Latest Innovations in Sonos Ace Headphone Technology

Latest Innovations in Sonos Ace Headphone Technology
Latest Innovations in Sonos Ace Headphone Technology
Jun 20, 2024

Great sound quality and ingenious home theater techniques, but more needs to be done.

In 2018, Dolby attempted to enter the headphone market with their highly advanced Dimension model, which provided great sound quality, but its $599 price tag prevented it from being popular. Recently, Sonos—another significant player in living room audio over the past ten years—has ventured into a likewise unexplored area. The Sonos Ace ($449), which has been teased and rumored for years, is finally here this week, and the firm is providing both excellent audio quality and a sophisticated appearance. Although many weren't prepared for the way these headphones interact with the speakers, the feature is functional. However, the Ace's initial lack of support could ruin an otherwise fantastic debut.

The ANC Performance And Sound Quality Of Sonos Ace

I had high hopes for the Ace's sound quality because of Sonos' reputation for excellent audio. In fact, the company's first pair of headphones has home theater functions along with audio quality comparable to its top speakers. When it comes to sound quality, the 40mm dynamic drivers on the Ace place it close to the top of our list of the best wireless headphones by providing both power and clarity. On Bilmuri's post-hardcore song "Talkin' 2 Ur Ghost," the bass is huge and boomy for kick drum thumps, but on Wyatt Flores' country foot-tapper "Milwaukee," where there's still plenty of detail in the more modest rhythm section, it's perfectly restrained.

The Ace is an excellent Dolby Atmos speaker, just like many other Sonos speakers. And it applies to both movies and TV shows. While the majority of the recordings are in a studio, Luke Combs did an Apple Music Live set that was recorded at a country music venue. You feel very much like you're at the show when you use the Ace. These headphones bring out the best in live band sounds, including reverb, the crowd singing, venue mix loudness, and live band natural features. The directional zooms of F1 cars and spacecraft on the Ace really made the movie shine, especially during the last siege in Rogue One and Drive to Survive.

How to pre-order the Sonos Ace headphones

There are two ways that the Sonos Ace supports lossless audio. Using a wired USB-C connection is the first method. Only the most latest Android devices can use the second. If you own one of those, you can use Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound platform's aptX Lossless, which enables better sound quality over Bluetooth. I was unable to test this second option because it wasn't available during the testing time, but according to Sonos, it will be available when the Ace ships on June 5.

Sonos offers a competitive ambient sound mode to the AirPods Max, albeit few businesses can match Apple's offering. The Ace almost reaches Apple's level of natural-sounding transparency audio, making it one of the few configurations where I could clearly hear my voice without having to yell. This works well if you need to utilize the Ace for a call or a brief conversation. It also indicates that you are fully aware of your surroundings, not just a mellowed version of them.

Another area where Sonos lacks experience is active noise cancellation (ANC), which is one of the Ace's few missteps. Even when it's muted, constant noise can still be heard unless the volume is increased. To muffle human voices, you'll also need to turn it up quite a bit. It's not as good as Bose or Sony, but it should be sufficient in most situations.

True Cinema and TV Audio Swap

The Ace's capability to receive audio from a Sonos soundbar is where it shows off its power. With a single button push, you may switch between the TV Audio Swap feature and your headphones or the Sonos app. In essence, you can use the tool to establish private listening in your living room during times when you don't want to wake up your family. It only takes a few minutes to set up the Ace so that it can be connected to your Sonos soundbar. Then, TV Audio Swap only requires hitting a button. Moreover, game consoles and streaming devices that are routed through the speaker are compatible with Sonos soundbars since they are connected to TVs via HDMI ARC.

A Wi-Fi chip within the Ace takes over to collect signals from the soundbar when you enable the TV Audio Swap. For controls and settings, low-energy Bluetooth stays linked to your phone; however, unlike multipoint Bluetooth, it does not allow for device shifting. This implies that in order for Bluetooth to reconnect after receiving a call, you must un-swap. If TV Audio Swap is enabled, your phone will not ring through your headphones.

Only when TV Audio Swap is enabled are spatial audio and Dolby head tracking accessible. Spatial audio is a good way to upmix stereo content into something more immersive, but you can disable one or both of those. The NBA playoffs broadcasts on TNT serve as a perfect illustration. The trio providing commentary is usually audible over background noise from the audience, but after Sonos performs its magic, the broadcasters take center stage and become more animated. at addition, you get the impression that you are actually at the arena thanks to the audience's applause.

Sonos Finally Delivers Headphones, And They're Called Sonos Ace

On the Ace, dynamic head tracking performs admirably, and Sonos uses a unique implementation that reduces annoyance when you need to move around. First of all, because it isn't extremely sensitive, small movements like glancing down at your phone won't cause the sound to move. Second, head tracking will stop working if you move away from the linked soundbar until you get back close. This implies that the music you're listening to won't remain in place as you turn to leave or spin nonstop while you're taking a quick trip to the kitchen.

The primary disclaimer is that TV Audio Swap is currently limited to the Sonos Arc soundbar. Although a specific release date has not yet been announced, Sonos claims that support for the Beam and Ray generations will arrive eventually. Furthermore, there are no intentions to permit customers who own a set of speakers for home entertainment to employ a comparable feature. Although the firm didn't completely rule it out for a later update, you're out of luck right now if your TV is flanked by two Era 300 units. Android users will have to wait as audio switch is currently limited to the iOS version of the app.

You will be let down if you were expecting to be able to transfer audio to the Ace much like you would with a Sonos multiroom system. Additionally, there isn't a hand-off option to make switching from listening on a speaker at home to your commute is simple. According to Sonos, a certain version of those would have depended more on Wi-Fi and so affected battery life. Rather than using Wi-Fi, the company chose this ingenious sound switching that only activates when using a soundbar as a power source.

If you've ever used a Sonos speaker, you've probably heard of TruePlay, which uses microphones in one of the company's products to map the acoustics of a space. A variant known as True Cinema is available for the Ace, but it functions in a distinct manner. To create the illusion that you are not wearing the Ace at all, True Cinema virtually recreates surround sound for a room inside the headphones. According to Sonos, you may improve the immersion by having the headphones mimic the acoustics of your living room. Regretfully, I was unable to test it because it is yet another unfinished item.

The Sonos Ace's Layout

It's not surprising that Sonos was fixated on the design of its initial headphones, considering how meticulously it makes its speakers. The ear cups' design draws inspiration from gadgets such as the Move 2, and to polish off the upscale appearance, the company used a combination of matte finishes, stainless steel, and vegan leather. In my opinion, the white variant appears somewhat more elegant due to the contrast between the silver metal accents and the black option's tone-on-tone design.

The concealed hinge is a crucial design element that adds to the Ace's stylish appearance. Sonos made the decision to just have the ear cups rotate flat to fit in their carrying case, as opposed to many headphones that fold in on themselves for storage. Apple utilized this strategy for the AirPods Max, and other businesses like Sony have also done so in the past. These headphones don't take up much room in a bag because of the sleek design of the ear cups and the Ace in general. Additionally, Sonos packaged USB-C and USB-C to 3.5mm cables in addition to a magnetic cord pouch for the case. It's your move, Apple.

The Ace is really cozy as well. Helpful features include memory foam ear cushions, a padded headband, and a form that fits well on large heads like mine. There's no tight feeling around my ears, and they feel light. Even though I wasn't able to test them out on a flight, I could definitely picture the Ace being a perfect travel companion because, thanks to TV Audio Swap, they were comfortable during the entire movie.

Life Of The Battery

Sonos Ace review: quality noise-cancelling headphones worth the wait | Sonos  | The Guardian

With ANC turned on, Sonos guarantees 30 hours of use with the Ace. It is comparable to flagship versions from companies like Sony and Bose and lasts 10 hours longer than AirPods Max. I was able to complete my test with looping audio at 60–70% volume, which was 30 minutes longer than the manufacturer had promised. You should bear in mind that Sonos is aware that TV Audio Swap affects its reported statistic if you plan to go on a binge. However, I didn't observe any significant depletion while I was evaluating. In the unlikely event that your battery runs out, a quick-charge function allows you to get three hours of listening time in just three minutes.

Read Also: The New Sonos App and Future Feature Updates

The Competition For Sonos Ace

The main rival of the Ace at this pricing point is the AirPods Max. At full price, Apple's over-ear headphones cost $100 more, but as recently as this month, they were only $450. Unlike the Ace, these are more convenient because they are AirPods, which sync with iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This features hands-free Siri, smooth switching when you receive a call, automated pairing with devices you've connected to iCloud, and sound adjustments with Adaptive EQ. Despite the high-quality materials, the Max is pleasant to wear for extended periods of time and offers spatial audio with head tracking.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best active noise canceling headphones and a more affordable solution for most users. To put it simply, no other company's flagship model has as many features as Sony's. The company's technologies, including as Speak-to-Chat, Adaptive Sound Control, and DSEE Extreme audio upscaling, enhance the 1000XM5's capabilities beyond its impressive sound quality and potent ANC. While other providers only offer spatial sound via 360 Reality Audio, Sony created a comfortable gadget that can be used for hours at a time with any kind of material. Granted, at $330, the 1000XM5 is now significantly less expensive than the Ace.


With the release of the Ace, Sonos made an outstanding headphone debut after a long wait of years. There's definitely space for improvement, and it's unfortunate that the firm hasn't yet announced when updates to the Android app, support for all of its soundbars, and a crucial home theater function would be available. Undoubtedly, Sonos produced a beautifully designed and exceptionally well-sounding pair of headphones, but a little more refinement would have made a big difference.