Best AirPods Max Alternatives

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Best AirPods Max Alternatives

AirPods Max are undoubtedly popular these days, but you don’t necessarily need to flock to Apple for a great pair of luxury, over-ear headphones. Price, compatibility, battery life, and comfort are among many reasons to scope out the AirPods Max competition, so let’s check out a few worthy options.

– Best overall: Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
– Best noise cancellation : Bose® QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones
– Best sound quality: Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Headphones
– Best budget: Sennheiser ACCENTUM Headphones

Best AirPods Max alternative: Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 checks nearly every box as far as AirPods Max alternatives go with impressive sound quality, great ANC (active noise cancellation), and a host of integrated features for Android and Apple users alike. While it’s still pricey at $400, the WH-1000XM5 gets quite close to the AirPods Max’s performance without exceeding its price. You can also catch them on sale every so often.

Sony seamlessly implemented the major AirPods Max selling points with spatial audio, automatic ear detection, multipoint connectivity, and Find My Device—all of which are exclusive to Apple users with the AirPods Max. Transparency mode is impressive and easy to enable via onboard controls, and the microphone excels in reducing background noise for clear, distraction-free audio that’s ideal for any office or WFH capacity.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Other conveniences include a lighter 250g body and a carrying case that will actually protect your precious cans, unlike Apple’s smart case and hefty 385g body. Battery life is also an impressive 30 hours with ANC enabled as compared to the AirPods Max’s 20 hours. Although the AirPods Max have a slight edge on the WH-1000XM5 in sound quality and ANC, these headphones more than make up for it in comfort, features, and price.

Best AirPods Max alternative for noise cancellation: Bose® QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones

Bose® QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones
Bose® QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones

It’s hard to imagine noise cancellation technology today without Bose®, whose pioneering QuietComfort headphones championed the tranquil listening experience way back in 2000. While the QC lineup no longer graces the glossy SkyMall pages, it continues to provide top notch noise cancellation with its latest QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones. Undoubtedly, peace and quiet are priceless, but how does $430 sound? Keep a lookout for sales, but if you’re a real solitude lover, these headphones might be worth it.

The QuietComfort Ultra™ headphones weigh a little more than the WH-1000XM5 at 253g and feature a similarly sleek exterior with on-board controls and carrying case. Battery life is a slightly shorter 24 hours. They offer spatial audio and multipoint connectivity with the ability to pair with up to two devices. Other conveniences are afforded specifically to Spotify users and Bose® smart device owners, with seamless connectivity through Spotify Tap and Bose® SimpleSync.

Bose® QuietComfort Ultra™ Headphones

As the name implies, the noise cancellation on the QuietComfort Ultra™ headphones is superb, mixing a blend of passive and active noise reduction for an experience that’s almost indistinguishable from the AirPods Max. The thick ear pads form a sound-isolating seal while responsive noise reduction electronics mitigate the noise around you. The result is an ear oasis that matches the AirPods Max and far exceeds any previous QC model, so these headphones are definitely worth the upgrade.

Notably, the degree of noise cancellation can be adjusted through the Bose® Music App, where users can access settings and create unique listening modes. This is a great feature for those who are picky about noise cancellation, so if ANC causes uncomfortable ear pressure or tightness, the QuietComfort Ultra™ headphones might be a good option for you.

Best AirPods Max alternative for sound quality: Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Headphones

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Headphones
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Headphones

Not only are Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM 4 Headphones less expensive than our Sony and Bose® options, but they also have the best sound quality on our list. At $380, these sleek cans produce clear, open sound alongside many of the creature comforts you would expect of an AirPods Max alternative. Like our other options, they’re also often on sale, so keep your eyes peeled for a great discount.

The MOMENTUM 4 headphones are heftier than our previous options at 293g, but that’s still far less than the AirPods Max. They come with a spacious carrying case and an array of useful cables. Users are afforded convenience by way of multipoint connectivity (up to two devices, like Bose®) and Smart Pause, which is functionally the same as automatic ear detection. Battery life is a whopping 60 hours, which completely eclipses our other picks.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Headphones

Controls are a mixture of gestures and buttons with more fine-tuning available in the Sennheiser Smart Control app. The app isn’t dishing out Apple’s no-fuss minimalism, so if you’re looking for the option to tailor molecular details, you will probably enjoy it. Like the QuietComfort Ultra™ headphones, MOMENTUM 4 users can adjust ANC levels and create unique modes. These controls are designed to deliver quality sound to the quality obsessed, and deliver they do.

MOMENTUM 4 users can enjoy articulate and detailed sound for music and podcasts alike. Like most wireless headphones, the bass might be a little heavy to the discerning ear, but that can easily be addressed through the EQ presets, sound modes, and precise controls in the companion app. For the average listener, however, that out-of-box performance is likely to please. All that’s left to do is find the time and place to tune in and jam out.

Best budget AirPods Max alternative: Sennheiser ACCENTUM Headphones

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Headphones
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Headphones

There are many over-ear headphones that dip well below the $200 mark, but Sennheiser’s ACCENTUM Headphones stand out with a sizeable array of AirPods Max-adjacent features to function as a true budget alternative. At $180 and weighing just 222g, these cans are both comfortable and practical for long-term wear. And when a sale rolls around, you can get a sweet deal.

Like most budget options, the ACCENTUM headphones forego certain design choices and materials to save on space and weight. For starters, you don’t get a carrying case. The light plastic body features simple buttons over gesture controls, and you might find the earcups to be slightly shallower than our other options. These choices mostly impact noise cancellation and feature seamlessness, but the ACCENTUM headphones compensate through comfort and sound quality.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Headphones

Like the MOMENTUM 4 headphones, ACCENTUM headphones are capable of outputting great sound. Settings are adjustable via the Smart Control app, which houses the same modes and presets. Add in the solid mic performance, and these headphones are a great splurge for all-day wear in quieter spaces like the office or at home. They’re light enough to wear for long stretches without getting a headache and have a 50-hour battery life to make that possible.

You should also keep an eye on Sennheiser’s new ACCENTUM Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones. Priced at $230, these latest cans are a promising middle ground between the ACCENTUM and MOMENTUM 4 headphones for users who want a little more than what the $180 ACCENTUM model can offer.

Sennheiser’s new ACCENTUM Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Sennheiser’s new ACCENTUM Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Whether you are looking for an AirPods Max alternative because of price, features, or personal preference, the perfect pair of luxury cans is out there for you. Apple’s success has undoubtedly spurred this niche, and we are likely to see many more competitively priced options in the future. Will the much-anticipated AirPods Max 2 smash the competition? Share your thoughts and additional AirPods Max alternatives in the Comments section, below.

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