Showcasing an elegant design that seems ever ready to catch attention coupled with top-of-the-line active noise cancellation and transparency mode, AirPods Max has put all the existing noise-canceling over-ear headphones in a tight race. Going by the fairly positive reviews, the headphones appear to be at the forefront of attention as a toast of the town lit with the impending festive season. However, not everything about Apple’s first noise-canceling headphones is impressive. Be it the rather expensive price tag ($550) or the laughable case that is threatening to grab the “Worst design ever” award, the headphones have quite a few boxes to tick off. And that’s where these 8 best AirPods Max alternatives get a chance to come into the reckoning.
Best AirPods Max Alternatives You Can Buy in 2021
Especially when making a pricey investment, it’s apt to create the custom essential boxes that you would like to check off. So, let’s get it out of the way first off!
Which AirPods Max Alternative Should You Buy?
I have lined up AirPods Max substitutes based on 5 major parameters: Design, Comfort, Noise cancellation, Sound, and Battery Life. As for the price, it’s a toss-up between your budget and how much you can stretch. However, to give you a sneak-peek into the pricing, you can buy two pairs of pro-grade over-ear headphones and still have plenty of money left for a couple of movie tickets as well as some spicy snacks up-top.
There are quite a few over-ear headphones that can challenge AirPods Max on multiple fronts including active noise cancellation and sound quality. That’s not all, some of them are also more comfortable to wear and can even beat Apple’s offering on the battery life front – by a long distance. Now that you know what these best alternatives to AirPods Max have in store, let’s dive right in!
1. Sony WH-1000XM4 – Best All-Round AirPods Max Alternative
If you are hunting for a top-notch AirPods Max alternative without having to breach the $300 price tag, Sony WH-1000XM4 could be a solid contender for more than one reason. For starters, the over-ear headphones sport a decent design that may not catch the eyeballs like AirPods Max but they look just fine for both casual or professional setup.
Being super comfy and lightweight (254 grams), WH-1000XM4 feels comfortable to wear. So, your head won’t feel burdened by the weight of the over-ear headphones even after hours of listening. Being comparatively heavier at almost 385 grams (13.6 ounces) due largely to the stainless steel and aluminum materials, AirPods Max might tire your head if you have the habit of wearing ultra-lightweight headphones.
Beyond comfort, WH-1000XM4 is on par (or just thereabouts) when it comes to noise-canceling thanks largely to the dual noise-canceling sensor technology. The 5 built-in microphones with advanced audio signal processing are up to the mark for a clear hands-free calling experience.
Though the 5 built-in microphones of WH-1000XM4 might seem a little light as compared to the nine microphones of the AirPods Max, they are more than capable to offer crisp audio. With touch sensor controls, you can control playback, activate voice assistants, or answer phone calls without any pain. You can further enhance your listening experience using the Sony Connect Headphones app.
What’s more, Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers up to 30-hour battery life that is 50% more than what AirPods Max offers. And even in terms of quick charging, Sony’s offering is quite good. With just 10 minutes of charge, you will get 5 hours of playback (as compared to around 3 hours offered by AirPods Max). Everything considered; Sony WH-1000XM4 deserves to be rated as the best all-round AirPods Max alternative.
- Pretty lightweight and comfortable to wear
- 5 built-in microphones
- Dual noise-canceling sensor technology
- Advanced audio signal processing
- Up to 30-hour battery life
- (Colors: Black, blue, and silver)
- The design doesn’t look stand out
- Call quality needs a bit of improvement
Buy from Amazon: $278
2. Bose NC Headphones 700 – Premium AirPods Max Alternative
Yet another over-ear headphones that can give AirPox a run for its money is none other than Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Looking at the relatively high rating (4.5 stars out of 5 from more than 13K ratings), I must say that the headphones have lived up to the tall claim to a great extent. Beyond the rating, Bose noise-canceling headphones have a modern-looking design that means business.
While AirPods Max may steal your eyes right away due largely to its classy design, Bose NC 700 should appeal to your taste if you prefer to go with a refined appearance. With a lightweight stainless steel headband and the comfortable earcups tilted for a fully adjustable fit, you can wear these headphones for hours without any strain.
As against AirPods Max, Bose 700 is quite lightweight at 249 grams (8.8 ounces). So, if you like to have pretty lightweight headphones, NC 700 could easily be your preferred choice. Design aside, the headphones are touted to have 11 levels of active noise canceling that can give a strong competition to AirPodx Max’s repertoire of delivering top-of-the-line noise canceling. Thus, you can count on Bose 700 to deliver crisp and clear audio.
Moreover, Bose NC 700 offers easy access to popular voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant for navigation, music, news updates, weather information, and more. With the intuitive touch control on the earcups, you can comfortably take control of music or receive phone calls. As for the battery life, Bose NC 700 (20 hours) goes head-to-head with AirPods Max. Taking everything into account, it’s a versatile alternative to AirPods Max.
- Modern-looking design
- Stainless steel headband and earcups
- Intuitive touch control on the earcups
- 11 levels of active noise canceling
- Deliver up to 20 hours of battery life
- (Colors: triple black, silver luxe, and arctic white)
- Bass could be better
- Bose music app needs some refinements
- A touch expensive than other similar headphones
Buy from Amazon: $339
3. Beats Solo Pro – Smartest AirPods Max Challenger
They say, “Diamond cuts diamond.” Powered by the same brain “Apple H1 chip” as AirPox Max, Beats Solo Pro presents a lucrative proposition (and might even run away with the tag of smartest choice for many) for the folks who wish to remain very much in the Apple ecosystem. And that too without having to deal with an extravagant price tag.
First and foremost, Solo Pro comes with fairly good active noise canceling technology that may not go head-to-head against AirPods Max’s excellent ANC. However, you can rely on Solo Pro to prevent background noise from destroying your peaceful conversation. Not just that, it has also got transparency mode to help you stay aware of your surroundings while listening to music.
Even design-wise, Solo Pro can hold its own against AirPods Max. With the lightweight (9.5 ounces) form-factor with comfy earcups, the over-ear headphones can pass your acid test in the comfort aspect. The iconic beats logo glowing in all its glory gives it a nice-looking design. Oh yes, Solo Pro’s suite of color variants can also take on AirPods Max’s variety of colors.
On the battery life front, Solo Pro has a slight edge over AirPods Max thanks to the ability to offers 22 hours of listening time consistently. Not just that, it also supports quick charge, delivering 3 hours of playtime with just 10 minutes of charge – same as AirPods Max.
Notably, it offers up to 40 hours of battery life when ANC and transparency modes are turned off. Long story short, if you want to have the same seamless experience coupled with highly appreciable ANC and transparency mode, Solo Pro should be the frontrunner for you.
- Nice-looking design
- Comfy earcups
- Powered by Apple H1 chip
- Impressive active noise canceling technology
- Transparency mode
- Offers 22 hours of listening time
- (Colors: ivory, black, red, grey, dark blue, and light blue)
- Noise-canceling is not top-notch
Buy from Amazon: $229.95
4. AirPods Pro – Better In-Ear Headphones
If you are on the lookout for an AirPods Max substitute in an in-ear form-factor, AirPods Pro has got all the boxes ticked off to be a notable pick. Just like AirPods Max, it also features the custom Apple H1 chip that offers seamless connectivity with iDevices.
With the reliable active noise cancellation technology, the earphones can be counted to offer clear audio to enhance your hands-free conversation. Plus, the transparency mode is always to keep you remain aware of what’s happening around you.
Another feature worth taking note of is the transparency mode that ensures you can remain aware of the surrounding. Apple offers three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a fully adjustable fit. Being sweat and water-resistant (unlike AirPods Max), the earphones are designed to accompany you during your rigorous workouts.
The adaptive EQ automatically fine-tunes music to the shape of your ear for a more enjoyable music listening experience. In terms of sound quality, the earphones are one of the best in the business. Add to that the wireless charging case that delivers more than 24 hours of battery life (4.5 hours of listening on one charge) and AirPods Pro seems very hard to beat.
- Ultra-lightweight and comfortable to wear
- three sizes of silicone tips
- High-end active noise cancellation
- Transparency mode
- 4.5 hours of listening on one charge
- The charging case offers more than 24 hours of battery life
- Comparatively expensive
Buy from Amazon: $199
5. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 – Professional-Looking Headphones at Affordable Price
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 could be a better choice if you are willing to opt for a professional look and feel. What’s more, they also cost less than half the price of the AirPods Max. Notably, they are integrated with Microsoft 365 and provide real-time voice dictation in the Office programs, which is a big plus if you are already into the Microsoft ecosystem.
The over-ear pads are soft and breathable which play a vital role in enhancing the comfort level. And with the fairly intuitive touch controls, you can skip tracks, answer/end calls, and get hands-free assistance without any hassle.
What I have found really appreciable in Surface Headphones (10.22 ounces) are the adjustable dials on the side of each cup that make the task of adjusting the volume and noise-canceling levels easy going. At 20 hours (with ANC on), the battery life is on par with what AirPods Max delivers.
Talking about the quick charge functionality, Surface Headphones provide an hour of music with a 5-minute charge as against 1.5 hours of listening time with the 5 minutes of charging offered by AirPods Max. As for the sound quality, the headphones are pretty good – if not excellent.
- Professional-looking design
- Soft and breathable over-ear pads
- Adjustable dials for adjusting volume and noise-canceling levels
- Integrated with Microsoft 365
- 20 hours of reliable battery life
- (Colors: black, gray, and glacier)
- The design doesn’t look stylish
Buy from Amazon: $249.99
6. Bose QuietComfort 35 II – A Fully Equipped AirPods Max Challenger
Bose over-ear headphones have got the reputation of delivering the excellent sound quality and they are also among the best of the lot in terms of noise-canceling. And QuietComfort 35 II seems fully equipped to be in the same league. While QuietComfort 35 II may not be as good-looking as Bose NC 700 or AirPods Max, you can bank on the over-ear headphones to keep up with your style quotient.
At 8.2 ounces, QuietComfort 35 is one of the lightest over-ear headphones. So, if you find AirPods Max’s 13.6 ounces a bit too much for your comfort level, you would appreciate QuietComfort’s ultra-lightweight design for all your day-to-day work.
The headphones feature three levels of noise-cancellation that can make a good match with what AirPods Max has to offer. Besides, it can also live up to the expectation on the sound quality front. Even better, you can further enhance the sound using the Bose Connect app. Just like most of its counterparts QuietComfort 35 also offers up to 20 hours of battery life. In a nutshell, this offering from Bose is a relatively affordable yet fully equipped AirPods Max alternative.
- Ultra-lightweight design
- Comfortable earcups
- Three levels of noise-cancellation
- Dual-microphone system
- (Colors: black, silver, and rose gold)
- The design doesn’t look impressive
- Google Assistant doesn’t work perfectly
Buy from Amazon: $269.99
7. Anker Soundcore Life Q30 – Able Cheapest AirPodx Max Alternative
Hold your breath for a moment before you may begin to question Anker Soundcore Life Q30 which I have put in this roundup as the cheapest AirPods Max alternative! There are three notable features that make Soundcore an able substitute. First and foremost, the over-ear headphones offer more than decent active noise cancellation.
Thanks to the dual noise-detecting microphones, the headphones can filter up to 95% low-frequency ambient sound to ensure you have a peaceful hands-free calling and music listening. For a better listening experience, it features three modes such as transport that help you remain aware of the surrounding, outdoor that suppresses traffic sound, and indoor that keep the noise of people away.
Second, Soundcore Life Q30 provides up to 40 hours of playtime which is more than double what AirPods Max offers. That’s not all, with a 5-minute of charge, you will get up to 4 hours of battery life. So, if you hate to charge your headphones frequently, you would appreciate the long battery life. Considering these notable features, the $80 price tag seems quite reasonable.
- Provides up to 40 hours of playtime
- More than decent active noise cancellation
- Dual microphones
- Clear audio
- Sound quality is average
Buy from Amazon: $79.99
8. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – Pro-Grade Substitute
So, how long can you keep a deserving challenger like Bowers & Wilkins PX7 out of the ring when there is a tight race to be the most preferred AirPods Max substitute? PX7 sports a pro-looking design with soft earcups topped by the carbon fiber composite arms that keep stress away. Thus, you can wear the headphones for hours without having to deal with unnecessary bulk.
If AirPods Max claims to be at the forefront of attention, Bowers & Wilkins PX7 has got the well-built refined design to stand on its own. And if you prefer to go with a pro look and feel, chances are pretty high that PX7 could turn out to be your pick.
Equipped with 43mm drivers, the over-ear headphones are among the best in the business when it comes to sound quality. And with adaptive noise-canceling technology at the disposal, the headphones provide clear audio by putting the background noise at bay. At 30 hours of battery life, it offers 50% more juice for your music time than AirPods Max. That’s not all, Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is priced at $299, which means you will be able to save $250 despite buying top-grade over-ear headphones.
- Well-built refined design
- 43mm drivers deliver top-grade sound quality
- adaptive noise-canceling technology
- 30 hours of battery life
- Colors: (silver, carbon edition, and space grey)
- The midrange and treble need improvement
Buy from Amazon: $299
Top AirPods Max Alternatives Lined Up for You
There you go! So, these are the best AirPods Max substitutes that you can buy to have top-notch active noise cancellation and impress sound quality. And that too without having to break the bank. Now that you have explored the roundup, let me know your preferred over-ear headphones.
As we are talking about AirPods Max, I would like to recommend you to check out the best travel cases and a suite of essential accessories that can help you keep the pricey headphones secure. Just in case you wish to switch your attention towards Apple’s offering again.
I am surprised you haven’t given the Marshall Monitor 2 ANC as a possible alternative. Wonder why?