Sonos Ace First Impressions: Ace in the hole?

First Impressions

A promising first look at Sonos’ long-rumoured and now finally real headphones. They cover all the bases you’d expect from a premium pair of headphones. Once a review sample comes in, we’d be interested to hear how they compare against its main rivals.

  • TV Audio SwapSwap audio between headphones and Sonos Arc soundbar

  • Snapdragon Sound compatibleaptX Lossless for higher quality audio


It feels as if we’ve been writing about Sonos headphones for years. They’re finally now upon us and they’re called the Sonos Ace.

They look sleek, come with the much-mooted Wi-Fi integration, and feature a couple of nice touches. With a device that’s been anticipated for so long, expectations can be so high that they could lead to disappointment.

Here’s what I thought of the Sonos Ace at a preview event held in early May.


The Sonos Ace will go on sale June 5th, and in the UK it’ll be available for £449 and in the US it’ll cost $449. In Europe its €449 and Australian customers will have to drop $AUD699 to get the Ace.


  • Comfortable to wear
  • Detachable and replaceable earcups
  • Physical buttons

There’s a hint of the Apple AirPods Max about the Sonos Ace’s looks but I think it’s just a hint and not really an imitation. These headphones are sleek and minimalist in the way Sonos’ recent products skew to, heaving to the ‘industrial’ design that Sonos likes to trumpet with its products. Though it’s a headphone in every sense of the word, during the preview, Sonos often referred to it as wearable, which struck me as an interesting way to look at it.

Sonos Ace on headphone rack
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That holistic approach to design does ensure that these are very comfortable pair of headphones to wear in the short time I used them. Even though I’m a glasses wearer, the headphones slip on without messing with the fit of my glasses, and the clamping force is strong enough that the headphones stay out, but light enough that they don’t feel as if they’re always noticeable. A stepless slider helps to adjust the fit.

You can tell which earcup is left or right thanks to contrasting colours inside the earcups, the earpads are wrapped in vegan leather – it’s very simple to detach the earpads, making it easy to replace them. The battery inside can be replaced, though Sonos would prefer that you send the headphones to them rather than handle it yourself.

Sonos Ace physical buttonsSonos Ace physical buttons
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The multi-function button covers playback, volume, calls; and if you hold it down that initiates an audio swap between the headphones and the Sonos Arc soundbar. You’ve got buttons for ANC and powering on and off the headphones too. Sonos has decided to go in the direction physical buttons to give a tactile feel to using the headphones, and I can’t say I disagree with that view on the basis of my experience with them.

There’s a carry case to keep the headphones safe, and inside is another smaller case to keeps the cables together. For the smaller case there’s a magnet inside the case to attach or detach it to. Probably unnecessary but a nice touch nonetheless.

Sonos Ace carry caseSonos Ace carry case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)


  • TV Audio Swap feature
  • Snapdragon Sound support
  • 30 hours battery

Battery life is estimated to be around 30 hours with normal use (ANC on), though if you use the headphones with the Arc soundbar that’s likely to drop but Sonos weren’t keen on providing specific numbers in this context. The wear detection (which worked very efficiently) can also help give the battery a rest by knowing when you’re wearing the headphones and pausing music in response.

There’s the latest support for the Bluetooth streaming in version 5.4, and that also comes with Snapdragon Sound (aptX Lossless codec). Apple users won’t be able to benefit from this but Android users with the right equipment can take advantage of the higher bandwidth for higher quality audio. The Ace comes with a USB-C cable , and it can play High-Res audio through this connection too.

Sonos Ace disassembledSonos Ace disassembled
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

You’ve of course got ANC onboard, and while the room we were on wasn’t the best means of testing the noise-cancellation despite Sonos’ attempts to blast me and fellow journalists with white noise through Sonos speakers. The ANC seemed strong, in and around the likes of Apple and maybe just a few rungs lower than the Bose and Sony. People’s voices can still get through but once audio starts playing (and at default volume) you’ll likely not pay heed to what’s around you anyway.

And if you do want to pay attention then there’s a transparency mode, which communicates what’s around you with clarity and detail. More time with the speakers in our testing conditions will help determine just how good the ANC is.

Sonos’ USP is the TV Audio Swap the Ace can perform with the Arc (and other Sonos bars after a future update). Tap the MFB on the right earcup and you can listen to Dolby Atmos audio directly from the Arc over Wi-Fi, with the TrueCinema technology (sort of a version of its TruePlay for speakers) takes the tone of the room you’re listening in, and applies it to the headphones to give the impression that you are listening to audio as if you were listening to the soundbar itself.

Sonos Ace TV Audio SwapSonos Ace TV Audio Swap
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It’s a subtle effect, which makes me wonder if it’s really needed, though I imagine the effect may change depending on the size and acoustic properties of the room. Once you’re on the Wi-Fi connection, if you receive a call, it’ll be through the phone and not piped through to the headphones.

There’s head-tracking support as well, which I think is the most interesting feature in terms of spatial audio, especially when listening through the Arc soundbar. Listening to Gravity in Atmos without the head-tracking is fine, but as soon as it’s turned on, there’s an uptick in immersion and movement of objects across the soundstage. It won’t beat a soundbar (or a good surround system for that matter), but as your own personal home cinema, I think it can be very effective with films and TV series that take advantage of Atmos.

There’s the new Sonos app, which has come in for criticism lately, and the Ace will require the revised app to function, though curiously its integration with the headphones is limited at the moment. I stand to be corrected, but for the time being there’s the Audio swap feature and adjusting the EQ available, but if you want to listen to music from an app, you can’t do that through the app like you can with Sonos speakers. Instead you’ll need to hop and skip to the individual apps on your mobile device.

Sonos Ace coloured earcupsSonos Ace coloured earcups
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Sound Quality

  • Clear, precise sound
  • Wide soundstage

Packed with 40mm custom designed dynamic drivers, Sonos is going for a balanced performance across the frequency range. I found it reminiscent more of the Era 300 in terms of its tone rather than the richer-sounding Era 100; clear, detailed, and precise in its approach.

With Claude Debussy, the Ace was clear and sharp at the top but not overly bright; while with a Billie Eilish track there was depth to the bass and a hint of richness but not at the expense of the clarity and definition of Eilish’s voice, the whispery tone was captured well, as well the intonations of her breathy rise and falls.

Sonos Ace in carry caseSonos Ace in carry case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The soundstage was wide, the stereo image was good and with podcasts there’s a sense of space and movement as voices and sounds move across the soundstage. I could argue that the Sonos Ace is more towards the clinical and neutral side of things, whereas quite a few headphone brands such as Sony, Bose, and Bowers & Wilkins have placed an increasing emphasis on bass depth and a little bit of warmth, but the Sonos Ace was a very engaging listen from the time I spent with it; and I’d (obviously) like to give it more of an in-depth listen with my own selection of tracks.

First Impressions

From the time I spent with the Sonos Ace, it ticked off everything you’d consider improtant from a headphone (or wearable) in 2024. Comfort is good, the design (for the price) si well thought out, they sound good, the ANC appears to be strong, and the feature set covers what you’re want from a premium pair of headphones.

I would say that the jury might still be deliberating the TV Audio Swap feature, not because it doesn’t work effectively (it does) but that it seems to somewhat dilute who these headphones are for exactly. Is it mainly for existing customers who have the Arc, or will new customers who don’t own a Sonos product buy a Sonos soundbar just to have that feature available to them? I’m not so sure.

Nevertheless, I’ll find out in a few weeks just how good the Sonos Ace, once I get my hands of a review pair.






IP rating

Battery Hours

Fast Charging


Release Date

Audio Resolution

Driver (s)

Noise Cancellation?



Frequency Range

Headphone Type

A ‘hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *