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 (Caution)
Related Forum: AirPods

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Top Rated Comments

richard371 Avatar
45 months 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.

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Score: 97 Votes (Like | Disagree)
carletonguy Avatar
45 months 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
45 months 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: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
45 months 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
45 months ago
Shocking. Mac Rumors prefers an apple product over competitive devices!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mdracer Avatar
45 months 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)