Xbox 360 HDMI - Connecting Headsets for Game Audio

Stereo Headsets

If your Xbox 360 and TV are connected via HDMI, the headset's RCA splitter cable (included) will need to be connected to 'AUDIO OUT' jacks on the back of your TV (pictured below):

The RCA Splitter cable MUST be connected to 'AUDIO OUT' jacks, specifically. If they are labeled 'Audio In', 'A/V In', or Component, they will not send audio out for the amplifier/transmitter to process.

Not all TV's have AUDIO OUT jacks. You may check the specifications of your TV online or in the manual to determine if it has stereo AUDIO OUT. Alternatively, you may connect the headset directly to a headphone jack on your TV if it has one.

If your TV does not have AUDIO OUT jacks or a headphone jack, you will need the Ear Force Xbox 360 Audio Adapter Cable:

The Ear Force Xbox 360 Audio Adapter Cable connects to the A/V port on the back of an Xbox 360, and provides red and white (stereo) outputs, as well as a digital optical (S/PDIF) output. The adapter is necessary because the Xbox 360 does not allow both the HDMI and A/V cables to be plugged in at the same time.

Do I need the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter?

- Stereo headsets require it if you're using an HDMI cable to connect your Xbox 360 to your TV, and if your TV does NOT have white and red AUDIO OUTPUT jacks.
- If you have a newer Xbox 360 E (released June 2013), click here. The Xbox 360 Audio Adapter is not compatible with the Xbox 360 E, but you will not need any additional cables anyway.

Where can I get it?

- The Xbox 360 Audio Adapter is available on click here
- It is also available for purchase at Gamestop, Best Buy, and other gaming retailers.

Surround Sound Headsets

If you have an Xbox 360 Slim and you want to use it with one of our surround sound headsets (or a DSS2), which use a digital optical (S/PDIF, TOSlink) connection, you will not need any additional cables or accessories to connect the headset to your console. This will be true even if you connect your Xbox 360 Slim to your TV through HDMI. The Xbox 360 Slim has the necessary digital optical output (labeled "S/PDIF") built right into its back panel.

However, if you have an older Xbox 360 model (a grey or white one, one of the COD MW2 editions, or any Xbox 360 purchased before May 2010), there will not be a digital optical output built directly into your Xbox 360 that you will need in order to connect your surround sound headset. If you have a newer Xbox 360 E model, click here.

First, check to see if your TV has an digital optical output as shown above, often labeled 'S/PDIF'. If your TV has a digital optical output, you can plug the optical cable directly into this jack for game audio. Note: Check your TV manual to see if it supports Dolby Digital.

If your TV does not have a digital audio output, you will need to obtain the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter Cable to work alongside the HDMI connection. The HDMI connection will send digital video and digital audio to your TV, while the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter will give you the optical digital audio jack you need to connect from the Xbox 360 to your Ear Force headset.

Why is the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter necessary?

- Surround Sound headsets need it if your Xbox 360 does NOT have a S/PDIF (TOSlink/Digital Optical Output) jack on the back, and if it DOES have a trapezoid-shaped A/V port on the back.

Audio connections below are (left to right):
- TOSlink digital (square, black plastic port)
- Analog Audio Output, Right (red RCA jack)
- Analog Audio Output, Left (white RCA jack)

If you use the Xbox 360 Component HD A/V Cable, your HDMI port will be blocked (pre-2010):

Here's the Xbox 360 Slim Composite A/V Cable blocking the rear panel HDMI port - 2010 to present (viewed from below):

More info:
Microsoft's Xbox Support provides good additional info in their article "Description of the "Xbox 360 HDMI Cable":