes. Either boost vocals to deliver clear dialogue or enhance the bass to create intense impact when watching your favorite movies.
Built with Qualcomm AptX low latency technology, audio from simple dialogue to lively music, is delivered without delay so you can enjoy seamlessly lifelike sound and picture. Although not equipped with active noise cancellation, the high-resolution 40mm drivers deliver a great range of sound within the closed ear-cup design, passively blocking out distracting background noise.
Delivered with an in-flight cable, the Matrix headphones are great for traveling. With 30 hours’ worth of battery life, you get to enjoy over a day worth of entertainment without the need to charge. Although reportedly less durable than higher-end brands, if looked after using the protective carry case, you can enjoy the comfortably soft memory foam of these headphones both at home or on the go.
An added bonus of these compact, foldaway wireless headphones, is the great call function with a built-in microphone. Quickly switch between watching a film to chatting with a friend while remaining hands-free when linked to your phone or tablet.
- CinemaEAR audio enhancement with 4 adjustable settings
- Qualcomm AptX Low Latency Technology
- High-resolution 40mm drivers
- In-Flight Cable Included
- Up to 30 Hours Battery Life
- Reportedly not as durable as other brands
- No active noise cancellation
How Best To Use Wireless Headphones With Your TV
While not all of the wireless headphone options on our list come equipped with their own transmitter, there are a few simple ways to pair up our other choices so you do not miss out on the best home movie experience.
If you own a smart tv that comes equipped with Bluetooth capabilities, then you should be able to connect quite simply through the device settings. Once paired, many headphones will automatically sync to your device again when turned on, allowing for quick and easy use.
If your TV is not equipped with Bluetooth don’t worry, you can purchase a wireless transmitter to plug into your device. Bring your older devices into the wireless world, here are a few of our recommendations to ensure your connection is seamless.
This adapter will let you pair two devices to your TV at once, so you can watch wirelessly with a friend. Enjoy perfect synchronicity with the AptX low latency technology, the Audiokast Plus transmitter reduces Bluetooth delay and offers a huge range of up to 100ft between your headphones and device.
Another adapter offering dual connection, the Elegiant Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter also offers a strong connection but with a smaller range of 65ft. Able to support both HD and Low Latency compatible devices, your sound is delivered smoothly in time with whatever you are viewing.
If you want high fidelity sound, the TaoTonics adapter offers a stable connection and also supports low latency. Pair two devices at once, and listen undisrupted with its stream and charge capabilities. The high-definition codec allows the transmission of a deep rich sound from your TV to your headphones.
To Wrap Up
If you want to achieve great surround sound in your own home theatre, it has never been easier to get that cinematic experience from a pair of headphones. This list showcases some of the best headphones for watching movies and TV shows, so you can enjoy hours of undisrupted high-quality audio, perfectly matched to the picture on your screen.