Comparison: AirPods Max vs Sony XM4, Sennheiser Momentum and Bose NC 700

At $550, the AirPods Max are quite a bit more expensive than noise cancelling headphones from other companies like Sony and Bose, many of which are highly rated. In our latest YouTube video, we compared the ‌AirPods Max‌ to the Sony WH-1000XM4s, the Bose NC Headphones 700, and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless to see if they're worth the premium price tag.


All three of the competing headphones are available at $350 retail, but oftentimes, there are sales. With the Sony XM4's, for example, you can get them on sale for $280, which is a steal for the functionality. The Bose 700s are going for about $340 right now, and the Sennheisers are about $300.

airpods max ear cups 1
When it comes to design, the ‌AirPods Max‌ look and feel like $550 headphones thanks to the aluminum cups and the mesh ear cushions, and while aesthetics are subjective, they're arguably the most unique of the bunch. The Bose 700's have a classy, futuristic look and the Sennheisers have more of a retro flair. The Sony headphones are the most basic, but are overall fine.

sony xm4

Sony XM4s

We think the ‌AirPods Max‌ are the best looking headphones of the bunch followed by the Bose and Sennheiser headphones with Sony coming in last, but it's also worth noting that the ‌AirPods Max‌ are heavy and are in fact the heaviest of the bunch.

bose headphones

Bose NC Headphones 700

Comfort is also super subjective and is going to depend on each person's head shape, ears, and size. Most people have found the ‌AirPods Max‌ to be comfortable, but some find the weight to be unbearable. With their plastic design, the Sony headphones are the lightest of the bunch for those who want less weight.

sennheiser headphones side

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

We found the ‌AirPods Max‌ to be most comfortable, followed by the Sennheiser headphones, the Sony headphones, and then the Bose, which are also somewhat heavy and have smaller earcups. That said, it's all quite close.

airpods max digital crown 1
When it comes to buttons, Apple did a good job with controls for the ‌AirPods Max‌ with the Digital Crown and toggle for activating ANC, but we'll never understand why there's no power button or the strange case choice. The ‌AirPods Max‌ case is not protective, it doesn't look good, and it's all around the worst case that comes with any of the headphones.

sony xm42
In terms of sound quality, the ‌AirPods Max‌ sound fantastic, but again, choosing one set of headphones over the other really comes down to preference. We thought the ‌AirPods Max‌ had the most balanced sound experience of the bunch. The Sennheiser headphones really did poorly compared to the others, but the Bose and Sony headphones both sounded great, though leaned toward being bass heavy. That said, all of the headphones except the ‌AirPods Max‌ have adjustable EQ settings so they can be tweaked to your liking.

bose headphones design
This will come as no surprise, but when it comes to Active Noise Cancellation, the Sony XM4's and the ‌AirPods Max‌ win out. Sony has always been the best at noise cancellation, and the ‌AirPods Max‌ are truly competitive. All of these options have solid ANC capabilities, though, and it's a close call.

headphone cases
Our videographer, Dan, goes into much more detail on each of the different headphones, so make sure you watch the full video for a complete picture of the similarities and differences.

airpods max case 1
All of the headphones we've covered are excellent options, and choosing between them will depend on your budget and your personal tastes. We think for most people, the ‌AirPods Max‌ may not be worth that premium price tag because there are other great headphones that are much more affordable available, but the ‌AirPods Max‌ are certainly at the head of the pack and when it comes down to it, we prefer them over the competing options.

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

richard371 Avatar
17 weeks ago
I like the AirPods Max but the Sony M4s arrived today. Far better then the AirPods for me. Lighter, more comfy, and all the analog adapters needed for DJing, flying etc. The AirPods are going back immediately. This is coming from an Apple Fanboy. The Sonys are far superior IMHO. I have spoken.

Attachment Image
Score: 94 Votes (Like | Disagree)
carletonguy Avatar
17 weeks ago
Now compare these to the Beoplay H95 or the Bowers and Wilkins PX7! That’s the compare we need (and the more fair comparison for the AirPods Max).
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ds6778 Avatar
17 weeks ago
As usual, the people who actually have these love them, and the people who have to justify not getting them, are hating on it. No one is making you buy these. It’s ok to sit this one out.

I love mine and the case is slim and easy to use. I look forward to what Apple has in store for the AirPods Max line.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
17 weeks ago
I would get AirPods Max if:

* I can get it for $400 or less.
* It doesn't come with the stupid case. I don't need it, I don't want to pay for it.
* Spatial Audio works with Apple TV.
* Weighs less. Plastic ears, please?

I would also prefer USB-C or MagSafe for charging, but not a dealbreaker.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
H.E. Pennypacker Avatar
17 weeks ago
Shocking. Mac Rumors prefers an apple product over competitive devices!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mdracer Avatar
17 weeks ago
I love my Bose and how they seem to be tuned for Airplane noise cancellation, better yet they fold so compact that they are perfect without a case.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...