Sonos Ace: A big noise
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Sonos Ace: A big noise

Sonos Ace stirs the Thai premium headphone market

TECH
Sonos Ace: A big noise

Sonos, an American audio equipment company that manufactures wireless multiroom speaker systems tuned by Oscar and Grammy-winning producers, mixers and artists, has jumped into Thai audio market with the Sonos Ace premium headphones. Are these headphones any good? Let's find out.

The Sonos Ace headphones produce clear, natural and immersive sound. The dynamic drivers deliver fantastic and full sound, but if you want something punchier or bassier, you'll have to adjust the equaliser in your music app. As a bass-head myself, I jacked up the bass quite a bit to fit my taste.

These headphones support spatial audio, active noise-cancelling, noise-passthrough, lossless sound, Dolby Atmos, fast charge, head-tracking, wired connection, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which is basically everything you can ask for from a set of headphones.

Sonos Ace.

Spatial audio places sounds in different locations around the room and is not the same as surround sound, where sound feels like it is coming from directional speakers. Filmmakers, sound designers and music creatives can precisely place sounds anywhere around a room to create an immersive soundscape. The result is a spatial sound experience that fills up the room and mimics the way we hear things in real life. But that also depends on what kind of streaming service you are using too (YouTube Music doesn't support it).

I have several earbuds and earphones that have head-tracking capability, which emulates where the sound is according to its source, and found that the Sonos Aces moves sounds when you turn left, right, up or down instantly with no delay. I found head-tracking cool for a few hours but then it became a little useless, because most of the time you are directly facing the sound source and if you turn around to pick up a glass of water, the sound moves behind you which serves little purpose.

Noise-cancelling and noise-transparency mode on these headphones work as intended. You can block out or let through most of the noise around you instantly with just the press of a button on the right ear cuff.

I connected these headphones to my Android phone and Windows PC and they switched to either music source instantly. This is very convenient when you have several devices.

The inner part of the headphones is cushy, with three physical buttons around the bottom rim of the cuffs. They all have dedicated functions assigned. Having physical button means that there will be no accidental activation, unlike touch controls.

The ear cuffs are made from soft vegan memory foam, which I found quite comfortable to wear for around 30 minutes, then it got a little too steamy for my liking, but that may be my own "big head" problem.

I am a big guy, with a big head and ears. The Sonos Ace squeezed my head and ears a little too firmly. For better comfort, I had to lessen the grip by putting the headphones on one of my toasters (which is just about the same width as my head) for several nights, stretching them.

The Sonos Ace headphones have superb battery life. I used these on-and-off a few hours at a time for a whole week and didn't have to recharge even once. Sonos claims these headphones can go for 30 hours, which reflects the 50% of battery I have left after around 15 hours of use. That's more than a whole day of music on a single charge.

At the time of review, in terms of being part of Sonos ecosystem, Sonos Ace can only connect to the Sonos Arc soundbar via Wi-Fi. Seamless connection to other Sonos sound systems via Wi-Fi will have to wait for future firmware updates, which may or may not come. But this may not be a problem for Thai customers because Sonos is still relatively new to the market.

Being a set of Bluetooth headphones means making and receiving phone calls as well, and the six microphones on these can pick up my voice nice and clear.

The headphones come in very premium packaging, with two security paper tabs that can only be opened once to make sure it's a new, original product, a cushy pouch, and suspension cushions to keep the headphones intact even in bad transportation conditions.

The Sonos phone app is still in beta though. Many things are not quite cooked yet. For instance, there are no presets in the equaliser section (pop, rock, classic, jazz, etc), and you can only adjust bass, treble and loudness, plus there's a spotty firmware updating process that took me multiple times to actually complete. But if you're looking for something that rivals Apple's top-of-the-line headphones in both sound and comfort, these headphones will not disappoint. And they're cheaper too.

Specs

  • Drivers: 40mm dynamic
  • Microphones: 8 for noise control and voice targeting
  • Colour: Black, white
  • Connections: USB-C, Bluetooth, 3.5mm jack, Wi-Fi
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Price: 17,900 baht
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