After years of rumors, Sonos is now entering the headphone market

After months of rumors and leaks, audio brand Sonos announced and revealed its first foray into personal audio with the Sonos Ace, expensive over-ear wireless headphones that compete with Apple’s AirPods Max and Sony’s popular WH-1000XM5.

The Bluetooth 5.4 headphones were shown off this week at select media outlets in New York. It’s too early to judge their sound quality, but they come at a high price and Sonos has a good reputation in that regard.

Each cup has a 40mm driver and there are a total of eight microphones for noise control. Notably, the earbuds weigh less than Apple’s AirPods Max.

Like competing pairs, they have high-end features like effective active noise cancellation and mindful modes, Dolby Atmos spatial audio, and head tracking. The main feature is for users who are already using other Sonos products in their home theater systems: you can quickly switch from playing audio on the Sonos Arc soundbar to headphones and back again. This works for any audio on your TV, including set-top boxes or game consoles.

It’s a bit similar to how Apple’s AirPods Max work with Apple TV set-top boxes. Compatibility with other Sonos soundbars, such as the second-generation Beam, is coming later this year.

Additionally, Ace will get a new feature called “TrueCinema” that takes advantage of your Sonos speakers’ ability to create a 3D map of the room to simulate the acoustics of your own space when you wear headphones and use spatial audio, in theory making it sound even better. as if you were listening on a normal surround sound system in the room. However, that feature is also coming later this year.

Of course, the timing for this announcement couldn’t be worse for Sonos. The company is currently embroiled in a consumer backlash after it updated its mobile app but left out several features from the previous version, including accessibility options.

The app update was primarily intended to make it easier to enter and exit the app and perform basic tasks like adjusting the volume without waiting for screens to load or taking too many steps, and it succeeds, which should have happened a long time ago. But it doesn’t have all the cutting-edge features its predecessor has, and Sonos is playing damage control with an angry subset of its normally loyal user base.

For Ace, the app is necessary to do things like adjust the equalizer and some other special functions, but it’s not necessary for basic listening tasks like adjusting the volume or noise cancellation settings. Fortunately, Sonos has opted for physical buttons for those things rather than touch gestures or an app interface.

The Sonos Ace will launch on June 5 and cost $549.

Sonos listing image