New Sonos Ace Headphones Promise All-Day Comfort and Ease of Use

Like most headphones, the Ace headphones can be paired via Bluetooth straight to a phone, laptop, or other source device. This differs from Sonos speakers, which need to run through the company’s smartphone app. (A recent revamp of the app has caused some controversy among brand loyalists, with many lamenting features that were lost in the transition.) Still, access to more advanced Ace features, like the tone controls and head tracking settings, does require access to the Sonos app.

While lacking never-seen-before features, the design does seem to be well executed. The model doesn’t stand out when viewed from across a room, but it’s sleek and even minimalist. And while the Ace headphones look nice when you’re holding them in your hand, they’re also actually flattering when sitting on your head, which isn’t the case with many competitors. These Sonos headphones come in two colors: a basic black and a soft white that reportedly went through more than 25 iterations before Sonos nailed the color.

The materials feel high-quality, as you’d expect for a model with a $450 price, but there’s not a lot of metal, which reflects the company’s other design goal: comfort.

“What is the biggest pain point [for headphone wearers]? Usually, it’s the headband or the ear cups or something that’s uncomfortable after an hour or two,” Patrick Spence, the Sonos CEO, said in an interview with CR. “We found the right mixture of things that will make [the Ace] comfortable all day.”

I didn’t get to test the company’s all-day comfort claim, but the Ace headphones are lightweight if not exactly gossamer. And in my brief trial, the memory-foam-padded headband minimized pressure points and the user-replaceable vegan leather earpads (shown below) were comfy while providing a substantial degree of passive noise canceling.

The Ace’s ergonomics are quite straightforward as well, with two buttons on the right ear cup: a master button that allows you to pause content and control volume and another button that lets in ambient sound (Sonos calls it Aware mode)—plus a single button on the left that turns the headphones on and off.