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Sonos Ace doubles as Dolby Atmos movie headphones

21 May 2024 | Rasmus Larsen |

Sonos has today unveiled its first headphones that also connect to Sonos Arc – and more soundbars later – for spatial audio with Dolby Atmos and head-tracking.

The headphones deliver up to 30 hours of battery life and have been designed for both music listening and movie watching, according to the company.

- "Instantly swap the TV audio from Sonos Arc to Sonos Ace with just the tap of a button, and enjoy a surround sound home theater experience just for you. Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos envelops you in dramatically detailed sound from all directions and dynamic head tracking keeps you centered in the action, even when you reach for the snack bowl," announced Sonos.

Wireless connection to Sonos Arc

The way it works is that Sonos Ace connects wirelessly over Bluetooth to the Sonos Arc soundbar, which does all the heavy lifting in terms of Dolby Atmos processing, while sensors inside the headphones take care of dynamic head tracking to keep sound centered to your TV. A later update will make them compatible with the Sonos Beam and Ray soundbars, although Ray will only deliver stereo sound to Ace. A Sonos representative confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that they will also connect to other TV devices over Bluetooth but in this scenario you will not get spatial audio with Dolby Atmos.

Sonos Ace TV audio

Sonos Ace connects to a Sonos Arc – and later Beam and Ray – wirelessly. Photo: Sonos

An alternative to AirPods

Sonos' approach to spatial audio with Dolby Atmos is intriguing and comes with both advantages and disadvantages compared to Apple's AirPods Max that have for a few years supported spatial audio from Apple TV 4K. While AirPods' spatial audio for movies in terms of TV devices is limited to content played through Apple TV 4K and music played through the Apple Music app on Apple TV 4K or LG TVs, Sonos' approach in theory means that spatial audio should work with Dolby Atmos content from any source device, including Blu-ray players and game consoles. The downside to Sonos' approach is that you need a Sonos soundbar with Dolby Atmos support. They are not cheap. This approach severely limits the target audience but Sonos could potentially expand support via software updates to also make it work with other TV devices in the future. When asked about it by FlatpanelsHD, Sonos said that it had nothing to announce at this time.

Sonos Ace TV audio

Sonos Ace come with a case. Photo: Sonos

Room mapping coming later this year

Additionally, the Sonos Ace headphones support active noise cancellation (ANC) and the company is working on a unique feature called TrueCinema that will map your room to adjust the surround sound experience. - "Coming later this year, Sonos’ all-new TrueCinema technology precisely maps your space then renders a complete surround sound system for a listening experience so realistic you’ll forget you’re wearing headphones," said Sonos.
 Our understanding is that TrueCinema will use the soundbar's microphones to help map the room. On the other hand, Sonos Ace will not support personalized spatial audio as seen in some competing headphones where a smartphone camera can be used to scan your ears to create an HRTF (head-related transfer function) for optimized sound. Sonos highlighted that it has put a lot of effort into the audio and design with custom-designed drivers, memory foam interior, replaceable ear cushions, and hidden hinges. They charge – or connect – over USB-C and a 3-minute charge should deliver 3 hours of battery life. Sonos Ace will be available on June 5 for $449 / £449 / €499 – a steep price but not really unheard of for over-the-ear headphones.

Sonos Ace – specifications

Sonos Ace TV audio

Audio Drivers Custom-designed 40 mm dynamic driver in each cup. Microphones Eight beamforming microphones for noise control and voice targeting so every word is crisp and clear. Spatial Audio Surround yourself in hyper realistic three-dimensional sound, including an industry-leading Dolby Atmos experience and dynamic headtracking, from supported services and devices. Audio Enjoy audio over Bluetooth® with a supported device with Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound AptX for Lossless or via a USB-C connection. Noise Control Block external sounds with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), or use Aware mode to blend ambient sound with your content. TV Audio Swap Press the Content Key to swap sound from a compatible Sonos soundbar to Sonos Ace. Sonos’ TrueCinema technology optimizes sound for your space for a hyperrealistic listening experience. Wear Detection Built-in sensors detect when you're wearing Sonos Ace, so playback pauses when you take it off and resumes when you put it back on. Adjustable EQ Customize your spatial audio experience and adjust bass, treble, and loudness via the Sonos app. Details Dimensions (H x W x D) 7.52 x 6.3 x 3.35 inches (191 x 160 x 85 mm) Weight 11 oz (312 g) Colors Black, Soft White Fit & Finish Foam-cushioned headband for all-day comfort; stainless steel, matte finish for everyday wear. LED Light on the bottom of the left cup indicates connection status. Controls Use the right cup buttons to control volume, play/pause/skip tracks, answer/decline calls, or switch between ANC and Aware mode. Use the left cup buttons to power on or pair a device. Power and Connectivity Bluetooth 5.4 Supports audio streaming from any Bluetooth-enabled device. Battery Li-ion, 1060mAh battery powers up to 30 hours of listening time with ANC or Aware mode enabled. Charging Charge with included USB-C cable and a compatible power source. Rapid charge provides 3 hours listening time in 3 minutes from 0%. Complete charge from 0% requires approximately 2 hours. Pricing and Availability Available starting June 5, 2024, in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, and China. United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan, and India to follow. USD $449 / GBP £449 / EUR €499 / AUD $699

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