Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5: Which noise-canceling headphones win?

    This Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5 comparison pits Sonos’ first-generation headphones against one of the world’s best flagship models. If you’re seeking for the best noise-canceling headphones money can buy, this comparison will provide you with all of the information you need.

    Although not everything about Sonos’ debut headphones met my expectations, they are expertly engineered and have some unique features that rival Sony’s flagship. The Sony XM5s have been available since May 2022, and despite stiff competition from new rivals, they have constantly maintained their position at the top of various buying guides because to their excellent sound quality, extensive feature set, and powerful noise cancellation. But how do they compare to the all-new Sonos?

    In this face-off, I examine the benefits and downsides of two of the best headphone models I’ve tried, but which will take the market lead? Read on to learn about the differences and which headphones are ideal for you.

    Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5


    Header Cell – Column 0Sonos AceSony WH-1000XM5
    Price$449 / £449 / AU$699$399 / £379 / AU$649
    Size7.52 x 6.3 x 3.35 inchesNot specified
    Weight11.4 ounces8.8 ounces
    Battery life (rated)30 hours (ANC enabled)30 hours (ANC enabled)
    ConnectivityBluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and aptX LosslessBluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC and LDAC support
    Special featuresAdaptive ANC, ambient listening mode, Bluetooth multipoint, quick charge, customizable sound, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Head Tracking support, physical controls, integration with Sonos Arc soundbarAdaptive ANC, Ambient Sound Mode, DSEE Extreme Audio, Bluetooth multipoint, customizable sound, quick charge, passive mode, 360 Reality Audio



    Price And Availability:

    Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5

    The Sonos Ace headphones went on sale on June 5, 2024, for $449 / £449 / AU$699 on Sonos’ website and through online retailers like as Best Buy, Amazon, and Crutchfield. Given the market competition, this feels a little pricey, with the Sonos Ace costing $50 more than the Sony WH-1000XM5. They come in matte black and soft white finishes, which feels a little out of sync with competitors in terms of color selections for the price.

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 is available in black, blue, or silver and was released in May 2022 for $399 / £379 / AU$649, though it can sometimes be purchased for less.

    In terms of total pricing, the Sony headphones continue to provide a mind-blowing feature package while remaining the more affordable variant.

    Winner: Sony WH-1000XM5


    Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5

    Both headphones are well-built and designed, but I favor the Sonos Ace’s elegant and luxurious look. You’ll be noticed wearing any of these high-end headphones on your head or hanging around your neck while traveling, but the Sonos Ace has more bling owing to metal accents on the hinge, Content Key control, and beam-forming microphones and vents.

    The Ace headphones, like the Sonys, are fold-flat, but with a thinner appearance. Both variants are bundled with a sturdy carry bag made from recycled materials.

    The Sonos Ace headband is broader and has softer padding. The robust aluminum frame allows the earcups to swing out or retract for the ideal fit. The Ace sat nicely on top of my head, without exerting undue pressure, and its weight was evenly distributed. Clamping force, on the other hand, was a little more than I’d prefer for long-term comfort, and the earcups put too much pressure on my ears.

    Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 design was revised for the 2022 debut, with a slimmer chassis, narrower synthetic leather headband, and simpler earcups. They provide adequate comfort, and I appreciate the somewhat bigger aperture of the earcups, which made my ears feel more at ease when wearing the Sony headphones.

    The Ace headphones weigh 11.4 ounces, which is heavier than the Sony WH-1000XM5’s 8.8 ounces. When I switched between the two headphones during my listening tests, my ears rapidly became hot under the Sonos Ace earpads.

    It’s a question of personal preference, but both models seem slightly better in their brighter finishes than the unremarkable matte black variants. They also appear to wear better than black models, with the Sonys in particular prone to revealing scuffs and sticky finger stains.

    Winner: Sonos Ace

    SONOS ACE VS SONY WH-1000XM5: Controls:

    The Sonos Ace has physical buttons, but the Sony WH-1000XM5 has a mix of touch and physical controls. Both versions include voice assistants and offer reliable wear detection, which pauses playing when removed from the wearer’s head and resumes immediately when reattached.

    The Ace’s tactile Content Key on the right earcup controls play/pause and volume up/down, while a secondary button toggles noise control on/off, aware mode, and voice control settings. The Content Key is a nice touch, and I especially appreciate the level of control it provides when modifying the volume level.

    The Sony touch controls are located on the right earcup and allow users to navigate playback commands as well as adjust the volume. The navigation is reliable, however I discovered that using the touch control to adjust the level was occasionally unresponsive. The Sony’s left earcup features a tactile button that allows you to cycle through your noise-canceling options.

    When using the digital assistant, both models benefit from advanced mic arrays that provide exceptional speech recognition and vocal capture. On the Sony, using the wake-word phrase to activate Alexa or Google Assistant was instantaneous, whereas on the Sonos, users had to push and hold the button on the right earcup. Once enabled, voice commands on both headphones were processed as soon as they were received.

    Winner: Sonos Ace

    SONOS ACE VS SONY WH-1000XM5: Sound Quality:

    The Sonos Ace and Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones give superior sound quality. Although both has advantages, and your choice will be based on personal preference, the Sony WH-1000XM5 provides a better presentation across a wide range of music styles.

    According to Sonos, the sound tuning process for the Ace headphones includes more than 1,000 content creators from various music genres. It pays off with a satisfying headphone performance that boasts excellent vocal clarity and a wide immersive soundstage experience. They offer a fantastically engaging sound, with a presentation that expands beyond of the physical earcups and goes close to the kind of vibrant and natural sound balance I’ve always associated with open-back audiophile headphones.

    The Sonos Ace’s sound menus appear a little rudimentary in comparison to Sony’s sophisticated Headphones app, and EQ adjustment is limited to bass and treble adjustments. There was no need for any adjustments.

    Elbow’s “Gentle Storm” has exceptional vocal clarity, with the stripped-back recording’s keyboard, drums, and percussion sounding precisely nuanced in the soundstage.

    Sony’s Headphones control software allows you to manually alter the 5-band equalizer, but the default setting is very well balanced to begin with. The Sony’s frequency range handling sounds smooth and sophisticated when listening to Christine and the Queens’ “Tilted”. Listening on my morning commutes put a spring in my step. The bass is robust, and my only issue is that the upper treble elements lack expression.

    Nonetheless, Sébastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle” has great upper bass and mid-frequency layering, and the orchestral sections provide a superb feeling of acoustic space with a wide and pleasurable soundscape.

    While I truly appreciated the Sonos Ace’s listening experience, with its excellent clarity and more immersive soundstage, I felt that the Sony’s provided more warmth and richness to vocalists, which I prefer. In my test evaluations, I found that the Sony WH-1000XM5 offered a more relaxing sound profile while still allowing me to hear every detail of the recorded mix.

    Winner: Sony WH-1000XM5

    SONOS ACE VS SONY WH-1000XM5: Active Noise Cancelation:

    Sonos had no prior experience with noise-canceling headphones, yet the eight microphones effectively cancel out external sounds. There are no level adjustments to tailor the level of noise cancellation to your preferences, or adaptive modes that detect your activity and modify the level accordingly, but this isn’t a problem.

    The Ace’s level of isolation is comparable to the Sony WH-1000XM5. During my experiments, very few external sounds were audible. Furthermore, ambient mode provides comparable situational awareness. Ambient sounds and chats sound crisp, and Sonos claims the beam-forming external mics are designed for great call quality on both ends of the discussion.

    Sony’s ANC performance is outstanding, especially given that it is one of the best models. The Sony WH-1000XM5 eliminates almost all extraneous sound while leaving little indication of how hard the ANC circuitry is working. This creates a beautiful dark background for your music to do its job.

    It’s a close battle between these two devices, but Sony wins because to its additional ANC features, such as Adaptive Sound Control, which adjusts ambient noise levels based on your activities.

    Winner: Sony WH-1000XM5 


    Battery Life:

    Sonos Ace vs Sony WH-1000XM5

    Both models can be charged via the USB-C connector and have a battery life of 30 hours with ANC active. That’s quite impressive when compared to other low-cost competitors such as the Apple AirPods Max (20 hours) and the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (24 hours).

    A 3-minute rapid charge is supposed to provide a 3-hour playback boost.

    Sony also claims that the WH-1000XM5 can last up to 40 hours without ANC. When charged via the USB-C connector on the right earcup, the XM5 takes 3.5 hours to get from “flat” to full, and it may retain an hour’s worth of battery after about 10 minutes. They are also USB-PD (Power Delivery) compatible, allowing them to charge in three minutes and provide three hours of power.

    In terms of overall listening times, these two headphones are nearly identical.



    Header Cell – Column 0Sonos AceSony WH-1000XM5
    Price and value (5)34
    Design (15)1413
    Controls (10)109
    Sound quality (25)2425
    Active noise cancelation (20)1819
    Call quality (10)89
    Connectivity (5)55
    Battery life (10)99
    Total Score (100)9193


    Rarely have I seen two headphones that are so well suited as the all-new Sonos Ace headphones and Sony’s class-leading WH-1000XM5. In some aspects, the newer Sonos Ace headphones outperform the popular Sony flagship in terms of thin design and Sonos Arc soundbar connection for tailored home theater sound. However, it is a tight call in terms of sound quality, and even more so in terms of noise-cancelling ability.

    There’s no doubt about it, the Sonos Ace noise canceling headphones are a stellar fist attempt.

    Ultimately, the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are the more cheap type, and they can be found reduced in the greatest headphone bargains currently available. Their balanced sound continues to put a spring in my stride, and I love how light they feel on my head in comparison to the increased clamping power of the Sonos Ace. There’s no denying that the Sonos Ace noise-canceling headphones are a fantastic first try and Sony’s closest competitor yet.

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