Sonos Ace Review: Superb sound with some baffling omissions

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Sonos Ace headphones deliver superior sound, but the odd integration with Sonos products and some missing features at launch are an issue.

Pros Cons
Great sound output Doesn’t really work with other Sonos products
Easy to use controls Premium price
Quick TV Audio Swap works well Only supported on the Arc soundbar at launch

Score: 4/5


In this review

Sonos Ace Specifications
Sonos Ace Design
Sonos Ace Setup
Sonos Ace Performance
Sonos Ace Battery
Sonos Ace Conclusion

Sonos’ claim is that the Sonos Ace headphones are their most requested product, and that would seem to make sense. For the longest time, Sonos has produced some of my favourite standalone speakers and sound bars, but the lack of any kind of truly personal and portable audio solution felt like a weird omission.

The Sonos Ace headphones fill that space rather nicely with the kind of audio quality you’d expect out of Sonos… and also their own set of weird omissions.


The Sonos Ace headphones come in a simple and plain box – part of Sonos’ commitment to recyclable packaging, which is pleasing to see, with the headphones themselves, a simple travel case and a pair of USB-C cables – one for power, and one with a 3.5mm headphone jack at the end – in the box itself.

For $699, it all feels rather basic, but basic doesn’t have to be bad if it works well – and the Sonos Ace does work well at a physical level. I’ve got a larger than usual head, and I often find that over-the-ear headphones in the style of the Sonos Ace are a poor fit, especially over time where it can feel like my head’s being squeezed in a clamp.

The Sonos Ace have passed that particular test with flying colours, lasting many hours of listening before I started to really feel the pressure from them. Comparatively, Apple’s similarly premium AirPods Max squish my head in to an uncomfortable level within an hour’s listening time, every time.

The Sonos Ace headphones are available in black or white finishes. Unless you really want that iPod minimalistic presentation, I’d suggest the black models were the better buy, because white products, especially those you wear often show wear and tear a lot faster than dark ones.

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Ace headphones feature removable and replaceable cups that magnetically clip into place, with simple physical controls on each ear cup.

On the left you’ll find the combination power/pairing button and USB-C connector, while the right cup houses the noise control button for toggling active noise cancelling on and off, as well as the “Content Key”, a volume slider that also acts as a multi-function button for play/pause controls, plus shifting audio to and from a compatible Sonos soundbar as part of the Sonos Ace’s TV Audio Swap feature.

I really do favour having physical controls on headphones rather than touch ones, because the likelihood of errors in touch controls just isn’t there. During my review period I’ve had absolutely no problems at all with the Sonos Ace headphones smartly pairing and responding to my wishes each and every time. This is absolutely how it should be.


Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Sonos Ace headphones are Bluetooth connected by default (more on this shortly), and if you wanted to, all you would need to do is take them out of their box, fire up the power button and then pair them to the Bluetooth device of your choosing. If you want to pair to a new device, the classic “hold the power button down longer” method is used to drop the Sonos Ace into pairing mode, with support for dual pairing built in.

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

But, I hear you cry, these are Sonos products. Surely they work with the Sonos App and ecosystem as part of a glorious Sonos whole?

Well yes… and no. If you’re using an iPhone at launch, you can pair the Sonos Ace first to your phone, and then it should automatically connect through when you launch the Sonos app.

If you’re using an Android phone… not so much. It will pair just fine, like any other set of Bluetooth headphones, but as far as the Sonos app is concerned, it doesn’t even exist as a possible product at all – at least at launch.

That does limit what you can do with the Sonos Ace headphones on Android at launch, though for compatible phones, Qualcomm’s AptX lossless audio is supported on Android, a feature you won’t find on Apple iPhones.



Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)At a straight audio level, the Sonos Ace delivers impressive audio throughput, dependent of course on the quality of the material you’re presenting to it. I’m not so much critiquing your music tastes there, but more where you get your audio from and how it’s encoded. Most of my music testing with the Sonos Ace headphones has been via an iPhone 15 Pro using Apple Music, and through there, my standard test tracks sounded exceptional, even on unadjusted settings with no pairing to the Sonos app.

Louis Armstrong’s vocals on “What A Wonderful World” presented beautifully over the instrument layer, while Prince’s “Purple Rain” had plenty of impact in the drums without losing the guitar behind it. Melissa Etheridge’s anguish in “I Run For Life” presented fantastically, while the heavier industrial beat of the Beastie Boys “Too Many Rappers” had the right amount of thump to it. I could go on, but you get the picture, and I would honestly have expected little else from Sonos, especially given the Sonos Ace’s premium price point.

Active Noise cancellation was equally impressive; putting the Sonos Ace head to head with Apple’s AirPods Max, I would honestly have to call it a tie in terms of pulling out ambient sound that I didn’t want to be hearing.

More than once while testing the Sonos Ace, I’ve had family members come up behind me talking to me with me being blindly unaware they were there at all. So maybe not great for family harmony, but a solid result in terms of filtering out sound, and the same is broadly true of their aware mode as well. Of note, either is an on/off state, with no levels of ANC or awareness available – or at least not available at launch.

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Then there’s the TV Audio Swap feature, which at launch only works with the premium Sonos Arc soundbar at launch. This will need an iOS device for initial setup – because again, the Android version of the app plain just doesn’t see the Ace headphones at launch – but once you’ve enabled it, it lets you switch the sound to and from the Sonos Ace headphones at will, either through the Sonos app or by tapping on the Content Key when you’re in range of both devices.

I’ve tested with everything from 16-bit SNES audio through to high-end Blu-Ray audio, and it works quite flawlessly… though of course if you have one of Sonos’ cheaper soundbars, you’ll have to wait for them to be enabled with the Sonos Ace before it’ll work at all.

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Sonos is also promising a feature it's calling "TrueCinema" through the Sonos Ace headphones, which will (as per Sonos) map out your room space and then give you properly contextual audio through the Sonos Ace headphones no matter where you are. That's interesting as a technology in itself, though as always I can't review a feature that doesn't exist yet -- and you shouldn't buy anything on the promise of future features either.

Also read:
Sonos Arc Review (Finder)

Here’s where it gets slightly odd, though. The Sonos Ace are a Sonos product, and the key glue that holds the brand together is that pretty much everything Sonos branded is a component speaker within a system. You can set up numerous Sonos speakers and soundbars throughout your home and throw or share audio between any of them at any time.

Any Sonos product except the Sonos Ace headphones.

They will only connect to Sonos Soundbars for the TV Swap feature, not in any other context at all. Got a rocking track going on your Sonos Era 100 speaker in the kitchen that you’d like to throw to the Sonos Ace? Tough luck, not supported; you’d have to pair the Sonos Ace to a phone and find the track manually to keep on listening.

Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

I do get that there’s a technical challenge here, because Sonos’ speakers talk to each other wirelessly in a way that would seriously impact battery life on the Sonos Ace headphones.

Equally, I guess the idea here is that the Sonos Ace are the headphones you’re going to wear outside your home environment, not within it – but it still feels like a weird exclusion after so very many years of Sonos stressing its speaker ecosystem above all else to have a Sonos product that flat out doesn’t want to talk to other Sonos products!



Sonos’ claim for the Sonos Ace headphones is that they’re capable of up to 30 hours of battery life, though that’s with active noise cancellation disabled. Who on earth buys ANC headphones with the intent of not using ANC most of the time? If you’re using ANC, you’re looking at around 24 hours claimed battery life, on the higher side for ANC headphones and quite good for Australian international travellers given how far away from the rest of the world we really are.

My own early testing – and to be 100% transparent here, I’ve not had the Sonos Ace headphones long enough to run through enough battery testing cycles to get a full picture of battery life – does suggest that Sonos isn’t underestimating battery life here, with my own usage tracking quite close to that 24 hour figure without too much stress.

There’s no charger in the box with the Sonos Ace headphones, just a USB-C to USB-C cable for recharging, though pickup of power is quite rapid, with a claimed 3 minute charge being good for 3 hours of listening time if you did start to run flat.

Sonos Ace: Alex’s Verdict


Sonos Ace (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Sonos Ace headphones do much of what I’d want out of a premium set of headphones. They’re comfortable for longer wearing times, the battery life is good and general audio output whether I’m listening to music, playing games or watching movies is excellent. If you’ve got an Arc soundbar and you have the need to switch audio away from it – especially at night where the hefty thump of many movie soundtracks isn’t always popular with the rest of your house – then this all works very well indeed.

At the same time, Sonos has some work to do here. It’s hard to recommend them to any Android users given that you won’t be able to modify equalisation or set them up for soundbar audio swapping. If you’ve got a different Sonos soundbar, you’re also excluded from the sound swapping party. And finally, if you’ve invested heavily in a Sonos audio ecosystem, it’s never not going to feel jarring to have a Sonos product that’s basically invisible to the rest of your Sonos group.

Sonos Ace: Pricing and availability

The Sonos Ace headphones retail in Australia for $699.

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