How can you use headphones with a DIRECTV receiver?

Late night. Sleeping spouse. What do you do if you want to watch a little TV? I’ll admit, DIRECTV doesn’t make it easy. They’ve never had headphone jacks on their receivers, so in most cases your best hope is a headphone jack on your A/V receiver or television. Of course, wired headphones are a little bit of a drag, but most wireless headphones will work with headphone outputs.

What you find, though, is that fewer and fewer TVs even have headphone jacks and while there are outputs for audio, they’re at fixed volume. This means there’s no way to make things louder or softer with a normal pair of headphones.

The parts you’ll need

I found a solution. It’s a little bit… kludgy… but it does work. The first thing is that you use the audio outputs from your DIRECTV receiver. Every receiver or DVR has them, although you may not see those familiar RCA jacks on the back. If you don’t, you’ll need this adapter which will have you plugging into that weird connection on the back and you’ll get stereo RCA plugs. That’s great, but you don’t need the “male” end, you need the “female” end. That’s where these adapters come in handy, especially if you’re not comfortable soldering new ends onto things.

So now you have those audio outputs you need. The next step is to convert that audio to Bluetooth, because let’s be honest, wires are no fun. This cute little device sends audio over Bluetooth, so you can use any Bluetooth headphones. It allows you to connect RCA cables from your receiver, or if you have a DIRECTV receiver with optical out, you can use that instead. I’m not really convinced that Make sure you get headphones with a volume control because, as I said, there’s no other volume control there.

OK, they don’t make it easy, and they don’t make it cheap. Around this point you’re probably wondering if you should just buy a new TV with a headphone jack. I’m going to give you one more option before you give up completely, and the great part is that you don’t have to buy anything (except maybe headphones.)

Just your the app

DIRECTV’s app for smartphones and tablets gives you over 100 channels of free live streaming, plus tens of thousands of on demand programs. There’s an excellent chance you’ll see something you like there. Nearly anything you can find on satellite TV is also available on the app.  If you’re at home you can even watch content from your DVR right on your mobile device.

You’ll just need some headphones. Of course, the trend lately has been to ditch the headphone jack so you might find yourself just using Bluetooth headphones anyway. But then if your phone suffers from an annoying lack of headphone jack you probably have them anyway.

So there you see, you have two options – the really confusing (but satisfyingly nerdy) method and the much easier method that gets you watching quickly and with minimal cost. Hey, the choice is up to you.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.