Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Verdict

A very good attempt at a pair of headphones from the Sonos, but the Ace are beaten in several areas by more experienced rivals. The levels of comfort and the TV Audio Swap feature are excellent, though the Ace doesn’t feel like it’s the complete package, especially for the high asking price.

Pros

  • Excellent comfort
  • Strong noise-cancelling
  • Enjoyable sound
  • TV Audio Swap is great
  • Strong wireless performance

Cons

  • ANC not as good as Bose
  • Not as detailed or as dynamic as Sony
  • Could benefit from more app integration
  • More expensive than the competition

Key Features

  • TV Audio SwapSwap audio between headphones and Sonos Arc soundbar
  • Snapdragon Sound compatibleaptX Lossless for higher quality audio

Introduction

It’s been Sonos’ most requested product for years and a step into an area away from its home cinema comfort zone. The Sonos Ace headphones are here to establish Sonos as a player in the headphones market.

Sonos is wading into waters much traversed by other brands. The likes of Sony, Bose, Sennheiser, JBL, and more besides have developed several generations, and so the onus is on Sonos to bring something different.

Like Apple with its AirPods Max, there’s both intrigue and caution about the Sonos Ace. Can they be the class-leading product in a similar vein to the brand’s soundbars, or should expectations be more realistic?

Availability

The Sonos Ace is price £449 in the UK and in the US it’ll cost $449. In Europe its €449 and for Australian customers its $AUD699.

Design

  • Great levels of comfort
  • Slim profile
  • Physical buttons

These may be the comfiest pair of over-ear headphones I’ve reviewed. The Ace slip on so easily and conform to head so smoothly that I can easily wear them for hours.

They’re more comfortable than the Sony WH-1000XM5, and present slightly higher levels of comfort than the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones thanks to the padded feel of the vegan leather earpads. The profile of the earcups is slimmer too, avoiding a bulky look.

Sonos Ace laid flat
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Even as a glasses wearer I don’t have issues. The clamping force is strong enough to keep the headphones secure and light enough to not be an irritant. The Sonos Ace feel as if they’ve been vacuum-formed to fit my head. A stepless slider helps to adjust the fit.

You can tell which earcup is left or right thanks to contrasting colours inside the earcups. It’s also simple to detach the earpads if you need to replace them. The battery inside can be replaced, though Sonos would prefer you send it to them rather than do it yourself.

Sonos Ace controls
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Content Key button, as Sonos refers to it, offers tactile means of operation, covering playback, volume, and calls. Hold it down and it initiates an audio swap between the headphones and a Sonos soundbar. You’ve got buttons for controlling ANC/voice assistance and power as well – but there’s no 3.5mm jack.

There’s a carry case to keep the headphones safe, and inside is a smaller case for the cables. There’s a magnet inside to attach or detach the smaller one, which seems unnecessary but is a nice touch nonetheless.

Sonos Ace pouch in case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • Dolby Head-Tracking
  • Snapdragon Sound support
  • Works with refreshed Sonos app

Assessed on its own terms, the Ace have strong ANC performance. With music playing, I can barely hear people’s voices, and the headphones don’t have to be very loud to obscure voices either – around 50% or less volume is enough to suppress most sounds around me, which I always feel is a good sign of how strong the ANC is.

It fought well against the Jubilee and Victoria tube lines on the London Underground, the music I was listening to wasn’t often overwhelmed. On the Northern line, it struggled with rumbles of the tube, but no headphone I’ve tested has ever been completely flawless. It handles wind noise excellently, which seems to glide past even in blustery conditions.

It’s on planes that I noticed more of a gap between it and the Bose headphones, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones suppress cabin noise for a quieter experience. I also noted some minor distortion during the buffeting take-offs. Overall, the ANC is very good but short of the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones.

Sonos Ace ANC mics
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Aware Mode sounds impressively natural to the point where there’s little difference between wearing the headphones or taking them off. I would say if you want to have a conversation with Aware Mode on, it’s better to pause the music. It would be nice if the Ace (or most headphones) had a version of Sony’s clever Speak to Chat function.

There’s support for Bluetooth 5.4 (SBC, AAC, aptX variants), and I haven’t had a connection issue walking through any of London’s major train stations, or anywhere else for that matter. Bluetooth multipoint for connecting to two devices simultaneously can be toggled on or off in the app.

The Ace also features Snapdragon Sound (aptX Lossless codec) but only Android users benefit from aptX Lossless’ higher bandwidth as Apple doesn’t support it. The headphones come with a USB-C cable to play lossless content over a wired connection.

Sonos Ace opposite view
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The revised Sonos app has come in for criticism, and the Ace requires it to function. You can initiate firmware updates, customise the sound, wear sensor, noise control settings; engage the Audio Swap feature and Head Tracking but you can’t access music through the control app itself. That’s (so far) a missed opportunity.

It’s especially galling as it’s been a key feature of Sonos’ speakers for years, and Bowers & Wilkins and Bang & Olufsen have added it to their headphones app. Moreover, there’s no hand-off feature between the Ace and Sonos speakers which seems obvious considering the multi-device, multi-room nature of the Sonos ecosystem.

Sonos Ace control app
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The app in its slimmed-down form is relatively straightforward to use but there’s not the level of customisation or depth that Sony or JBL offers with their headphone apps.

Battery life is estimated to be 30 hours with ANC, and a two hour battery drain proved that’s spot on with battery level falling to 94% at half volume. If you were to use the headphones with the Arc soundbar those figures are likely to drop, as would be the case with Dolby’s Head Tracking feature engaged.

Call quality is ok for a headphone of this price, the Ace performs well in areas where there isn’t much noise to contend with; voice pick up is good but in noisy areas the headphones don’t seem to suppress as much noise as they could. While voice clarity is solid, background noise competes with what’s being said. It’s not the most silent experience you could ask for.

Sonos Ace control app customisation
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

TV Audio Swap

  • Swap between headphones and soundbar
  • Dynamic Head Tracking support
  • iOS compatible (at the moment)

Plugging headphones in to watch TV is nothing new, but the Sonos Ace’s TV Audio Swap offers an experience no other headphones can. Integrating directly with the Sonos Arc at launch (Sonos Beam and Ray support is coming soon), the Ace headphones create a direct Wi-Fi connection to the soundbar, provided you have an iOS device as Android support is ‘coming soon’.

This feature works with any audio playing through the Arc’s HDMI input, whether that’s from a TV, Ultra HD Blu-ray player or streaming stick.

Once set up, TV Audio Swap can be activated using a long press of the Content Key on the side and turned off with the same action. The Arc then kicks back in at a lower volume so as not to deafen anyone around it.

Sonos Ace with the Sonos Arc
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Alternatively, the app has a switch button that works similarly, except returning audio to the Arc gives you a volume slider to choose how loud (or quiet) you want.

It’s mostly a seamless experience, but I found that TV Audio Swap often starts with a judder as the connection stabilises, settling down after a few seconds. When I first set up the headphones, the lip sync was horribly out, and I couldn’t fix it with any of the software controls. Ultimately, I gave up and rebooted my TV, Sonos Arc and Fire TV Cube, which fixed the problem. I blame HDMI CEC for this.

Since then, I’ve not had a problem with syncing issues with the Ace headphones and the Arc through HDMI eARC.

The Wi-Fi connection to the headphones is limited to a fairly basic 345kbps, but the headphones have a couple of tricks to improve the experience.

First, there’s dynamic Head Tracking, which is an option in the app. With it turned on, dynamic Head Tracking picks up on your head movements, adjusting the balance. For example, turn your head to the right, so your left ear is pointing towards the Arc, and sound just comes out of the left headphone can.

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

The result is a more natural experience that imitates what happens when you’re not wearing headphones. In fact, I found that this feature made me almost forget that I was wearing headphones at all. That’s a great experience, as wearing headphones can be an enclosing experience that feels more and more unnatural over time; dynamic Head Tracking freed me and let me just enjoy what I was watching.

Secondly, rather than just broadcasting stereo audio, the connection is a virtualised spatial audio mix from the original Dolby Atmos or 5.1 soundtrack. The headphones can even upmix stereo content. Spatial Audio can be turned off if you don’t like the effect or are just watching regular TV.

With it turned on, the results can be impressive, although not as detailed as when using discrete speakers. With spatial audio, there’s a sense of space and dynamism that regular stereo headphones can’t produce: the Ace headphones make you feel like audio is coming from a much larger soundspace than just two speakers clamped to the side of your head.

I found the audio far more engaging, and I could focus on what I was watching rather than being aware that I was wearing headphones. Watching the opening sequence of The Acolyte, the bar came to life around me, and the fight scene has all the impact you’d hope for. And, yes, lightsabres do sound amazing, buzzing and swishing around.

The slightly limited audio connection means that there’s a slight compression of detail, and the headphones don’t quite have the clarity and brightness of the Arc alone, but it’s still a close-run thing.

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

Spatial audio adds the sense of space, but not directionality. Watching the bridge sequence in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the gunshots in the background sound remote, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on where they were coming from. It’s still better than watching the sequence with stereo headphones, where everything sounds like it’s coming from the same place, though.

Watch the same sequence on the Arc with a pair of rear speakers, and the same gunshots are clearly placed at the back right. For clarity and detail, listening to audio as it should sound, there’s no replacement for dedicated speakers, but the headphones do give a better sense of space, even if they can’t place audio with the same kind of pinpoint accuracy.

Sonos has promised TrueCinema, which will be available later this year. This feature will tune the headphones based on your room to create the effect of virtual speakers placed around you. If it works as promised, it could fill in the extra level of detail that separates the headphones from a true home cinema system.

Even in their current state, the Sonos Ace headphones give a viable alternative for watching where the only other option would be to listen with the audio turned down, straining to hear what’s happening. Watching late at night or while others in the house are trying to concentrate, I’d go for the Sonos Ace headphones over a quiet Arc any day.

Sound Quality

  • Smooth performance
  • Weighty bass
  • Short of detail compared to rivals

Packed with 40mm custom designed dynamic drivers, the Ace don’t sound as detailed or as clear as either flagship Sony or Bose headphones but they’re one of the most ‘comfortable’ sounding headphones I’ve heard in 2024. I could listen to the Ace for hours.

There’s a weight and solidness to the low end, with a richness to bass of Jacob Collier’s Feel that gives the track a satisfying thud with its slow paced beats.

The Sonos registers more powerful lows with Kingdom’s Bank Head than the Bose, giving the track an assertiveness that matches the Sony, but it doesn’t convey the track with quite the same levels of clarity as either headphone, and the way the soundstage is organised and knitted together also feels flatter and more compact than some rival pairs.

Sonos Ace earcup up
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That said, the midrange is presented with enjoyable levels of clarity. Both Collier’s and Lianne La Havas’s vocals in Feel are conveyed in enjoyably smooth terms, the headphones present the intonations of her voice well, though again both the Sony and Bose present the track with a more revealing sense of detail. The Ace’s levels of detail and definition are a little shrouded by how smooth the headphones sound.

The soundstage is depicted with width but – there’s that word again – the way in which Bose organises the soundstage is more spacious; instruments on the Ace can sound as if they’re on top of each other – to be honest the WH-1000XM5 takes a similar approach – but there’s not really that depth to the soundstage the Sony brings.

There is dynamism in tracks like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody though those jumps in loudness aren’t relayed with the same impact as the Sony WH-1000XM5, resulting in a little less excitement. Give the Ace a nudge on the volume and there’s greater levels of energy, and the Loudness setting gives more presence at either end of the frequency range.

Sonos Ace earcups detail
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Highs are conveyed with sharpness and brightness that I think is slightly better than either Sony or  Bose with GoGo Penguin’s Erased by Sunlight; but where the Sonos Ace’s overall deficit shows is in its level of detail and definition.

One last note is the dynamic head-tracking, which works well in tracking your head movements and shifting the soundscape to match when listening to Raye’s Genesis (Dolby Atmos). It doesn’t have the pulse-pounding energy of the Yamaha YH-L700A but I prefer it to Bose’s Immersive Audio feature as it still retains a weightiness to its sound whereas the Bose sounds thinner.

Latest deals

Should you buy it?

If comfort is a high priority

These are the comfiest headphones I’ve worn. They slip onto the head like a pair of slippers.

You are after the outright best

Bose is better for noise-cancellation, Sony is better for sound (and less expensive), and if battery life is important to you, Sennheiser is better.

Final Thoughts

Sonos’ foray into headphones is mostly a success; though expectations of how good they are should be tempered by the quality and depth of its competition.

The noise-cancellation is good but bested by Bose and Sony. The sound quality is good, but the WH-1000XM5 are a more exciting, detailed, and dynamic listen, while the Bose is a clearer, more spacious offering. There’s no shame in losing out to either rival but the Sonos Ace aren’t the best-sounding wireless headphones.

Sonos haven’t helped themselves in some respects. The TV Audio Swap feature is excellent but at launch is restricted to the Arc soundbar and iOS users. The inability to play music directly from the app undermines one of Sonos’ best features. There’s a sense these headphones aren’t quite the finished product, at least on the software side.

I’m still not entirely sure who this headphone is for either. The TV Audio Swap feature is unique but not compelling for users outside the Sonos ecosystem. It’s more expensive than the WH-1000XM5, and no headphones are going to muscle past the AirPods Max integration with iOS.

The Ace are a good – in some ways very good – attempt by Sonos at a pair of over-ear headphones; though they’re not quite the ace in the pack they could have been.

For other headphone choices, check out our best headphones and best noise-cancelling headphones lists.

Trusted Score
rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star

Sign up for the Trusted Reviews Newsletter

How we test

We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy

Tested over two weeks

Battery drain performed

Tested with real world use

FAQs

Is the TV Audio Swap feature supported on the Sonos Android app?

At launch, the TV Audio Swap feature is only available on the iOS version of the Sonos app. The Android app is set to be updated at a later date with the feature.

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
Battery Hours
Fast Charging
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
Model Number
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Headphone Type

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words