- Our top pick for the best alternative to Airpods Max is the Sony WH-1000XM4.
- The Sony WH-1000XM4 comes with Adaptive Sound Control which enables it to detect your location and adjust the noise level based on your environment.
- The best AirPods Max alternatives have a comfortable fit, offer excellent sound quality, and can fold to a compact shape. This makes them an excellent choice for anyone who loves to listen to music on the go.
- When purchasing the best alternatives to the AirPods Max, some of the vital things to consider are the battery life, active noise canceling, and weight.
The AirPods Max is among the most popular over-the-ear headphones due to its seamless ergonomics and top performance for music and calls. However, there are AirPod Max alternatives to consider that feature 20 to 60 hours of music playback, have soft padded earcups, great sound quality, and a lightweight design.
Below we have categorized some of the best 5 AirPod Max alternatives to consider. Some of the products on our list offer almost comparable features at a lower price, with some having better sound performance. Here are our top six alternatives:
- Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM4
- Best Battery Life: Sennheiser Momentum 4
- Best Budget-Friendly: JBL Live 660NC
- Best Noise Cancellation: Bose 700
- Best for Travel: Marshall Monitor II
- Best Audio: HiFiMan Edition XS
Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM4
- Industry-leading noise canceling with Dual Noise Sensor technology
- Next-level music with Edge-AI, co-developed with Sony Music Studios Tokyo
- Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (10 min charge for 5 hours of playback)
- Touch Sensor controls to pause/play/skip tracks, control volume, activate your voice assistant, and answer phone calls
- Speak-to-chat technology automatically reduces volume during conversations
The Sony WH-1000XM4 tops the list as the best overall due to the high-quality Bluetooth codecs that allow the pairing of two devices simultaneously.
A notable feature of this Sony headphone is the Speak-to-Chat functionality that automatically pauses the music when you start speaking. This is possible thanks to 5 microphones in the headset and an improved audio signal processor that can notice and react to your voice.
Additionally, the headphone includes Adaptive Sound Control that can sense your location and adjust the sound based on your environment. This Sony headphone also includes proximity and acceleration sensors that can detect whether or not you’re wearing the headphones to pause or play the music. The headphones also feature a soft, pressure-relieving ear pad that evenly distributes pressure for a stable fit. Besides, they come with a carry case that enables wired listening.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 can give you up to 30 hours of playback, which should be enough to get you through long road trips. If you’re in a rush, a 10 minutes charge should give you at least 5 hours of playtime. Also included in this headphone is the Precise Voice Pickup Technology, which incorporates advanced audio signal processing and built-in microphones to improve the sound quality of the person listening at the end of the line.
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|The headphone offers excellent audio performance with a punchy bass||Has a sensitive touch-to-speak functionality (while speaking, the music will pause)|
|They have good ANC as they can cancel ambient noise when in a plane or coffee shop|
|They take a short time to charge since a 10 minutes charge can give you up to 5 hours of playback|
Best Battery Life: Sennheiser Momentum 4
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones offer the best battery life because users can enjoy up to 60 hours of music playback, even with Bluetooth and ANC on. Plus, 10 minutes of fast charging with USB-C will give you up to 6 hours of usage.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 is also designed to be lightweight at 10.3 ounces and it doesn’t fit too tightly over your head. Additionally, their earcups are constructed from a rigid plastic frame, making them less susceptible to scratches and dents.
Remember that you may experience difficulties getting a good fit with a larger-than-average head size. However, you won’t experience significant discomfort over a long listening session. Regarding connectivity, this Sennheiser headphone supports Bluetooth 5.2 with the AAC and SBC audio formats. The Sennheiser is also compatible with the aptX Adaptive format, which provides low latency and high audio quality.
This headset also allows for connection between two devices, which means that you can conduct a video call on your laptop, and once it’s over, the music automatically picks up from your phone. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 is also a great pick due to its durability. Not only is it dustproof, but it’s water-resistant to powerful water jets.
|Has a good battery life (can last up to 60 hours) even with the ANC feature turned on||The app sometimes has issues connecting to the headphone|
|Effective Active Noise Cancellation|
|Comfortable to wear over longer periods due to their lightweight design|
|Classy design with solid build quality, even though the headphone is primarily constructed from plastic|
Best Budget-Friendly: JBL Live 660NC
- Long-lasting battery
- With voice assistant
- 40mm drivers
- Adaptive Noise Cancelling
- Ambient Aware technology allows you to safely walk busy streets by increasing ambient sounds
The JBL Live 660NC is a great pick if you’re searching for budget headphones as it goes for just $199.
When you first use this headphone, you’ll notice it has a slightly heavy bass profile. While this is the case, it comes with an intuitive mobile application that lets you adjust your sound to your liking.
This JBL headphone has a decent ANC performance but sometimes struggles to block loud noises like engine or bus noise. The headphone can last up to 40 hours with the ANC toggled on and up to 50 hours without the ANC turned off. Besides, a 10-minute charge can give up to 4 hours of listening time.
This headphone is also comfortable as the headband is outfitted in fabric and the ear pads are thick and covered in soft leather. Moreover, the headphone’s hinges can easily fold, making it more compact. JBL has also included a carrying pouch, so portability and convenience are a guarantee.
Another thing you’ll love about this particular headphone is the easy-to-use control feature on the earcups. For instance, you can skip the music forward or backward by pressing the volume button. Additionally, you’ll activate the Amazon Alexa voice assistant by touching the JBL logo for about two seconds.
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|Features plenty of customizable equalization presets when you use the JBL mobile app||The Google Assistant feature included in this headphone isn’t very reliable|
|Great ANC and transparency modes since the headphone can cancel upto 80% of the ambient noise|
|It’s lightweight and the soft padded earcups make it comfortable to wear them all day long|
Best Noise Cancellation: Bose 700
- Powervault III 10,000 mAh wireless charger included
- 11 levels of noise canceling
- Enhance the way you experience the world with Bose AR, a first-of-its-kind audio-augmented reality platform
- Adaptive four-microphone system
- Luxe Silver
The Bose 700 noise cancellation capabilities tops all other alternatives to the AirPods Max.
These Bose headphones have microphones inside and outside the earcups that can pick up and isolate your voice while canceling the sound around you. The headphone also allows you to adjust with 11 noise cancellation levels, helping you control how much external noise you want to hear.
The Bose 700 also includes a revolutionary microphone system that improves call clarity even in noisy environments. This is made possible thanks to the 6 external microphones that cancel the noise around you, with 4 of the microphones designed to suppress the most disruptive noise. You’ll also love the fact that the Bose 700 headphones feature intuitive touch control. For instance, you can change the volume by swiping the earcup up or down. Furthermore, tapping the ear cup twice lets you play or pause your music.
You should expect to receive up to 20 hours of playtime with a fully-charged Bose headphone. However, this number may vary slightly based on your listening volume. Playing music at a high volume can drain your battery more quickly than when on low volume.
Please Note: As of July 19, 2023, the Bose Headphones 700 Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones are currently unavailable on Amazon. If you are unable to locate this product elsewhere, please check back later.
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|Integrates seamlessly with voice assistants allowing you to receive the information you need, like weather forecasts, etc.||You can easily bypass the control buttons as they are designed close to each other|
|Great sound clarity when making phone calls as it includes adaptive microphones that cancel out background noise||It doesn’t have folding hinges, so they fold into a compact shape for easy carrying|
|You can pair up to two devices with these headphones|
|Highly responsive when you use gestures to control the different headphone functionality|
Best for Travel: Marshall Monitor II
- Active noise canceling technology that continuously pinpoints and measures ambient noise
- 30 hours of wireless playtime and 45 hours without noise canceling
- Driver impedance: 32 Ω
- Collapsible design
The Marshall Monitor II stands out as the best travel-friendly AirPods Max alternative due to its collapsable design.
It features 3 pairs of hinges that allow you to fold it into a compact shape, which is perfect for withstanding long trips. Additionally, the headphone has a great battery life as it offers up to 30 hours of playback with ANC turned off and 45 hours when ANC is turned off. The headphone packaging is a canvas carrying bag where you can stash the 3.5mm cord, USB charging cable, and headphones.
The earcups are designed with thick, soft padding, which makes the headphones comfortable even during long listening sessions. At 11.29 ounces, these headphones may seem heavy compared to some of their competitors, but you’ll hardly notice it even after wearing the headphone for a long time.
Another notable aspect of this Marshall headphone is its simple and intuitive controls. For example, the right earcup has a gold tone button resembling a joystick. Pushing this button to the left or right will skip the music forward or back, and you can pause it with just a single click. You will also find a set of buttons at the hinge point of the earcup that lets you switch between ANC or activate Google Assistant.
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|Can fold to a compact size due to the specially designed joints on the metal hinges||Doesn’t support aptX or AAC Bluetooth codec|
|Good battery life of up to 45 hours|
|Has a phone app with different preset options for ANC and EQ tweaking|
Best Audio: HiFiMan Edition XS
- Open-back planar magnetic Hi-Fi headphones
- Stealth magnets design
- Adjustable headband
- Detachable cable
- Studio Black
The HiFiMan Edition XS is the best audiophile headphone as it accurately reproduces sound.
A key feature that helps to improve the headphone audio output is the inclusion of the Stealth Magnet Technology. These are specially designed to allow sound waves to pass without interference, unlike those used in traditional headphones. So, you can expect to experience fully-immersive audio without any distortion.
This HiFiMan headphone also features a NEO ”supernano” diagram, which helps to reproduce a detailed response while retaining a high-quality sound output. The HiFiMan Editions XS headphone is also lightweight and features an ergonomic design and well-padded earcups that offer users maximum comfort over long listening sessions. These headphones also come with a detachable 3.5mm cable that you can replace in case you lose it.
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|Delivers consistent audio due to the inclusion of stealth magnets that allows the transmission of audio without any interference||Avid travelers will find this headphone bulky as it doesn’t fold into a compact shape|
|Has a balanced sound profile which is perfect for different audio content||It doesn’t come with a carrying case, so it can be easily damaged while on the go|
|Comfortable and spacious ear pad that’s perfect for long listening sessions|
|Excellent build quality as it generally has a metal design with silver grilles|
How to Pick the Best Alternative to the AirPods Max: Step-by-Step
Selecting the best headphones alternative to the AirPods Max can be very challenging because there are many factors to consider, such as style, features, and brand. Check out some of the crucial factors you need to watch out for.
- Wired or wireless
- Noise cancellation
- Audio quality
- Accessibility of controls
Let’s look at these factors in detail.
Wired or Wireless?
Headphones can be wired or wireless, although some wireless options also include a wired jack in the package. If you’re an audiophile, consider the wired headphones, as they have excellent sound quality. This is primarily because they use an inbuilt amplifier that offers better performance than those found in wireless headphones.
If you prioritize portability over the absolute best audio quality, then the wireless options will be your best choice.
Active noise cancellation is an essential feature in a headphone that allows you to listen to music even with background noise clearly. If you use your headphone to make calls frequently, it’s advisable to choose headphones with built-in and external microphones because they can cancel external noise immediately when they pick up your voice.
Headphones can also eliminate outside noise through noise isolation (passive noise cancellation). Unlike ANC headphones, noise isolation headphones don’t have microphones to detect background noise. Instead, these headphones create a good seal around the ears and are heavily padded to make them soundproof. Noise isolation headphones do a great job of preventing low-frequency noise from distracting your listening experience.
When picking headphones, particularly the wireless options, it’s important to consider the audio quality. Usually, the audio quality of a headphone largely depends on the codec they use.
Note that a codec is software that helps to encode and decode digital data in a format supported by headphones and smartphones. Today, most headphones feature aptX technology, which can compress and decompress audio transferred via Bluetooth without lowering the audio quality. When choosing a headphone, check the Bluetooth codec it supports. For instance, some of the latest Android devices support aptX, while Apple devices support AAC and SBC.
Accessibility of Controls
Typically, the controls in wired headphones are situated in physical buttons along the wire, while for wireless headphones, the basic controls are present on the earpiece. Some headphones even feature voice or gesture control. When considering headphones with physical controls, ensure they’re well-spaced and easy to find even when in a hurry. As for those that use gestures, ensure that they respond quickly to commands.
What to Know Before Buying Alternatives to the AirPods Max
Battery life is worth considering when buying a headphone. If you regularly commute long distances and want an ANC headphone, consider those with longer battery life and detachable cable, although using a wired connection might disable the ANC feature.
It’s also advisable to go for headphones with a carrying case, as it will ensure your headphone is protected while on the go. Besides, check whether a headphone offers digital assistant support. Note that some headphones have Google Assistant built into them, while others have a button you can switch to activate voice commands.
Using the Best Alternative to the AirPods Max: What It’s Like
The best headphones alternative to AirPods Max offers a great listening experience. Headphones with good Active Noise Cancellation will be a perfect choice if you commute a lot. These headphones will cancel out loud noises like traffic or loud conversations nearby. Some headphones even come with a mobile application with plenty of good customization options.
If you regularly use your headphones with a smartphone or laptop, it’s advisable to go for headphones with low impedance value. This means they don’t require a lot of amplification to make loud noises.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Mr.Mikla/Shutterstock.com.