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Apple did it again! The long-rumored AirPods Studio headphones have actually launched under the AirPods Max moniker. We saw that one coming, as Apple got rid of all third-party headphones and speakers in its stores back in October. And while rumors speculated that the price of the new, extra-premium, over-the-year, noise-canceling headphones will start at $350, Apple has once again surprised everybody – the AirPods Max model retails for $549.
What AirPods Max gets you for $549?
Apple has baked some really cool and interesting features in its new AirPods Max headphones. First of all, Siri has received full integration privileges in the AirPods Max and can be summoned via the digital crown, with a press and hold. In addition, the headphones are smart enough to detect when they’re on your head and pause the music if you take them off, in order to save battery. Here’s all the magic inside the AirPods Max:
- Adaptive EQ: This feature will adjust the sound (low and mid-frequencies) in real-time, according to the fit and seal of the ear cushions, in an effort to provide the best listening experience.
- Active Noise Cancellation: Like most premium headphones, the AirPods Max has ANC. It will utilize three outward-facing microphones found in each cup, in order to detect environmental noise.
- Transparency Mode: This feature will allow users to listen to their music while also being able to hear the environment around them, as opposed to ANC which blocks all environmental noise.
- Spatial Audio: According to Apple, the AirPods Max use “spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theater-like experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos.”
- Up to 20 hours of battery life with Active Noise Cancellation on
- 5 minutes of charge time will provide around 1.5 hours of listening time
That’s all fine and dandy but there are other brands and models that offer a similar experience, and at a better price too. Let’s check out the best AirPods Max alternatives you can buy, be happy with, and save money at the same time.
Well, that’s the obvious choice, right? Sony’s renowned noise-canceling headphones have achieved cult status over the years. Sony describes the technology as “industry-leading” and this isn’t an overstatement. You get the same wearing detection that pauses the playback when you take off your headphones, touch-sensitive controls, and smart assistant integration, too.
If the Adaptive EQ feature in the AirPods Max has drawn your attention, Sony offers something very similar called Adaptive Sound Control. There’s an even cooler tech onboard these headphones – Edge-AI. It analyzes music in real-time and recognizes instruments, music genres, and individual elements of each song to restore the high range sounds for a richer, more complete listening experience.
You get up to 30 hours of battery life – 10 hours more than the AirPods Max – with quick charging – 10 min charge equals 5 hours of playback time, beating Apple’s offering again in the charging department, at least on paper. The whole package retails for $349.99 but there are many deals out there that will help you get these beauties for a lot less.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Another solid option comes from Bose – you’ve probably heard of the famous 700 model. It has all the bells and whistles on board – a four-microphone system that offers 11 levels of noise-cancelation, Alexa and Google Assistant integration, an active EQ that delivers an immersive listening experience, touch-sensitive controls, and more.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 match the battery life of the AirPods Max with up to 20 hours of playback time. You get a different style too, but that’s of course highly subjective. These headphones normally retail for $379 but you can skim $30-40 bucks off that price easily.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
If you want an unprecedented listening experience then you should definitely check out the Bower & Wilkins PX7 headphones. Now, this brand might not ring any bells for you, but the British sound engineers behind these headphones have built and designed speakers for the Abbey Road studio. You know, where the Beatles recorded most of their music.
The PX7 model is very modern, though. It offers things like adaptive noise cancelation, wear sensors, ambient pass-through technology that allows some external noise from the surrounding environment, such as safety announcements or conversations, to be heard without taking the headphones off.
The performance is also great – you get 30 hours of playback time before you need to charge, and charging for just 15 minutes gets you 6 more hours of music. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 model is priced quite competitively, too. You can get a pair for under $400 and that’s before deals and promos kick in.
Beats Studio3 Wireless
Given that the Beats Studio Wireless headphones use Apple’s W1 chip for class 1 wireless Bluetooth connectivity, this model is a definite contender in our list. Beats headphones are very popular and besides the great design and ergonomic features, they offer some serious tech stuff as well.
The adaptive noise canceling feature is quite good, and there’s also a Real-time Audio calibration, basically the same feature as the adaptive EQ tech seen in other brands. You can squeeze up to 22 hours of autonomy out of these headphones and a 10-minute charge gives you 3 extra hours of play. The price hovers below the $300 mark, so you’re getting a good deal too.
Master & Dynamic MW65
The MW65 headphones from Master & Dynamic just ooze style. If you fancy premium materials and top-notch craftsmanship, these will make you happy. They’re made from lightweight anodized aluminum and lambskin leather and weigh just 245 grams. The custom-made 40mm Beryllium drivers produce a rich, warm sound, and there’s an active noise canceling technology onboard, too.
The Bluetooth range is absolutely amazing at 65+ feet, while the battery life is also really solid. You can get up to 24 hours of continuous listening before you need to charge and if you hook the MW65 to a charger for just 15 minutes, you’ll get 12 more hours. The Master & Dynamic MW65 aren’t cheap, though. At $499 they’re just $50 cheaper than the AirPods Max.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9
Bang & Olufsen is a company well known in the Audiophile space. The Danes have been designing and building high-quality audio products for nearly 100 years. The Beoplay H9 model is the top of the line when it comes to wireless headphones. It comes with active noise cancelation, touch-sensitive controls, and a dedicated voice assistant button.
The build quality is impeccable – these headphones feature a luxurious leather headband, comfortable memory foam, ear cushions, and sleek anodized aluminum discs. A single, full charge takes 2.5 hours but will keep the H9 going for 25 hours. And at the end of the day, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 headphones are still $100 cheaper than the AirPods Max.
The “dark-knight” in this list comes from Razer, metaphorically and literally. The company has a great reputation in the gaming industry, and the Razer Opus is aimed to compete with the likes of Sony WH-1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Unlike Sony and Bose, Razer Opus is extremely affordable for what the model has to offer – just $199.
Razer Opus features advanced active noise-cancellation (the so-called Hybrid ANC) technology, which can isolate sounds such as human speech, traffic, and other ambient noises using an external and internal microphone. These headphones are THX-certified, offering great quality, consistency, and performance.
As far as battery life goes, Razer claims that its new Opus headphones should last for about 25 hours, so this model (just like pretty much every model on this list) outperforms the AirPods Max in the battery life department.