The Truth About AirPods Max (vs Sonos Ace)

I'm here to offer an unbiased review of the Sonos Ace headphones that I purchased with my own money two weeks ago. I'll also compare them to the AirPods Max and my current go-to, the Beats Fit Pro
The Truth About AirPods Max (vs Sonos Ace)

We've all seen the early reviews of the Sonos Ace headphones. I've watched quite a few myself, and strangely, they all seemed to echo the same sentiment: great headphones, but why aren't they WiFi-enabled? Since when did WiFi capability become a crucial feature for headphones? It felt like those with early access were either reading from a script or simply nitpicking for the sake of having a critique. So today, I'm here to offer an unbiased review of the Sonos Ace headphones that I purchased with my own money two weeks ago. I'll also compare them to the AirPods Max and my current go-to, the Beats Fit Pro, even though they're in-ear headphones. Initially, I thought I might return the Sonos Ace after this review, but that's definitely not the case. These might just be the best headphones I've ever used.

Design and Build Quality

The Sonos Ace headphones boast a sleek design. They're primarily made of plastic, making them much lighter than the AirPods Max. They feature chrome accents on the arms, microphones, and slider. Unlike the mesh headband of the AirPods Max, the Sonos Ace sports a seemingly flimsy cushioned headband. Both headphones have magnetically attached earcups, but the Sonos Ace earcups are color-coded for easy orientation. Personally, I just look for the side with the controls.

Image courtesy of author

Although the AirPods Max might look more premium with their metal design and mesh headband, the lightweight materials and cushioned headband of the Sonos Ace make them more comfortable for extended wear. The AirPods Max tend to hurt the top of my head over time.

I also want to mention the Beats Fit Pro, my go-to gym headphones. They stay in place thanks to their wing tips, which slot into your ear perfectly. I've tried using over-ear headphones like the AirPods Max, Sony XM5s, and Bose QuietComfort Ultras in the gym, but they all tend to fall off my head, especially when lying down. The Beats Fit Pro, however, stay put, making them ideal for workouts. The only downside to over-ear headphones is their size, which can be inconvenient for travel. The Sonos Ace comes with a nice case, but its fiddly zip can get stuck sometimes.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is the most important aspect for many. To compare the Sonos Ace and AirPods Max, I listened to "Just Pretend" by Bad Omens and "She's Out of Her Mind" by Blink-182. The AirPods Max have a bit more clarity in the mids, but the Sonos Ace sounds great right out of the box without any EQ adjustments. As a drummer, I appreciate feeling the bass and kick more, and the Sonos Ace excels here, even with their limited bass and treble EQ within the Sonos app. If you're using Spotify, you can tweak the sound further with its built-in EQ.

Having used the Beats Fit Pro as my daily workout headphones for a long time, I was accustomed to their sound. However, the Sonos Ace provided a much richer and fuller sound, regardless of whether I was listening to music, podcasts, or watching videos. It's a significant upgrade.

Noise Cancellation

Noise cancellation is another crucial feature. The Beats Fit Pro have excellent ANC because they fit properly and stay in place. Other headphones tend to work loose, compromising their ANC. Unfortunately, I can't demonstrate this as my mannequin's earholes aren't deep enough to hold the Beats Fit Pro in place.

At the gym, the Sonos Ace's ANC impressed me. With the press of a button, the room goes silent, effectively canceling out air conditioning noise, background music, and even the sudden noise of dropping weights. The Sonos Ace's ANC is remarkably effective, with no noticeable background hiss.

Other Features

Switching between my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, I noticed content sounds better on the AirPods Max, especially with their immersive Dolby Atmos sound on Apple TV. The Sonos Ace supports Spatial Audio on iPad, but still feels like plain old stereo compared to the AirPods Max. However, for regular music listening or computer use, the Sonos Ace performs excellently.

Some reviewers criticized the Sonos Ace for not allowing music playback from the Sonos app, but I don't see this as a significant issue. Most people use headphones to listen to music from their phone or computer, not to sync with home speakers.


The AirPods Max are expensive, especially considering they still use a Lightning connector and require their case to avoid running out of battery. The Sonos Ace, though pricey, offers incredible sound quality, excellent ANC, and long-wear comfort.

After two weeks of daily use, I have no intention of returning the Sonos Ace headphones. They are light, sound great, and have exceptional ANC. If you're looking for a new pair of over-ear headphones, the Sonos Ace is definitely worth considering. Whether you're traveling, working out, or just enjoying your favorite tracks at home, the Sonos Ace delivers an outstanding audio experience.

About the author
Pete Matheson

Pete Matheson

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