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Top down photo of the Sonos Ace headphones folded flat onto a wooden table
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys

Sonos Ace review

Can Sonos bring the home theater experience to their first-ever over-ears?
By

Published onJune 3, 2024

7.4
Sonos Ace
The bottom line
Sonos has made a brave first step into the headphone market with the Sonos Ace. These premium headphones are designed for people who want to bring the immersiveness of a home theater experience wherever they go. However, the Sonos Ace isn't immune from its own share of first-gen fumbles, with room for improvement in regards to sound quality and ANC performance.

Sonos Ace

Sonos has made a brave first step into the headphone market with the Sonos Ace. These premium headphones are designed for people who want to bring the immersiveness of a home theater experience wherever they go. However, the Sonos Ace isn't immune from its own share of first-gen fumbles, with room for improvement in regards to sound quality and ANC performance.
Product release date
June 3, 2024
Price
$449
Dimensions
Case: 192 x 198 x 39 mm
Headphones: 200 x 190 x 40 mm
Ear cup: 103 x 84 mm
Cable length: 1.14m (USB-C to 3.5mm) 0.71m (USB-C to C)
Weight
320g
Model Number
ACEG1US1
Waterproof
What we like
Premium build quality
Dolby Atmos with head tracking
aptX Lossless via Snapdragon Sound
Integration with Sonos soundbars
What we don't like
Tight fit for large ears
No IP rating
Default sound
Limited app features
Expensive
7.4
SoundGuys Rating
8.7
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
6.0
9.7
10.0
Active Noise Cancelling
7.4
9.0
9.0
Durability / Build Quality
6.5
9.5
10.0
Value
6.5
6.5
7.0
Design
7.0
9.5
10.0
Connectivity
9.0
8.0
8.0
Portability
6.0
9.0
9.0
Feature
8.5
8.0
8.0
Comfort
8.5
9.0
9.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.7
Distortion
3.2
Immersiveness
4.2
Overall
4.3

The Sonos Ace is a daring debut into the noise-canceling headphone market. Equipped with Dolby Atmos support, custom-tuned drivers, and a premium design, do these headphones have what it takes to tackle well-established flagship headphones from Apple, Bose, or Sony?

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this Sonos Ace review: We tested the Sonos Ace over 10 days. The headphones ran firmware version 2.8.2-e0a99b180, and the Sonos app ran version 80.01.30. The company provided the unit for this review.

The Sonos Ace are a pair of headphones designed for people who really enjoy immserive formats like Dolby Atmos, or for consumers who have already invested in the Sonos speaker and soundbar ecosystem.

What’s it like to use Sonos Ace?

The design of the Sonos Ace looks very familiar. In fact, these headphones seem to answer the question: “What if the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Apple AirPods Max had a baby?” The answer: you get a comfortable, well-built pair of headphones.

Top down photo of a man holding the Sonos Ace with the ear cups facing outwards to the camera with wooden board background
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The combination of memory foam padding, plastic ear cup housing, and stainless steel frame contribute to a design that is both stylish and durable.

The ear cups and headband are made of plastic, but they’re wrapped in a soft matte coating that looks and feels similar to the finish on Sony’s headphones. As for the interior, the ear cups and headband feature a soft memory foam wrapped in vegan leather. The stainless steel frame provides added durability, while allowing for easy adjustment of the headband to suit the user. There are also stainless steel accents around the microphones and vents, which is a nice visual touch. The headphones come in black and white.

Given the high price tag of the Sonos Ace, I was expecting an all-metal construction à la AirPods Max. However, after wearing the headphones for over a week, I’m very satisfied with Sonos’ design approach. The use of plastic for the ear cups allow the headphones to feel much lighter than the AirPods Max, making them easier to wear during longer listening sessions. Also, the memory foam padding feels very plush and gentle on my head. There’s also enough clamping force to keep the headphones still, but not so much that the ear pads are pressing into the arms of my glasses.

A side profile photo of a man wearing the Sonos Ace headphones
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sonos Ace is comfortable to wear, so long as you don’t have big ears.

It’s worth noting that the ear cups on the Sonos Ace aren’t as deep as what you’d find from Sony and Apple’s headphones. Coupled with the thick padding, people with larger ears may have a difficult time ensuring a proper seal and a comfortable fit. As someone with average-sized ears, I haven’t face any issues with fit, though your results may vary.

The Sonos Ace has no ingress protection rating, so I’d highly recommend choosing a different pair of headphones to work out with. Similarly, you should not wear the headphones in the rain or snow without a hood.

A picture of the Sonos Ace headphones inside of its carrying case with cables sticking out of its pouch and an Android phone placed beside the headphone case
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sonos Ace comes with a carrying case, cable pouch, USB-C to C cable, and USB-C to 3.5mm cable.

For travelers and commuters, the Sonos Ace comes with a carrying case made of recyclable materials. While the eco-friendly approach to design is a nice gesture, it does result in a carrying case that feels a lot more fragile than what you’d get with other flagship over-ears. The case feels like it’s made out of paper and cardboard, which isn’t very durable. Still, it gets the job done. Inside the case you’ll find a magnetically detachable cable pouch where you can store the included USB-C to C cable and USB-C to 3.5mm cable.

While it’s nice of Sonos to include cables for wired listening, I find the USB-C to C cable too short — as there’s not enough slack for me to use the cable comfortably when plugged into my laptop. The cable also pulls tightly if I’m listening while standing with my phone in my pocket. Then again, you could always use any longer or spare USB-C cables you have lying around. Thank goodness for a universal standard, right?

How do you control the Sonos Ace?

Most functions on the Sonos Ace can be controlled using a tactile slider on the right ear cup, also known as the “Content Key.”

Photo of a man wearing the Sonos Ace headphones touching the noise control button and content key slider
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
You can control playback and volume using the Content Key (slider). The button underneath toggles through listening modes.

You can move the slider up or down to adjust volume or press it to control playback. A button underneath the slider lets you toggle through listening modes or summon your voice assistant. There is also a button under the left ear cup that controls power and Bluetooth pairing.

ActionControl key (slider)Noise control button
Action
Single press
Control key (slider)
Play/pause
Noise control button
Toggle ANC/aware mode
Action
Double press
Control key (slider)
Track forward
Noise control button
N/A
Action
Triple press
Control key (slider)
Track backward
Noise control button
N/A
Action
Long press
Control key (slider)
Swap TV audio
Noise control button
Activate voice assistant

Tactile buttons and sliders on the Sonos Ace make controlling the headphones a fuss-free affair. It feels much more responsive than the touch sensor-based controls found on headphones like the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless and Sony WH-1000XM5. I only wish that the slider and control key were positioned a little lower on the ear cup, similar to the Bose QuietComfort Headphones, though this is more of a want than a need, really.

Should you use the Sonos app for the Sonos Ace?

You do not need to download the Sonos app to set up the Sonos Ace. However, if you want to get the most out of your headphones, I recommend doing so. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Besides downloading firmware updates, the Sonos app lets you enable Bluetooth multipoint and head tracking. You can also use the app to customize the Noise Control and Wear Detection settings on your headphones.

The Sonos app includes an equalizer to help tune the headphones to your liking, though its functionality is rather limited. All you get are two sliders to control bass and treble, and no clear visual indication as to how your sound is being affected. This is a far cry from the EQ tools provided by Shure, Nothing, or even Sony. In fact, I really, really wished that Sonos included a slider to adjust the mids, but I’ll get more into that in the sound quality section. To Sonos’ credit, this is still more customization than you get with the AirPods Max.

It’s worth noting that the app only works with the Sonos Ace via Bluetooth. The app won’t recognize the headphones when connected to your phone using the USB-C cable. This can be mildly frustrating when you want to quickly toggle head tracking or make a quick EQ adjustment. That being said, remember to dial in your settings before switching over to wired listening.

If you own a compatible Sonos soundbar, you can also use the Sonos app to enable TV Audio Swap. This allows you to transfer the audio from your soundbar to your Ace headphones with the touch of a button. You will need to create a Sonos account to setup the feature, which may be a bummer for data-conscious consumers.

Currently, TV Audio Swap can only be set up using the Sonos app for iOS. Sonos plans to add support for Android devices soon.

  1. Open the Sonos app on your iOS device.
  2. Go to the Settings menu and select the Sonos Ace in the Headphones section.
  3. Under Home Theater, select “Add TV Audio Swap”
  4. Select a compatible Sonos speaker, then follow the instructions in the app to complete the setup process.

The Sonos Arc and Arc SL are the only soundbars that support TV Audio Swap with the Sonos Ace. However, Sonos plans to add support for the Beam, Beam (Gen 2), and Ray in the future.

It takes about seven minutes to update the firmware on the Sonos Ace, which is reasonable.

How does the Sonos Ace connect?

The Sonos Ace offers a wide range of connection options. You can connect the Sonos Ace wirelessly to your source device over Bluetooth 5.4, and the headphones support SBC, AAC, and aptX Lossless via Snapdragon Sound. These headphones don’t support any audio-over-WiFi technologies, which is a little ironic considering that Sonos is known for its WiFi-enabled speakers. The Sonos Ace also features Bluetooth multipoint, with support for up to two simultaneous connections, though you’ll need to enable this in the app.

A photo of the Sonos Ace headphones placed against its carrying case conncted to an Android smartphone using a USB-C cable
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
You can connect to the Sonos Ace via Bluetooth or USB-C cable.

I had no major connection issues while using the Sonos Ace, for the most part. From congested city streets to the comfort of my own home, I rarely experienced connection dropouts or stutters when paired to my MacBook Pro or iPhone. The only time I encountered any problems was when using the TV Audio Swap feature with my Sonos Arc soundbar.

The connection range between the Sonos Arc and Sonos Ace seems to be quite limited. If I try to walk from my TV and down the hall, the connection would drop-off at about 4 meters (~14 feet) away. Granted, walls and interference from other devices may affect the connection strength, though I never have this issue when paired to my iPhone.

If your source device doesn’t support Snapdragon Sound, you can still enjoy Lossless audio the old-fashioned way: a wired connection. Sonos even includes a USB-C to C cable and a USB-C to 3.5mm in the box. Using the Sonos Ace headphones wired is a treat — especially when paired with a streaming service that supports high-quality music files, such as Tidal. No connection stutters, no drop-outs, no nonsense.

  1. Press and hold the power button on the left ear cup for three seconds until the headphones turn on.
  2. Press and hold the same button for seven seconds until you hear a tone and the light flashes blue.
  3. Go into your source device’s Bluetooth settings and select “Sonos Ace” from the device list.

How long does the Sonos Ace’s battery last?

Close-up photo of the microphone array, USB-C port, and power/Bluetooth pairing button of the Sonos Ace headphones
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
When connected to a source device with a USB-C to C cable, the Sonos Ace can charge the battery and stream audio simultaneously.

The Sonos Ace lasted for 32 hours and 13 minutes in our standardized battery test, with ANC enabled. For reference, that’s a longer battery life than what you’ll get with the Apple AirPods Max, Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, and Sony WH-1000XM5. Rest assured, the Sonos Ace will provide enough listening time for a couple of days’ worth of commutes or even a roundtrip flight across the Atlantic.

Yes, the Sonos Ace features fast charging. You can get three hours of listening time from just three minutes of charging with the battery starting at 0%.

How well does the Sonos Ace cancel noise?

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The Sonos Ace does a very good job of canceling outside noise. The headphone’s dense ear pads do a good job sealing to your head, leading to isolation performance comparable to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones. With ANC enabled the Sonos Ace is able to reduce the loudness of buses, trains, and airplane engines by about 74%. It doesn’t outperform flagship ANC headphones like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (85%) or the Apple AirPods Max (83%). Still, it’s a valiant effort, considering that this is Sonos’ first go at the over-ear market. Rest assured, the Sonos Ace can quiet your next commute at home or abroad.

The Sonos Ace features a transparency mode, which Sonos calls “Aware mode”. This mode pipes ambient noise into your headphones while you’re listening to your content, thus keeping you aware of your surroundings.

Aware mode does a good job of raising the volume of speech from people around you without piping in distracting or jarring sounds like wind, room tone, or passing cars. I only wish that Sonos would take a page from Sony’s Ambient Sound Control system and let users control the amount of outside noise heard through the headphones.

How do the Sonos Ace sound?

Sonos is no stranger to making good-sounding speakers, but can they make good-sounding headphones? The Sonos Ace doesn’t sound bad, but there’s room for improvement.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the Sonos Ace was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Sonos Ace in ANC on mode. The Timbre score is 4.7, The Distortion score is 3.2, the Immersiveness score is 4.2, and the Overall Score is 4.3).
According to our virtual panel of listeners, you’re most likely to enjoy the default sound of these headphones.

The Sonos Ace scores very well. According to our virtual panel of listeners, most people will enjoy the default sound of these headphones — even before taking advantage of features like Dolby Atmos and the in-app EQ.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the headphones reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Sonos Ace in ANC off mode. The Timbre score is 3.7, The Distortion score is 3.5, the Immersiveness score is 3.4, and the Overall Score is 3.6).
Our virtual panel of listeners didn’t really enjoy the Sonos Ace with ANC off.

Yes, the sound changes a lot when you disable ANC. Without ANC, the Sonos Ace results in significantly lower scores across the board. Based on our panel of virtual listeners, you aren’t likely to enjoy the sound of the Sonos Ace with ANC off.

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This lower score is probably due to the fact that the Sonos Ace produces significantly less sub-bass and bass with the ANC off, as seen in the chart above.

Reviewer’s notes

Editor’s note: this review uses a hover-enabled glossary to describe sound quality based on a consensus vocabulary. You can read about it here.

The Sonos Ace headphones offer good head tracking, and it even works with non-Dolby Atmos content. You can enable head tracking in the Sonos app. With the feature on, I didn’t encounter any perceivable lag while watching movies or listening to music.

It’s important to note that the Sonos Ace’s head tracking works differently to Apple Spatial Audio. The Sonos Ace does not take your source device’s position into account. That being said, make sure to keep your head in a neutral position (head and torso facing forward) before you enable head tracking, in order to avoid any issues with positioning.

Objective Measurements

The chart below outlines the frequency response of the Sonos Ace to our headphone preference curve, which is a measurement of what we think will sound good to most people.

Loading chart ...

In the low frequencies, there is a significant over-emphasis in the bass and sub-bass frequencies, especially between 20-30Hz, and between 50-175Hz. This low-end bump helps recreate the deep bass you might feel while watching a movie in a theater; a product of Sonos’ home-theater roots. While this might be fine for momentary sounds like an explosion, brass stab, or bass drop, this low-end emphasis can be fatiguing during long listening periods — especially while listening to bass-heavy music.

There is also an under-emphasis between 1,250-2,000Hz, which can reduce the clarity of sounds like higher-pitched vocals, high-octave keys and synths, and stringed instruments. Moving up the frequency chart, there is a noticeable over-emphasis between  5,000-8,000Hz. While this tuning can help accentuate room effects like reverb to heighten your sense of immersiveness, it can also cause sounds like cymbals, hi-hats, or any metallic hits to sound too shrill.

Based on our measurements, it seems that Sonos tried to tune the 40mm dynamic drivers of its headphones to mimc the characteristics of watching a movie in a theater. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, tuning choices like the over-emphasized sub-bass and treble can lead to a fatiguing listening experience over time. I’d highly recommend going into the Sonos app and adjusting the treble and bass sliders until you find a setting that’s most comfortable for you.

No, the Sonos Ace does not come with any EQ presets in the Sonos app.

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The yellow dotted line shows the frequency response of the Sonos Ace with ANC off. As you can see, ANC has a significant impact on the sound, contributing to the emphasis in sub-bass frequencies under 100Hz. Without ANC, there’s a roll-off in the lows under 100Hz, and a slight over-emphasis between 100-400Hz. This causes instruments like kick drums, 808s, and bass synths to sound quieter than you might be used to while exaggerating the sound of toms and snares.

Can you use the Sonos Ace for phone calls?

The Sonos Ace features eight beamforming microphones for taking calls on the go. Based on our tests, the microphones on the Sonos Ace are able to reproduce voices clearly. They won’t replace a condenser mic, but rest assured you’ll be heard loud and clear on the other end of a call.

Sonos Ace microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

188 votes

Sonos Ace microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sonos Ace microphone demo (Street conditions):

Sonos Ace microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Sonos Ace microphone demo (Reverberant space):

The microphone array doesn’t do a good job in rejecting indoor sounds like keyboard clatter, vacuums, or chatty co-workers. Outside, the mics work well in suppressing noise like wind and traffic. You might hear some hissing or buzzing in the background, but the mic system ensures that the speaker’s voice sounds clear and present.

Should you buy the Sonos Ace?

A picture of the Sonos Ace headphones placed inside of its mint green-interior carrying case
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sonos Ace is expensive but could be worth the price for the budding cinephile.

The Sonos Ace is definitely worth considering if you can justify the high price tag. After all, these headphones cost a whopping $449. If you’re someone who enjoys immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, or if you already own a soundbar from Sonos, then the Sonos Ace could be a natural extension of your existing home theater setup.

However, if you’re looking for over-ear headphones with the best noise canceling performance possible, or you just want more control over your sound, then I’d suggest looking at alternatives from Apple, Bose, Sony, or Sennheiser before setting your sights on the Sonos Ace.

Sonos AceSonos Ace
Sonos Ace
Great build quality • Dolby Atmos support • Integration with Sonos soundbars
MSRP: $449.00
Premium noise canceling headphones designed for mobile cinephiles
The Sonos Ace are a pair of headphones designed to bring the home theater experience everywhere you go. These premium headphones offer an elegant design, good ANC, Lossless audio, Dolby Atmos support, and up to 30 hours of battery life.

How do the Sonos Ace compare to the Apple AirPods Max?

The Apple AirPods Max in white on a coffee table next to a newspaper.
The AirPods Max are a great choice for Apple device owners who want a pair of premium over-ears.

Given the price point, a lot of people are likely to compare the Sonos Ace to the Apple AirPods Max. Both headphones offer a lot of features for their price, so which you choose will ultimately come down to what you value the most.

One of the biggest differences between the two headphones has to do with device ecosystem integration. The Apple AirPods Max is the better choice for iPhone owners who are heavily invested in Apple’s walled garden. Moreover, the AirPods Max boasts better noise-canceling performance than the Sonos Ace. Its default sound also has less bass emphasis, though Apple doesn’t provide any EQ tools. On the other hand, the Sonos Ace is a better investment for people who already own a compatible Sonos soundbar, or for those who simply prefer Dolby Atmos for consuming immersive audio content.

How do the Sonos Ace compare to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones?

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have a matte exterior.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones offer comparable specs to the Sonos Ace.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones boast a slightly lower price tag than the Sonos Ace and offer comparable specs, including aptX Lossless via Snapdragon Sound, similar default sound, and comfortable design. Furthermore, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones boast better noise-canceling performance and a slightly better in-app EQ tool.

Bose also offers spatial audio, which they call “Bose Immersive Audio”. However, this implementation of spatial audio pales in comparison to the Sonos Ace’s use of Dolby Atmos for virtual surround sound. The head tracking on the Sonos Ace is also more responsive than the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

How do the Sonos Ace compare to the Sony WH-1000XM5?

A top down view of the Sony WH-1000XM5 resting on a dark grey graph patterned surface.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 offers great sound quality and noise-canceling performance for the price.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is great for people who want a premium pair of noise-canceling headphones, without having to shell out over $400. These headphones offer better sound quality and noise-canceling than the Sonos Ace, and the Sony Headphones Connect app offers more customization options compared to what’s available in the Sonos app.

These headphones also support spatial audio via Sony 360 Reality Audio, however there is far more content available in Dolby Atmos compared to Sony’s format. If virtual surround sound is a priority for you, the Sonos Ace is still a better option. For everything else, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is worth serious consideration.

What should you get instead of the Sonos Ace?

The Sonos Ace is not cheap by any means, so it’s worth taking a look at some alternatives that may better suit your needs. For example, the AirPods Max ($429 at Amazon) offers tight integration with Apple devices, offering exclusive features like Apple Spatial Audio and automatic device switching.

Android users should take a look at the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, which also support aptX Lossless for high-quality streaming over Bluetooth. If you don’t care for spatial audio, or you value a great in-app equalizer, the Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 ($349 at Amazon) should be on your radar.

If you want to save some cash, the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($387 at Amazon) boasts a comfortable design, very good sound quality, and great noise-canceling performance.  There’s also the Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 4 ($289.23 at Amazon), which offers great sound quality and an impressive 56+ hour battery life.

Frequently asked questions

No, the Sonos Ace is not waterproof.

Yes, the Sonos Ace features eight microphones, four in each ear cup.

The Sonos Ace can be used for gaming if you connect to your source device using a USB-C cable. However, the Sonos Ace microphone may not be ideal for games where voice chat is required, especially since the headphone lacks a boom mic. We’d recommend buying a dedicated gaming headset instead.

No, the Sonos Ace does not have a headphone jack. However, a USB-C to 3.5mm cable is included in the box.

Yes, the Sonos Ace works with iPhone.

We would not recommend using the Sonos Ace for your workouts. This is because the headphones lack any water-resistance rating. Instead, check out our list of the best headphones for workouts.

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