The newly released Apple Airpods max caused a stir in the wireless headphone market, to say the least. While I do think that they are excellent products in their own right, they have their flaws too.
They are also some of the heaviest headphones I have used and they come in the most ridiculously comical carry case ever. They miss out on features like an equalizer and control over the noise cancellation intensity. And if you overlook all these flaws, they still cost an eye-watering 550$.
All these reasons are why I am making this list. The below headphones are all amazing in their own right and none of the cost close to what Apple is asking for the Airpods Max. I would recommend all the headphones below and as a bonus, you can pick two of them for the price of one Airpods Max.
Best Apple Airpods Max Alternatives 2021
The Sony WH-1000XM4 were and still are the best all-round wireless headphones in my opinion. They offer unparalleled active noise cancelling experience (only rivalled by the Airpods Max now). They beat Apples Airpods Max in terms of comfort because of their lightweight design. The XM4s offer 30 hours of battery life, which is 10 more than that of the Airpods Max’s. Airpods Max does look better and feel better but that comes at the cost of weight and this makes them less comfortable than Sony’s offering.
Sony also offers an excellent app that lets you control everything, from the equalizer to the intensity of the noise cancellation. All these features coupled with the impressive sound from XM4s, they sure are the wireless headphones to beat. And the key selling point over the Airpods Max is that they regularly retail for almost half the price. I would choose the XM4s even if they cost 100$ more. They are that good.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
The Microsoft surface headphones 2 surprised me over how good they are, compared to their predecessors. They have improved in every aspect compared to their predecessors and sound really good. They house 40mm, Free edge drivers, with low distortions at high volumes. They are comfortable, premium, look absolutely fantastic, and are built really well. I love the aesthetics of the Surface Headphones 2; they are minimalistic and stealthy. I absolutely adore their looks.
What makes them stand out from the rest is the physical controls for volume and noise cancellation. They have 2 wheels on either earcup, one to control the volume and the other for noise cancellation. With 13 levels of noise cancellation control, it is a joy to use the dials to control them. I wish all headphone manufacturers had this feature; it is the most convenient way to control a headphone on this list. At 249$, there’s nothing to complain about them, and I would recommend them to anyone.
Bose NC Headphones 700
The Bose NC Headphones 700 are another excellent pair of headphones that check all the right boxes while costing a fraction of the Airpods Max. The sound quality is dynamic and excellent. Any genre you listen to on these will sound fantastic. The NC 700s are also better when it comes to noise-cancelling only losing to the XM4s from this list. They will cut you off from the world, even in some of the noisiest places.
This coupled with decent battery life and quick charge gives you 3 and a half hours of runtime from just 15 mins of charging, makes them one of the best wireless headphones you can buy.
If you are looking for some Airpods Max exclusive features and don’t want to pay the price premium for them, get the Airpods Pro. These are some of the best true wireless earbuds and give some of the headphones in the price range and above a run for their money.
They feature all the bells and whistles of their bigger counterparts from Apple. They have spatial audio, seamless integration to you Apple devices and Siri access. They also have some of the best noise cancellation technology and cost almost a third of the Airpods Max. They sound excellent too, I would consider them over headphones in this price range.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones
If you are on the market for a pair of headphones that sound perfect, look the coolest, built so good to almost perfection, and have the best connectivity look no further than the Sennheiser Momentum 3. They are the most detailed sounding headphones on this list, and the bass is right on point.
They are comfortable and are premium. They support aptX low latency and this makes them great to watch movies and videos. They have excellent controls from their app including equalizer controls. The Momentum 3s fall short in the ANC category, as they fall short of their categories, for everything else, these are absolutely amazing.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are another offering from a reputed audio brand. They are a beautiful pair of headphones that scream premium build quality all around. These are the only headphones in this list that gives Apple a run for its money when it comes to looks and build quality.
They even go one step further by using carbon fiber for better build quality yet being lightweight. You can wear these for longer than the Airpods Max (they are unusually heavy for wireless headphones). They offer solid sound and noise-cancelling performance and retail for less than 300$.
Beats Solo Pro
The Beats Solo Pro are another gorgeous looking headphone, yet minimalistic, it’s great to see minimalism being appreciated by manufacturers. These on-ear options, use Apple’s own weapons against them. They feature the same H1 chip found in the Airpods Pro and Airpods Max. These are one of the cheapest Headphones on this list yet the deliver a premium experience.
They sound like any other Beats, only a lot better, these are some of the best sounding Beats ever. They have some nifty button controls and support Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. The bass-heavy sound, with the awesome design and the comparatively cheaper price, make these an exciting option for anyone.
Jabra Elite 85h
Jabra Elite 85h are the longest lasting headphones on this list, with a rated 35-hour battery life, they run circles around the other headphones on this list. They are very comfortable and don’t strain your head over long hours, they can also be used while charging.
The out of the box sound may not be something that sets them apart but with the equalizer in the Jabra app, you can tune them to your liking. The Elite 85h looks stunning, are pleasingly comfortable, last longer than you can, provide decent noise cancelling with decent sound, all for less than a third of the Airpods Max’s price.
Some other honorable mentions include Bose QuietComfort 35 II, Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. Bose’s offering is older yet are an excellent pair of headphones. The Marshall Monitor IIs are regarded highly for their design and sound quality with solid noise cancellation.
The Airpods Max pose an interesting question, would you pay significantly more for slightly better in certain areas over some of the best wireless headphones in the market. The answer is simple, people will buy but they are not worth it. Apple being apple command 550$ for the Airpods Max, and they know what they are doing because people being people are dumb and still buy them.
I am not taking anything away from what Apple has engineered. The Airpods Max are very good headphones, but they have their faults and in no part of the world should they cost so much. Yet they do which only puts the future of premium wireless headphones in a bad situation for the consumers. Now that the other manufacturers know that people are willing to pay so much, they are going to charge more for their future headphones.
It is good to steer away from the Apple Airpods Max, as there are some really amazing headphones in the above list. And you can buy two pairs of most of those headphones and still have some cash for left. And if you are an Apple fan and want all things Apple, get 3 of the Airpods Pro for a little over the price of one Airpods Max. And if you are a headphone person, get the XM4s or NC 700s or the Surface Headphones as they all are excellent headphones for their price.
You can go with any of the above headphones. And I would advise you to stay away from the Airpods Max because they are not worth it in the slightest sense and don’t waste your money.