Audio outputs on Smart TVs, and Issues for Bluetooth Headphones/Hearing Aids

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Technology moves us forward, or does it. Interesting experience upgrading to Smart TV when I decided to buy a Sony BRAVIA KDL32W660E as an upgrade to my still-working 32” Sony BRAVIA unSmart TV. We use a sound bar incorporating the optic audio output on our existing TV. In addition, as a hearing impaired person, I use a Bluetooth accessory to access TV audio plugged into a 3.5 mm mini jack. It means non-hearing challenged viewers don’t have to be deafened and I have greater clarity. But the Smart TV has become unSmart, the one audio output is either optic OR mini jack, but not both, using the mini jack in either the TV or the sound bar mutes the inbuilt speakers in both. Sony customer service has not come up with a workaround. I’m sure there is one but Sony’s customer service person apologises and ignores the real issues. I am returning the new TV and will look for an alternative. The 32” TV range is limited. My workaround will probably mean a PVR coupled with my current unSmart TV set.


It seems smart is also selective for how Sony handles Bluetooth. They publish a matrix of what works and state anything else might or might not.

In addition they clearly state some of their TV cannot do ‘both’ at the same time. Amazingly bad design concept, but.

Since it appears to be a design limitation (or feature depending on whether one is in Sony marketing) what could they do other than report it to engineering?

Not that I suggest you should need to do this, but connecting the TV to a home entertainment system with full audio switching would solve your problem. It would double or more your cost and complexity of operation, so why would one?

There are a few ways to make what you want work, but as with yourself I would not accept any of them. Next time you go TV shopping you have one more thing to check in the shop.

Thanks for raising this. Many of us make assumptions, often very reasonable ones, that are ‘not on’ with a product. But more serious - circa 2002 I assured a certain NEC TV had the same functionality I had from a previous US market NEC model and did everything in the shop one could do to assure it. Leaving out the details NEC accepted there was a design error that mislead me and bought the TV back. Sometimes that is the only answer.


Reading your post re your ‘non smart’ TV - it would appear that you are ahead of the curve… It reminded me of discussion generated by Best TVs - review - #9 by person - in which the value of “smart” TVs was discussed.

I don’t know if this is of any help in your situation, but it has made me aware of issues that I hadn’t previously considered: it will be a ‘dumb’ TV for me next time I need to buy…


Thanks for your replies. When I put in the order, I realised I probably could have achieved the same outcome with a PVR linked to the existing TV which works quite well. In a sense, being able to return the TV has actually led to a good outcome. I get record/replay ability I don’t have now, plus internet capability. I get a full credit as opposed to paying a 20% ‘restocking’ fee for a full refund. The retailer is excellent, responsive and is picking the set up in its packaging this afternoon.

Jaycar has workarounds but they would be around $100 once one takes into account extra cables, etc. I am happy to get a credit with the retailer and to be able to buy a PVR.

Had the TV come with Bluetooth, I probably could have linked my hearing aids direct to it, but it only had internet access so in terms of technology Sony has gone backwards in relative terms with this one.


May I suggest you name them? Complainants of poor service are actively encouraged to ‘name and shame’ on this forum: it would be nice to see the reverse happen too…


I agree, and if I was chosing a retailer to make a major purchase, if the price was competitive such information would definitely sway my decision. Good retailers should be rewarded with recognition.


No problem with that. I have dealt with them for a range of household items and have nothing but good things. Appliances Online - their prices have been competitive - and delivery prompt and spot on. They give a timeslot for delivery so you aren’t waiting around all day. I am in Canberra and, certainly before COVID, they would do next day delivery from Sydney, provided I ordered the goods by late afternoon. They have just picked up the TV for return. I am extremely happy. I will be spending the credit on an alternative, probably a PVR, in the next few weeks. Certainly Sony has been less than helpful. The issue did not become apparent until I had unpacked the TV and started to install it.


I have also posted a comment on the Sony Australia Facebook page on a thread about sound bars and they have asked for my contact details. Watch this space. Social media can be a catalytic place!


@DenisGallagher, @BrendanMays I tagged you to highlight that this topic’s ‘feature issue’ might be called out in Choice tests, and included as a filter for online presentations.

I got new hearing aids a few weeks ago, my first w/bluetooth, and per the topic, my TVs will not function with their inbuilt speakers and bluetooth headsets (or hearing aids) at the same time. One TV is in the lounge via home theatre system - no worries; but the one in the bedroom demonstrates the lack of insight in product design. Home theatre (or sound bars) in a bedroom? Not common but I cannot connect my hearing aids while my partner listens to the in-built speakers, and while the hearing aids are OK with the TV speakers it is not ideal in comparison.

As the population gets older and more of us need hearing assistance the people who design products seem oblivious to multiple people watching, with one or more needing assistance, so in-built speakers and bluetooth headsets should work together.

On reflection my TVs are Android, and the design seems to reflect a life that is 100% ‘mobile phone mentality’ whereby who would listen via bluetooth as well as the little tinny tiny speakers in the phone? Even when it is a TV with many listeners… Argh!


Now in her '80’s, my wife has become hard of hearing. She has recently acquired hearing aids, but finds them unsatisfactory when watching movies/dramas on the tv, and much prefers to listen using wired headphones. I still prefer the sound produced through our Yamaha amplifier and Bose speakers. However, modern TVs, for some unaccountable reason, appear to make it impossible to have the sound sourced simultaneously from both headphones and a Hi-Fi system. There must be many households where one of the residents is hearing impaired, while other members of the family aren’t.
We have a modern LG OLED 55" smart tv, coupled via an HDMI Arc cable to a Yamaha receiver which drives the speakers. I have contacted both LG and Yamaha, and they both confirm that it is not possible for the sound to emanate simultaneously from both headphones and an auxiliary speaker system. It has to be one or the other, despite the myriad output ports at the rear of the set. At least the LG has a setting “wired headphones + internal speakers”, but the point is the sound is not particularly good from the TV. I’d be interested to hear if other CHOICE members are experiencing a similar problem, and whether there is a possible solution. Perhaps CHOICE as a consumer advocate might take the matter up with TV manufacturers to help the hearing impaired? It couldn’t be very difficult to build a modern TV whereby the sound output can be split between wired/wireless headphones and a stereo system, and would surely be a positive selling point.


Hi @marmot, I moved your post into this existing one about the same issue.

I am with you experiencing the problem myself but there is a method to the madnerss regardless of whether we think it is the right way to design it.

If a TV is using a home theatre system, the HTS manages volume; sometimes the TV also manages volume depending on make and model and whether connected by HDMI or SPDIF. ‘The solution’ would be a HTS that itself had bluetooth to connect headphones and hearing aids.

If a listener could connect BT to the TV who is controlling the volume and where? There could be a volume control on the hearing aids/headphones and the TV. If the person using a BT device changed the volume at the TV, it might also change it for the HTS creating a bit of ‘discussion’ between all listeners until everyone got it right and was happy.

My hearing aids work brilliantly with my phone but the audio quality is pretty ordinary with my smart TVs as a secondary issue - YMMV depending on your kit. A quick survey shows the product ranges for HTS w/Bluetooth target wireless speakers. How many devices they will connect concurrently is a question to ask if shopping, as well as testing compatibility for good, reliable connections and sound quality.

It is also possible one might encounter the same issue with an HTS, eg it is BT or wired speakers but not both at once?


I haven’t tried it, but what about using a USB BlueTooth dongle?

I am thinking you could connect a dongle into one of the USB ports on the TV and have the hearing aids connected to that USB BT dongle rather than the inbuilt BT?

Would that obviate the inbuilt speaker/BT conflict?

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Driver problems including device precedence coupled with the lack of an ‘app’ to manage its volume. Each BT is essentially its own network requiring requisite support. Smart TV OSes are not known for their flexibility in supported devices. Yet could be worth plugging one into the specific TV to see what happens, or doesn’t.


My original post was about the combination of two audio outputs, optic fibre and analogue, into one output plug. In contacting Sony Australia customer service I had hoped to get some insight into a simple workaround, that would allow both analogue and optic outputs. Instead I got many apologies but no real technical solutions. As mentioned earlier in the thread, I returned the ‘Smart’ TV to Appliances Online and received a credit, without a restocking fee (they normally levy quite a proportion of the purchase price. But ‘as a good customer’ this was waived in my case). I now use my original Sony, coupled to a PVR. It has both types of sound outputs. Unfortunately, ABC iView and SBS On Demand have issues with the security credentials of the PVR and either no longer allow it to be used to access their service, which neatly takes me back to the dilemma I was trying to solve by buying a Smart TV.


Have I missed something?

Is the solution to use an external Audio Amplifier that has the ability to power both a set of speakers and independently Bluetooth headphones.

One example:

The Amp can connect to the TV using blue tooth or HDMI or Optical.

The Amp has a seperate audio output ‘Line Out - Zone B’ that can provide an independent signal to an external audio device. Suggested in this instance an extension to another room or perhaps a Wireless or Bluetooth headset base station. I’m assuming the audio volume control on the amplifier does not affect the line out signal?

I’ve not searched further to see how common the line out audio is in similar or lower cost Amps.


My wife has widex hearing aids which uses blue tooth to pair with a Widex TV play dongle which is connected to the optical connection on a smart TV. She manages her own volume etc through a smartphone app and sound is delivered directly to her ears. I listen to the TV normally and our respective listening levels are independent of each other. Works for us and I assume other brands would have similar solutions.


Would one of these solve your problem. It might be a cheap solution…

One input (blue tooth) into one, and the soundbar into the other.

You might need some adaptors as well if the cable male pins are not 3.5mmm.

The other option is does the soundbar and a AUX output. If it does, it might be worth seeing if the soundbar still works with the Bluetooth jack inserted .


It should not be, but it is.
As I noted in my previous post there are higher end audio Amps that offer the feature.

It is also possible to split the digital optical output stream from a TV or other source to two or more using a powered splitter. This does limit the connected devices to stereo, and requires a second device to convert one output to a standard analogue output for a Bluetooth headphone base.

The best solution would be as you suggest to enable the feature with the TV, all for the cost of a $2 connector and software.


Thanks to you all for your helpful comments and suggestions. My original intention was to alert people to a couple of points: First, that Sony had REMOVED the option for two outputs from the Smart TV, second, Sony had none of the helpful advice that we are receiving from some of the contributors, and third, Sony did not seem at all interested in engaging beyond a limp apology, and finally, that people should bear this need in mind when shopping for a new TV, it was something I just assumed would still be available.
One should need to spend large amounts of money on new amplifiers. My Bluetooth sender plugs straight into the headphone output - it renders the TV speakers dumb, but I have sound through a sound bar that is connected via an optic fibre, simple and uncomplicated.
The customer service agent didn’t even seem to get it and I have no faith that the feedback was passed back up the line.
For now, I’m continuing with my old TV but will no doubt need to upgrade at some stage so I will revisit the dilemma then. I note that some brands, not the higher performing ones, retain two outlets, who knows for how long.


You could try something like this if TOSLinks are usable by your audio devices

3 Port TosLink (Optical) Digital Audio Splitter - Lindy Australia

Or the Avantree range such as the following

Avantree Audikast Plus Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter for TV PC with Volume Control, aptX Low Latency Wireless Audio Adapter for 2 Headphones (Optical, Aux, RCA, USB) 100ft Long Range (No Receiver Mode) : Electronics

Avantree TC417 Bluetooth Transmitter Receiver for TV, Optical Digital Toslink, Volume Control for 3.5mm AUX, RCA, 20H Playtime, aptX Low Latency Wireless Audio Adapter for Headphones, Home Stereo : Electronics