Sonos Ace (first look) – Interesting, different, excellent (AV headphones)

The Sonos Ace (first look) look is about the company’s first foray into headphones, so it must be interesting, different, and excellent to win business from the hearts and minds of loyal Sennheiser, Sony or Bose users.

It largely succeeds at excellence. The sound is brilliant, ANC is up there with the best, and they are very comfortable. But whether you are prepared to fork out $699 when you can buy the also excellent Sennheiser Momentum 4 is $579, Bose Quite Comfort is $549, and Sony WH-1000XM5 is $549 is another story. These are all superb premium Bluetooth, over-the-ear, ANC headphones.

Different. Apart from the Sonos style, these are over-the-ear headphones in a field that uses all vegan leather, memory foam pads, and adjustable headbands. They all have an App to customise performance, and they all have a carry case.

So, it needs to excel in other ways. And that is where interesting comes in.

What is interesting?

With the caveat that this is Version 1, and some features are still under development, these are different.

  • It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon sound processor with aptX codecs, including aptX lossless (Android BT, USB-C, and 3.5, not iOS).
  • It can work with Bluetooth 5.4 (multi-point), 3.5mm to USB-C, and USB-C to USB-C—you can listen while charging (Sony and Bose cannot).
  • If you have a Sonos Arc soundbar (Beam and Ray bars soon), they ‘wirelessly’ connect to it using Sono’s own wireless speaker network. The Catch-22 is that the soundbar sound cuts out (and they are working on both the soundbar and headphone sound simultaneously). It has TrueCinema technology that will precisely map your space and render a complete virtual surround sound system.
  • Dolby Atmos (if your host device supports it)
  • Dolby head tracking (when connected to the soundbar) means that no matter where you look or walk in a room, the sound moves with you—it is pretty special.
  • The new Sonos app adds more functionality, including an EQ.
  • Easily removable/replaceable magnetic ear cups.
  • Nice user interface – essentially, one slider switch does most things.
  • Subtle Sonos branding on black or soft white colourways.
  • 1060mAh battery, 30 hours (BT/ANC at 50%), 3-hour charge, and 3 minutes for 10% fast charge (Dolby Atmos/soundbar mode about halves that).
  • Eight Mics – one on each earcup for voice, six for ANC.
  • 1-year ACL warranty and local service.
  • Voice control (from host BT device).
  • Wear detection.

What it is not—a Wi-Fi-connected headphone that would have made it unique and enabled multi-room use on the home network.

Sonos Ace (first look) – review to come

I look for a few things in headphones. Sonos Ace delivered these in spades.

  • Good mid and high bass ✅
  • The feeling of being there – great mid and high treble ✅
  • Wider sound stage (closed back is always inside your head) – With Dolby Content ✅
  • Excellent Left/Right 2.0 separation and directionality ✅
  • Spatial awareness – I want to hear sound move with Dolby Atmos ✅
  • Qualcomm aptX codec suite – Lossless is a bonus ✅
  • Comfort – these are very comfortable but, at 312g, are heavier than some competitors ✅
  • ANC that drowns out the world ✅
  • Aware mode that lets me communicate without removing the headphones ✅
  • Decent battery life (anything over 20 hours) ✅
  • BT multi-point for 2 devices ✅
  • Well-made and a carry case ✅

Sonos Ace product page

CyberShack AV news and reviews