Q: I would like two wireless headphones for me and my husband to use with two televisions, an Insignia and an LG. The LG has an optical port connected to a ZVOX soundbar, with no other open audio connection. The Insignia TV has an open coaxial digital port and a headphone connection. Can it be done, connecting two headphones to each TV?
From what I know, Bluetooth headphones can connect to only one device at a time. I would like to stay in the $400-$600 range for everything.
A: It can be done, but not with Bluetooth. What you need is a wireless headphone solution that communicates via radio frequencies, called RF wireless headphones.
We will start with the LG TV. The only audio port is the optical port connected to the ZVOX soundbar. So the first thing we need to do is get a signal to the wireless headphones as well as to the soundbar. This can be accomplished with a splitter. It will take one optical digital output and make it two. One output will go to the ZVOX, the other to the headphones. Check out the MOTONG 1-in-2-out optical splitter, which is $10 on Amazon.
You now have two optical connections, one for the ZVOX and one for the headphones. I suggest the Sennheiser RS175 RF Wireless headphones, which sell for $279 or less. They have a transmitter cradle with an optical input. They also charge the headphones when they are not being used. Up to four sets of headphones can be connected to the transmitter. The additional headphones don't need another transmitter. They are model HDR175 and sell for $150 each.
In your case, however, you will need to buy a second transmitter base for the Insignia TV. Just buy two RS175 systems, and you can use both headphones with each transmitter. You can use the Insignia TV's headphone output with the transmitter base, so you don't need a splitter for that one.
This setup offers a no-compromise solution for the best sound as well as simplicity in setup and operation. All you have to do is plug them into the outputs on the TV and they are ready to go.
It is possible to get a wireless solution for a lot less money. The Sennheiser RS120 wireless headphones are only $68 for the headphones and charging/transmitter dock. However, it only has inputs for a conventional headphone cord and red-white RCA analog inputs.
Using this with the Insignia would be very easy. Just connect the dock to the headphone output and you are all set. Using it with the LG would be a bit more complicated. First, you need the optical splitter, then you need a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which costs around $25. The DAC will require a power connection. Connect the splitter to the TV, then the DAC to the splitter, then the DAC to the headphone base. Buying two of the systems, the DAC and the splitter will cost a little over $200. Extra headphones are the model HDR120, and they are $79 each. They appear to be higher grade than those included with the $69 basic transmitter/headphone kit.
Please note that some wireless headphones (like the RS120) create strong magnetic fields and have a product advisory warning for those with pacemakers and implanted defibrillators. If this is you, please read all the warnings before buying or using any wireless headphone system.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.