Sonos Ace Review: Clarity and Expression

Sonos Ace: Versatility and Simplicity Meet Clarity and Expressiveness

Despite its decades-long dominance of the high-end wireless speaker market, Sonos has yet to enter the wireless headphone category—until now. Introducing the Sonos Ace, the legendary speaker-maker’s first-ever pair of wireless headphones. Designed to rival flagship offerings from heavy hitters like Sony, Bose, and now Apple, the Ace headphones offer great sound quality, a sleek build, and some of the latest advancements in wireless headphones technology. All of those premium features do come with a premium price, and at $449, the Sonos Ace is one of the most expensive pairs of wireless headphones on the market. Are they worth the investment? Let’s find out.

Sonos Ace
Sonos Ace Wireless Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

Form and Comfort

True to the Sonos brand, the Ace headphones present a very sleek and classy appearance devoid of any ostentation. Style-wise, they bear a strong resemblance to Apple’s AirPods Max, though the Ace headphones are thankfully much lighter.

In terms of comfort, the Ace’s pleather ear pads are both soft and accommodating. The stainless steel, memory foam-wrapped headband offers a nice, secure fit, with just the right amount of pressure. Both the ear cups and headband can be adjusted for a nice bespoke fit.

When it comes to headphones, I’ve been lucky in that I usually don’t have to worry too much about comfort. There have been very few instances in the past where I’ve experienced noticeable discomfort from wearing headphones. That being said, the Sonos Ace headphones are probably the most comfortable pair of wireless headphones I’ve ever worn. They feel absolutely wonderful. If you’re someone who is particularly sensitive to fit, you’ll likely find the Sonos Ace quite appealing.


Controls and Functionality

I’m happy to report that Sonos went with physical buttons for the controls. Touch controls drive me crazy—in part, because I’m kind of clumsy, but also because they lack responsiveness. I would much rather have a few simple buttons to manage the important functions and controls—which is exactly what Sonos did.

A simple power button on the left earcup turns the headphones on and off. On the right earcup, you’ll find a two-way switch that lets you control the volume and track settings, as well as take calls. Just below the toggle switch is a button that lets you switch ANC/Aware Mode on and off; it also activates voice control. Additional controls and functions, including an equalizer, can be accessed through the companion app.


The Sonos Ace is a Bluetooth-only headset. They don’t support Wi-Fi, which means sound optimization and integration with other Sonos speaker systems is more limited. It’s not impossible though. Like any pair of Bluetooth headphones, the Ace headphones can easily connect to your Sonos TV audio system. In fact, Sonos has introduced a TV Audio Swap feature that allows you to seamlessly swap audio from compatible devices to your headphones.

Bluetooth pairing was quick and easy, though I had to install the Sonos companion app to get a real lay of the land. A handy feature is the Bluetooth multipoint technology, which allows you to pair the Sonos Ace with two devices at once. If you’re watching a movie on your computer, for example, you can take a call without having to disconnect from the computer and pair with your phone.

Supported Formats

The Sonos Ace is optimized for Dolby Atmos. As far as Hi-Res codecs are concerned, the Ace supports aptX Lossless, which can only be accessed by Android users. Because Apple only supports the lower resolution AAC via Bluetooth connection, iPhone owners are, for now, out of luck. That being said, even as an iPhone user, I had no grievances at all with the sound quality.


Once connected via the included USB-C cable (also included is a USB-C to 3.5mm cable), you can make use of Apple’s ALAC Codec, which is Apple’s own lossless codec. Once the Sonos Ace is wired, you can play all ultra-high resolution files using an external DAC (digital to analogue converter).


The ANC is quite effective. It does a better job of drowning out low-frequency sounds than those that are higher pitch, but that’s pretty much how ANC works on all wireless headphones. You’ll still hear the conversations of people a few feet away from you, but the most annoying stuff, like AC hum and airplane rumbles are effectively minimized. Some might be disappointed that there’s no access to variable ANC levels. But Sonos seems to have intended to keep the controls and functionality as simple and as user-friendly as possible.


You can expect about 30 hours of play on the Sonos Ace with the ANC on, which is on the higher end of performance for a pair of wireless cans. It also charges very quickly, yielding about 3 hours of power from just 3 minutes of charging.

Call Clarity

The call clarity on the Sonos Ace is solid, especially on the receiver’s side. My voice sounded best when the treble was way up. On my end, the caller’s voice felt sufficiently clean. I’m guessing if I turned the bass levels down, the voice on the other end would have sounded even better.



Before we get to the fun stuff, it might be helpful to note that the sound profile you get with ANC/Aware Mode switched on is different from how it sounds when those modes are turned off. For this reason, it’s a good idea to play around with the bass and treble levels on the equalizer. The equalizer seems thoughtfully limited in terms of how much control you have over the tuning. I’ve often found that wireless models that provide thorough equalizer control can sometimes compromise the optimal sound profile, especially for people who don’t have tons of experience with full bandwidth EQ controls. But with the Sonos Ace, it’s hard to make it sound bad, regardless of how you tweak the EQ settings.


While the Sonos Ace offers a wide and well-separated soundscape, the soundstage remains realistic, avoiding any exaggerated imaging in the 3D realm. Any feeling of vastness tends to be limited to the stereo field, while the sense of depth is less pronounced. In terms of height, although instrument placement may not reach soaring levels, there’s still an enjoyable perception of distancing between instruments on the vertical axis.

And of course, once you play a few Dolby Atmos tracks, the stage becomes significantly more multidimensional and spread out. But where the Dolby Atmos feature really starts to shine is in the home-theater experience. The spatial audio mix that you get with any content that has surround sound or Atmos audio is a definite plus for people with Dolby Atmos supported TV systems. Finally, with Dolby Atmos, you can also experience the dynamic head tracking feature, which adapts the sound to your head movements to keep the soundstage centered.

Low Frequencies

At its optimal tuning, the Sonos Ace delivers a tasteful bass response that’s punchy yet clean, nimble, and natural. But for those who like their low frequencies more pronounced, some tweaking of the bass on the equalizer will certainly allow you achieve your personalized sweet spot. Yes, the bass can become as big as you want it to be. Still, Sonos seems to have intended the optimal sound signature to provide just enough low-end impact to lend an energetic momentum to pop tracks without falling into a heavy and bloated presentation, which tends to be a downfall of certain flagship models from other big brands.

The transition from the bass region to the middle frequencies is tidy as well, and the execution in general feels well-controlled. In terms of transparency, I also had no complaints. Acoustic bass instruments had a realistic timbre, revealing plenty of texture and grip. Nothing sounds too colored or heavy. At the same time, the Sonos Ace always avoids becoming clinical or dull. In fact, the sound signature is quite expressive, as we’ll talk about below.

Once the ANC is on, it’s a slightly different ball game unless you play around with the equalizer settings again. The bass becomes more prominent, warm and voluptuous, and perhaps less disciplined than the sound signature described above. On the flip side, instruments, like cellos have a grand and majestic quality, still providing plenty of texture and timbral nuance, though not as naturally as they do with the ANC off. But again, this profile can be easily adjusted to optimal tuning, and never posed an issue for me once I got the levels right.

As for the sub-bass frequencies, they are visceral when warranted, creating mild vibrations in your jaw and throat whenever the music or movie scene calls for it. So, Sonos seems to have covered all its bases in the low-frequency spectrum.


The Sonos Ace offers a dynamic, yet reasonably forgiving balance in this range, depending on how your treble levels are set; the upper-midrange, while lively, avoids protruding too much through the mix. So, you won’t run into any harshness. At the same time the low-mids are present enough to offer a satisfying amount of body to fuller mixes. So, while it presents a vibrant feel, you won’t hear any overly pronounced treble or sense of hollowness.

In fact, the Sonos Ace provides a highly versatile sound in terms of genres it can handle. You’ll hear a tight snappiness to snares, which lends plenty of energy to pop and rock tracks. And overall, there are a lot of personality traits that make the Sonos Ace appealing regardless of the music you’re listening to. Depending on how the EQ levels are set, the upper midrange can take on a spacious and almost crystal-like quality. And vocals consistently sound intimate and emotive, making vocal-centric tracks a pleasure to listen to. It also means that the headphones well suited to podcasts and audiobooks.

For sure, these headphones can deliver a very delicate and expressive character, which becomes addictive after some time. Equally impressive is how resolving the Sonos Ace is, showing no hint of compression or sloppiness. For this reason, I found acoustic genres, like folk, jazz and classical to be particularly pleasing in this range. Acoustic guitars, for example, offer a precise, yet tender and highly musical sound. And the somewhat radiant quality of the Sonos Ace makes the more intricate instruments sound fantastic.


Although there is sufficient clarity and extension in the treble, strings tend to sound quite smooth even at the highest frequencies. In the same way, vocals in the high frequencies have a silky, fluid quality that makes you want to keep listening. At times, it can even take some of the rawness out of certain vocalists. But there’s no question that it’s all honey to the ears. And though this frequency range remains forgiving, I never felt any high-frequency FOMO. Percussion at the very top feels more crisp than it does sparkly. But it's undeniable that the highs can produce the same mildly glowing quality that you hear in the upper midrange.

Final Verdict

The more I listened to the Sonos Ace, the more I enjoyed it. Whether you like your sound lean and natural, or you prefer a warmer and richer character, the Ace headphones can deliver. It’s just an exceptionally clear-sounding headphone that works for any musical genre or listening/viewing application. The price tag is a tad steep, but personally, I think for what you’re getting in terms of sound quality, charisma, and ease of use, it’s definitely a worthy investment. Not to mention, a really fun time.

For more information about the new Sonos Ace headphones, including additional features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out the detailed product page. Or drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to answer all your comments and questions.