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Sonos Ace vs AirPods Max: How do these flagship headphones compare?

Sonos has just launched its first ever pair of over-ear headphones: Sonos Ace. Here’s how they stack up against the AirPods Max from what we currently know.

While we haven’t yet had a chance to review the headphones, Sonos promises that the Sonos Ace “builds on Sonos’ leading reputation for superior sound, sophisticated design, and category-disrupting innovation to redefine personal listening”.

So how does the Sonos Ace compare to Apple’s over-ear headphone offering, the AirPods Max? As the latter launched back in 2020, we have spent a lot of time with the Apple’s premium headphones and gave them a solid four-star rating. 

We’ve compared the specs of the Sonos Ace with the AirPods Max so you can see the key differences and any similarities between the two flagship headphones.

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Both have Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)

Like most premium headphones, both the Sonos Ace and AirPods Max have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology. With ANC, microphones detect and actively counter external sounds to offer a more immersive listening experience. 

To do this, both the Sonos Ace and AirPods Max use eight microphones to detect and counter external sounds. The difference here is that while the Sonos Ace has eight microphones in total, for both ANC and for phone calls, the AirPods Max has one additional microphone for voice pickup. 

If you don’t require total noise cancellation then you can activate Aware Mode by simply pressing a button on your Sonos Ace, allowing you to hear and engage with your surroundings. Similarly, AirPods Max also offers Transparency mode, which can also be activated by pressing a button on your headphones.

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Sonos Ace has TrueCinema technology coming soon

Sonos has teased an upcoming new technology that is set to be introduced into the Sonos Ace headphones later this year: TrueCinema. Sonos explains that TrueCinema is an all-new technology that “precisely maps your space then renders a complete surround sound system for an audience of one”. 

Until the launch of this new feature, Sonos Ace users will have to make do with its spatial audio compatibility and head tracking with Dolby Atmos, which promises an immersive listening experience. 

While the AirPods Max don’t have a dedicated technology like this, Apple does promise that its personalised spatial audio with dynamic head tracking offers a cinema-like sound that surrounds you.

Sonos Ace have a longer battery life

While the AirPods Max have 20 hours of battery life with ANC and Spatial Audio turned on, the Sonos Ace boast up to 30 hours even with ANC enabled.

In addition, the Sonos Ace uses a USB-C connector whereas the AirPods Max still uses Apple’s Lightning adaptor. If you have an iPhone 14 or older then this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for you, but if you’ve already turned to USB-C then this is an extra cable to keep for charging.

Just a three-minute charge of the Sonos Ace results in three hours of battery life which makes it perfect for last minute dashes out the house. The AirPods Max do offer a similar speedy charge option, with a five-minute charge offering just 1.5 hours of battery.

AirPods Max is available in five colours

The AirPods Max boast a more colourful lineup and is available in five colours: Silver, Space Grey, Sky Blue, Green and Pink. In comparison, the Sonos Ace are only available in Silver or Black.

Speaking of design, the Sonos Ace have a lightweight memory-foam-lined headband with stainless steel arms that expand. The ear cushions are also wrapped in a vegan leather for softness and durability. 

The AirPods Max’s headband is made from a breathable knitted mesh which distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure. It is also durable, thanks to the stainless steel frame and aluminium cups which house the mesh textile wrapped memory-foam ear cushions.

Sonos Ace is cheaper

The Sonos Ace will be available from the 5th June 2024 with an RRP of £449 / €499 / $449 / AUD 699.

Despite being the older model of the two, the AirPods Max actually has a higher RRP of £499 / €579 / $549, however this does include a Smart Case.

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