TechJunkie is a BOX20 Media Company
TechJunkie Expert Recommendations
TechJunkie is supported by our readers. When you make a purchase through our links, we may earn a commission. Read More.
Apple fans love the AirPods Max. All that love isn’t a surprise, considering it is one of the best-performing noise-canceling headphones on the market today.
Despite being Apple’s first on-ear headphones, the tech giant was still able to bring a pair that delivers. For about $549, these headphones were designed to give you deep bass, accurate mid-range sounds, and flawless high-frequencies, thanks to its custom-built 40-mm dynamic driver.
In addition to that, the AirPods Max have a dual neodymium ring magnet motor. This keeps harmonic distortion at a minimum of 1% even at maximum volume. Although the Apple Health noise notifications increase, the music that comes from the AirPods Max still sounds balanced all the way up.
Apple achieves such computational music capability comparable to the computational photography prowess of the iPhone 12 by utilizing an H1 chip in each ear, a bespoke acoustic design, and cutting-edge software.
Each processor has 10 audio cores that are capable of 9 billion operations per second and provide adaptive EQ for customized listening and real-time sound altering.
And, of course, aesthetically speaking, the headphones can be rated five out of five stars. The AirPods Max comes in a bright color palette that works well with a retro design, in contrast to its predecessors, which are covered in an iconic white plastic.
But, such a near-perfect design comes with a hefty price tag. This, of course, is a letdown for those who are on a tight budget. Luckily, though, there are a few good AirPods Max alternatives that you can choose from. Here are some of them.
When it comes to gadgets, Sony is one of the brands that know how to do it right, and they have a great alternative to the AirPods Max, the Sony WH-1000XM4. Sony took no shortcuts in improving its ANC technology. The WH-1000XM4 analyzes environmental sounds and filters them out using two feedforward microphones and the manufacturer’s Dual Noise Sensor technology, which collaborates with the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 chip. Sony has a built-in NC Optimizer that measures your ears and adjusts the listening environment based on head size to ensure optimal performance. Along with this, there is an atmospheric pressure optimization tool that modifies pressure based on altitude, though this feature is mainly useful when flying or relaxing at a ski resort on a high mountaintop. What’s more, every time you put on or take off the headphones, on-ear detection can be used to pause or resume playback. While the talk-to-chat feature uses built-in mics and sophisticated signal processing to recognize your voice and pause music when you speak, the Quick Attention feature does the same whenever your palm is placed over the right earcup. In addition to quickly connecting the headphones with previously connected devices, Bluetooth 5.0 offers great wireless performance, maintaining connections for consistent music streaming and Skype chats. Additionally, you’ll benefit from a respectable listening distance of roughly 40 feet from your audio source. However, it’s hard to set up, and such great features also come with a hefty price tag, so if you’re looking for AirPods Max alternatives because of your budget, this is probably not the one for you.
The Shure Aonic 50 headphones provide a comfortable over-ear design and great audio performance. The Aonic 50 headphones from Shure are priced at $299 to rival the greatest noise-canceling headphones available. They provide an excellent audio experience sonically, appealing to those looking for a precise sound signature. The Aonic 50 are stylish circumaural (over-ear) headphones that come in black or brown. Luxuriously padded with velvety memory foam and lined with a material that resembles leather are the earpads and the bottom of the headband. A number of detents on the headband adjuster above each earcup provide a precise ear-to-ear fit, and the headband’s stitching adds a touch of elegance. Although the headphones are large, if you find the perfect fit, they are quite comfy. Housed inside each earcup is a 50 mm Neodymium dynamic transducer that produces sound in the 20 Hz to 22 kHz range. The headphones support AptX, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs and are Bluetooth 5.0 compatable. However, its app needs some tweaking to better its features. Nevertheless, it’s still a great substitute for the AirPods Max.
Bose is well known for their noise-canceling headphones, and they also have something that can compete with the AirPods Max, the Bose QuietComfort 35. Right off the bat, you will feel how lightweight these headphones are. Because of this, you’re guaranteed to feel more comfortable wearing them even for extended periods of time. In terms of its performance, the Bose QuietComfort 35 can give you extremely crisp, clean, and wide sound no matter what genre you listen to. It also features heavy bass and maintains quality even at high volumes. It can also pick up bright airy highs without distorting them. While leaving enough leeway for the tracks to shine, the midrange was precise and blended particularly well. The Bose QuietComfort 35 also comes with several buttons for better control, including a dedicated Google Assitant button. However, some of them are hard to press, which isn’t a good impression for first-time users.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 gets you where you’re going while remaining unobtrusive. Although it is not the most expensive headset, the Life Q35 is worth considering if you want a headset with a long battery life, travel options, and a ton of customization. Anker has established a reputation in a number of markets for low-cost consumer electronics. The Anker SoundCore Life Q30 is its latest pair of flagship headphones that have packed lots of features at an affordable price. The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 can adapt to almost any scenario thanks to a variety of noise-canceling modes and functions. Passive isolation, active noise cancellation (ANC), and transparency modes are all controlled by a single button on the rear of the left ear cup. The majority of high-frequency noises above 1 kHz are muffled by the headphones’ strong seal and clamping force when ANC is not activated. What makes it stand out, even more, is its battery life. Unlike other Airpods Max alternatives, this one has long battery life. Unfortunately, it has a strong clamping force, so you might feel uncomfortable wearing it for long periods of time.
The Sennheiser Momentum true wireless premium headphones’ first two iterations featured excellent sound quality and were excellent noise-cancellers, but they were obscenely big, had poor battery life, and were a little too expensive. Sennheiser has reduced the size of the headphones for this third generation, cleaned them up, and managed to keep the price low to a point where most realistic competitors can compete. Plus, it has a battery life that can last up to seven hours. The software is fantastic, and the control options are both many and trustworthy. Additionally, the sound combines meticulous attention to detail with a naturalistic approach to rhythms and tempos as well as a highly calming unity of tonality. Each earpad has a capacitive touch surface, and they are dependable and responsive. It’s simple to handle the fundamental controls (Play/Pause, Volume up/down, Skip forward/backward, Answer/End/Reject Call, and cycling through noise-cancellation choices). One flaw, though, its earcups don’t rotate.
The Cleer Enduro ANC is one of the greatest values in headphones right now thanks to its efficient noise canceling, fantastic battery life, and deceptively low price. The Enduro ANC is pleasing to the eye. The navy model’s headband and earcup cushioning were picked in an earthy hue. But, the blue itself looks excellent, especially with the stylish gold accent. Furthermore, although being largely made of plastic, its matte texture gives the impression that it is made of aluminum. Performance-wise, the Enduro ANC and Urbanista Miami almost have the same soundstage; both are bass-heavy, but not to the point where the mids and trebles are rolled off. As a result, the headphones produce a pleasing impression of depth that defies their inexpensive price. It’s also easy to use. Cleer chose a straightforward four-button layout, but it’s surprisingly flexible. Depending on how many times you push the power button in sequence, it can simultaneously perform the functions of play/pause, answer/reject/hang up call controls, and track skipping. In addition to switching between ANC and Ambient modes, the ANC button can call up Siri or Google Assistant. The latter may also be long-pressed to enable “Conversation Mode,” which turns on Ambient mode for as long as you hold it. It’s a really useful function for those times when you have to quickly switch between sound modes because it would take too long to do so manually. Just be aware that while Conversation Mode is active, music playback is muted, but not completely stopped, so you might need to go back and catch up if you missed a significant section.
Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones provide a secure fit, respectable active noise cancellation, and spotless sound quality. Beats headphones are well renowned for their aggressive music profiles, especially in the lower frequencies, as opposed to other, more natural-sounding headphones. It’s good to have a pair of headphones that really allow you to feel the bass drop because EDM and hip-hop are two of the most popular musical genres. However, the tuning can be an issue while listening to other types of music that aren’t bass-driven. On the Studio3, light instrumentation, more subdued background voices, sound effects, and guitars all sound a little too heavily processed. A significantly more rounded bottom end than anticipated slightly lowers the typically light and breathy female vocals. However, if you’re the type who’s always on the go, these might not be the best headphones for you. These headphones can take a long time to charge. Nevertheless, for its price, it’s a pretty good deal. It has great sound quality and is much cheaper than the Airpods Max.
JBL is yet another brand that delivers great sound quality. Even huge music artists, like BTS’ Jungkook, have been seen using them. If you’re wondering if it has something that can fare well against Apple’s Airpods Max, the answer is, of course. It’s the JBL Live 660NC. Although JBL’s noise-canceling technology has advanced over the years, it still falls short of Bose, Sony, and Apple’s offerings in terms of quality. However, it is still effective in reducing ambient noise by roughly 80%. At home, it can block common distractions, such as door buzzers, phone alarms, as well as a baby’s cry. Outside, it can offer impressive noise neutralization. It can minimize even police sirens and leaf blowers. The Live 660NC’s basic sound characteristic is flat and maintains a reasonably balanced frequency response, but this is only when the EQ in the companion app is disabled. Although the bass can get too strong on some tracks, JBL actually makes their JBL Club Pro+ TWS EQ the default setting, which is the better choice and provides music a more lively presence. One thing you might not like, though, is that it clamps tight. Needless to say, this is a little uncomfortable, especially if you’re using it for hours at a time.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition is an excellent, all-around performer with a tough, elegant design, but it is not cheap at $399. On the outside, you will see how premium these headphones are. Soft leather cushioning, textured woven fabric, and eye-catching arcs that connect to the earcups draw attention to it. On the inside, it’s made of high-quality parts that can deliver impressive sound quality. It can also cancel outside noise very well. Unfortunately, like most of the AirPods Max alternatives on this list, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 also has an uncomfortable clamping force. This is noteworthy if you’re planning to use these headphones for hours.
The Wyze Headphones offer great noise cancellation, bass-forward music, Amazon Alexa connectivity, an EQ that can be adjusted, and a reasonable price. Any level of respectable noise canceling can be considered a plus for a product costing less than $100, and the Wyze Headphones do indeed provide respectable ANC. It’s definitely a win for its users as it effectively mutes low-frequency sounds. The Wyze Headphones provide audible, thumping low-frequency response when it comes to audio performance, especially on tracks with strong sub-bass content. The drivers flirt with distortion at maximum volume levels but never really cross the line, and the lows are strong and full at moderate, everyday listening volumes. Its firmware could use some updates, though, but you can fully enjoy a good AirPods Max alternative at a very low price.
If you don’t see an app that should be here, let us know what it is