Home » How the Apple TV and AirPods Max solved my TV headphone woes

How the Apple TV and AirPods Max solved my TV headphone woes

What started with an previous pair of Bluetooth headphones to look at late-night TV motion pictures grew to become an all-consuming quest to get great-sounding wi-fi audio and a dependable connection from my tv. It actually shouldn’t have been difficult, nevertheless it turned out to be far tougher than I may have ever imagined. And I’ve spent months and months — and a complete lot of cash — fixing the issue.

This is how I did it.

How it began

Toward the tip of 2021, I started watching TV late into the evening, and I didn’t need to be “that neighbor” when doing it. So I grabbed a pair of Bluetooth headphones and related them to my TV. I didn’t suppose a lot of it on the time. It’s a modestly sized room so I didn’t count on vary to be a problem. It’s a contemporary tv, and the headphones sound superb related to my telephone. I believed it was downside solved proper then and there.

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The headphones I used have been the Marshall Monitor II, and I related them to my 2017 Sony KD-49XE9005 tv, which runs Android TV and has Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP. The pairing was wonderful for a short time, however issues began to creep in. The Bluetooth vary wasn’t nice, and it typically obtained confused if I went into the following room. While the connection was steady, it could endure from latency points and would additionally take round 60 seconds to cease stuttering after the beginning of a program.

Far worse was the audio efficiency. It was muddy and missing definition, quantity, and physique, robbing motion pictures of presence and pleasure. It was a substandard expertise in comparison with even an peculiar soundbar. On Black Friday (by no means time to be “fixing” issues), I ordered a pair of Sony CH-710 Bluetooth headphones as an experiment, and though the latency and stuttering points disappeared, the sound was simply as disappointing.

Both the headphones sounded much better taking part in music when related to my iPhone 13 Pro although. Undeterred, I threw some more cash on the downside, selecting Sony’s WH-1000MX4 headphones. Comfort improved immensely, latency wasn’t a problem, and the noise cancellation is superb, too. But on the similar time, the efficiency was nonetheless uninspiring, but they sound stellar related to my telephone.

It was starting to get annoying, however I used to be in no temper to declare defeat. I went in a distinct route subsequent, making an attempt out the Master & Dynamic MG20 gaming headphones. These use a dongle to connect with the TV quite than Bluetooth, reducing latency and offering a 7.1 audio connection too. They sound nice with my PlayStation 4, and positive sufficient, they’re good with the TV, too. However, as the amount management on the TV distant now not works, you need to use the one on the headset, and it doesn’t have the identical tightness of management. It’s both a bit too loud, or a bit too quiet. Plus, there’s no noise cancellation, and I discovered they weren’t fairly as snug because the Sony headphones.

The TV stays

I hate not fixing an issue, and this was now changing into very irritating. I used to be 4 units of headphones in at this level, and though wi-fi audio listening was first rate, it nonetheless wasn’t pretty much as good accurately, and every thing simply felt like a compromise. The WH-1000XM4 got here closest to what I wished, however the sound wasn’t all the time as full because the MG20’s, which have been in flip let down by not having noise cancellation and being much less snug.

Master & Dynamic MG20 headphone cup and logo.
Master & Dynamic MG20 headphones. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Was this actually it? Was I destined to be perpetually dissatisfied by wi-fi audio from my tv, regardless of the WH-1000XM4’s sounding sensible related to my telephone, and the Master & Dynamic MG20’s working very nicely with my PlayStation?

I did what most others would do and searched the web for an answer. I discovered many lists telling me to get a large number of totally different headphones, all of which have been apparently “finest for tv.” Some prompt I ought to use a pair that include a separate RF or IR transmitter, however the battery life was normally far shorter than a Bluetooth set, none had noise cancellation, they usually have been for TV solely quite than additionally with the ability to hook up with my telephone or pill if I wished the choice.

The web actually simply led me to the purpose the place I used to be on the time. The Sony WH-1000XM4 topped a number of lists, and whereas I agree that they’re good, I refused to imagine what I used to be experiencing from my TV was the most effective. Did this imply my downside was a television-related one? Splurging on a pair of headphones each few months was already frivolous, however not practically as financially crushing as shopping for a brand new tv, particularly as there’s nothing in any other case flawed with the one I’ve obtained. And what if it didn’t make any distinction, or was someway even worse? Where would it not finish? A home stuffed with televisions and headphones? Who am I, Caleb Denison?

I point out Digital Trends’ audio and TV professional for a motive, as a result of it was an article of his that set me on the trail to wi-fi audio success.

Not a brand new TV, a brand new Apple TV

In his article about why he was wrong about the Apple TV, at one point he writes, “You can easily use AirPods with the Apple TV for private listening.” He says he’s being Captain Obvious, but to me he wasn’t. I hadn’t really thought about this as an option, and an Apple TV 4K was a lot cheaper to buy than a new TV. After more research, but not really finding much of substance, I ordered one from Apple’s refurbished store to save a bit of money, because there was another expensive problem looming.

The AirPods Max and Apple TV 4K with remote on a table.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The solely Apple headphones I personal are AirPods Pro. They’re wonderful and I exploit them typically, however sporting in-ear headphones for hours every day will break my ears. I wanted over-ear headphones, and that meant just one factor if I wished to get pleasure from Apple’s Bluetooth connection know-how, referred to as Spatial Audio, and seamless linking: The obscenely costly Apple AirPods Max. I hated myself for it (and nonetheless do, actually), however I took the plunge and waited for the Apple TV and AirPods Max to be delivered.

This was a couple of month in the past, and I can now report that each one these “better of” lists are flawed. The finest wi-fi headphone expertise you will get with a TV is utilizing an Apple TV 4K and AirPods Max. This is throughout the board. The connection is on the spot, there aren’t any latency issues. The vary is healthier than all the opposite headphones I’ve tried. The AirPods Max swap between my telephone, iPad, and TV on the press of a button, and better of all, the bundle sounds unimaginable.

Almost an ideal resolution

I don’t blame any of the earlier headphones for not delivering the products. They all do their respective jobs brilliantly when related to a different system. Instead, I believe it’s quite a bit to do with tv and its Bluetooth connection. Having taken them each out of the equation, and put the wi-fi exercise within the secure fingers of Apple’s H1 chip and Bluetooth 5.0, every thing I watch has a full, wealthy sound with plenty of quantity, definition, and pleasure.

Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos are a part of the bundle, the noise cancellation is great, and the consolation — whereas taking a short while to get used to, and nonetheless not fairly up there with the WH-1000XM4 — is nice sufficient for hours of listening. The Apple TV 4K is a pleasure too. Fast and responsive, it has all of the companies I recurrently use out there as apps. It was so easy to arrange as nicely, and I solely have to take the AirPods Max out of the case for them to immediately hook up with it. The Apple TV even lets two folks join headphones to it, if you wish to watch with another person.

It’s nearly good. Yes, nearly. The one downside is you possibly can’t hearken to broadcast tv, as this (in my case) is dealt with by the TV and never Apple TV. It means you need to join your headphones to the TV’s Bluetooth to pay attention wirelessly. It’s not a giant downside for me personally, however it might be for some, and I additionally count on it will equally have an effect on cable containers and different impartial peripherals.

Time, cash, and energy

Like me, not everybody will personal the newest tv, and lots of will hold the one they’ve for fairly a couple of years earlier than fascinated about upgrading. I solely lately discovered myself wanting wi-fi audio, and a lot of the recommendation on discovering the most suitable choice led me to wi-fi headphones. Yes, they may join and work, however the precise outcomes you get will nearly definitely differ, and it might all be due to your TV.

The Apple TV and AirPods Max combo bundle is dear, nevertheless it’s nonetheless cheaper than most brand-new, high-spec televisions. If you watch loads of streaming companies, or buy motion pictures and exhibits by iTunes, it’ll ship a far increased efficiency and a extra constant wi-fi listening expertise than hoping a pair of Bluetooth headphones related to your TV will do the job. I’ve definitely discovered that outcomes from even a few of the finest headphones you should purchase differ massively.

I don’t suppose there’s a one-size-fits-all resolution to sensible wi-fi audio from a TV, however for me, the Apple TV and AirPods Max are the most effective for 95% of the time. I simply want I knew it the day after I attempted the Marshall Monitor 2’s all these months in the past, as it could have saved me fairly a little bit of time, cash, and energy.

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