Sonos Ace wireless headphones: release date, price, specs, features and more

Sonos Ace headphones in soft white finish lying flat on a table
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

They've been rumoured for years, but Sonos' first pair of wireless headphones have finally arrived.

The Sonos Ace were announced on 21st May. They mark Sonos' entry into the highly competitive world of wireless headphones, bearing some similarities (and a fair few differences, it has to be said) with premium pairs like the Sony WH-1000XM5, Apple AirPods Max and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. Which is very good company to keep.

It's a bold move. Sony has a long and storied history of making Award-winning headphones, as does Bose (who invented noise-cancelling technology). Apple, meanwhile, was able to put its learnings from its huge-selling AirPods earbuds range into its first pair of over-ear headphones, to great success.

But Sonos? That could have some industry analysts sucking their teeth. The firm has built a strong reputation in multi-room over the last 20 years, with devices spanning from soundbars to portable speakers, so a pair of headphones seems a logical next step. If anyone can do it, it's Sonos.

Let's see what the Sonos Ace offer.

Sonos Ace headphones: release date

As rumoured, the Sonos Ace launched on Tuesday 21st May. They will go on sale on Wednesday 5th June.

They've been a long time coming. They were first rumoured back in 2021, while Sonos has reportedly been working on them since 2019. Safe to say that Sonos went back to the drawing board a fair few times during the five-year development.

Sonos Ace headphones: price

The Sonos Ace are confirmed to cost £449 / $449 / AU$699. That's as expected.

The makes them a little pricier than the Sony WH-1000XM5 (£380 / $399 / AU$550) but cheaper than the Apple AirPods Max (£549 / $549 / AU$899). They're closest in price to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (£450 / $429 / AU$649).

Though bear in mind that all of these rival pairs are older and are quite often discounted. Whereas Sonos devices don't often go on sale, even if they are no longer new.

Sonos Ace headphones: design

Sonos Ace headphones with accessories and travel case

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Imagine a Sonos speaker ported to the form factor of an over-ear headphone, and you'd be pretty close to the Ace. Their minimalist look is very on-brand for Sonos, right down to the company logo being the same colour as the headphones themselves (the same can be seen on the new Roam 2 portable speaker). This makes the logo nice and subtle, but then it shimmers when it catches the light.

An anti-fingerprint coating fends off your dabs, keeping the earcups looking fresh and clean. The earpads and headband are cushioned with memory foam coated in vegan leather, while stainless steel yokes makes adjusting the headband nice and smooth. The earcups themselves are smaller than the AirPods Max's and protrude less than the Sony XM5's, but are still big enough to cover our ears.

The concealed hinges and joints are reminiscent of Sony's 'noiseless' design that premiered with the XM5. As well as looking nice and sleek, it means you don't catch your hair. Like the XM5, the earcups swivel flat but don't fold, so the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (which do fold) are still the most portable of the premium pairs we've tested.

The Ace's earpads are replaceable, and fix in place using strong magnets.

You control the headphones using physical buttons, which should be more reliable than capacitive touch controls. Like many Sonos devices, the Ace come in Black or Soft White. There's one more nice touch – the earcup mesh differs in colour to differentiate between left and right, so you don't put them on the wrong way around. Sometimes it's the little touches that make the biggest difference...

Sonos Ace headphones: features

Sonos Ace headphones connected to Sonos Arc in living room setting

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Ace have features aplenty. Bluetooth 5.4 (the latest version) comes as standard, and lossless audio is supported via Snapdragon Sound’s aptX Lossless and Apple’s ALAC codecs. Lossless audio should work over wireless and wired playback, according to Sonos.

The big news is there's no wi-fi. Or at least, there is for connecting to a Sonos soundbar for certain features (more on those later), but not for integrating the Ace into your whole Sonos multi-room system. Which seems a shame. Sonos has built its reputation on a killer multi-room set-up that's open and easy to use, so it seems like a missed opportunity to omit its newest product. But Sonos isn't ruling it out for a future pair of headphones.

Battery life matches the Sony WH-1000XM5 at 30 hours, with ANC and Bluetooth activated. They pause playback when you take them off and restart it when you put them on again, and spatial audio with dynamic headtracking is available with Dolby Atmos content (including movies, and music from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Deezer).

So what about these Sonos-exclusive features? TV Audio Swap sees the Ace play the audio from your Sonos soundbar through them for private viewing. It's activated with one button press (either in the app or by holding down a button on the Ace's earcup). TV Audio Swap works with the Sonos Arc at launch and will come to other current Sonos soundbars soon (but not older models).

Then there's TrueCinema calibration, which is basically TruePlay for headphones. It analyses your room and aims to give you a more immersive, spatial audio feel through the cans, so it sounds as if you're listening via a full surround sound system. It will arrive later in the year.

Sonos Ace headphones: noise cancellation

Close up of buttons on Sonos Ace headphones

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

You toggle between full active noise cancellation (ANC) and Aware mode (which lets in ambient sound) using a button on the right earcup. To turn ANC off, you'll need to use the Sonos app. Eight mics (four in each earcup) are used for ANC and for voice calls.

We've had a demo of the tech, but weren't shown the final version of the app and so don't know if there are levels of ANC. While we did experience the ANC, it was in a very artificial setting, so we're reserving judgement until we've thoroughly tested them ourselves.

In the meantime, you can read our Sonos Ace hands-on review.

Sonos Ace headphones: initial verdict

Launching a premium pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones is no mean feat – competition is fierce at that end of the market, with Sony, Sennheiser and Bose all vying for supremacy, not to mention the likes of Apple, B&W and Focal now offering premium premium wireless headphones. But if anyone could muscle in on such an established market and make an impact, it's Sonos.

In its 20-odd years in the business, Sonos has built a solid reputation as an audio pioneer, so a move into headphones could be a very smart one indeed. If the Ace's performance can match their design and feature set, they could be a real challenger to the established headphone models.

Stay tuned for a full review.

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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

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  • waster98234
    Why would anyone buy this overpriced piece of hardware when the new sonos app is lacking in basic features and is bug-ridden. This headphones need to be avoided at all costs.
    Reply