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Sonos Ace review: Exceptional

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10Expert Score
Exceptionally Ace

Sonos’ first pair of headphones were worth the wait, delivering exceptional sound quality and some really cool sound sharing features.

Design
10
Performance
10
Pros
  • Really comfortable
  • Incredible sound
  • The TV Audio Swap function is magic
Cons
  • Ear cups fold hard-side down
  • New Sonos app needs a little more work

It’s been years since we started hearing rumours of a new pair of Sonos headphones. Now they are here, and they are, in my opinion, worth the wait.

Dubbed the Sonos Ace, this is a premium pair of noise-cancelling headphones that combines the brand’s audio excellence with its networked audio skills. 

While they are a great pair of headphones in their own right, they become magical if you have a Sonos Arc powering your home theatre setup. 

And that’s probably the biggest selling point. There are plenty of brilliant noise-cancelling headphones on the market today, but the way these integrate into a Sonos-powered home can’t be compared with.

Close up of the SOnos logo on the Ace headphones

Design

With the years of preparation, research and testing that Sonos undoubtedly did while creating these headphones, it’s good to see that the result doesn’t compromise on quality.

Framed around a stainless-steel headband that smoothly extends to fit any size or shape of head, the Ace uses soft memory foam over the ears and under the headband to make the headphones feel lightweight and comfortable.

Even people who wear glasses can sit the Ace over their ears without feeling the headphones uncomfortably push their glasses into their head.

The outside of the ear cups and the top of the headband is covered in hard plastic in either black or white, and a discreet Sonos logo sits on the right ear cup.

The inside of the right ear cup is a slightly different colour, which can help identify which way the headphones go when you put them on. 

Controls and features

Simplicity is the order of the day for the Sonos Ace’s control system. The left ear cup houses the power button, which will also activate Bluetooth pairing when you long press it.

The Ace will pair with two devices simultaneously as well, so you can effortlessly switch from your computer to your phone.

A USB-C port next to the power button lets you charge the headphones quickly — three minutes on the charger promises three hours of playback.

You can also use the port for wired playback, either via the bundled USB-C to USB-C cable or the USB-C to 3.5 mm cable.

The right ear cup has the Content Key, a rocker that allows you to adjust volume and control playback. It also switches audio from your Sonos soundbar with a long press, though I’ll get into that a bit later on.

Below the Content key is the noise cancellation switch, which toggles between ANC and superb passthrough mode. This gives a much clearer production of external sound to the point you can have a conversation without stopping your music, so long as the music isn’t too loud.

The headset automatically detects when you remove it from your head and pauses playback, starting up again when you pop the ear cups back on.

The cups also fold 90 degrees to lay flat on your collarbones when resting around your neck, though they sit with the cushions facing up, which isn’t overly comfortable.

But that’s my only concern on the comfort side. I wore these headphones for days, hours at a time, and they never got uncomfortable. Even while wearing a hat, or glasses, I found them easy to wear, without any adverse pressure feelings in my ears or getting overly sweaty.

Me, wearing the Sonos Ace. I was listening to Jagged Little Pill while I took this photo.

Performance

Looks aside, the most important feature for a new pair of high-end headphones is audio quality, and the Sonos Ace sings in this regard.

I used the Sonos Ace to listen through a few dozen albums listed in Apple’s top 100 albums list. Even with music I didn’t like, I couldn’t fault the quality of the headphones.

The bass is deep and vibrant, but remains clear even at high volumes. That bass is matched by clarity in the vocals, and an expansive soundstage.

Sonos supports head tracking for Atmos-mixed audio tracks, which is just an incredible experience. I’ve been listening to Spatial Audio through Apple Music with my AirPods Pro for years, but the in-ear earbuds cannot compare with the true immersiveness of the Sonos Ace.

The vocals, through the mid-range and the high-end, are incredibly clear and balanced. I popped on Grace by Jeff Buckley (it’s a travesty Apple didn’t include it in its list), and I can confidently say I’ve never heard as much detail on Hallelujah as I did through the Sonos Ace.

Grace isn’t mixed in Atmos, though, so I tried out Let it Be from the Beatles, which is a fantastic example of why mixing in Atmos is a great idea. As the drums kick in, you feel fully enveloped by the music, and by the time the guitar solo hits about halfway through, you’re having a quasi-religious experience.

But musical taste varies, so maybe that’s just me. But I will say that I listened to a range of genres with the Ace, and everything was incredible. I preferred music mixed in Spatial Audio more, but stereo sounded remarkable too.

Home theatre mode

The Sonos Ace’s secret sauce is its connectivity to the Arc soundbar. Sonos has promised the function will come to both the 1st gen Beam and its successor, but Sonos was kind enough to send me an Arc to test alongside the Ace.

While standard connection to your phone can be done through the standard Bluetooth settings on your phone, you need to set up the soundbar connection through the Sonos app. It’s not hard, so long as everything is on the latest firmware.

Once you’ve established the connection, a long press of your Ace’s Content Key will take the audio from your Arc soundbar and begin playing it through the headphones.

You get a full Atmos soundstage, so you are surrounded by the movie’s soundtrack.

And because the Arc will pull audio through all the HDMI connections of your TV, it means you can enjoy that same immersion when playing compatible games.

I restarted Jedi: Fallen Order on the PS5 while playing, and the combination of the rousing Star Wars soundtrack and impeccably mixed sounds on planets like Kashyyyk felt so much deeper than even listening on the Arc.

Battery life, noise cancellation and call quality

Sonos promises about 30 hours of battery life with ANC switched on and that feels about right. I charged it every 2–3 days of intense listening during my 1-2 week review period.

I did find that it was pretty quick to charge as well when it was flat. Sonos says you’ll get 3 hours from three minutes, but I found a full charge took just under three hours.

The noise cancellation is exceptional. There are eight microphones on the headphones for noise control and voice targeting, and they take way your external background noise extremely well. 

I walked into my local shops with the Ace on, and all the hustle and bustle disappeared when I hit the ANC button.

Passthrough mode is also strong. I typically find that passthrough only works at extremely low volumes, so you need to pause your music anyway.

That’s still true with the Sonos. If you have the volume anywhere north of 50%, you won’t hear someone talking to you. But at lower volumes, the passthrough quality is as clear as I’ve heard.

I also wanted to quickly call out the call quality, and multi-device connection. While listening to music through my MacBook Pro, I received a phone call I answered by just pressing the content key. It paused the music and switched devices effortlessly, and the call quality was clear and loud, particularly with ANC on.

What’s not perfect

Okay, this review is quite glowing, and I’ll stand by it: I was really impressed with these headphones. 

I do wish the headphones folded cushion side down on my shoulder blades, but otherwise I don’t have any feedback on the product’s design or comfort.

You also don’t get any digital assistant support through the Ace. You can’t long press a button to talk to Siri, for example. That’s not a surprise, and hardly a dealbreaker, but there were a few times I wished I could speak to my phone through the headphones.

The greatest challenge with the Ace is the new(ish) Sonos app. While you don’t need it to connect the headphones to your phone, you do get to manage EQ features if you set it up. 

And while it’s usable, the UX is a bit confusing, particularly if you are trying to control several speakers and a pair of headphones at the same time.

But because the challenge is software-based, I expect Sonos to refine the Sonos app over time.

The inside of the Ace cups

Verdict

These are my new favourite headphones. They sound amazing, and while there are lots of fantastic-sounding headphones available, Sonos has managed to nail everything from the design, the look and feel, and the performance.

You get Spatial Audio support for Dolby Atmos-mixed music, with head tracking that works incredibly well. 

But the magic of having your soundbar audio transfer to your headphones without sacrificing surround functionality is the clincher. 

Sonos’ first pair of headphones are exceptional, and easily one of the best pairs of headphones in Australia. If you can justify the $699 price tag, it’s worth the investment.

Where to buy:

Cheapest Sonos Ace price from our partners

Product disclosure

Sonos supplied the product for this review.

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Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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