How to hook up headphones to a TV with variable audio out

Updated February 21, 2017

Variable audio out jacks on a television are used for connecting a stereo receiver to the TV so you can use the TV remote control to adjust the volume. Connecting headphones to this set-up requires a standard set of audio cables and adjustment of the volume setting on the TV. You must also turn off the TV's built-in speakers to enjoy stereo sound with headphones. Although a transmitter for wireless headphones can be connected directly to the TV variable audio out jacks, you'll get better sound--whether the headphones are wireless or corded--by following these steps.

Connect white and red audio cables to the TV's left and right variable audio out jacks and connect the other ends to the auxiliary audio jacks on the back of the receiver.

Use the remote control to toggle from the main menu on the television to the audio menu, then scroll to the speaker On/Off selection and choose "Off." This will shut off the television's built-in speakers. Unlike the speakers in many audio devices, which shut off automatically when headphones are connected, the TV speakers must be shut off manually using the remote control.

Turn the audio selector knob on the stereo to "Aux."

Plug in headphones to the headphones jack on the front of the receiver.

Use the TV remote control to set the headphones at a comfortable volume for private listening.


As an option, you can connect a wireless receiver directly to the variable audio out jacks on the TV using the same connection described in Step 1. The only difference is that you will be connecting the red and white audio plugs from a wireless transmitter to the TV instead of red and white audio cables that then connect to your receiver. Again, sound quality will suffer by connecting a wireless transmitter directly to the variable audio out jacks.

Things You'll Need

  • Headphones
  • TV with variable audio out
  • Stereo receiver
  • Audio cables with RCA-type plugs
  • TV remote control
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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.