Sonos Ace headphones review
Image: Alice Clarke.

Sonos Ace review: incredible wireless headphones

9.5

To say I had high expectations for a pair of Sonos headphones is an understatement. As a demanding audio nerd on a budget with a penchant for multi-room audio, Sonos has been my system of choice for a decade because the company nails the tuning on their devices every time.

While the Ace doesn’t have everything I was hoping for in a pair of Sonos headphones, they are so much better than any other headphones available under $1,000 that I’m thrilled with them.

At $699, they’re more expensive than most of its direct competitors. But I think its feature set more than justifies the extra cost. These are the Bluetooth headphones over ear fans have been waiting for.

Sonos Ace headphones review

First impressions

They’re just so beautiful. The Sonos Ace is a pair of headphones that wears its design inspirations on its sleeve, while improving on every single element from other brands.

The Ace looks simple, yet elegant. A padded headband, connecting to metal arms that attach the race-track-shaped ear cups. The pleather padded headband and ear cups are soft, gentle, and comfortable over long periods.

A downside was that I found the setup and operations of the app to be quite buggy. However, given I was testing the headphones pre-release, I hope the app is fixed before the general public gets to try it.

Sonos Ace case
Image: Alice Clarke.

Another bonus is that this is one of the better headphone cases I’ve seen. It’s compact, and the little magnetic cable pouch is a clever addition. I don’t normally use headphone cases, but this one seems worth holding onto.

Sonos Ace headphones specifications

DriversCustom-designed 40 mm dynamic driver in each cup.
MicrophonesEight
Noise controlActive noise cancelling
DimensionsHeight: 191 mm
Width: 160 mm
Depth: 85 mm 0.312 kg
Controls and buttonsPress the Power/Bluetooth button to power on Sonos Ace and pair a device. Use the Content Key to control playback, adjust volume, manage calls, and more. The Noise Control button lets you switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Aware mode.
Supported audioLoseless, Spatial,
Bluetooth5.4
BatteryLi-ion, 1060 mAh battery provides up to 30 hours of listening time or 24 hours of call time with Active Noise Cancellation or Aware mode enabled.
ChargingRapid charge provides 3 hours listening time in 3 minutes from 0%. Complete charge from 0% requires up to 3 hours.
Box contentsUSB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to 3.5 mm cable, travel case, Sonos Ace
Price (RRP)$699
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteSonos Australia

30 hours of battery life is a decent chunk of time. It’s what I would expect from headphones this expensive, but it’s still good to call out.

What’s missing, though, is a wi-fi connection for audio. You cannot connect it to your Sonos system like a regular Sonos speaker and use it to listen to music in maximum wireless quality. This is the main thing I’m disappointed about, and seems like a real missed opportunity. It does use wireless to connect to the Arc for home theatre mode, and listening to how exquisite that sounds makes me even sadder that Sonos didn’t fully commit.

Aside from that, on paper, they’re everything you’d expect from $700 headphones.

Music

This is really the main thing that matters, and I’m pleased to report that all my other noise-cancelling over-ear headphones are dead to me now. Nothing I have under $950 can touch this sound quality. Every single genre I throw at it just sounds silky smooth and clear. When plugged in using the included USB-C cable, I’m picking out details I haven’t heard on anything other than $1400 monitors.

Unlike those $1400 monitors, I’m not crying at the emotion of most mundane pop songs, but I am still hearing more depth of emotion than I’m used to on Bluetooth. That said, I’m currently listening to A Concert Six Months From Now by Finneas. I have heard this song dozens and dozens of times because it’s one of my regular headphone-testing songs, and yet it’s just made me tear up while writing this section. It just comes across so beautifully.

Sonos Ace headphones in case
Image: Alice Clarke.

Usually, headphones are tuned for just a few different genres, and there’s at least one I can point to that just sounds bad. I haven’t found that with the Sonos Ace. I’ve tried brass bands, classical, Broadway, country, folk, R&B, rap, dance, metal, punk, rock, pop, big band and Motown. I haven’t found anything that doesn’t sound amazing.

Everything is rich with a lot of depth. There’s a touch more bass than pure reproduction monitors would offer, but it’s not overwhelming. Songs that are supposed to be grounded are perfectly so, and songs that should soar still sound untethered. Each new and old song is a pleasure to discover.

Home theatre

I’m not sure to which deity the engineers at Sonos sold their souls to pull this off, but it was clearly worth it. I had expected that connecting the Ace to the Sonos Arc would mean that the sound from the Arc went to your headphones in good quality.

And it does do that. The part where it’s magic is that the Ace also uses the TruePlay tuning data from your Arc system to tell the Ace what your room sounds like, and then plays the audio with the same reflections and echoes as your living room, making it sound like you’re just listening out loud.

I have to keep checking that it really is playing from my headphones, rather than coming out of the Arc, the effect is that accurate when sitting on my couch.

Of course, the effect is not perfect. Sitting at my dining table, behind my Era 300 rears, seems to leave the Ace confused, like it can’t work out which way my head is looking and the direction changes unexpectedly. Hopefully, this bug will be ironed out before release.

Sitting on the couch, though, in the area I mostly set up for TruePlay the home theatre mode is, well, ace.

Noise cancelling

This is where I get a bit disappointed. The noise cancelling is really good, but I still don’t think it’s quite as good as the Sony XM4s. It’s better than the AirPods Max, but it’s still not the best available.

Conversely, the transparency/awareness mode is better than almost any other headphones I’ve tried, though it still can’t hold a candle to the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation.

Controls

I could write a love letter to the controls on the Ace. They just make sense. There aren’t too many – just two buttons and a slider/button hybrid, but they all carry their weight. There’s a power/Bluetooth button, a button to switch between voice control and transparency/hold for voice control, and a content key that includes a volume slider.

They’re not quite as simple and elegant as the controls on the Apple AirPods Max, but they’re close enough that I want them to be used as a model for future headphones.

Calls

The microphone is bad. Any time I try to take a call on the Sonos Ace, I’m told that I sound muffled and the person on the other end can’t hear me properly. Sonos gets an F in this regard.

Who are the Sonos Ace headphones for?

People who really care about getting the best noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones for travel, general listening and (particularly) home theatre. If you don’t have a Sonos Arc (or one of the other Sonos sound bars, which will be supported after launch), then you won’t get the full benefit. But even then, I would still recommend the Sonos Ace.

The Sonos Ace is the best pair of Bluetooth headphones I have used in an extremely long time, if not ever. While there are absolutely some areas in which other pairs of headphones are better, the Sonos Ace is the better overall package (unless hands-free calls are important to you). These will be the headphones I travel with from now on, and the headphones I will use to watch TV while feeding my newborn.

Sonos Ace
The Sonos Ace is the best pair of Bluetooth headphones I have used in an extremely long time, if not ever.
Features
9
Value for money
9
Performance
9.5
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
Sounds amazing
Home theatre mode is pure witchcraft
Excellent controls
Negatives
Microphone quality is awful for calls
No Wi-Fi audio for music
There are other headphones with better noise cancelling
9.5