Sonos Ace headphones make home theatre personal

Sonos Ace headphones reveal
Image: Sonos.

Bringing head-tracking and spatial audio to Sonos’ home theatre setup, the Sonos Ace headphones aspire to deliver big sound without disturbing the household.

Set to be released on 5 June, the $699 Sonos Ace are standalone Bluetooth headphones with the added benefit of connecting via Wi-Fi to Sonos’ home theatre ecosystem.

The Sonos Ace is the home audio giant’s first foray into wearable personal audio, aiming to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Apple AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Ultra.

Sonos Ace headphones black colour
Image: Sonos.

While Sonos is one of the leaders in the wireless home audio space, the prospect of breaking into the high-end headphones market is still daunting, according to Sonos’ Tim Cunningham, Director, Product Integrity Engineering.

Sonos’ “sound board” of acoustic and audio engineers spent more than 1000 hours fine-tuning the sound of the headphones, Cunningham revealed.

“In all, we undertook a three-year development project in order to ensure we could deliver headphones that were worthy of the Sonos name, and could really compete with the Apples and Sonys of the world,” he said.

“We wanted to create fantastic headphones that were great to own just as Bluetooth headphones, but at the same time bring something uniquely Sonos to the table, which is where the home theatre experience comes in.”

The tech behind Sonos Ace

When playing music, the Sonos Ace headphones can stream lossless audio over Bluetooth 5.4 or USB-C, with support for Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound AptX Lossless and Apple Lossless Audio Codec. The headphones also support Bluetooth multipoint for quickly switching between devices.

In the lounge room, with a single button press, the Sonos Ace headphones can connect to a Sonos Arc soundbar via 5 GHz Wi-Fi, with support for Sonos’ Beam, Beam (Gen 2) and Ray soundbars to follow. 

Sonos partnered with Dolby to include support for immersive Dolby Atmos sound, including spatial audio (like the Sonos Era 300 speakers) and head tracking. A future update will add TrueCinema technology for mapping the lounge room, which Sonos says will render a surround sound experience so realistic that wearers will forget they are wearing headphones.

The home theatre audio processing is performed on the soundbar, which then delivers the binaural sound rendering to the headphones. This means that Sonos Ace can’t be used as direct Wi-Fi headphones, without a soundbar, for listening to music around the house.

Built for comfort

The headphones feature a lightweight memory-foam-lined headband to evenly distribute weight, assisted by a hidden hinge supporting each can. Meanwhile, replaceable memory foam ear cushions, wrapped in soft vegan leather, minimise pressure while creating a strong acoustic seal. 

“While the headband looks simple, it contains a combination of different foam densities,” Cunningham says. “Meanwhile the ear cushions and hinges also assist with comfort.”

“Headbands often have a pressure point on your head which becomes noticeable after a while, but the Sonos Ace’s design means you don’t feel the weight in any one spot, which ensures they’re comfortable for extended periods.”

Inside, the Sonos Ace features 40 mm dynamic drivers, along with eight microphones to support active noise cancellation, transparency mode and hands-free calling.

The built-in battery offers up to 30 hours of ANC listening time, with fast charging adding up to three hours of battery life with a three-minute charge using the included USB-C cable. The headphones also come with a USB-C to audio jack adaptor for connecting to sound sources via an audio cable.

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