A long-awaited flex-free solution to private TV listening

Sennheiser’s Flex 5000 audio streamer will work with any headphones and lets you customise the TV’s sound

Sennheiser Flex 5000, £180
Sennheiser Flex 5000, £180 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

One of the questions I am asked most often is which system I recommend for people who want to listen to the TV with headphones. Since headphones are such a massively popular tech product, the built-in sound in flatscreen TVs is poor, the dialogue in dramas so often mumbly and the sound of TV so intrusive to those not actually watching, I do find it amazing that not a single TV I know of comes with headphones, and few have a headphone socket or, better, a Bluetooth audio output.

I’ve had some pretty forgettable TV private listening devices pass across my desk these past 20 years, to the point that my way of shielding, say, football commentaries from those around me is a 10ft-long headphone extension cable plugged into the TV and trailing hazardously across the room.

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The German headphone-monger Sennheiser has come to the rescue with this top-quality audio streamer, which pleasingly does not even require you to use its headphones – any will work with the Flex 5000. It comes with Sennheiser’s basic MX 475 in-ears (£19.99), but you will probably prefer an over-ear model you already have. The Flex 5000’s stylish transmitter unit plugs into your TV’s regular or optical audio output socket; the remote receiver, small enough to clip to your clothes, has a headphone socket; and you’re in business.

Best of all, the Flex 5000 lets you customise the TV’s sound. There is even – bliss – a “speech intelligibility” button on the receiver that reduces background racket and dials up dialogue. With a 30m range and 12-hour battery life, there is nothing not to love about it. It’s a real “solution” in a tech scene where most solutions lack a problem to solve.

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