SONOS is working on a pair of wireless over-ear headphones and, if current rumors are to be beloved, the first SONOS headphones will be launching in 2022
SONOS makes some truly great products. The company made its name by creating some of the best wireless speakers on the market. In fact, without SONOS, wireless speakers in general probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular as they now are, despite the fact that the company’s sales have been impacted by the entry of Google, Amazon, and Apple in the space.
For many, SONOS, like Bose, is an audio brand first and foremost. It doesn’t do cheap stuff. Instead, it focuses on quality – quality components, design, and craftsmanship – and charges accordingly. I have several SONOS speakers in my home and I could not think about switching to another brand, let alone something apparently similar to Apple or Google.
But headphones, though? This would be a massive departure from SONOS’ usual MO. To date, the company has not released anything even close to a pair of headphones. SONOS has evolved its product line in recent times, however, to include more portable wireless speakers like its newly launched SONOS Roam. Most people, though, think of speakers and soundbars when they think of SONOS, not headphones. But that could all change in 2022.
SONOS Headphones Release Date
Rumors about SONOS’ wireless headphones have been circling for over a year now. In fact, I first heard about them in 2020 but I think COVID saw to them being shelved until the global supply chain for electronic components recovered. SONOS would need chips for the headphones, of course, and chips were in short supply during 2021, as evidenced by the lack of new cars and the fact that Sony could not meet the demand for its PS5 console.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence promised “to deliver innovative new products” back in February 2021. But all we’ve had so far is the SONOS Roam, a portable speaker designed for outdoor use. Indeed, in this context, “new” likely means a completely new product line, meaning headphones. But when will the SONOS headphones see the light of day, Mr. Spence? Is a launch possible in 2022?
In a recent LinkedIn post, SONOS advertised for a new PR company to help it promote a brand new product line. If we assume this new product line is its headphones, then it would appear that SONOS is limbering up for a launch, potentially inside 2022. Also, if this new appointment is focused on its headphones, that would mean that R&D and testing are now complete on the SONOS headphones too.
All the elements now appear to be in place for SONOS’ first wireless headphones. The only potential issue is, again, supply chain problems. If SONOS cannot secure enough components for its headphones, this is still a massive issue in 2022, then it could – and most likely will – delay the launch and release of its headphones until 2023. I hope this isn’t the case, however, as I really do need a new pair of headphones, and I really rather like what SONOS has planned for its debut pair of wireless headphones.
What Will The SONOS Headphones Be Like?
Usually, before a new product launch, all we have to go on are renders created by people that have nothing to do with a company of its plans. But with the new SONOS headphones, we actually have patents from the company itself which shows off two potential designs for SONOS’ incoming wireless headphones. Both designs are over-ear too, which is great – over-ear headphones are just better.
The SONOS headphones themselves follow a fairly standard design. SONOS clearly isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel here, and that’s fine – we all know how wrong that can go (hello, Apple). The SONOS headphones will use premium materials, feature changeable ear cups, so you can switch them when they wear down, USB type C for charging, a 3.5mm jack, and, of course, wireless connectivity.
In terms of the overall design and looks, the SONOS headphones will have a resemblance to Bose’s noise-canceling 700 headphones as well as Sony’s incredible but oddly named WH-1000XM4. And this is good; these two designs are tried and tested, highly comfortable, and will help SONOS gain some traction in the market. And, lest we forget, this is a VERY competitive marketplace these days, featuring huge brands like Sony, Apple, Bose, B&O, and plenty of other household names.
In-Ear SONOS Headphones Too?
The first SONOS headphones will almost certainly be over-ear headphones. All the latest leaks and patent filings point to this style of design. SONOS did recently acquire a startup company, T2 Software, that specializes in Bluetooth audio products. T2 worked with Bose and its tech is designed to bring higher quality audio over Bluetooth connections, something SONOS will be very interested in.
It is believed that SONOS will leverage T2’s tech inside its over-ear headphones as well as a pair of in-ear (earbud-style) headphones that will eventually rival Apple’s AirPods. Again, this is all conjecture right now. But SONOS wouldn’t acquire a company such as T2 if it didn’t have aspirations of launching wireless headphones in the future.
SONOS Headphones Features – What Will They Bring To The Party?
Part of SONOS’ brand appeal is its focus on sound quality, so if it did release a pair of SONOS-branded headphones, they would need to be as good as, if not better, than the competition’s, namely Bose and Sony.
In order to do this, SONOS will be investing heavily in technology to make this possible. It has already acquired T2 Software, for instance, which will go a long way to making this a possibility. But there is always more stuff to consider.
T2 previously worked with Bose. More recently, it had been working on implementations of Bluetooth LC3, an audio codec for the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard. LC3 is designed to transmit higher-quality audio at lower data rates than currently possible. This will have a major benefit to the battery life of all devices involved, including smartphones, wireless speakers and, yes, wireless headphones.
LC3 can also send out multiple audio streams simultaneously for better stereo pairing and more seamless voice assistant integration. And it can stream to multiple devices at once – so more than one pair of headphones could listen to the same audio simultaneously – much like a multi-room system working over wi-fi.What Hi-Fi
We know the SONOS headphones will be noise-canceling, a must for any over-ear headphones in 2022’s market. And we know, from looking at the patents, that the headphones will feature a rotating dial that will give you control over the amount of noise-cancellation applied to the music, similar to Bose’s 700 headphones.
We also know SONOS’ headphones will feature some kind of new, potentially proprietary audio codec that will deliver higher quality music over wireless connections, that’s where T2 comes in, and the headphones are also rumored to feature WiFi connectivity, so music, presumably, could be streamed from your phone to the headphones over a WiFi connection as opposed to Bluetooth.
Again, if true, this would allow for much higher quality audio. It could enable truly lossless streams at 24-bit/192kHz.
If all of the above does turn out to be true, the first pair of SONOS headphones could well beat nearly everything else on the market, including the thoroughly outstanding Sony WH-1000XM4 which are, arguably, the best wireless over-ear headphones on the market right now.
Clearly, there’s a lot to get excited about here. These headphones are not going to be just another pair of “me too” wireless headphones – they clearly plan on doing something quite a bit different, just as you’d expect from SONOS.
SONOS Headphones Battery Life
With wireless products, battery life is always a pressing issue. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 will do 30 hours between charges, while Apple’s AirPods Max will do a fairly respectable 20 hours. In order to be competitive on all fronts, SONOS will need to ensure its headphones land somewhere in this region – anywhere between 20 and 30 hours would suffice.
This, again, is where SONOS’ use of next-generation Bluetooth standards could pay dividends. If T2’s tech can deliver high-end audio quality at lower power, as it claims to, then SONOS’ wireless headphones could pack in ANC and incredible sound and, potentially, break the 30-hour battery mark. And if it can do that, the headphones will be flying off the shelves at a record pace.
SONOS Headphones Launch
All we need now is a concrete launch date for SONOS’ wireless headphones. Given what we know about the headphones, this aspect of them – the launch and release date – is the one aspect that is most shrouded in mystery. We know SONOS is doing a pair of headphones, for instance, but we have no idea when they’ll launch.
Current market constraints, supply chain issues that are affecting everyone from Apple to BMW and Sony, are real problems for any company that deals in technology. But as we move through 2022, the worst of COVID and its effects on the global supply chain seems to be waning, a return to normal now seems like a real possibility.
And if all goes well, perhaps we will see SONOS’ first pair of wireless headphones launched before the close of the year, just in time for Christmas 2022. That would be the ideal release window anyway; Q4 is ALWAYS the biggest sales period for brands like SONOS, so launching its headphones in late-Q3, early-Q4 2022 would make a lot of sense.
Finger’s crossed all the parts fall into place. I cannot wait to see what these headphones will be like.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.