Wireless headphones are a godsend for anyone who likes to watch TV next to their sleeping spouse or as a way to keep from waking up the kids after they’re in bed, and Roku knows this. But instead of making you go out and buy a whole new set of expensive headphones to get the wireless listening experience, the company has included a new Private Listening feature into all their devices that makes it quick and easy to pipe any sound from your favorite TV shows and movies to any headset of your choosing.
Setting Up Private Listening
To start, you should consider the two different ways that Private Listening is implemented on Roku devices and whether or not your device supports that specific setup. There are two ways that Private Listening can be used: either through a Private Listening-enabled remote or through the official Roku app on iOS and Android. Currently only the Roku Ultra and select Smart TVs integrated with Roku support the option for “Use Private Listening through your Roku Remote.”
If you’re using the Private Listening-enabled Roku Remote, you only need to plug your preferred headphones into the headphone jack that you’ll find on the side of the device. Note that the Private Listening remote only works with wired headsets and earbuds, so if you want to use a Bluetooth option, you’ll have to go with the route below.
The much more common method used (and easier, in my opinion) is through the official Roku app. To get it working through your phone or tablet, start by going into your app store and typing “Roku.”
Make sure you’re downloading the official Roku app and not one of the many, many copies that appear both on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Next, make sure that the device you plan on using Private Listening with is hooked up to the same Wi-Fi network as your Roku. Without these two devices on the same network, you won’t be able to control your Roku with the app nor will Private Listening activate. Once you do this, launch the Roku app, and if the Roku is detected on the same network, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.
Tap the Remote option at the bottom of your screen to get to the actual Roku remote.
Activate Private Listening on Your Roku
To activate Private Listening on your Roku, first verify the headphones you want to use are either plugged into the device or connected via Bluetooth. The one thing we would caution against when using Bluetooth, however, is that depending on the generation of your headset, you might experience audio lag that unsyncs what you hear and what you see on the screen by half a second or so.
Once you have your headphones hooked up, just tap the headphone icon shown below to turn on Private Listening.
The best part about using Private Listening opposed to traditional wireless headsets is that with this route up to four separate devices can all be connected to the same Roku at once. This means if you’re having a movie night with some friends in the living room but still want to make sure the kids stay in bed, everyone can still pull out their headphones and enjoy full surround sound without it getting too loud.