Use Headphones with Apple TV

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How to Use Headphones with Apple TV

FM Audio Transmitter

Do you have an old Walkman with a radio receiver? If so, you can purchase an inexpensive FM audio transmitter. I have seen these at the drug store for less than $10. Simply connect the transmitter to the audio output or headphone jack on your TV or stereo. Tune in to the FM radio frequency on your Walkman to listen to your Apple TV. These are commonly used in gyms so that patrons can watch and listen to TV.

This is a much cheaper solution than buying Bluetooth or wireless headphones, even if you don’t already own a Walkman. You can buy an inexpensive portable radio with a headphone jack. You can get the portable radio and FM audio transmitter both for less than $20, if you shop around.

Convert Optical Out to Headphone Jack

Some flat screen TVs don’t have a headphone jack. This is rare, but not uncommon with some inexpensive models. The headphone jack may be in an inconvenient location. Mounting your TV on the wall may make the headphone jack inaccessible on some TVs.

Apple TV doesn’t have a headphone jack. It doesn’t even have a standard line out. Audio is transmitted either through HDMI or the digital optical audio out. Fortunately, you can convert the digital audio output to analog, and connect headphones directly to Apple TV. There are a variety of inexpensive digital-to-analog (DAC) converters on the market. Just make sure it has a headphone jack. Unfortunately, no one seems to manufacture digital headphones the connect directly to the Toslink jack on Apple TV.

Your Apple TV is likely stashed in an entertainment center, which could make it hard to use with headphones. Simply connect the DAC to an FM audio transmitter or wireless headphone transmitter. I recommend this solution only if your TV doesn’t have an accessible headphone jack or line out. Apple TV doesn’t have a headphone jack because they assume your TV or stereo will have one.

Use Mac as Airplay Audio Receiver

Apple TV has the capability to beam audio to any AirPlay compatible receiver that is on your WiFi network. This includes a Mac. If you have a MacBook, you can position it nearby and use wired or Bluetooth headphones to listen to Apple TV. You will need to download and install some third-party software to turn your Mac into an AirPlay receiver. iTunes can only transmit AirPlay, not receive it.

There are a variety of Mac OS X applications that can serve as an AirPlay receiver. AirServer is a popular application capable of acting as a AirPlay receiver. AirServer also runs on Microsoft Windows. They offer a 7 day free trial, so there’s nothing to lose.

Once you have AirServer installed and running, you can redirect the audio from Apple TV to the AirServer target. Press and hold the center select button on your Apple TV remote while a video is playing. You will see a menu with options for the video — Subtitles, Audio and Speakers. Press the up button (top button on the ring) until the top row of options is accessible. Next, select Speakers. From here, you can set which targets receive audio. Simply uncheck Apple TV and check AirServer, and the audio will stream to your Mac or PC. Then you can plug headphones into your Mac or PC. You can also adjust speaker settings by navigating to Settings > AirPlay on your Apple TV. (continue…)

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2 comments

  1. The latest Apple TVs don’t even have an audio out port. You’re stuck with HDMI, and that’s it. That’s what Apple has become – less is more! (Sounds a lot like 1984 to me.) I’ve pretty much given up on the latest Apple products. High prices with less features. Storage that cannot be upgraded (or even repaired). Weird, problematic keyboards. Notches on every screen. Dongles everywhere. UGH!

    “Planned Obsolescence”, thy name is Apple.

    1. I sometimes use Bluetooth on Apple TV to connect to my stereo. But yes, they did remove the optical audio port, which is a shame. That’s a direct digital output. I never used it on my Apple TV, but my old Mac Pro had one, and I connected it to digital studio monitors. To be honest, I couldn’t tell a difference in sound. But, then again, I was one of those people who saw Nirvana when they were an opening band. Perhaps my hearing isn’t in the best shape.

      I think Apple places too much emphasis on the iPhone, and other products suffer. I recently bought a Series 7 Apple Watch, only because it was really inexpensive and I intend to write articles about it. It’s not very good. It’s kind of quirky and some of the default settings will ruin the battery’s lifespan. By default, it will trigger Siri three different ways. I thought I was losing my mind last night. Every time I lifted my arm and talked, Siri was transcribing what I said. Then I looked at Siri settings — three ways to invoke Siri? That’s absurd.

      Absurd is the word. I think Apple’s reality distortion field has finally brainwashed their employees. That Dynamic Island jazz is really going to far. They put some graphics and animations on a phone screen? In 2022? Wow!

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