Apple TV owners can easily connect their AirPods to the streaming player for a personal listening experience, and they should connect automatically. If encountering an issue with connecting the AirPods, or if using a non-Apple set of headphones, it is possible to manually connect them through the Apple TV’s settings menu. It is also possible to share Apple TV audio with two different sets of AirPods at the same time.
One of the benefits of purchasing multiple Apple products is the seamless experience. Not only do Apple devices share a common user experience in general, but connecting them is typically a seamless experience. This is also the case with AirPods which have the ability to automatically connect to other devices, including an Apple TV player.
There is a caveat, however, and that is the AirPods need to be registered to the same Apple ID that’s currently in use on the Apple TV player. This Apple ID is what’s user to add an account on Apple TV as well as make purchases or rentals. An Apple ID should already be set up on the streaming player but if one isn’t, this Apple help page provides details on how to set up an Apple ID on Apple TV. Providing the same Apple ID is used for both devices, the Apple TV viewer just needs to put the AirPods in their ears to start listening. No setup is actually needed.
Connecting headphones via Bluetooth
Regardless of whether it is a pair of AirPods or any other Bluetooth-enabled earbuds or headphones, it is possible to connect the audio device to Apple TV through the streaming player’s settings menu. The process is not any different to connecting any other Bluetooth device, such as a game controller, remote, or wireless keyboard.
- Click on the Home button (on the remote)
- Navigate to and open the Settings app
- Click on Remotes and Devices
- Click on Bluetooth
- Select the headphones (under Other Devices)
Once having clicked on Bluetooth in the Settings app, the Apple TV device will perform a search to see which Bluetooth-enabled devices are nearby. However, the Apple TV player will only be able to see devices that have also been put in Bluetooth mode. How the earbuds or headphones are put in this mode will vary between manufacturers and products.
For AirPods specifically, the AirPods will need to be placed in their charging case with the lid closed. The closure of the lid is an important step to ensure the AirPods are not already connected to another device. Open the lid and hold down the setup button – this can be found on the back of the charging case. With the button pressed, the small LED on the case will begin to flash white, indicating that the AirPods have entered Bluetooth mode. They can then be linked with the Apple TV player as described above. Depending on the device and the Apple TV setup, the Apple TV player may ask the user to input a four-digit code or PIN before pairing a Bluetooth connection between the two devices.
It is worth noting there is a ‘Suggest Nearby AirPods’ option in the Bluetooth section of the Apple TV player’s settings menu. This is enabled by default and is what allows AirPods to automatically switch between Apple devices. For example, switching from an Apple TV player to an iPhone when making a call. For those that don’t want this automatic switching to take place when watching Apple TV simply disable the ‘Suggest Nearby AirPods’ option.
Connect two pairs of AirPods
The audio from an Apple TV player can actually be shared with up to sets of AirPods simultaneously, allowing two people to watch and listen at the same time. This support not only extends to compatible AirPods, but also select Beats headphones as well. Sharing Apple TV audio with two people can also be done with a few quick clicks.
- Hold down the TV button on the Siri remote
- Click on the AirPlay icon (looks like an antenna)
- Click on Headphones
- Choose the first set of headphones
- Click on Share Audio
The Apple TV player will then provide some on-screen instructions that will need to be followed to connect to the second set of AirPods. Unlike the first set which automatically pair, the second set will need to be found before the Apple TV player audio can be relayed to them. It is also worth noting that Share Audio is only available on the Apple TV 4K and not other or older models. Likewise, some of the more advance features available with AirPods and Apple TV won’t be available. For example, Spatial Audio is not supported when sharing an Apple TV’s audio signal. You can see a demonstration of how Apple’s Share Audio works, albeit on iPhone, in the video below.
Connecting AirPods to Apple TV summary
AirPods should automatically connect to a nearby Apple TV automatically without any additional setup. However, this automatic pairing only works when the Apple TV player and the AirPods are both linked to the same Apple ID. It is also possible to connect a variety of Bluetooth-enabled devices to an Apple TV player through the Bluetooth section of the Settings app on the Apple TV player.
In addition to connecting a single set of AirPods, it is actually possible to share the audio from an Apple TV player to two sets of AirPods. The Share Audio option can be found and enabled by clicking on the AirPlay icon in the Apple TV’s Control Center. Share Audio is currently only available on the Apple TV 4K, and only works with AirPods and Beats headphones.