Hands on with the new Sonos Ace headphones

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 21

On Tuesday, Sonos announced the Sonos Ace headphones -- its first product in the category. We got an early look, and here are our first impressions.

Sonos headphones displayed on a stand beside their packaging box on a table with a teal cushion and orange backdrop.
Sonos Ace headphones and box



There's something exciting about when a major player enters a new and adjacent market space. Yes, Sonos is historically an audio company but for the past two decades, they've never made a set of headphones.

We only got to spend a few minutes with the headphones so far at a media-only preview event, but they left quite an impression on us.

Closeup of buttons on white ear cup of Sonos Ace headphones
Sonos Ace headphones have metal accents and nice physical buttons



Sonos' new headphones use custom 40mm drivers to produce rich audio with depth, clarity, and range. Eight microphones enable active noise cancellation and clear phone calls. Sonos partnered with Dolby for real-time head tracking that follows your movements, similar to Apple's own headphones.

Picking up the headphones we noted how lightweight they were, while still retaining these classy stainless steel accents.

Matte black Sonos Ace headphones sitting on table showing the lack of fingerprints or oil
The matte black has an oleophobic coating



They come in matte black and Soft White. We much preferred the latter and the black did feel a bit generic.

The lighter colorway has glossy metal that shine with the light. The black does at least have an anti-fingerprint coating that kept them looking clean.

Stainless steel toggle switch on the Sonos Ace headphones that can slide up and down
The Content Key is a great physical control



We were quickly smitten by what Sonos is calling the Content Key. That button is a spring-loaded multi-function button that can slide up and down to adjust volume but can be pressed too to invoke other features.

Our listening was limited to a self-guided tour as well as some time with a paired iPad mini. The audio sounded clear, dynamic, and very detailed.

Wearing the Sonos Ace headphones
Sonos Ace are lightweight and comfortable



The same went for when we swapped audio from a companion Sonos Arc. A clip from Barbie highlighted the precision as we heard America Ferrara walk down a hallway.

Dolby Atmos was amazing during a clip from Gravity.



In one demo, they played very loud airplane-like noise from a pair of Era 300 speakers. When we toggled ANC on, it quickly melted away.

Even the passive noise cancellation was good with the ultra-plush ear cups. They use a vegan leather here that Sonos has the best possible acoustic properties and can be easily cleaned.

Sage green interior of the Soft White felt carrying case with a small pouch shown
The Soft White case has a sage green lining and a magnetic cable pouch



It may be a small detail, but we're also huge fans of the carrying case. It's super slim which makes it easy to fit into a bag. Plus there's a magnetic holder for the included USB-C and aux cables.

We've been fans of AirPods Max. It's hard to keep recommending them after years go by without an update.

Sonos Ace headphones sitting open on a desk
The Sonos Ace headphones have some great features to test



Stay tuned for our full review of the Sonos Ace. At least on first glance, it appears Sonos has created a compelling set of cans.

These headphones will start shipping on June 5th and will run users $449. You can learn more and preorder them on the Sonos website.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    jamnapjamnap Posts: 91member
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on.  Any suggestions on a replacement?  Maybe Bose or Apple (wish Apple would purchase Sonos because as good as the big HomePod is, it needs soundbars and bass modules).
    jahblade
  • Reply 2 of 9
    DscheyHDscheyH Posts: 13member
    Curious how these work with Siri. Anyone knows or has tested it?
    jamnap
  • Reply 3 of 9
    jamnap said:
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on.  Any suggestions on a replacement?  Maybe Bose or Apple (wish Apple would purchase Sonos because as good as the big HomePod is, it needs soundbars and bass modules).
    I’ve got two HomePods as a Stereo pair which I find provide great sound. And when friends come over and watch movies I’ve had a few ask where my sub is and when they find out it’s all in the HomePods themselves they’re always floored. 

    I have noticed for some people though they associate good sound with rattling bass. The HomePods have up firing woofers which means they’re intentionally not rattling your home (which apartment dwelling neighbours will appreciate.) I’m regularly shocked that none of my neighbours complain about how loud I play my music but between the concrete walls in my building and the fact that the bass isn’t being directed into the floor etc nobody complains. 

    For headphones it’s funny, I have a set of AirPods 3 I really like (I don’t like in ear tips) but I almost never wear them since getting my Dyson Zones, I get sick when exposed to perfume (which is in almost everything people clean themselves and other things with which makes leaving my home a mine field.) The Dysons sound quite good but I’m sure I’d appreciate a set of AirPods Max if I could save my wear them out. 

    I find that Sonos has a great reputation for their hardware, but the company seems to be failing to appreciate good design with their software. I had to help someone with the Sonos app for Mac a few months ago and I remember thinking, “this is the software that one of the top audio brands give their customers? This makes Android’s UI look like a high quality product!”

    I just don’t understand why some companies spend so much on hardware engineering and then trip on the finish line with bad software for the user. I’ve recently gotten into using Dyson stuff more and their app isn’t perfect, but it’s clear they approached it and accomplished what they were trying to do. (I wouldn’t do it all that way, but I can’t say that it isn’t well thought out and there isn’t attention to detail.) 
    jahblade
  • Reply 4 of 9
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,371member
    jamnap said:
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on.  Any suggestions on a replacement?  Maybe Bose or Apple (wish Apple would purchase Sonos because as good as the big HomePod is, it needs soundbars and bass modules).
    I disagree vehemently. I have two full-size HomePods as my TV speakers, and the bass is FANTASTIC, not to mention the Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos effect and gorgeous, clear mids and highs. It beats the absolute CRAP out of the soundbars I have previously owned.

    I could absolutely get thrown out of my apartment building if I ever dared turn up the volume to paint-peeling  levels, but a) don’t feel like going deaf and b) I try to be a considerate neighbour.

    If you’re in a situation where you can do yourself some real eardrum damage with concert-volume-level bass, you do you. I’m sure there’s a point in terms of volume where the HomePods will distort, but I haven’t found it and don’t care to look for it.
    macxpressldenning
  • Reply 5 of 9
    nubusnubus Posts: 443member
    jamnap said:
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on. 
    I guess you didn't drop Apple the week after "AntennaGate", butterfly keyboards, or Apple Maps. Why drop Sonos this fast?
    muthuk_vanalingamldenning
  • Reply 6 of 9
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,841member
    chasm said:
    jamnap said:
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on.  Any suggestions on a replacement?  Maybe Bose or Apple (wish Apple would purchase Sonos because as good as the big HomePod is, it needs soundbars and bass modules).
    I disagree vehemently. I have two full-size HomePods as my TV speakers, and the bass is FANTASTIC, not to mention the Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos effect and gorgeous, clear mids and highs. It beats the absolute CRAP out of the soundbars I have previously owned.

    I could absolutely get thrown out of my apartment building if I ever dared turn up the volume to paint-peeling  levels, but a) don’t feel like going deaf and b) I try to be a considerate neighbour.

    If you’re in a situation where you can do yourself some real eardrum damage with concert-volume-level bass, you do you. I’m sure there’s a point in terms of volume where the HomePods will distort, but I haven’t found it and don’t care to look for it.
    Yeah I agree with the HomePod bass. It has a lot of bass. They sound fantastic for TV speakers. I have 2 of the 1st gen and want 2 more of the 1st gen to set behind me for a complete set.  I'm very happy with my HomePods for what I use them for. 

    I don't care how smart Siri is on them as I don't use them for lots of commands other than turn the lights on or off, turn the thermostat to a certain temp, etc and  they work very well for that stuff. 
    edited May 21
  • Reply 7 of 9
    AgattoAgatto Posts: 7member
    I am curious as to why Sonos did not add WiFi to these headphones. I’m sure there is a reason but I’m not totally sure as to why they would not given the cost and competition.  Anyone have an idea?
    edited May 22
  • Reply 8 of 9
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 906member
    jamnap said:
    Have been waiting forever for these headphones, but after the recent Sonos App update bricked my 12-speaker Sonos home setup I have lost confidence in Sonos.  Will be selling off my system (lots of $$$ spent) and moving on.  Any suggestions on a replacement?  
    Hey, count yourself lucky if this is your first rodeo at getting bricked after a company releases an all-new, top to bottom rebuild of its app, OS or whatever. It shouldn't happen but it does. Sonos is a quality company and they will straighten it out. Even if you're using two subwoofers, I'm not sure why anyone would need a 12-speaker Sonos system, but you've obviously spent a lot of money and time getting your sound system to sound a certain way and it's not going to be easy to simply "move on" and replicate that. Not to mention that you'll be taking a significant loss on your used Sonos equipment. Think about it: who else has Sonos's experience in and commitment to higher end, wireless, home cinema sound systems? Maybe Bose, if you like that distinctive "Bose-y" sound. Who else invests so much in their OS? My advice is to chill and let Sonos get things straightened out. 
    ldenningmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 9
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 906member

    Agatto said:
    I am curious as to why Sonos did not add WiFi to these headphones. I’m sure there is a reason but I’m not totally sure as to why they would not given the cost and competition.  Anyone have an idea?
    Same reason that no one else has wifi headphones: it would kill battery life. 
    muthuk_vanalingammacxpress
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