Console gaming with headphones


I’ve stuck with PC games for the past few years (tiny thin-walled apartment with neighbors I’d rather not disturb) but there’s enough PS4 and Switch exclusive stuff that I’d like to try that I’m looking into how to play with headphones.

I don’t really care about whether the video on my monitor or my TV (although honestly the monitor would be more convenient). Some googling makes it seem like each console does seem to have some options (PS4 Remote Play or routing everything through the controller, Switch in handheld mode), but I’d like a more general solution.

I think that means my options are:

  1. A capture card, which might be overkill since I’m never going to be streaming
  2. A stereo receiver, which I know next to nothing about
    But I might be missing something.

Does anyone have any suggestions/tips/guides?


Pretty sure both Switch and PS4 have the best experience when you just plug some headphones into the device (DS4 for the PS4 - port on the bottom of the controller) and tell them to not use the TV or internal speakers so you only get it in the headphones.

A capture card can often add significant lag which makes it hard or at least annoying to play the game being streamed - stuff like Sony, nVidia, and Valve’s game streaming stuff has been designed specifically to reduce the latency issues but most streaming/capture boxes are not as good.


I’ve been console gaming with headphones for the past two years at least - my wife is a student who is always working in the next room over so the house basically has to be dead silent at all times. I’ve got a pair of wireless headphones that has a charging receiver plugged into the TV.

I have these -

Not sure of your price range, but they’ve been great, solid sound quality (with my only issue being that silent wireless “hiss” that becomes apparent sometimes).


I have a tiny TV that’s no bigger than a second PC monitor (around 21") so it lives right next to my PC tower. The TV has a line out that’s basically just a headphone jack for external speakers, so I just run one of those headphone cables (the ones with two male ends) from the back of my TV in to my PC’s line-in.

Windows 10 normally disables being able to hear from that (theorized as a basic anti-piracy measure for copying music) but it’s easy enough to turn it back on. From there I just use the same headphones I use with PC games. In fact, I kind of live most of my life with headphones on.


I play consoles on my PC monitor using the headphone out port on the back of my monitor. May want to check if you have that option.


I have a rather cheap soundcard that has a digital audio in line for my PS4. There are probably better cards out there now for about the same price. Then I just click on the listen to device option in the audio settings of my PC and adjust the volume for a nice balance. Been using it for years now without an issue.


I think you’re just asking about the ease of use of headphones on console? These days they seem pretty well-integrated. I can’t speak to the Switch, but if you have a headset you can absolutely just plug that into the DualShock 4 on PS4 and you’re good to go. Depending on the headset you use with PC, you might have an appropriate cable which comes with it - if not, and you have one with the green & pink output/input leads, you can pick up a “Y adapter” pretty cheaply online that will let you plug it into the DS4.

I use it all the time, and it’s great. You might need to change an option to have all audio come through the headset (and not just chat), but you can adjust the mix between game audio and party chat (and Spotify seperately too, if you use that) from the PS4’s quick menu. It’ll note that you’ve plugged a headset in and switch the audio to there, then flip it straight back to the TV if you unplug your headset.


I have my PC and consoles all plugged into the same tv via HDMI. I have the tv’s audio set to output through the optical out which I route to my wireless headphone base which has optical pass-through. From there, it goes optical out to my speaker base.

So: Device>TV>Headphones>Speakers.

Every device can output audio at any time, just a matter of turning it on. Wireless headphones are pretty great until they’re not, and when they’re not, they’re the worst, most infuriating garbage in the world.

I use THESE, which are way way way way… waaaaaaaay too expensive (it was Christmas and I’m worth it?), but they’re pretty rad. Three independent, simultaneously operating channels. One channel for the optical audio, one channel for voice chat, one blue tooth. All three have independent volumes. They’re a lot of headphone. They have functionality for direct wireless sync with PS4 but I’ve never tried it since I have everything tied to the same optical line.

You can also probably get away with a solid HDMI splitter instead of a full blown receiver. I used THIS ONE (or one really similar) for a long time.


I’ve played my PS4 almost exclusively through headphones, and not had any issues or complaints.

Started with, and still fairly often use just 3.5mm jack earbuds from an old ipod, plugged into the controller. Sound quality is as good as the earbuds, and great.

I also have a big over-the-ear bluetooth headset, which has similarly great sound quality, but also a good microphone with a mute button on the left ear. It’s the Gold Wireless Stereo Headset with 7.1 virtual surround sound. (It’s a little small though, which works fine for me, but I think I have a pretty small head.)

I think broadly speaking, playing on a console with headphones is fine/great. If you can, I’d just go to like a local best buy or something, and try on a bunch of headsets, think about if you want wired or wireless for your space, or if you want to use the 3.5mm jack on the controller, etc. (Then either get one there, or order online based on what you felt about in-store stuff.)


My, those are some highly inventive ways just to… extract some audio off an HDMI signal?

Well, as mentioned, the PS4 controller (a.k.a. DualShock 4) has a 3.5mm headphone port. It’s really convenient being able to use wired headphones without actually being tethered to the console/TV.

As for the Switch… My friend still has an ancient TV that only supports DVI, and you can’t carry audio over a DVI-HDMI cable. That said, the headphone port still works even when the system is docked, so just hook up a male-to-male audio cable, or in your case, headphones, and you’re good to go.

However, if that’s not good enough for you and you want to extract 5.1 digital audio, just buy one of these 9-dollar extractor boxes from China:

It supports standard 3.5mm audio jack, as well as 5.1 over TOSLINK/SPDIF and Coax. Works just fine, even with the Switch which I’ve been told can have hand-shaking issues on unconventional setups.

It’s also a cheap way to turn your Chromecast into a (superior) Chromecast Audio. Just split off the signal, turn on Spotify, and turn off your TV to save power. Or, don’t even have it hooked up to a TV at all.


I also use a sound card to route my PS4’s audio through my PC. The benefit is that I can freely switch between my speakers and headset while still getting PC audio through the same channel. I highly recommend going with this general setup. I tried using a cheap audio extractor but couldn’t get anything to pass through. I probably did something wrong so YMMV.

However, simply plugging a 3.5mm headset into the DS4 is a good option, too. I played through the majority of The Witcher 3 with my Kingston Hyper X Revolver headset connected this way.

HyperX Cloud Revolver Headset

Sound Blaster Z Sound Card (with digital audio-in)


I’ll share my extensive PS4 headphone experience:

Wireless - this applies to both through the DS4 or Sony’s Gold or Platinum headsets (both are extremely comfortable over-ear designs, and they both have 3.5mm jacks, so they aren’t limited to PS-only use): in the right situation, they’re great. Tremendously easy, with some pretty extensive customization options for the Gold or Platinum through the PS4 App. The Platinum headset claims some proprietary Sony 3D audio, but a civvie like me can’t tell the difference. But, in a situation like my basement where there’s potential for interference, they are unusable. Lots of pops and crackles and dropping out for a second or two at a time. I would test using the DS4 output to make sure you get a clean signal before investing in Sony’s headsets.

Wired: without using a sound card, your only option is the PS Silver headset. This is actually my preferred option right now. The on-ear headset itself is complete garbage; an uncomfortable, tight, scratchy monstrosity (imagine fish netting pulled tight over hard foam then coated in wax. It’s unfathomable). But the money part is the very long cord which ends in a 3.5mm jack with volume and balance controls. Any headphones can be plugged in and the sound is flawless.

Amp: if you have the cash, Astros, with their mini-amps, are fantastic (so fantastic that my wife slowly, but surely, kept borrowing mine until it became hers). You can set it up the way @Caleb describes, or run optical out right from the PS4.


Are you sure your monitor or TV doesn’t have an aux output?
Also I would personally recommend against gaming headphones if you don’t need a mic. I personally use the DT 770 PRO, great quality for the $180 price. You see it in music studios a lot.


I just plug headphones into the PS4 controller.