Sonos’ New Ace Headphones Can Swap Audio With Your Soundbar

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Key Takeaways

  • Sonos has launched the Ace, its first set of headphones.
  • The Bluetooth over-ears can swap soundbar audio and create virtual surround sound environments.
  • They ship on June 5th for $449.

Sonos has introduced the Ace, its first-ever set of headphones, and it promised a few perks for home theater listeners.

The long-expected wireless over-ears can swap audio from your Sonos soundbar by pressing and holding a “Content Key” on the cup. You can quickly take a movie’s sound private if everyone else has gone to bed, for instance. The feature only works with the high-end Arc soundbar at present, but the company has promised upcoming support for first-and second-generation Beam soundbars, as well as the entry-level Ray.

Sonos is also making use of its signature room-based tuning with the Ace. A TrueCinema feature will map your environment and give you a virtual surround sound system to match. That option won’t be available until later in the year, but you’ll already have Dolby Atmos spatial audio with head tracking. Sony 360 Reality Audio is also available.

The company was quick to stress that these are Bluetooth headphones, not smart speakers on your head. You don’t need the Sonos app or Wi-Fi to start using the Ace, and you can rely on them solely for portable audio. You only need the Sonos app for EQ settings and head tracking.

Sonos Ace headphones worn by iPhone listener

The design centers on custom 40mm dynamic drivers reportedly tuned by accomplished engineers, musicians, and producers. You’ll also find eight microphones for both active noise cancellation (ANC) and calling, while lossless audio comes through either Bluetooth (on Android phones that support Snapdragon Sound AptX Lossless) or Apple’s ALAC (through an included 3.5mm to USB-C cable).

Battery life is a competitive 30 hours with ANC turned on. Accordingly, Sonos claimed the Ace has a “pillowy” ear cushion design that lets you comfortably listen for hours at a time. You can get three hours of listening with a three-minute recharge, although the company noted that it might take up to three hours (a typical industry figure) to reach full capacity.

The Ace will be available on June 5th in 35 countries and markets, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., and most of Europe. Chile and South Africa are coming soon. The headphones are priced relatively high at $449 (£449 and €499), so it’s clear Sonos is aiming at a premium audience.

It’s too soon to say if Sonos is delivering strong value for the money. The Ace is going up against major rivals that include the Apple AirPods Max, Bose QuietComfort Ultra, and Sony WH-1000XM5. Each of them boasts signature features, such as Apple’s tight ecosystem integration, Bose’s strong ANC, and Sony’s price-to-performance ratio. Sonos is largely banking on its home theater tie-ins and the reputation of its speakers.