Sonos Ace review:

Sonos As

A great pair of headphones that lack some of the features found on other high-end headphones.

$450 is too high for what the Ace currently offers. One of the headset’s biggest selling points is its audio swapping feature, which you can only use if you own the Sonos Arc, an $800 soundbar. According to the company, it will expand support for other soundbars “soon,” but that’s not a compelling enough reason for me to invest half a grand today.


An eye-catching design

Very comfortable body

Excellent physical controls

The sound is rich and airy

The inconvenients

Audio exchange only works with Sonos Arc

No water resistance rating

No voice assistance

ANC is average

Rumors about Sonos’ launch of its first-ever headphones, last year they acquired T2 Software, a Bluetooth audio startup. This wasn’t the first time the company tried its hand at headphones. He tried to sneak into the headphone market since 2019 and created a number of product iterations along the way. However, none of them ever saw the light of day, making the Sonos Ace release a big deal.

It takes a lot of confidence to price your first headphones at $450 and place them among players as big as the Apple AirPods Max And Sony WH-1000XM5. The California-based audio company seems inspired by Apple’s flagship headphones and has borrowed several design elements. Again, taking a leaf out of Apple’s book, Sonos has also dabbled in integrating its ecosystem, although it’s far too restrictive to deliver enough value.

Sonos Ace Design

Taking inspiration from AirPods Max

Sonos took a lot of inspiration from the design of the Cupertino giant’s over-ear headphones. The AirPods Max’s distinctive flat, oversized oval earbuds with shiny metal extenders sticking out can also be found on the Ace. However, the memory foam and vegan leather headband differentiate these earbuds from the AirPods Max’s mesh headband.

Sonos told us during the briefing that they deliberately gave the Ace an all-plastic body because they didn’t want to increase its weight by including metal. Although we’re comparing them to the AirPods Max, the plastic makes them lose some of the appeal of Apple’s metal cans, but at 312g, they’re also considerably lighter than the 384g AirPods Max.

Speaking of which, Sonos prides itself on the Ace’s “lightweight body.” So far, Sony’s flagship headphones, weighing 250g and featuring one of the most comfortable designs, are the winners in terms of fit and comfort. The weight of the Ace is nowhere near that of the XM5s, but the generous padding of the headband and earcups makes them very comfortable to wear. I wore them for a few hours a day for over a week and didn’t feel any ear or head fatigue. Usually I take my headphones off when I get home after a long day of wearing them, but I didn’t feel the need to do that with the Ace.

I wish the extensions offered more range though. They felt loose on my little noggin and often slipped over my head when I leaned back to drink water from my bottle. I had to take them out and put them back in several times.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Metal extensions work exactly as intended because of their ability to not pull on your hair. It was a big problem on JBL live 770NC, and that’s one of the reasons I had to stop using it. The memory foam earbuds are magnetic, making them easily removable and swappable. Looking at how quickly I managed to get a concealer stain on the sparkling white cups, I liked having the option to remove and wipe them down properly.

THE Controls on the The Sonos Ace are fortunately just buttons

Call me old fashioned, but the touch controls don’t even come close to the response and feedback buttons that one can get. I immediately become a fan of any earphone that I see physical controls on. The Ace sports a slider button or control key that manages playback, volume, and audio swapping (more on that later). It can be pressed once to play/pause and swiped on both sides to increase/decrease the volume. I think of volume as a sliding scale, so this control seems intuitive and easy to use.

Image from article titled Sonos Ace Review: A Gorgeous But Missing Pair of Headphones

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

The same cup sports an ANC button that alternates between noise cancellation and ambient mode. I liked having a dedicated ANC button but preferred more tactility. This felt cowardly and often I wasn’t sure if my press was registered. I felt the same way about the power/pairing button on the other cup. It lacked a solid response and often didn’t even make a sound when acknowledging my action.

Sonos Ace Sound

The Sonos Ace sounds good and cancels noise pretty decently

The Ace delivers a bright and spacious soundscape. The mids have plenty of space and the highs are particularly airy. The highs are rich, clear and crisp. The overall sound profile leans more towards tinny. I like the crispness of my music and podcasts. I wouldn’t call it as serious as Sony Ult Porter. The low end doesn’t have that punch.

a photo of the sonos ace

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

I listened to a lot of WVFRM at the metro station and on trains. Although it suppressed noise enough for me to hear the podcast hosts clearly, it didn’t silence all sounds for me. And I’m talking about that low-end rumble, which is much easier to cut through than high-end noises. I could still hear the sound of the locomotive on the track opposite mine.

The ANC was good enough to meet my noise-canceling needs in almost every location I tested: subway, laundromat, Trader Joe’s. But that doesn’t scream $450 ANC. Sony still makes better ANC on the XM5 for $400.

Sonos claims the Ace lasts 30 hours with ANC and 25% longer with ANC off. I spent a week using them, alternating between turning ANC on and off depending on where I was, and the earbuds lasted just under 30 hours during that time.

The Sonos Ace doesn’t provide enough ecosystem integration

One of the biggest selling points of these headphones is their audio swapping feature. Press and hold the Control key to seamlessly swap audio between the Ace soundbar and the Sonos Arc soundbar. The problem is that it only works with the Arc, and limiting your vertical integration to an $800 soundbar isn’t cool. The 360$ Era 300 is one of the company’s most popular speakers, and it would have benefited greatly from this feature. It’s one thing to create a walled garden around your services; Apple always does this with its products. But it’s crucial to be smart about it. The current integration does not provide enough value to build the USP of the product.

Like everyone else semi-cooked product released this year, the Ace is also unfinished in terms of integration. In an email sent later, Sonos mentioned that the Ace would be rolling out support for its Beam (Gen 1 and Gen 2) and Ray soundbars “soon.”

The exchange is transparent and instantaneous. It also has Dolby Atmos with head tracking.

a photo of the sonos ace

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Speaking of an unfinished product, voice assistance is another feature that doesn’t exist on the Ace but is promised for the future, even if it’s less decisive. There’s also no water resistance rating, so I wouldn’t be too sure about using them around a pool or in a gym. However, I was told that they had been tested against water several times.

Wear detection on the Ace pauses your music when you take them off and resumes when you put them back on. Multipoint connectivity lets you connect them to up to two devices. In terms of wireless connectivity, you’re limited to Bluetooth only, as these don’t have Wi-Fi. I’m happy with a 3.5mm to Type-C cable in the package, though. This will be very useful on long flights.

Image from article titled Sonos Ace Review: A Gorgeous But Missing Pair of Headphones

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Oh, and they don’t bend. They lie flat in their large, hard, zippered carrying case. I discussed this with the product team and was told it was done intentionally. He learned that consumers prefer non-foldable headphones that can lie flat in their case so they can compare well to their laptops, iPads or other flat devices in their backpack.


The Sonos Ace is too expensive

Overall, I find the $450 price on the Ace too high. Considering that one of the main selling points – ecosystem integration – is limited to a single very expensive soundbar, there is no water resistance rating, connectivity Wi-Fi or voice assistance, I can’t see myself paying such a high price for the absence. of several premium features that you will find among its competitors. The ANC wasn’t great, but it didn’t impress me. I was a fan of the controls and the comfortable body with removable earbuds, but I would like more features with a pair of earbuds I invest about half a grand in.