Reviewed: We Trialled the New Sonos Ace Noise-cancelling Headphones

Sonos Ace Noise-cancelling Wireless Headphones

In news long-overdue for music-lovers, audio powerhouse Sonos have just launched their first headphones, the Sonos Ace. With a legacy of creating world-class high-fidelity speakers you wouldn’t be shy to show off on your home entertainment shelf, the Sonos team have produced a sleek set of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that may just become your next travel essential. Wondering if this is the audio equipment for you? We put Sonos Ace to the test – read on for our full review.

What is it?

Pip Edwards wearing the Sonos Ace noise-cancelling headphones

At first glance, it’s clear the Sonos team took a minimalist approach to the Ace. The device (available in matte black or white) comprises a plush headband and two memory foam cups connected by a stainless steel rod. Tucked under the left cup is your power-and-bluetooth-connectivity switch and USB-C port, while the right cup houses a slidable toggle and button. Where some headphones in the market have gone all-in with swipe-y touch controls, these tactile buttons are reassuringly manual. The slider adjusts volume and skip songs, while the standalone button switches between Active Noise Cancellation and Aware modes (a function designed to filter through external sounds – handy for listening to announcements at the airport).

But of course, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Packed within its colour-coded earpieces (the sage-green interior indicates the right side) are topnotch speakers (with 40 millimetre custom dynamic drivers in each) that play music back crisply and cleanly (think sharp drum snaps and hi-hats). The small mesh detailing on the outside of the cups conceal eight microphones that work hard to silence the rest of the world – including reducing the sound of the wind during calls. 

Our experience

From a wearing perspective, there’s no doubt they’re comfortable. Coming in at just 312 grams, they’re fairly lightweight and easy to adjust for width – there’s no presets, just a customisable glide, set and forget – with a close fit that resists most jostles and headshakes. At full battery, Sonos Ace lasts for 30 hours – more than enough for your average long-haul flight and then some. And being able to plug Ace in to charge for just three minutes and scoring three hours of playtime on the run is a life-saver. 

One of its best on-the-go features is the Ace’s clever smart sensors, which detect whether or not you’re wearing them – the headphones automatically pause your music upon removal and resume playing once you’ve popped them back on. Yes, that means you’ll be able to avoid missing the next juicy chapter of your audiobook while chatting to the check-in staff ahead of boarding your flight. 

For business travellers, Sonos Ace automatically pauses when answering a call, and its inbuilt microphones deliver clear conversations, with the added benefit of silencing external noises so you can devote your full attention to the discussion at hand.

How it travels

Sonos Ace Noise-cancelling Wireless Headphones

There’s no getting around it: these headphones are, well, headphone-sized. They’re not collapsible, so if you’re planning on packing them in your carry-on suitcase, you’ll want to bring Sonos Ace’s zippable slimline – and light – case with you (the case houses a removable magnetised pocket for stashing your charging and AUX cables away neatly). While many planes now allow you to plug directly into their entertainment system with just an AUX cable, older models may still require a two-pronged adapter. Sonos Ace does not come with one, so prepare for all scenarios and pick up an adapter or portable bluetooth transmitter ahead of your flight. 

The drawbacks

Like all headphones, they’re a little tricky to wear if you’re a chronic window-seat sitter who likes to curl into the side of a plane with the help of a cushion-y neck pillow – upon coming into contact with the plane wall, the headphones will still convey a fraction of the engine’s low hum, despite their excellent noise-cancelling abilities. That being said, no matter how much you cuddle up to the plane interior (or your travel companion), the cushioning of the earpieces go a long way to ensuring comfort without impacting audio quality. 

Our verdict

When it comes to wireless headphones, the Sonos Ace sets the bar high for noise-cancelling – easily filtering out the buzz of most of the outside world – and high-fidelity surround sound. Not only do they look ultra-chic, they’re simple to use – just pop them on, let them auto-connect to your phone via Bluetooth and you’re good to go. If listening to music and podcasts while travelling is important, then the Sonos Ace could very well become your most reached-for holiday companion. 

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