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Sonos Ace Trumps Headphone Market: CE Pro Review

You could say that upon its entry into the headphone category Sonos aced the product launch. All wordplay aside, my review of the new Sonos Ace headphones has led me to believe that these will be a wakeup call to manufacturers in headphone category through the product’s high level of performance, state-of-the-art technologies—and overall value proposition.

Announced back in late May and made available for purchase on June 5, the latest Sonos product can be used as a home entertainment solution on top of its standard personal listening capabilities.

Sending me a pair to review, I’ve been using the headphones for approximately a month, including a trip from Boston to California in which I was able to impress family with the sound quality and features the Sonos Ace headphones provide.

Sonos Ace Features Review and Setup

The popular global home audio company has built a reputation as a provider of home theater and whole-house audio products that are easily controllable through its user-friendly Sonos app.

Entering the headphone category with the Sonos Ace product, the company is innovating with its latest product without forcing consumers to spend exuberant amounts of money. The Sonos Ace headphones offer users features such as custom-designed 40mm drivers, along with a choice of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), Sonos’ Aware Mode, which allows wearers to monitor audio activities around them, and Sonos’ TrueCinema technology.

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Bringing spatial audio or as it is more commonly known—immersive audio to a wider array of people—the headphones provide Dolby Atmos compatibility. Sonos specifies the headphones to deliver up to 30 hours of battery life, and the Sonos Ace employs USB-C connections for charging, as well as a fast-charge option that provides up to three hours of battery life with a three-minute charge.

Some of the other options the headphones offer include Sonos’ TV Audio Swap in which users can with a compatible Sonos soundbar such as the Arc “swap” audio—meaning instead of playing audio through the soundbar, users can activate the swap option to play audio through the Sonos Ace headphones.

Additionally, the headphones provide a head tracking option in which immersive audio “follows” users as they turn their heads left or right.

Summing up the comfort features, the headphones employ adjustable arms, along with padded ear cups and a padded headband.

Moreover, the headphones come with companion cables and a slim-profile travel case.

Sonos Ace Features

Aesthetically, the Ace headphones’ industrial design resembles Sonos’ traditional soundbars and speakers

Internally, the headphones incorporate 40mm drivers, eight beamforming microphones for noise control, and an LED status indicator on the left ear cup

The Sonos Ace can reproduce spatial audio, including movie soundtracks and Dolby Atmos content from Apple Music

Sonos utilizes foam-cushioning on the headband and padded ear cups to allow users to wear the headphones for long listening sessions

The right ear cup incorporates volume up/down, play/pause/skip track; answer/decline phone call buttons, and the ability to choose active noise cancelling

MSRP is $449

To start the review, setting up Sonos Ace headphones took a matter of minutes. I simply discovered the headphones using my iPhone 15’s Bluetooth option and from there I was able to discover the headphones within the Sonos app to drill down into many of the control and operational options the new headphones offer.

In the app I activated the headphone tracking option, along with the ANC option. I also left the EQ (equalization) flat, and I activated the loudness control. As a default, the wear detection is “on,” as well as “play/pause when I take the headphones off or put them on, and I activated the “Wear to Answer,” which allows me to take phone calls automatically when I am using the Sonos Ace headphones.

Performance and Final Thoughts

I could be accused of being a Sonos fanboy with this review … and that’s O.K. I respect the company’s engineering and product development and I think it once again has utilized those resources to develop what is arguably the best headphone in the consumer headphone market.

The Sonos Ace headphones are so good I think Sonos will force competitors to include features such as spatial audio and headphone tracking into their products without adding significant costs.

Now having spent a considerable amount of time listening to the headphones with traditional stereo content, as well as lossless, high-resolution audio, and spatial audio with music via Apple Music, and streaming content, I have been consistently excited to use the headphones.

One of the sneaky nice features the headphones offer is the swap option. I was able to “swap” the audio from my Arc soundbar with the headphones quickly and easily. This allows users to continue activities such as gaming and streaming without distributing their significant others or kids that have early bedtimes.

As a travel headphone, the ANC works well to block out outside noise, which is great on long flights. The other benefit of this is that as a user the Sonos Ace allows for lower volumes to save wearers’ ears from high volume levels over long listening sessions. I also found the sound quality to be very good. Tonally, I think the Sonos Ace headphones are pretty much neutral. The headphones don’t overemphasize lower frequencies, the midrange has plenty of clarity and the treble frequencies are extended without any tinniness.

Other things I really liked about the headphones was the ability to reproduce spatial audio. On the vacation I took in California I attended a family reunion. I was able to share the listening experience of the headphones with my brother-in-law and my daughter and they were all impressed. My brother-in-law who plays drums enjoyed watching Drumeo videos on YouTube on my MacBook Pro using USB-C connections, while my daughter who is a student in the SUNY Oneonta music program thought the spatial audio content brought new life to content from The Police, Rush, Michael Jackson and other legacy artists while listening to Apple Music from my iPhone.  

My daughter did notice that with the ANC engaged that it added a bit of tinniness and thinness to some of the top end content. She thinks that users could use EQ to remove that thinness. I’ll add that her 19-year-old ears are much better suited to hear subtilties like that versus my 50-something year-old ears. Like many older adults I have lost the top end of my hearing, which happens for the most part naturally.

I’ll add that I thought streaming content and shows such as Dark Matter from Apple TV+ and Fallout from Prime Video with their immersive audio soundtracks was much more engaging on my iPhone during our cross-country flights using the Sonos Ace headphones versus standard stereo headphones.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about Sonos’ entry into the headphone market for this review … I have thoroughly enjoyed the headphones. In fact, I think the Sonos Ace could be the best product the company has ever developed, and the headphones are so good and provide so much value, I think Sonos will redefine how headphone manufacturers develop their products in terms of features, performance and overall value.

If my enthusiasm for the headphones isn’t enough to convince you to buy a pair, I highly suggest trying a pair of the Sonos Ace headphones out for yourself. I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusions I did.

Sonos Ace CE Pros and Cons

CE Pros:

The Sonos Ace headphones are simply fun to use for music and streaming video

The headphones provide a balanced tonal experience with low noise levels through the active noise cancelling options

With the ability to deliver spatial audio, streaming content and Dolby Atmos Apple Music content take on a whole-new life whether at home or traveling

Cons:

On occasion the head tracking option did not align with my head movement

Overall, Sonos did a fantastic job to make the Ace headphones travel friendly, but with that said, the travel case, while slim will take up some space within a carryon piece of luggage.

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