It's been over four years since the rumor mill started churning regarding Sonos' first-ever headphones, but after Sonos' CEO confirmed that the company was focusing on its current product categories in February last year, those rumors promptly, er… stopped.
Despite continued speculation that Sonos' first-ever headphones would come bearing Wi-Fi, we'd all but given up hope of a set of lossless, high-end Wi-Fi enabled over-ear headphones in 2023.
But here they are! And they come with a premium price tag befitting only Sonos too! Thing is, they're not made by Sonos.
They're called HED Unity and they are actually made by a virtually-unknown Swiss audio startup called HED Technologies. At the time of writing, the company's Instagram account for the launch boasts just 207 followers. And the craziest part? These cans do something even the best over-ear headphones on the market cannot do – not even the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Apple Airpods Max.
HED Technologies calls it 'Full-Fidelity' wireless audio, and essentially it means bypassing the lossy and bandwidth-blighted constraints of Bluetooth and leveraging your local Wi-Fi network to deliver high-resolution audio streaming of up to 24bit/96kHz. And these are the first ever headphones capable of doing that.
Before we get too excited, that's not quite the full hi-res ticket, you understand. Apple Music's Hi-Res Lossless offering goes up to a maximum resolution of 24-bit/192 kHz – and for that, you still need wired headphones and one of the best portable DACs (neither of which Apple makes, which is just weird).
But HED Unity will tackle Apple's regular Lossless audio streams which run at 24-bit/48 kHz – and until now, Apple recommends wired earphones to get at those.
Opinion: truly lossless wi-fi headphones have landed – and Sonos and Apple should really be taking notes
You'd also be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the hotly-anticipated AirPods Max 2, but again, that's another product that seems woefully far from release. HED Technologies has trounced them all with this particular world-first.
For me, the sculpted earcups, milled from a single block of architectural-grade aluminum around 40mm titanium-coated drivers, with Wi-Fi squirreled under the hood, are simply begging for some Sonos branding, no? But you won't find any.
HED Technologies' HED Unity cans have a frequency response range of 20Hz-22kHz (i.e., beyond what the human ear is capable of hearing at the top end), and remember, that lossless audio is delivered thanks to Wi-Fi streaming.
Curiously, when not hooked up to a Wi-Fi network, the cans tote Bluetooth 5.3 but only SBC and AAC codec support is listed – no aptX or aptX Adaptive. Battery life is a claimed eighy hours, whichever way you're streaming.
To get onboard with your Wi-Fi, the headphones boast their own dual-core processor, storage, and memory, as well as a gyroscope and other trackers to deliver head-tracking motion detection for truly immersive three-dimensional surround sound.
Oh, and there's active noise cancelation, helped along by 12 microphones. (Just the 12, then; four to support active noise-canceling and eight for beamforming and background noise nixing).
And as you might expect, they don't come cheap. The price is an eye-watering $2,199, (which works out at around £1,759 or AU$3,249). Suffice to say, we'd absolutely love to hear what they can do.