Living in an apartment as I do, I love watching TV with headphones. It’s not easy (nor neighborly) to design a home theater with booming surround sound that shakes the walls, floors, and ceilings, so headphones are the perfect compromise, allowing me to crank up the volume as loud as I want (or can tolerate), while disturbing exactly zero other people within earshot.
Of course, that’s the other benefit: If you’re watching a show or movie on your Roku in the same space as anyone who doesn’t want to enjoy it alongside you—whether because they’re sleeping, working, or otherwise too cool for your content—a good pair of headphones keeps the entertainment to your ears only.
Depending on your setup, outputting sound to your headphones may be simple or complicated. An Apple TV, for example, allows you to quickly pair Apple headphones like AirPods or Beats with the streaming device, for a seamless wireless listening experience. Wired headphones, however, might not play so nice (or at all). That’s why Roku is king here: The company integrated a feature that makes it quick and easy to use any type of headphones you want while streaming.
This feature, called private listening, is made possible thanks to the Roku app, which allows you to control your Roku from a digital remote on your phone or tablet. All you need to do is connect a pair of headphones to your phone—wired or wireless—and tap a button on the app to watch to your stories in private.
How to enable private listening on your Roku
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to pair the Roku app on your smartphone to your Roku streaming device. To do so, download the app for iOS or Android, then head to the Devices section, which appears as a TV icon. So long as your phone or tablet and your Roku are using the same wifi connection, your Roku should appear here automatically.
Choose the remote icon, then tap the icon with the headphones—this is the private listening button. Once you’ve done so, your Roku will send the audio through any headphones connected to your device.
Even if you’re using wired headphones, the sound is still passing wirelessly from the Roku to your device. As such, there could be an audio delay if things aren’t perfectly synced up. If that happens, tap the Settings icon from the remote app, then choose “Adjust audio delay.” Disconnect from private listening, then choose “Get started.” From here, you’ll need to use your phone’s camera to capture your TV within the frame. Tap “Continue,” and Roku will run through a roughly 10-second sync process that should get things running smoothly again.
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