These sculptures were made in space (and their prices are astronomical)

This year, the market for meteorites has been blasting off.

By Jim Clash 19/09/2018

On the morning of February 15, 2013, near the Siberian town of Chelyabinsk, a meteor with a mass of more than 12,000 tonnes penetrated Earth’s upper atmosphere with a force 30 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. As the large yellow fireball streaked across a chilly blue sky, it emitted tremendous heat and a blinding light far brighter than our Sun. In its wake, it set off a series of sonic booms and a shock wave that broke windows, damaged buildings and injured hundreds of people for miles around. Millions of people have viewed the stunning footage of the event captured by dashboard cameras and posted on YouTube.


Meteorite hunter Geoff Notkin.

As the meteor exploded, it scattered its shattered remains over a vast swath of snowy Russian countryside, littering the landscape with meteorites, which are now available for purchase by collectors. According to Geoffrey Notkin, co-host of the popular Science Channel television show Meteorite Men, most Chelyabinsk space rocks command about US$25 per gram. In fact, Notkin says, he can sell you one from his own Aerolite Meteorites dealership if you’re interested. I know this because I bought a small nondescript specimen weighing 14 grams. Larger, more sculptural pieces command far higher prices, such as an 890-gram bullet-nosed Chelyabinsk that was recently valued at more than US$100,000.

While at present there are no hard statistics on prices and sales growth, it is clear from talking to Notkin and specialists at the auction houses that business is booming in meteorites, no pun intended. Notkin says his company’s workforce has increased sevenfold over the past decade. He estimates that the number of meteorite-selling websites has jumped tenfold during that same time period.

Darryl Pitt, the curator of New York’s Macovich Collection of Meteorites, who works with the major auction houses, says the secondary market is indeed on the move as evidenced by the prices commanded at an online sale at Christie’s this past February. For several days in the run-up to the sale, the auction house had on its website landing page, not a Da Vinci, a Klimt, a van Gogh, or even a Basquiat, but rather an animated film loop of a meteoroid piercing Earth’s atmosphere with the headline “The Art That Fell to Earth.” In addition, Christie’s displayed the space rocks on offer in the foyer of its Rockefeller Center headquarters in New York City.


This slice of a pallasite from Chubut, Argentina, realized US$25,000 at auction.

The two-pronged meteorite marketing strategy, a first for the house, paid off handsomely, generating US$721,550 in sales. James Hyslop, head of science and natural history at Christie’s in London, was particularly pleased with the results. “In 2015, we only brought in US$286,000,” he says, adding that it is likely that the house will hold an annual auction of meteorites every February from now on.

Among the sale’s standout lots was a sculpted 32-kilogram Canyon Diablo iron meteorite from the famous Arizona Meteor Crater, which achieved an online record of US$237,500. “An uncommon smooth metallic surface delimits a somewhat ellipsoidal metallic abstract form,” reads its catalogue description. “Numerous sockets and perforations abound in a very rarely seen proximity. Wrapped in a gunmetal patina with splashes of cinnamon and platinum-hued accents, this is among the most aesthetic iron meteorites known.”

Pitt, who had owned the Canyon Diablo prior to auction, says that a decade ago the meteorite would have fetched just one-tenth of the price, and he predicts that in a few years, the sale of the piece, which likens to a Henry Moore, will be viewed as “a steal.”


A Martian meteorite that was found in the Sahara Desert.

Meteorites of this calibre have found a cult following among celebrities known for their penchant for cosmic inspiration. Musician Sting was given an 40-kilogram shield-shaped Campo del Cielo meteorite for his birthday a few years back. Indian billionaire Naveen Jain, a space entrepreneur once ranked No. 121 on the Forbes 400 list, has a meteorite collection worth north of $5 million. Film director Steven Spielberg, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, actor Nicolas Cage, illusionist Uri Geller and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are also rumored to be collectors.

Like many other niche collectibles with passionate devotees, meteorites garner such high prices simply because they are so rare. The world’s entire known inventory, according to Pitt, amounts to less than the annual global production of gold — about 3100 tonnes.

Most space rocks travel from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and get caught in Earth’s gravitational pull. As they pass through our planet’s atmosphere, they heat up from atmospheric pressure and start to glow. You’ve likely seen “shooting stars” at night, especially during the famous Perseid meteor shower in August. Most meteors, however, burn up well before hitting the ground. Only in rare cases do they survive their fiery entry into Earth’s atmosphere, as was the case with Chelyabinsk.


A rare, 27 kg Campo del Cielo iron meteorite from South America.

Those rare relics that have survived impact come in three basic types: Stony-irons, being the rarest, account for just 3 per cent of the finds; irons represent some 6 per cent; and stones are the most common. A meteorite is always named based on where it’s found. The billions-of-years-old meteorites from a large, 62,000-year-old impact crater near Odessa, Texas, for example, are known as Odessas, while pieces from the 50,000-year-old Arizona Meteor Crater, a scenic mile-wide void near the ghost town of Canyon Diablo, are known as Canyon Diablos. If no specific coordinates are available, a meteorite may be named after a large area instead of a specific town. Meteorites from northwest Africa tend to be known as NWAs.

The Allure of Aesthetics

When it comes to determining market prices for meteorites, Hyslop says, the factors are many and varied, and include shape, size, science, and story — what he calls “the four Ss.” The meteorites that commanded the highest prices in February brought in more because of their stunning shapes and aesthetic appeal, rather than their weights, and are a good indicator of what the market favours. “In the early 1990s, all iron meteorites — irrespective of their aesthetic appeal — were sold by weight,” says Hyslop. “But now sculptural pieces tend to be the most highly prized.”

Some of the most expensive meteorites, however — which come from the Moon and Mars — continue to be sold by weight. At Christie’s, a 58-gram lunar meteorite — NWA 11616, found in Algeria’s Sahara desert — sold for US$22,500. That’s almost US$400 per gram. A 254-gram Martian meteorite, NWA 8656, which contains some of the Mars atmosphere, sold for US$47,500, or US$187 a gram. It too had been found in the sands of the Sahara.

Since lunar meteorites are not part of the Moon rock cache hauled back to Earth by the Apollo astronauts, authenticity may be called into question. However, extensive chemical and composition tests can prove that the origin, indeed, is the Moon. The rocks likely arrived on Earth following an impact from an asteroid or another meteorite on the Moon, which ejected lunar surface material into space, some of it eventually landing here. Similar tests are used to determine the authenticity of other meteorites, including those from Mars.

Another meteorite type prized by collectors is a stony-iron known as a pallasite, the interiors of which contain olivine crystals. They are among the world’s rarest and most beautiful space rocks and are often sold in slices. A 968-gram slice of one found in Chubut, Argentina, for example, found a buyer at Christie’s for US$25,000.

Stellar prices aside, Laurence Garvie, an expert who analyzes meteorites for the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University (he can tell whether your meteorite is authentic), reminds us that meteorite collecting isn’t only about money. “They’re worth what someone will pay,” he says. “There’s no intrinsic value because they’re just stones. It’s the excitement they engender.” Notkin echoes that sentiment, but says it a little differently. “While many factors determine the monetary value of meteorites, it is critical that we appreciate their great scientific and historic importance,” he says. “Meteorites help us understand how our solar system formed, they have inspired spacecraft designers, and — since most come from asteroids — meteorites are helping signpost us into a future in which asteroid mining sustains space colonies and long-duration missions.”

Pitt, Hyslop and Notkin all agree that a meteorite’s aesthetic appearance — rather than its weight — will continue to dominate the high-end market, yet collectors looking to enter the game can still find specimens from reputable dealers at more reasonable price points. Nice, albeit smaller, specimens of Canyon Diablos, Sikhote-Alins, Odessas and Campo del Cielos, they say, can all be had for under US$1,000 depending on weight and shape.

A good place to start, says Notkin, is by owning irons, which are prized for their sculpted shapes. And, because of their iron-nickel compositions, most are peppered with enticing little craters (called regma-glypts) from partial melting during their fiery trips through the atmosphere.

Three Flavours of Meteorites
Space rocks come in three types: irons, stony-irons, and stones. Here are the basics.

Irons

Meteorite-Irons Photo: Center for Meteorite Studies

Rarity Less than 6 per cent of falls

Chemical makeup Typically 93 per cent iron, 7 per cent nickel

Trait Strong attraction to magnets

Detectability Via metal detectors and sight

Origins The core of asteroids

Notable Find sites Campo del Cielo (Argentina), Canyon Diablo (Arizona), Gibeon (Namibia), Odessa (Texas), Sikhote-Alin (Siberia)

Stony-Irons

Meteorite- Stony-Irons Photo: Center for Meteorite Studies

Rarity Most rare, at less than 3 per cent of falls

Chemical makeup Iron, magnesium, silicon and oxygen

Trait Some magnetism; incredibly beautiful interiors (pallasites may contain olivine crystals)

Detectability Via metal detectors and sight

Origins Often from the core and mantle boundary of asteroids

Notable Find sites Atacama Desert (Chile), Brenham (Kansas), Springwater (Canada)

Stones

Meteorite- Stones Photo: Center for Meteorite Studies

Rarity More than 90 per cent of falls

Chemical makeup Oxygen, silicon, iron and magnesium

Trait May have a weak attraction to magnets

Detectability For the untutored eye, they can be hard to identify because they can resemble terrestrial rocks

Origins The surface of asteroids, moons and planets

Notable Find sites African deserts, Antarctica, Australia, Buzzard Coulee (Canada), Chelyabinsk (Russia), Gold Basin (Arizona), and many other locales.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

The Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.

Tod’s

In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”

tods.com

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The 13 Best Watches From Pitti Uomo, From Rolex to Patek Philippe and Piaget

Each year in Florence, Italy, men walk the streets in the finest fashions, and they pair their watches perfectly.

By Allen Farmelo, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Pitti Uomo is a major fashion gathering in Florence, Italy where brands bring their best to buyers and fashion editor alike. But, perhaps more interestingly, Pitti Uomo transforms the streets of Florence into an urban runway on which guys from around the world with more than a passing interest in style go about their business—even if in some cases that business seems just to be hanging around waiting to be photographed—in their best threads and, of course, some excellent watches.

We pondered the relationship between men’s fashion and watches in more detail earlier this year, and what’s fascinating about the intersection of fashion and watches is how to situate the timepiece within an ensemble. To give you a sense of how that plays out, this year we saw a tonal pairing of a tasty vintage Rolex GMT Master Pepsi (red and blue) with rose and mid-blue summer plaid, and we saw high-waisted military green Bermuda shorts paired intelligently with a beat up old Elgin field watch with a matching green strap. Both looks were killer, the watches working as perfect accents, and there are many more great pairings to consider below.

As is often the case at fashion shows (including Pitti Uomo in previous years), Rolex dominated. Horological snobs might look down on this choice because the Crown is so often the default choice for so many, be they collectors signalling their access to rare references or those just getting into this obsession. But a more nuanced read on this tendency is that Rollies are fabulously versatile watches that one can rock with each new outfit—which some men will swap throughout the day. Breakfast might call for a casual look, lunch something more daring, and dinner that perfect summer suit. What better than a Rolex for all occasions?

But it wasn’t just Rolex at Pitti Uomo this week. The urban catwalk brought out Paiget, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier, as well. But our favourite watch was a vintage Tudor Sub on a turquoise bracelet.

Below are the 13 best watches from Pitit Uomo 2024.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com

Haco 

102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au

Kuon

Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase

Sokyo 

The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au

Kuro

368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au

Besuto

Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”

Sonos

On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.

Sonos

Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.

Sonos

It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected