Sonos Ace review: Stunning sound and superb noise-canceling

Can Sonos' first headphones ace its rivals?

Sonos Ace headphones in soft white worn by Mike Prospero
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Sonos' first headphones are a top-class addition to the lineup with superb sound and ANC. You also get very long battery life, but not everything meets my expectations at the high price.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent sound and noise canceling performance

  • +

    Attractive design

  • +

    Long battery life

  • +

    Strong eco credentials

  • +

    Integrates with Sonos Arc soundbar

Cons

  • -

    No lossless audio support over Wi-Fi

  • -

    Lacks smart integrating with Sonos ecosystem

  • -

    Price feels high compared to rivals

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Sonos Ace: Specifications

Price: $449 / £449 / AU$699
Colors: Black; soft white
Battery life: up to 30 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless
Size: 7.52 x 6.3 x 3.35 inches / 191 x 160 x 85mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 11.4 ounces / 312g 

I've been testing the Sonos Ace noise-canceling headphones for several weeks now, and there's no doubt that they are a great addition to the company's lineup. While Sonos' first pair of headphones have felt a long time coming and not everything lives up to my expectations, the luxury design and performance are what I expected to see from a brand that has a reputation for building some of the smartest wireless speaker systems in the world.

Sonos isn't the first speaker brand to diversify into making noise-canceling headphones, but I'd wager that the Ace headphones are among the most stylish I've encountered this year. Although the price is higher than many of its rivals, including the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e, Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Sony WH-1000XM5, the design exudes a level of stylish confidence that makes others look bland by comparison. 

Only Apple's AirPods Max headphones achieve a similar level of panache, but they cost even more than the Sonos Ace and lack smart home theater integration, lossless audio support over Bluetooth and strong eco credentials that Sonos' new headphones deliver. 

To find out how the Sonos Ace headphones compare to near rivals, check out our Sonos Ace vs. Sony WH-1000XM5, AirPods Max vs. Sonos Ace and Sonos Ace vs. Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones face-offs.  

Sonos Ace headphones review listing image in black with balloons in background

(Image credit: Future)

One of the features that sets the Sonos Ace headphones apart from rivals is their ability to link to a Sonos Arc soundbar for a personal home theater experience with headtracking and Dolby Atmos. For the record, I don't own a Sonos Arc soundbar and have not been able to test this feature as part of my review but will be following up with additional testing.

What really matters for any newcomer to the sector is how they perform compared to the best noise-canceling headphones when connected to a Bluetooth device. As Sonos' first pair of headphones join an already burgeoning market with plenty of established models ranking high among the best over-ear headphones, the stakes are high. 

Recent updates

Update June 7, 2024: Updated availability information.  

Can Sonos' first pair of headphones do enough to challenge more established wireless headphone rivals? Read on to discover everything you need to know about the Sonos Ace headphones in my full review.

Sonos Ace review: Cheat sheet

  • Custom-designed 40mm dynamic driver in each cup
  • Bluetooth 5.4 with aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless audio support
  • 30-hour battery life with ANC; 3-minute quick charge gives up to 3-hour playback  
  • TV Audio Swap with True Cinema support compatible with Sonos Arc soundbar
  • 6 microphones for noise cancelation and 2 beam forming mics for voice targeting
  • Dolby Atmos and Dolby Head Tracking support

Sonos Ace review: Price & availability

Sonos Ace headphones in hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Available now at $449 / £449 / AU$699 
  • They come in black and soft white color options

The Sonos Ace headphones are on sale now from the Sonos website as well as Best Buy, Amazon, and Crutchfield

They officially went on sale on June 5, 2024 priced at $449 / £449 / AU$699. At the price, they're in the same tier as some of the top-ranking noise-canceling headphones, such as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra ($429), Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399) and Apple AirPods Max ($549). All these models can regularly be found discounted at online retailers — bookmark our best headphones deals for the latest discounts.

The Sonos Ace are available in matte black and soft white finishes, which feels a bit limited. They lack the wider range of color choices available on price rivals such as Apple's AirPods Max, which come in five color options including space gray, pink, green, sliver, and sky blue. Or the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, which come in black, white smoke, and sandstone. 

Sonos Ace review: Design

  • Smart, elegant style with slimline oval-shaped earcups
  • Fold-flat design

The Sonos Ace headphones have an elegant, minimalist design. The cups have a rounded, oval shape, and are attached to the headband with a very slim metal connector. I like the flexible hinge hidden within the earcups, which not only gives it a sleek look, and is designed to prevent hair from getting caught up in the mechanism. 

The Sonos Ace are available in matte finishes with metal accents to the hinge, Content Key control and beam forming microphones and vents. The headphones are a fold-flat design with a slim profile. The earcups swivel for slim storage in the carry case, but the hinges don't fold like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. They come supplied with a hard carry case that use recycled materials. 

While the Sonos headphones feel lightweight with replaceable soft memory foam ear cushions for all-day comfort. In terms of weight stats, the Sonos Ace weigh 11.4 ounces, which is not as light as the Bose QC Ultra Headphones (9.96 ounces), but not as heavy as Apple's AirPods Max (13.6 ounces). 

The left and right earcups are designated by embossed letters on the color-coded mesh grille covering the speaker drivers, which is a neat touch.

Sonos Ace review: Controls & comfort

Sonos Ace headphones volume button

(Image credit: Future)
  • Useful physical controls on earcups
  • Clamping force feels higher than rivals

Rather than adding touch controls to the Ace headphones, Sonos has opted for physical buttons on the earcup. The tactile Content Key on the right earcup gives play/pause, volume up/volume down, while a secondary button gives noise control on/off, aware mode, and voice control options. The Content Key (rubbish name, but useful functionality) is a neat touch. I particularly like the degree of control it brings when adjusting the volume level. It worked far more reliably than many touch-sensitive controls I've encountered on rival pairs of wireless headphones.    

Built-in sensors detect when you're wearing the Sonos Ace, so playback pauses as you take them off and then automatically resumes as you put them back on. 

While it's important to mention that individual wear experience will be different from person to person, the Ace's headband sat comfortably on top of my head without any undue pressure and felt like the weight was evenly distributed. Clamping force was a bit higher than I'd like for long-term comfort levels though, and the earcups applied too much pressure against my ears. 

The Ace headphones felt heavier than the featherweight feel of the Sony WH-1000XM5 when swapping between the two headphones during my listening tests, and my ears quickly got hot under the Sonos Ace earpads. 

Sonos Ace review: Connectivity & features

Sonos Ace headphones in black

(Image credit: Future)
  • Bluetooth 5.4 with aptX Lossless audio support when connected to compatible playback devices
  • No integration with Sonos multi-room ecosystem over Wi-Fi

Wireless connectivity runs on Bluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC codec support, and aptX Lossless when connected to compatible playback devices. That gives the headphones near-CD-quality audio capabilities over Bluetooth with the right playback device and the best music streaming services, but there's no true lossless or hi-res support over wireless. Additionally, there's no mention of next-gen Auracast audio-sharing or LE Audio support at the time of writing.

As with many wireless headphones, the Sonos Ace can also be connected via a USB-C-to-3.5mm audio cable, enabling wearers to make a wired connection to compatible playback devices for listening to lossless and hi-res audio.

One of the main features I hoped to see on a pair of Sonos headphones was the ability to connect over Wi-Fi in the same way as the Sonos Move 2 and Sonos Roam 2 connect when a home Wi-Fi network is detected, but use Bluetooth connectivity when away from home. I had high hopes that the Sonos Ace headphones would employ similar tech that integrates with Sonos' multi-room ecosystem, as well as deliver true lossless audio and hi-res audio support over Wi-Fi from the likes of the best music streaming services.

Disappointingly though, the Sonos Ace headphones are Bluetooth headphones and there's no support Sonos' multi-room Wi-Fi system. When they do connect over Wi-Fi, it's only to swap the TV audio from a Sonos Arc soundbar to the headphones. 

Sonos Arc soundbar integrating with Sonos Ace headphones

The Ace headphones connect with Sonos' Arc soundbar over Wi-Fi to enable users to swap the TV audio from the soundbar to the headphones in True Cinema mode. (Image credit: Future)

One neat feature though is True Cinema mode, which captures the acoustics of your room when the headphones are connected to a Sonos Arc soundbar for a personalized listening experience without disrupting the rest of the household.

Sonos Ace review: Sound quality

Sonos Ace headphones insides

(Image credit: Future)
  • Engaging and well balanced sound that works with all kinds of musical styles
  • Wide soundstage creates a strong immersive listening experience

Sonos says that the new Ace headphones use a ported acoustic architecture to deliver exceptional bass depth and an ultra-wide soundstage, while remaining incredibly clear. They have a 40mm dynamic driver fitted into each earcup, and I'm told that the Ace headphones have undergone 1,000 hours of testing and tuning by music creators.

The lengths Sonos has gone to tune the headphones for clarity and immersive experience has paid off. The Sonos Ace headphones are terrifically engaging and have a big stereo soundstage that plenty will love. Sometimes, closed back headphones present a soundstage that feels confined to the space between the earcups, but the Ace have a wider presentation that expands outside of the physical earcups and has the kind of open sound I've more often associated with open-back audiophile headphones.   

Listening to the Sonos Ace was an audio treat.

Although I was initially disappointed that the new Sonos Ace headphones don't include any optimization settings to tune the sound to the listener's hearing like Sony's Find Your Equalizer, the treble and bass controls prove sufficient for tailoring the sound to individual tastes. Not that any adjustment was needed.

For my listening tests I used my Sony Xperia 1 IV smartphone and played several tracks from my Tidal playlist. Vocal clarity was spectacular on Elbow's "Gentle Storm", with the keyboard, drums and percussion of this stripped back recording perfectly nuanced in the soundstage.

Listening to the Sonos Ace was an audio treat. The Ace headphones have a more forward sound than Sony's WH-1000XM5, with everything sounding spectacularly prominent on Beyoncé's terrific rendition of "Blackbiird". There's a tremendous sense of space and 3D soundstage with a wide sense of stereo on Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Rain Coat", too. Guitars and backing vocals are nicely layered and have their own sense of space around individual instruments in the mix.

In some ways I prefer the slight richness of the vocals on Sony's WH-1000XM5, but the Sonos Ace have better clarity and create a bigger soundstage. Bass sounds are impressively engaging, and the Ace digs deep without being over engineered on "The Sound of Silence" by Geoff Castellucci. It's nicely nuanced too on The Blue Nile's "Tinseltown in the Rain" while also managing to be head-noddingly engaing on hypnotic dance/electro rhythms like Deadmau5's "Let Go".

Sonos has been a major supporter of spatial audio content, and its Sonos Era 300 speaker is one of the best speakers for spatial audio content I've tried. It's no surprise then that the new Ace headphones incorporate Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio format support with head tracking. Although, personally I still prefer stereo mixes, my tests with Dolby Atmos music content on Tidal were impressive, if not entirely a natural listening experience to my ears, and Dolby Head Tracking worked seamlessly once enabled on the Sonos Ace tab on the Sonos app. 

Sonos Ace review: Active noise canceling

Sonos Ace headphone in black outside in the reviewer's garden

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong noise-canceling to rival top models
  • Clear and natural-sounding transparency mode

As the company's first pair of noise-canceling headphones, the Sonos Ace use 8 microphones (four on each earcup with 3x internal and 1x out) to neutralize external sounds. There aren't any level adjustments to tailor the level of noise cancelation to your tastes or adaptive modes that identify your activity and adjust the level accordingly. No, Sonos' noise cancelation tech is either On, Off, or Ambient (aware or transparency mode to hear what’s going on around you).

That's more than enough though, because the level of noise cancelation is superb. The level of isolation felt like the Ace could easily be a match for the best noise-canceling headphones on the market, including the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones. Look out for my face-off comparisons to find out where the Ace rank among the best noise-canceling headphones.

What's more, ambient mode is just as strong for situational awareness. Ambient sounds and conversations sound clear, and Sonos says the beam-forming external mics are geared for high call quality at both ends of the conversation. 

Sonos Ace review: Battery life

  • Up to 30 hours battery life with ANC enabled
  • 3-minute quick charge claims to give up to 3-hour playback 

The Sonos Ace can be charged via USB-C port and battery life is expected to give up to 30 hours with ANC on. That's better than the AirPods Max at just 20 hours and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones at 24 hours. It matches Sony's WH-1000XM5 at 30 hours with ANC enabled, but the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are still the top-ranking headphones for battery life and give up to 60 hours of ANC playback.

A 3-minute quick charge is expected to result in a 3-hour playback top-up. 

Sonos Ace review: Verdict

Although, I've yet to try out their connectivity to a Sonos Arc soundbar and experience True Cinema mode, the Sonos Ace headphones are a spectacular introduction and it’s a shame they’re not at a more palatable price. These headphones round out Sonos products in a way I didn’t think I cared about, and despite the lack of full integration into the Sonos ecosystem I have found them utterly engaging and enjoyable to listen to, particularly when connect to my Android phone using aptX Adaptive over Bluetooth. 

Despite a lack of true lossless and hi-res audio support over Wi-Fi, the combination of great build and style, great audio quality with spatial audio support, I'm finding it difficult to desire any other over-ear headphones right now. 

If you can look past the caveats, the Sonos Ace are a great pair of noise-canceling headphones. They may not have everything I hoped for, but they're as close to perfect as you can get from the category right now, and a spectacular introduction to Sonos' lineup.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.

With contributions from