Home Tech I’m back in the market for over-the-ear headphones

I’m back in the market for over-the-ear headphones


Well, they are finally here. After years of rumors, Sonos has officially announced its first headphones ever: the Sonos Ace. The new over-the-ear headphones come in at $449 and will launch on June 5th, so we’re only two weeks away before we can finally get our hands on the new over-the-ear headphones.

The premium over-the-ear Bluetooth® headphones feature breathtaking lossless and spatial audio, world-class Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Aware Mode, as well as the most precise and immersive home theater experience possible using Sonos’ new TrueCinema technology. Sonos Ace will be available globally in both Black and Soft White starting June 5, 2024 for $449.

After waiting for the official announcement like everyone else and finally getting to see the features and the price, I am finally back in the market for some over-the-ear headphones. With the Sonos Ace in the mix, it’s going to be between them and the other staples: the Bose QuietComfort Ultra and the Sony XM5s.

Why not the AirPods Max? I actually already had those and, after two years of testing, decided that they weren’t for me. Despite sounding absolutely amazing, the AirPods Max had two main issues that I kept running into. The first was that the headphones were just too heavy. There wasn’t any getting around it. Despite the work Apple put into the band, which was supposed to spread out the weight, they would always get uncomfortable after about an hour of use.

AirPods Max Noise Cancelling Headphones
The AirPods Max are too heavy for me. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The second issue was the battery life. Not that the headphones only had 20 hours of battery life — that part was perfectly fine for me. The issue I always ran into was that, since the headphones don’t have an on/off switch and I was never going to store them in that awful case, the battery would always be dead when I went to use them.

So, I sold my AirPods Max and used my AirPods Pro, waiting to see what Sonos was going to announce before I tried over-the-ear headphones again. Now that the Ace are here, it’s going to be a fight to the death between them, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra, and the Sony XM5s.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
The Sony XM5’s are a huge value compared to the Sonos and Bose. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Which one will I go with? It’s going to come down to two things, especially since battery life isn’t an issue since you can actually power all three of these headphones off (what a concept)! It’s going to come down to price and comfort. I’m honestly not worried about sound quality. All three of these headphones are champs when it comes to sound quality and any difference is going to come down to personal preference.

When it comes to comfort, I’ll have to see how the Sonos Ace fit. I’ve already tried both the Sony’s and the Bose and, at least for me, the Bose win out when it comes to comfort. We’ll have to see where the Sonos land, but beating the Bose is going to be a tough challenge. Sonos seems confident, though, saying that the “Sonos Ace uses lightweight, premium materials for an airy fit that gently hugs your head. Its pillowy soft memory foam interior is wrapped in vegan leather, while a custom headband and ear cups that hide the hinge create the perfect acoustic seal without catching on hair.”

Sonos Ace wireless headphones in white.
Sonos Ace wireless headphones in white. Image source: Sonos

Despite the Sony’s likely coming in last for me when it comes to comfort, they’re going to win when it comes to price. The Sonos Ace start at $449, the most expensive of all three. Second are the Bose QuietComfort Ultra, which come in at $429 — but I’ve already found them on sale for as low as $379. Way ahead of both are the Sony XM5s, which land at $400 and are commonly on sale. As of the writing of this article, they can be grabbed for $329.

So, while the Bose and Sonos might be slightly better headphones, are they $100 better? I’m really not sure about that. Even more, there’s a dark horse with Sony: the XM4s. While they aren’t the latest generation, the jump to the XM5s wasn’t huge, and you can grab the XM4s on sale for around $249 right now — making the offering from Bose and Sonos almost twice as expensive.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

So, for anyone in the market for a premium set of over-the-ear headphones right now, you can grab a great option anywhere from a high-end of $549 (the AirPods Max) to a low-end of $249 (the Sony XM4’s). That’s a huge spread and offers great options at any price, whether you go with Apple, Bose, Sonos, or Sony.

Sonos entering the mix just made this whole category much more interesting.

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