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Sonos wireless headphones: release date news, rumours, and all of the leaks

Sonos wireless headphones: release date news, rumours, and all of the leaks
(Image credit: Sonos (via USPTO) )

Sonos is said to be close to launching its first ever pair of headphones. This would be quite a departure for the brand, which has built an reputation as the king of multi-room audio. Will Sonos' excellent track record help it break into the personal audio market? Here's everything we know so far about the Sonos wireless headphones...

The exciting news is that the Sonos headphones could arrive sooner rather than later. The cans were a no-show at the firm's launch event last March – the Sonos Roam portable speaker hogged the limelight. But a Sonos exec recently stated that the firm is "committed to launching at least two new products per year". 

Interesting. Could the Sonos headphones fill the second slot, or will they be usurped by the rumoured Sonos Sub Mini subwoofer? If the Sonos headphones are next up, will they be on-ear, over-ear or in-ear? Wireless?

We've rounded up all the latest Sonos leaks and rumours, and sprinkled a bit of industry knowledge of our own into the mix, to bring you the best possible idea ahead of a launch. And if we're in the right ballpark, it looks like we're in for a treat...

Sonos headphones: release date news

Sonos wireless headphones: release date news, rumours, and all of the leaks

(Image credit: Sonos)

We had hoped that the Sonos headphones would be here before the end of 2021. In a call with investors in February, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence promised "to deliver innovative new products", and said a new device would launch in March.

That device turned out to be the Sonos Roam Bluetooth speaker. But as Spence promised to launch"two new products a year", we were hoping to see the Sonos wireless headphones show up next. 

Alas, as of 1st December 2021, the whereabouts of the rumoured Sonos cans remains unknown. It seems unlikely that Sonos would launch such a pivotal product this close to Christmas, so it's likely we'll see the company's first headphones break cover in early 2022.  

Spence previously confirmed that the firm would launch a product in a new category "in the next year". That was back in March, so we'd expect the Sonos wireless headphones to arrive by the end of March 2022. They could even show up as soon as January, when the tech world converges on Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

Sonos headphones: price rumours

Sonos' consumer audio products tend to go for premium prices, whether its wireless speakers or soundbars. Hence we'd expect any Sonos wireless headphones to go for a premium pice, with potentially a more affordable product further down the road. That's certainly the way Sonos approached the speaker and soundbar categories – in the former, the Sonos Move was followed by the Sonos Roam, while in the latter, the Sonos Playbar was followed by the Sonos Beam.

The rumoured Sonos headphones might not come close to the cost of the Apple AirPods Max (£549 / $549 / AU$899), but we expect them to be similar to well-respected and well-established rivals from Sony and Bose. 

Sony's superb WH-1000XM4 (our current favourite over-ear headphones) retail for £350 ($350, AU$550), while Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 go for £350 ($399, AU$550). 

For Sonos, it's a fine line to walk. Price them too low, and consumers won't expect great sound quality. Too high, and they will turn off some potential buyers. Sonos has a large and dedicated following, but it's not quite at Apple levels. Hence an asking price of over £400 ($550, AU$700) is probably off the cards.

According to Bloomberg's sources, the Sonos wireless headphones will cost around £220 ($300, AU$400). That would undercut Sony's range toppers by quite a way. Would Sonos charge that much less than the current industry best? We're not convinced. We're placing our bet around the £370 ($515, AU$660) mark.

Sonos headphones: design

Sonos wireless headphones: release date news, rumours, and all of the leaks

(Image credit: German Patent and Trademark Office)

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes: in-ear, on-ear, over-ear, wireless, wireless earbuds, sporty models, and so on. It seems like Sonos is going for an over-ear wireless model, as detailed by a patent that emerged in September last year.

The patent shows two designs, both of which take an over-ear, wireless form. They both have oval ear cups that are angled slightly so that the lower part sits a little further forward on the wearer.

As you can see from the image above, the headphones look like a pretty standard pair of over-ear cans, but the devil is in the detail. Apple's AirPods Max raised the bar somewhat in the design stakes lately – not only do they feature premium materials and an "obsessive craftsmanship", they also let you swap the ear cups for replacements. Handy if yours wear out, or you just want to sport a different colour for a change.

Replaceable parts are of course more sustainable and something we're also seeing in wireless speakers such as the B&O Beosound Level, and indeed the Sonos Move (Sonos now sells a replacement battery kit for the Move). 

Given that Sonos recently pledged to deliver "innovative new products", and that it has already adopted a culture of replaceable parts in its other products, there's a high likelihood that its first headphones will look to play on this.

This was bolstered by another patent recently. As well as mentioning interchangeable ear cushions, a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, it shows a sleeker look courtesy of headband rods that flow directly into the outer ear cups (the original design relied on a more traditional rocker bracket).

Another neat new touch is the Sonos logo, which is now proudly displayed on the ear cup. Though as it's printed in broken line text, it's not fixed in that position.

But hold your horses. Will Sonos' headphones actually be an in-ear pair? The US firm recently took a controlling stake in Glasgow-based RHA Audio (recently renamed Origin North Ltd). RHA was founded in 2011, and specialised in wireless in-ear models like the TrueConnect 2. Would Sonos really buy an in-ear specialist if it was going to make over-ear headphones? Were the past patents misleading? Or will Sonos launch both over-ear and in-ear designs with a full range of headphone styles?

To add to the intrigue, a May 2021 Sonos patent spotted by Zats Not Funny describes two different wireless earbuds designs, including one with detachable battery plates that look to be roughly the size of a thumbnail and attach (possibly magnetically?) to the outer body of each bud. Watch this space...

Sonos headphones: features

Sonos wireless headphones: release date news, rumours, and all of the leaks

(Image credit: Dixons)

The first patent also points to some pretty cool new features. Chief among them? Swap, which lets the cans work seamlessly with your home Sonos speakers like the Play:5.

Here's how it works. You come home listening to your headphones, and can 'swap' the music to your home Sonos system, so the same song switches to play from your Sonos multi-room speakers. It happens seamlessly, so the song doesn't miss a beat.

It debuted in the Sonos Roam earlier this year. With Sonos' latest Bluetooth speaker, it's activated by a long-press of the play/pause button.

It's not something we've seen in headphones before, though we have seen something similar in other devices – for example, apps that let you start watching a TV show on your phone and pick up where you left off on your TV when you come home. Some headphones can also detect when you take them off and pause what's playing. Sonos' feature would seem like a natural evolution of these two functions.

Other than that, the patent shows all the usual bells and whistles: voice assistant control (as seen on the firm's multi-room speakers and soundbars, like the Beam), volume slider, playback controls and a mic for handsfree calls. In fact, according to a Bloomberg report, which predates the patent's emergence, the headphones will work with multiple virtual assistants, much like the Sonos Arc and Sonos One speakers.

We would also expect active noise cancelling (ANC), though how many levels and whether – and how much – control the wearer has over it remains to be seen. One of the patent designs mentions a rotating knob, which would give the wearer control over the ANC. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (pictured, above) give you 10 levels of ANC to choose from – Sonos doesn't have to match that necessarily, but some control would be nice.

Lastly, battery life. The AirPods Max manage 20 hours between charges, while the Sony WH-1000XM4 manage 30. We would expect Sonos to deliver somewhere between these two figures, though a lot depends on what kind of feature set it offers. No noise cancellation? Then there's no excuse for not giving us more than 30 hours of playback on a single charge, thank you very much.

Sonos 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, B&W and Bose all vying for supremacy. It's only been made harder by the recent entry of industry titan Apple into the space.

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 it can marry a desirable design, great sound and a killer feature set complete with an industry-first feature like Swap, it could be a real game-changer.

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Sonos: everything you need to know about the multi-room king

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