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Sonos wireless headphones: what we know about the rumored Sony WH-1000XM4 rivals

sonos headphones
(Image credit: Sonos)

The world could be about to see the first-ever Sonos wireless headphones, as the wireless speaker giant branches out into the world of personal audio for the first time in its 18-year history. 

Rumors about a pair of Sonos headphones have been circling for a while now, first emerging in early 2019.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the headphones will likely have multiple virtual assistants that would function similarly to the company's Sonos Arc and Sonos One speakers, and would focus on competing with Sony, Apple, Bose and Sennheiser by offering high-end audio performance. 

Bloomberg’s sources also suggested that Sonos could target a price point of around $300 (£200 / AU$400) – cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM4, but not by much – and would launch in 2020.

Cut to the chase

  • What are they? The first Sonos wireless headphones
  • When will they be released? Possibly in 2020
  • How much will they cost? It’s rumored they’ll cost about $300 / £220 / AU$400

More recently, Sonos was awarded a patent for a pair of over-ear headphones, giving us an intriguing glimpse at the long-rumored cans. 

As well as showing off two possible designs, the patent describes features like active noise cancellation, wireless connectivity, and built-in microphones for voice-controlled music playback.

Most interestingly, the patent also describes how the first Sonos headphones would interact with other Sonos products, allowing them to seamlessly integrate with existing multi-room audio setups – something that the likes of Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose can’t offer. 

Mounting rumors of Sonos headphones could also prove to be a worry for Apple, which is rumored to be launching its first over-ear headphones in 2020. The so-called AirPods Studio could be released alongside the iPhone 12 in October, and if they're anywhere near as popular as the AirPods, they could really shake up the audio world – and so could the first Sonos wireless headphones, if they really do emerge with these exclusive features.

sonos one

Sonos is best known for wireless smart speakers like the Sonos One (pictured). (Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos wireless headphones release date

Having spoken to “people familiar with the plans”, Bloomberg alleges that the new Sonos headphones will launch in 2020. 

However, that report was from early 2019, and as we all know, lots of companies have had to push product releases back as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Still, it would make sense for Sonos to release its first headphones in time for the holiday shopping season – and with the emergence of a patent for the headphones in recent days, a 2020 release date still looks feasible.

Price

Bloomberg says that the first Sonos wireless headphones will likely cost about $300 / £220 / AU$400, putting them in direct competition with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

If Sonos could undercut these models, it could really shake up the competition – though judging by Sonos’ wireless speakers, we aren’t expecting a super budget-friendly price.

Bose noise cancelling headphones 700

The new Sonos headphones could look similar to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (pictured). (Image credit: Future)

Design

Our first glimpse of the new Sonos headphones came from a recently released patent, containing two different designs.

Both wireless headphones in the patent feature oval-shaped earcups – a little like those seen on the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – each with different headband designs. 

The first looks very similar to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, with a headband that transitions from a flat to a cylindrical shape where it meets the earcups. The second design looks more like the Sony WH-1000XM4, with rotating earcups attached to the headband via flexible hinges.

Sonos products typically follow a sleek, minimalist design aesthetic, in black and white color variations. 

We’d expect to see more of the same from the first Sonos headphones, with minimal external hardware and a slick user interface, perhaps making use of touch sensitive housings that allow you to control your music playback without digging your phone out of your pocket.

sonos

The headphones will reportedly integrate with your existing Sonos system. (Image credit: Sonos)

Features and what we want to see

While a patent is never a firm indication that a product will see the light of day, it has given us an idea of some of the features we might see from a pair of Sonos headphones. 

The first is wireless connectivity via Bluetooth – we’d imagine that Sonos would opt for the latest Bluetooth 5.1 codec to ensure strong connections, as well as aptX Low Latency for video and gaming. 

The patent also describes noise-cancelling tech, which is an increasingly sought-after feature for over-ear headphones. Hopefully, Sonos will employ adaptive noise-cancelling as seen with the Sony WH-1000XMG; this clever tech adapts the level of noise cancellation to your environment in real time, ramping up for loud environments and turning down for quiet environments. 

According to the patent, the headphones will also come with built-in microphones to allow you to summon your device’s voice assistant – it’s also possible that a voice assistant (either Google Assistant or Alexa) could come built-in to the headphones directly, as with previous Sonos speakers.

The most interesting feature revealed in the patent describes how the wireless headphones might interact with existing Sonos speakers, with what the company calls 'swapping':

"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."

So in theory, you could be listening to music on your Sonos headphones and swiftly switch that music over to your Sonos speaker, whether it's part of a multi-room audio system or a standalone smart speaker like the Sonos One or the Sonos Move.

It’s certainly an exciting prospect, and it would really set the rumored headphones apart from the competition.