Listen to TV Without a TV Set




Introduction: Listen to TV Without a TV Set

 I find that it is often easier to go to sleep in front of the television set than than in bed.

Watching TV in bed would be nice, but my wife does not share my preference.

I have discovered a way to escape to TV land without disturbing my loving spouse. This method does not provide video, but since I have my eyes closed anyway, what difference does that make. This Instructable will let you to listen to any available broadcast TV show privately and for free.

If you look around a bit, this Instructable should cost you very little, if anything at all; but you may have to raid your father’s/grandfather’s closet to find some of the parts.

Background - About 20 years ago, TV broadcasting moved from analog to digital, and everyone ran out and bought a digital converter box so they could watch the new format on their old set. Some of us, and probably your grandpa, still have one or more of these sitting on a shelf somewhere.  

 On the back of the digital converter, you should find a right and left audio output.

 I was surprised to learn that these are both live whenever the converter is on.

In order to get this project working, all you have to do is plug an antenna (rabbit ears should work) into the “antenna in” port of the converter, do an autoscan to tune in available channels, and hook up earbuds.



Digital to Analog Converter ($15 and up on eBay)

Antenna (Less than $10 on eBay) (or build your own for free; this one works very well!--

3.5mm Stereo Plug/2 RCA Plug Cable ($2.50 and up on eBay)

“One to Two” Earphone splitter ($1 at Dollar Tree or eBay)

Earphones ($1 at Dollar Tree, but you probably already have these.)

TV and short coax cable (for setup only. Needed only to find available channels.)

Step 1: Attach Antenna to Antenna Input of Converter.

Attach the cable running from the antenna to the "Antenna In" input on the converter.

Step 2: Temporarily Attach a TV Set

In order to set up the converter and find available channels, you will have to attach the converter to a TV set using a short coaxial cable.

Step 3: Set Up the Converter

 Tune the TV to analog channel 3 or 4. (Your converter should give you a choice between these two.)

Step 4: Scan for Available Channels

 With the converter and TV both on and the antenna aimed in a suitable direction and the TV tuned to the appropriate channel (3 or 4), press “menu” on the converter remote and autoscan for available channels.

 Check to see which channels were found, and write down the available channels and any other helpful information (e.g. channel number, network, type of programming, and whatever else might help you to choose what you will want to listen to.) Remember that you will not have access to the converter menu while your TV set in unhooked and off.

Step 5: Connect the Adapter

 Unhook the TV, and plug the two RCA ends of the 3.5mm/2 RCA adapter into the converter.

Step 6: Attach Earphones

Plug the other end of the 3.5mm/2 RCA adapter into one of the female ports of the “One to Two” earphone jack.

Plug your earphones into the other end of the “One to Two” earphone jack. (Note that the male end of the “One to Two” earphone jack is not plugged into anything.)

If your converter is powered on, you should now be able to hear the audio part of whatever TV station to which your converter is tuned.


Plugging a powered speaker instead of an earphone into the “one to two” earphone jack is also an option if you want to listen to the audio in another setting (such as a workshop) in which you do not want to use earphones.

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    9 months ago

    I've used a variation of this in the past, hooking the tv box up to a stereo to listen to radio channels. I think the drawback with this is that occasionally you will got on screen prompts to retune, or you will press the wrong button and be in a menu that you can't see, basically you will need regular access to a tv to keep using the box. Personally for the use you decribe I'd just have a pair of headphones and a portable radio or mp3 player


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks for the comment. So far I have been using this unit nearly every night for the past four months without having to hook it to a TV set. But I am sure that you are correct, and one day I will have to attach a TV set to retune it.