It’s been a question on many lips for many years, but it looks like Sonos might finally looking to launch its first pair of headphones, and we’re hopeful they will arrive this year.
Until now rumours haven’t been based on much more than hearsay but we now have some evidence to get excited about. With Sonos’ historic reluctance to use Bluetooth, wireless headphones seemed extremely unlikely. However, that changed when the firm launched the portable
Sonos Move speaker last year.
Let’s take a look at how the Sonos headphones are shaping up based on the rumour mill.
When will the Sonos headphones be released?
Bloomberg first reported about the possibility of some Sonos headphones a long time ago, saying they could arrive in 2020. That didn’t happen with the firm instead mainly launching the Arc soundbar.
2021 looked like a real possibility but at an event in March, Sonos unveiled the
Roam – a highly portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker.
As you might expect, Sonos has not confirmed the existence of the headphones yet telling
Protocol that “We continue to make investments in our strong patent portfolio with dozens of new patents each year. We do not have additional information to share at this time regarding our future product roadmap.”
It does look like Sonos has now taken a big step towards launching its own headphones, though. First reported by
Forbes, Sonos has now got a majority stake in RHA Audio, makers of the
TrueConnect 2 earbuds (below).
Despite being around for a decade and receiving a number of awards, including from Tech Advisor, RHA fell on tough times with debt mounting up. Earlier this year RHA stopped selling products on its website, rebranded to Origin North LTD and ditched its social media channels.
Sonos has picked up the company and will likely make use of its established know-how and supply chain. A
document on Companies House states that Sonos now has 75% or more of the shares.
At the very least, it’s an indication that Sonos aims to launch its own headphones, even if they don’t arrive for some time.
Adding fuel to the fire is news, via
Protocol, that Sonos has now acquired T2 Software, a Bluetooth audio startup that has been working on the
Bluetooth LE Audio standard and LC3 codec for better audio quality at lower bitrates and better battery life.
“Occasionally, we will acquire teams, talent, and/or technology that augment our existing and future product roadmap,” said a Sonos spokesperson said, confirming that T2 Software was acquired in November 2021.
LinkedIn post from Pete Pedersen, VP of global marketing at Sonos looking for a marketing agency to help launch “a new category” of product, “targeting a new audience/consumer segment.”
2022 is flying past and the wait for the Sonos headphones goes on. The firm has announced the
Sonos Ray soundbar as well as
Sonos Voice Control and new Roam colours but still hasn’t hinted at own-brand cans.
Fingers crossed that the headphone will be next on the roadmap.
How much will the Sonos headphones cost?
It’s no secret that Sonos products fetch a premium price so it’s not exactly surprising that the same Bloomberg report suggests that the Sonos headphones will cost “$300 or more”.
This would put them at a similar price to rivals such as the
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 and
What features will the Sonos headphones have?
Following the news that Sonos acquired a majority stake in RHA (details above) we obtained
exclusive details on an unreleased pair of RHA headphones called Atlas which Sonos could turn into its own pair now it owns the technology and intellectual property.
Our source told us that the Atlas over-ear headphones were planned to launch in 2021 at around £500 with high-end features including active noise cancelling, spatial audio, Hi Res Bluetooth and more. In terms of design, they sound similar to the AirPods Max with a “square-ish and slightly curved”.
A possible look at the Sonos headphones comes via a German Patent and Trademark filing – spotted by
The design looks to be refined, now with a Sonos logo and headbands rods that go straight into the earcups. A USB-C port, three buttons and a 3.5mm jack input are also shown in the drawings.
An adapter for earphones is also a recent filing but this could simply mean a replaceable earpad for the headphones.
Back in September 2020 we got a good look at two possible designs from a US patent. One which looks a little like Master & Dynamic pairs such as the
MH40, but the
patent might give an insight into what the Sonos headphones might offer.
We say ‘might’ because a patent is no guarantee of any tech actually being included in the final product.
Both options shown in the patent are an over-ear design and the headphones could well feature
active noise cancelling. The patent says that microphones can be “configured to facilitate filtering of background noise” while there’s mention of a possible control for ANC, too.
Those microphones will also be used for taking phone calls when connected to a smartphone, it seems.
There are mentions of various proximity sensors which would be used for things like controlling the volume. However, a knob is also mentioned as a possibility so it’s unclear which Sonos will decide on and could even use a combination.
patent spotted by
digitaltrends suggests that the Sonos headphones could have Wi-Fi. This would mean the headphones could stream directly from the internet with no need for a Bluetooth device like a phone while being able to handle High Res audio with ease.
It could also mean they integrate with the existing range of Sonos speakers even better, able to join groups or even use the Sound Swap feature from the Sonos Roam to move audio to and from the headphones.
“a consumer expects from Wi-Fi-enabled headphones the same type of reliable internet connection to their wireless access point that they experience when using a tablet,” is says translated from German.
Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, especially since the patent makes it clear there are technical hurdles including having to add a secondary antenna as well as dealing with a larger headband cable of over 4mm in diameter which is double the usual size for Bluetooth headphones.
The patent says that Sonos may get around this by using a serpentine routing pattern as well as a malleable elastomeric plastic material.
What’s fairly clear is that the Sonos headphones will support multiple digital voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. Not too surprising considering many of the Sonos speaker range does already.
Many, including Siri and Cortana, are mentioned as examples and the headphones could have various activation words to trigger them.
What many will want to know is how the Sonos headphones will play with the range of speakers. They could, after all, be an independent product and not work with the multi-room features Sonos is famous for.
However, the signs are positive as the patent talks about a ‘swap’. This appears to suggest the music you’re listening to on the headphones can be easily moved to another device.
“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.”
It would be a missed trick if you couldn’t arrive home and seamlessly move your music from the headphones to your Sonos system.
Check out our guide to the
best Sonos speakers.