Sonos has long made some of the top wireless speakers around and the multi-room specialist continues to break new ground for its range. So, why haven’t they done the same with headphones?
Sonos has been plenty busy recently, unveiling an affordable new soundbar in the Sonos Ray and the Sonos Move 2. The Era 300 and 100 just been announced, with the former brings support for spatial audio Dolby Atmos tracks.
Well, they are. Or, at least, there have been whispers about it for a while. But news of the prestigious audio manufacturer branching out into headphones is currently thin on the ground. Still, there are plenty of Sonos headphones rumours worth digesting from recent months, so read on as we tell you all the latest gossip about the potential Sonos wireless headphones release date, price and specs.
When might Sonos headphones appear?
We thought the Sonos headphones release date was going to fall in 2021, as company CEO Patrick Spence previously pledged to deliver two new products every 12 months and Sonos Roam was the first to emerge then.
A LinkedIn post from Sonos’ VP of Global Marketing & Communications, Pete Pedersen revealed that the firm is looking to hire a new ad agency to aid in “creating a new category for an established brand” as part of the “most ambitious projects in our history.” This all sounds a lot like it could refer to the company’s entry into the wireless headphone space if you ask us.
We’re now into 2023 and they’ve still not been launched. Could this be the year?
- Related: Which Sonos speaker should I buy?
Key Sonos headphone rumours
In terms of potential pricing, we’ve mostly got our industry knowledge guiding us. Sonos typically rivals Bose in terms of its prices for wireless speakers, and as our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review highlights, the Business Class flagbearer carries a high RRP. This would also be the same cost as the superlative Sony WH-1000XM5 – the best of the best on-ear headphones – and keep with Sonos’ premium price ethos.
Early reports from Bloomberg have Sonos undercutting the competition. The outlet says such a product would launch in the US at $300 – around £220 before tax.
The Sonos headphone patents that have been seen include both references to the potential design of such a product. Plus there are hints about what features it might offer.
The one that really kickstarted the Sonos headphones rumour mill was spotted by Protocol way back in August 2020 and brings to light a USPTO filing with images showing off a couple of different over-ear and wireless design options.
Most the features detailed in the documentation won’t surprise those familiar with the wireless headphone market. They’ll likely offer ANC (active noice cancellation). Plus there will surely be support for a range of voice assistants, and a USB-C charging port.
How will they work with other Sonos devices?
What’s really interesting about this filing is how it details integration with existing Sonos set-ups. This issomething called Sonos Swap. This would see the Sonos headphones move playback to your local hi-fi system when you return home. So as soon as you take off the cans the same tune (or podcast) is playing in your house.
As the patent says: “For example, if a particular piece of content play is currently playing on the wireless headphone, a swap changes the playback to play that piece of content on one or more other playback devices on the local network.”
This kind of feature absolutely screams Sonos. The company is known for the slick multi-room software that complements its speakers to make whole-home audio dreams a reality.
Beyond that, there’s also a chance that your future Sonos headphones might offer both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Sonos was relatively late to the Bluetooth party. It only started to add it to devices in 2019 with the launch of the Sonos Move.
Will they have Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi integration is the more intriguing bit. It would enable the headphones to stream music directly from the internet (rather than through an intermediary Bluetooth device). Therefore it would enable lossless playback at 24-bit/192kHz. This was picked up by Digital Trends by way of an August 2021 German patent application.
According to this documentation, the solution for how to cram the necessary Wi-Fi kit into the headphones without compromising on aesthetics could be to place the antennae in the earcups. Then there would be a connecting wire “almost twice the diameter of a typical headband cable in a Bluetooth-only headphone” through the headband.
Throwing an element of doubt into things, however, is Sonos’ recent acquisition of UK headphone manufacturer RHA Audio. In and of itself, this would seem to further fuel rumours that headphones are very much in the company’s future. The problem is that RHA’s expertise is in-ear headphones, not the wireless over-ear cans we’ve seen detailed elsewhere.
This could mean that Sonos is hedging its bets and investigating the viability of launching both kinds of devices.
As the company itself told Protocol in response to the first USPTO filing. “As a company founded in innovation, we’re always working on different ideas and innovations that can help the world listen better. We continue to make investments in our strong patent portfolio with dozens of new patents each year.”
- Now read: best cheap Bluetooth speakers