The Sonoma headphones story began in 2016 when Warwick Acoustics’ (formerly known Warwick Audio Technologies) Managing Director, Martin Roberts approached Dan Anagnos (previously part of Sony’s DSD and SACD team) to develop a revolutionary headphone system using Warwick’s patented High Precision Electrostatic Laminate (HPEL) transducers and drive electronics. This led to the launch in 2017 of the SonomaTM Model One Headphone System, which has received no less than eleven global industry awards in just twelve months.

With a US$4 million investment in 2017 from its major shareholder, (Mercia Technologies Plc), and a number of other sophisticated private investors, Warwick Acoustics is set to continue to build upon its early success as it further develops its technology for the introduction of new products. 

This post shares the reasons audiophiles and music lovers will enjoy the SonomaTM M1 headphone system;

  • M1 Headphones System - The what and how of Warwick's innovative headphones. 
  • Sonoma Sound - Detailed, open and transparent like you've never heard. 
  • Loaner Program - Listen before you buy.

Sonoma M1 Headphones System image

Sonoma Headphones Review - The M1 System

Sonoma comes with a unique DAC/AMP. The Absolute Sound calls the Sonoma DAC/AMP the "energizer."  The Sonoma DAC/AMP isn't like an average headphones amplifier. Want to explore Sonoma's tech? Click on the Absolute Sound (AS) link in Resources.  Let's summarize AS's review as electrostatic demands more.

Sonoma's High Precision Electronic Laminate (HPEL) uses a thin flexible metalized laminate film for the “front” grid attached to an insulating spacer with film machine-tensioned in the x and y planes. The octagonal design of the spacer creates eight “drum-skin” diaphragms from one piece of film with a stainless-steel mesh forming the back grid.
The Absolute Sound

Warwick created unique tech for the Sonoma headphones "system." I've loved the transparent, airy electrostatic sound for a long time. Hearing Quad speakers in the 1970s my brain said YES even as puny summer earnings said NO. 

Sonoma Headphones Review - Sound

Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman started my Sonoma headphones listening journey. Switch on summer from a slot machine Stevens sings in Where Do The Children Play. "Switched on" and "summer" describe the Sonoma M1's sound. Tea for the Tillerman was layered, detailed, crisp and clean.

I know how Alex felt about Ludvig Van in A Clockwork Orange. After listening to Beethoven's 9th, I wanted to hit the milk bar. Sonoma's sound is epic. You feel the audience and room acoustics. As rustling snaps and stirs quiet the Sonoma M1's musicality is astounding. My single comparison to the astonishing clarity, cohesion, and depth of Warwick's Sonoma M1's is Focal's Utopia headphones.

Sonoma wins upper range detail. They have a slightly bigger soundstage too. Utopia won the middle and lower sound ranges. Sonoma's base is tight, controlled, and never overwhelming. My comparison isn't fair. I auditioned Utopia with an additional $5K in DAC/AMP/cables. Does the Sonoma M1s sound as good or better as $10,000 of high-end audio headphonia? Answer: Yes. 

 

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Sound Paintings

I closed my eyes and listened. Lari Pittman's An American Place floated past. Sound can be hard to describe. Sonoma creates a layered soundstage like Pittman's paintings.  Strength, courage, and struggle are in there too. 

Next on my listening journey? One genius, one piano and an obsession with Bach. Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations (1981 remastered) proved Sonoma's beautifully detailed sound. The master's fingers flew across the keys. Classical music and jazz fans will love the Sonoma M1s. 

The Sonoma M1 electrostatic headphones clarity untangles music. Kenny Wheeler's Gnu High sounded tight, defined, and beautiful. Wheeler likes to build tension by deconstructing harmony. Sonoma tightened Wheeler's music. Now I don't mind his muddled, confusing parts. What is the value of hearing your music as if for the first time?

Sonoma headphones make rock sound great too. Remastered Joshua Tree (U2), Let It Bleed (Stones) and Talking Heads 77 sounded like we should be dancing. Rock and Rollers will love Sonoma M1 headphones. 

Sonoma Headphones Review - Listen Before You Buy Offer

Buying $5,000 headphones isn't for everyone. Even audiophiles and music lovers may find such a commitment scary. Sonoma's makers know how good they sound. Great sound is addictive. Moon Audio will free ship you the Sonoma M1 headphones system for thirty days of free listening. Shipping is free both ways. 

I dare you to listen to the Sonoma M1 headphones, DAC and AMP for thirty days. Love the Sonoma headphones loaners?

  1. Ship back the loaner (prepaid).
  2. Moon Audio will charge your CC and free ship a new Sonoma headphones system.

There are a limited number of Sonoma loaners. Moon Audio will ship loaners first requested, first shipped.  Want to try the Sonoma headphones system? Send an email to Drew (at) Moon-Audio.com with "Sonoma Loaner" in the subject. 

Resources 

We need Sonoma reviews too. Hope you'll help others see what you hear by adding your report to the Sonoma product page. 

Sonoma Headphones System on Moon-Audio

Absolute Sound Sonoma Review 

The cover image is an American painter recently added to MOCA LA's collection.

Watch a video about the artist Lari Pittman at Art21