Whether you’re looking to add streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu to a “dumb” TV or you want access to a host of third-party movie channels, a Roku TV or Roku streaming device is a great way to get connected to your favorite content. On top of hundreds of streaming channels encompassing every genre and niche, along with a plethora of hardware options to choose from, the Roku companion app (for iOS and Android devices) has a convenient audio feature for late-night movie-watchers called “private listening.”
When enabled, private listening allows you to listen to whatever your Roku is playing via a pair of wired or wireless headphones or earbuds through your smartphone. While this function does not carry over to other A/V gear connected to your TV (game systems, Blu-ray players, etc.), it’s a fantastic way to experience Roku-specific movies and shows during the late-night hours when you don’t want to wake up your family.
If you own a Roku device or are thinking of purchasing one, we’ve put together this guide to teach you how to use the private listening feature and listen to your Roku TV with headphones. Grab your phone and your preferred earbuds, and let’s get started.
The Roku app is a necessity when using the private listening feature. If you don’t already have the app installed on your phone or tablet, go ahead and do so, and then log in.
After signing in, you’ll find yourself on the Roku Channel home screen. You should see row after row of movies and TV shows that you can scroll through. Never mind the scrolling, though — what you actually want to do is tap Devices (located in the bottom-right-hand corner of the home screen).
On the next screen, you’ll see a list of all of the Roku hardware connected to your Wi-Fi network. Go ahead and tap on the device that you’ll be using. You should see a small drop-down menu appear underneath the chosen device with options for Remote, Channels, and Media. Tap Remote.
Note: When you close the Roku app, it will remember what device you were using the next time you open it. This will then eliminate most of step 3, allowing you to simply tap Remote at the bottom of the home screen instead of Devices.
If you’re using a pair of wired headphones or earbuds, ensure they’re connected to the mobile device that your Roku app is on. If you’re using Bluetooth headphones, make sure they’re paired to your phone or tablet.
On the Remote screen in the Roku app, you should see a Headphones button. This is the toggle on/off for private listening. If your headphones (wired or Bluetooth) are connected correctly, when you tap this button, the icon should change to an image of the same headphones but with audio wavelengths passing from one cup to another, along with a green status indicator displayed above the icon. This means that private listening is enabled.
You should also see a headphone icon displayed in the top-right-hand corner of whatever TV your Roku device is connected to, indicating that private listening is now active.
That’s all there is to it. To test that private listening is working, go ahead and start a movie or TV show. Even if your TV speakers are turned on, all audio should be routed directly to your headphones. Because in essence, private listening mutes your TV speakers.
If everything checks out, you’ve done everything correctly. Conveniently, when private listening is turned on, you’ll be able to adjust headphone volume using the volume buttons on your mobile device or with the volume controls on whatever set of headphones you’re using (if they have volume controls).
When you’re done using private listening, simply tap the Private Listening button once more to turn the feature off.