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New Sonos Ace Headphones Do WiFi, But Not How You Might Think

The first wireless headphones from Sonos will arrive June 5th for $449. Does the Sonos Ace have something up its sleeve?

Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Lifestyle Collage

After Sonos introduced its first networked amplifier and revolutionary whole home wireless music ecosystem in 2005, the company has continued to diversify its lineup to satisfy almost every use case that a customer could possibly want. Standalone wireless speaker? Check. Soundbar? Check. Amp or preamp to integrate any speaker from any brand into a Sonos network? Check. One-piece speaker to give listeners an immersive surround sound experience for spatial audio? Check. Bluetooth-capable wireless speaker to take from room to room, on the road or to the beach but still synch with other speakers in the home for seamless synchronized playback. Check. Even in-wall and in-ceiling architectural speakers to satisfy the most design-conscious.

Only one product has eluded the grasp of Sonos customers for years, leaving fans wondering and waiting with bated breath for that inevitable moment when their personal listening dreams would be fulfilled. The wait ends today with the launch of the Sonos Ace wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones in Black and White
Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones in Black and White

“They’re here! Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones – and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with,” said Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos. “Sonos Ace leverages everything we’ve learned over two decades as an audio leader to bring stunning sound, sleek design and long-standing comfort to one of the largest and most popular audio categories worldwide.”

Which Way to Wireless?

The Sonos Ace headphones ($449) will begin shipping on June 5th in a black or soft white color option. They feature Bluetooth 5.4 wireless connectivity, an over-the-ear design, active noise cancellation (ANC) with an “Aware” mode for situational awareness and immersive audio support with head-tracking. They also feature (or will soon feature) a unique “True Cinema” mode designed to make you think you’re watching a movie in a premium theater, but without the sticky floors and without any neighbors banging on the wall to shut the hell up. But what doesn’t it have? The network backbone that has been embedded into every Sonos product since the Zone Player 100 was released in 2005.

Part of what sets Sonos speakers apart from other wireless solutions is that Sonos speakers connect to each other and to your music using a wired or wireless (WiFi) local area network. This type of connection can be completely lossless as opposed to Bluetooth connectivity which typically incurs some degree of lossy compression in its wireless transmission.

Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones White

A/V journalists, pundits and prognosticators have speculated that Sonos headphones would connect to the Sonos network the same way — over WiFi — as a dedicated network “zone” or “room” within your home’s local area network, the same way Sonos speakers work. This would allow fully lossless listening and synchronization with any other Sonos room or zone in your home. Of course, Bluetooth connectivity would also be an option (as it is in the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move portable speakers) but we expected the Sonos headphones to integrate with the Sonos ecosystem similarly to how the speakers do. We were mistaken.

Sonos reps explained to us in a recent product briefing that the Sonos Ace is a wireless Bluetooth headphone first. Its WiFi network connectivity is only for a specific use case (which we’ll get into). Does this matter? Maybe. Maybe not. Recent advancements in Bluetooth, specifically Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound AptX for Lossless, can deliver CD quality sound with no audible loss to the Sonos Ace headphones from compatible mobile devices. Also, the Sonos ACE supports high quality lossless sound from a hardwired USB-C connection. But either represents a departure from the standard way of distributing and delivering sound within the Sonos ecosystem.

Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Private Listening with ARC Soundbar

The Sonos Ace does support point to point WiFi connectivity, but only to transfer sound over from a Sonos soundbar like an ARC or Beam to the headphones for a private immersive audio experience that emulates what you’d normally hear over a speaker system. Dynamic head tracking keeps you centered in the action even if you need to reach for the popcorn or go to the kitchen to grab a brew. It all sounds very cool, and I’m looking forward to checking out when we get a pair of ACEs in for review. It’s just a bit different from what I was expecting. I’ll reserve any final judgements on sound quality or ergonomics until I’ve had a chance to experience them with my own ears

Sonos Ace Headphone Parts Exploded

Sonos Ace Specs

The Sonos Ace features custom-designed 40 mm dynamic drivers in each earcup as well as eight beamforming microphones for noise control and voice targeting so every call or video conference should be crisp and clear. You’ll get a listening time of 30 hours on a full charge. If you forget to charge the headphones before a commute or a trip, the ACE’s ultra-fast charging can get you 3 hours of playback with a quick 3-minute charge or can go from 0% to 100% in about 2 hours using the included USB-C cable.

Sonos Ace uses lightweight, premium materials for an airy fit that the company claims will “gently hug your head.” Its memory foam interior is wrapped in vegan leather, while a custom headband and ear cups that hide the hinge create a tight acoustic seal for strong acoustic isolation. Tactile buttons on each earcup allow you to control volume, transport, pairing and ANC modes easily, without fumbling for the right button. The Ace’s fold-flat design and included lightweight travel case should make it a reliable travel companion.

Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones White with Carrying Case and Accessories
DriversCustom-designed 40 mm dynamic driver in each cup. 
Microphones 8 beamforming microphones
Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos with Dynamic Headtracking
Lossless Audio aptX Lossless
BluetoothBluetooth 5.4
Noise Control Active Noise Cancellation / Aware mode
TV Audio SwapWorks with compatible Sonos soundbars (Arc/Beam)
Wear Detection Auto pause/play
Adjustable EQ via Sonos app
Colors Black, Soft White 
Battery Li-ion, 1060mAh battery
Battery Life30 hours of listening time with ANC or Aware mode enabled. 
Rapid Charge3 hours listening time in 3 minutes from 0%. 
Full Recharge2 hours (USB-C cable included)
Dimensions
(H x W x D)
7.52 x 6.3 x 3.35 inches
(191 x 160 x 85 mm) 
Weight 11 oz (312 g) 
Sonos Ace Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Black

The Bottom Line

Sonos has a solid track record for delivering high-quality, great sounding speakers that play nicely together. The company’s choice to focus on Bluetooth and omit the standard network connectivity of all of the company’s other products is unexpected. Will this matter to the average wireless headphone buyer or even the Sonos faithful fans? We shall see. Stay tuned for our hands-on/ears-on opinion on the Sonos Ace coming soon.

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Price & Availability

Sonos Ace will be available globally on June 5, 2024 for USD $449 / GBP £449 / EUR €499 / AUD $699. Available for pre-order at: Best Buy, Amazon, Sonos.com.

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