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Sonos Ace Headphones vs. AirPods Max

Sonos in May decided to get into the headphone market with the launch of the Sonos Ace headphones. The $449 Sonos Ace headphones have some enticing design elements and features you won't see in Apple's headphones, so we thought we'd compare them to the $549 AirPods Max to see which is ultimately better.


In terms of design, both the Sonos Ace and ‌AirPods Max‌ are over-ear headphones that have a premium look, but the ‌AirPods Max‌ have a fancier feel because of the aluminum material. While Apple opted for brushed aluminum ear cups in a range of colors, Sonos went for recycled plastic in either black or white.

Both have a minimal aesthetic, but the lack of aluminum makes the Sonos Ace lighter and more comfortable to wear. The ‌AirPods Max‌ are 13.6 ounces, and the Sonos Ace weigh 11 ounces. Two ounces might not sound like a lot, but it impacts comfort. The ‌AirPods Max‌ also tend to clamp tightly to the head, which the Sonos Ace don't do, so it's just easier overall to wear the Sonos Ace with the gentler fit.

The ear cups on the Sonos Ace are made from memory foam covered with vegan leather, and Apple's ear cups are made from a mesh acoustic fabric that's supposed to better conduct sound than other materials. The soft Sonos Ace ear cups will probably be more comfortable for most people, but there might be less breathability just because of the nature of the fabric. Apple created a u-shaped mesh headband with telescoping arms, while the Sonos Ace uses the same vegan leather material also with telescoping arms.

You can't fold the ‌AirPods Max‌, and you also can't fold the Sonos Ace, but Sonos made a better case. It's slim, light, and offers full protection, unlike the unpopular case Apple offers with the ‌AirPods Max‌.

Sound quality is similar, but the Sonos app has an adjustable EQ for tweaking sound to your liking, which is something that can't be done on the ‌AirPods Max‌. Both support spatial audio and Dolby Atmos, and Sonos' spatial audio is just as impressive as Apple's. The Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency options perform close to the same, and while Apple has the best Transparency mode, Sonos is right behind.

You can pair the ‌AirPods Max‌ and the Sonos Ace to a TV set, but for the AirPods you'll need a $129 Apple TV, and for the Sonos Ace, you'll need the Arc Soundbar, which is $719. Sonos plans to add Ace integration to its other soundbars, but none are cheap.

Both pair to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac with no additional hardware, but you get better connectivity with the ‌AirPods Max‌ thanks to fast switching and one tap pairing. It's more of a hassle to pair the Sonos Ace because it uses standard Bluetooth with no automatic pairing via iCloud, so when you're changing devices, you'll need to manually reconnect.

Sonos' headphones are several years newer than the ‌AirPods Max‌ at this point, and battery technology has improved. The ‌AirPods Max‌ only offer 20 hours of battery life with ANC and spatial audio turned on, while the Sonos Ace offer 30 hours of battery. Apple also hasn't updated the ‌AirPods Max‌ with USB-C, so they're still using the Lightning port that's being phased out. Unless you want to have to use a Lightning port for several more years, it's best to go with the Ace, another set of headphones, or wait for the ‌AirPods Max‌ USB-C refresh that's supposed to be coming later this year.

Sonos priced the Ace $100 cheaper than the ‌AirPods Max‌, but it's pretty easy to find the ‌AirPods Max‌ at a discount these days. If you can live without quick pairing, automatic switching, and the Apple aesthetic, the Sonos Ace offer the same sound quality and ANC, plus they're more comfortable.

Do you prefer the ‌AirPods Max‌ or the Sonos Ace? Let us know in the comments below.
Tag: Sonos

This article, "Sonos Ace Headphones vs. AirPods Max" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Source: TechRadar

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