Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4- Which One Should You Buy?

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The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Headphone market has a new competitor: Apple AirPods Max. Until now, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has been supreme with over 29,000 4+/5 stars ratings. While Sony WH-1000XM4 was launched in August 2020, the AirPods Max arrived later on December 15, 2020. But the WH-1000XM series has been reigning in customers’ minds with its predecessors, while AirPods Max headphones are entirely new and are still making their space. Owing to this, Apple knows what it is up against and has strategically positioned AirPods Max to be the successor of the widely acclaimed AirPods Pro.

Apple, the high-pricing giant, has tagged AirPods Max at $550. In contrast, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 dwarfs AirPods with a retail price of $400. So, a $150 saving is a big deal for customers today! However, brand loyalty is also a major factor. 

If you live in a noisy neighborhood or have yammering family members, Active Noise Cancellation headphones are a must. It’s hard to get peace of mind for yourself, but headphones today have evolved beyond just listening to music. They help you create your productivity and meditative bubble. So, investing in quality ANC headphones is a smart choice.

Besides, you’ve got two advanced and popular headphones. But if you’re unsure which one to go for, here we are to help you. In Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4, we noted some important specifications. Let’s delve further to know more about which one is better. 

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4 – Specifications

  • Type Of Headphone: Dynamic and Closed
  • Driver: Dome type, 40 mm CCAW Voice coil
  • Frequency Bluetooth Response: 20 Hertz–20k Hertz (44.1 kHz Sampling)/ 20 Hz–40k Hertz (LDAC 96 k Hertz Sampling @ 990 kbps)
  • Plug: L-shaped Gold-plated stereo mini-plug
  • Cord Length: Headphone cable (approx. 1.2 m, OFC strands, gold-plated stereo mini-plug) PLUG
  • Diaphragm Type: Aluminium-coated LCP
  • Cord Length: Approx. 1.2 m Headphone cable (Gold-plated stereo mini-plug and OFC strands)
  • Frequency Response: 4 Hertz to 40,000 Hertz
  • Sensitivities (DB/MW): (when turned on) 105 dB/mW (1 kHz); 101 dB/mW (1 kHz) (when turned off)

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max – Specifications

  • Headphone Type: Over-Ear
  • Audio Technology: Active Noise Cancellation (Adaptive EQ and Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking)
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Chip: Unique Apple H1 headphone chip
  • Size and Weight: 168.6 mm (6.64 inches)
  • Charge Ability: MagSafe, Wireless and Lightning charging
  • Bluetooth: Version 5 with Codec Support for SBC and AAC
  • Cord Length: Wireless
  • System Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch Mac models, and Apple TV
  • Accessibility: Live Listen audio with Headphone levels control 
  • Frequency Response: 1.3 dB

Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4 – Which One Should You Buy?

Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4

Active Noise Cancelling: The Crème de la crème.

The core reason you know both these devices is because of their unbeatable ANC mode, but which one is better? Let’s explore. 

For years Sony’s WH-1000XM4 has given a fully immersive experience to music lovers. However, Apple’s AirPods Max takes this up a notch. It has spacious cups that provide impeccable passive isolation. The combined active noise cancellation and passive isolation can block out every sound that might disturb you.

 The improved ANC comes at a cost, but we’re not talking about dollars here. The AirPods Max is only compatible with Apple products and cannot be disabled through other devices. Android devices only allow you to toggle between transparency and ANC mode. 

Apple only has a slightly upper edge because of its seamless experience. Sony is a viable option but is it far behind Apple is still debatable. Besides, WH-1000XM4 allows you better control over your active noise cancellation.

For instance, if you’re on a subway and want to listen to the train announcements, you can put your hand over any of the cups, and momentarily, the music will go down. This feature also comes in handy when speaking with people or being interrupted by family members while working.

Better Sound Quality: What audiophiles Want to Know!

With a combination of Apple’s H1 headphone chip, ANC performance, and proprietary drivers, AirPods Max delivers exceptional sounds that even the pickiest music enthusiasts enjoy. It distinguishes itself through a slight bass-boosting frequency response. This feature sounds natural as you can hear every sub-bass note clearly on the device.

Since Apple focuses on a closed experience, access to the equalizer profile is not present for customization on AirPods Max. They have adaptive EQ automatic adjustment levels that stabilize themselves to ambient noise to provide a signature sound stage. Due to this, the AirPods Max lack in delivering a studio-quality headphones experience. 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has been a higher-ranking Bluetooth headphone that customers have loved for years. In contrast to the AirPods Max, Sony’s device provides a neutral, low-end sounding experience that includes voice clarity above all else. It isn’t bass-heavy, which can become a bummer to people who adore kicks and rumbles in their music. But if you’re someone who loves listening to string instruments and watching a lot of movies, the WH-1000XM4 is for you.

Moreover, Sony gives you equalization control through its EQ application, which you can use to get a bass boost if you want it. This feature sets Sony apart from Apple, which is more closed and does not allow you any tampering with the sound stage. 

So, if you’re someone who wants a bass-heavy experience with no desire for heavy customization, then the AirPods Max is for you. It is excellent for heavy metal, rock, and multi-instrument music experiences. However, if you watch videos online, enjoy general media entertainment, and want to relax and listen to soothing instruments and vocals, Sony WH-1000XM4 is for you.

Mic Quality: How Good is it for Zoom?

Based on our testing, we found drastically varying results between both of the mics. In the case of the AirPods Max, the highest quality audio is only transmitted when the device is connected to other Apple products. Nevertheless, even if you’re on an android device, it is relatively unpredictable how the headphones will operate, as compatibility is a big issue outside of the Apple ecosystem.

Through our testing, it has been understood that this issue emerges from incompatibility in Bluetooth signals between devices. As a result, when you’re talking through the AirPods Max, you’re likely to hear muffled sounds and echoes. 

In contrast, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has an above-average microphone that allows huge compatibility with most devices. In addition, it lessens surrounding noises and helps in boosting some bass frequencies from your mouth. Thus, if you’re a soft-spoken person with a lower voice, WH-1000XM4 will suit you well as you don’t have to be allowed to communicate forcibly.

Its integrated attenuation feature also facilitates speech clarity to be improved through detecting distant noises and boosting sounds most close to its mic. Therefore, it is no surprise that our pick for the better mic goes to the Sony WH-1000XM4 for providing a well-rounded experience. It is perfect for video conferences as well. It eliminates external noise to help you focus on your meetings but also helps your speech clarity improve, helping create better connections.

Ease and Access: Which’s More Manageable for Every Situation?

In terms of pure comfort, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 has a more traditional look and comfier padding that comfortably wears itself around your ear. AirPods Max is also exceptionally comfortable, though they are considerably heavier and clap onto your ears, which can cause fatigue. Unlike Sony’s WH-1000XM4, the ear cups and padding of the AirPods Max are entirely detachable for replacement. However, since Sony’s padding has well griped good stitching, it provides an improved hold for longer listening sessions. 

Yet, even with Apple’s unconventional design, AirPods Max has passed the breathability test. In contrast, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 traps heat, causing over breathability. This problem being said, for everyday use, the Sony’s should be enough; but, if you’re a person who physically exercises while wearing headphones, then it might not be for you. But this does not imply that AirPods Max is ideal for working out as they are not designed for this purpose, but they can suffice.

Design and Portability: Which One Looks and Carries Better?

In terms of style, Apple has gone for a minimalistic design which is entirely new. This unique design is purposefully done to signal a premium, high-status headphone that uses top-tier materials. It has a sleek aluminum cover with an athletic knit webbing headband. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 style focuses on a matte finish headband similar to its earlier famous predecessors. The WH-1000XM4 appeals to more individuals through conventional color platelets such as silver and black have been focused on by Sony.

AirPods Max has extremely average portability. They are bulky and rigid and cannot be folded. Moreover, the magnetic carrying case by Apple only protects the two ear cups and completely neglects any protection for the headband. However, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 can be folded easily and can become more compact to fit into any bag. Moreover, Sony provides a great hard carrying case that protects the ear cups and headband from water damage and prevents any external scratches while traveling. Due to all these factors, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is a big winner regarding portability. It also has decent stability that encourages low-intensity movements, helping lower neck pains. Despite this, both have excellent build quality, where you can’t go wrong if you choose either. There are robust and have superior aluminum in the case of Apple and rigid plastic construction for Sony.

AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM4: What Should You Buy?

If you’re a person who has been buying Apple products for years, it is a no-brainer to go for AirPods Max. The high connectivity and customization offered to the Apple ecosystem is a big selling point that you will be unable to get if you’re trying to use an android with AirPods Max. Moreover, the control systems are handicapped through several android devices, which can make your purchase go down the drain if the headphone isn’t compatible with what you’re using.

Above all, AirPods Max is the most luxurious headphone you can buy on the market. If you want to increase your status game, this pair of headphones is an excellent choice. It also delivers tremendous active noise and high-quality sound output. However, a big drawback for Apple fans is that the device does not come with a headphone jack which can be handy when connecting to other Apple devices. Furthermore, if you’re used to buying Apple products, the high price should not be a big issue.

Though, if you’re someone who has an iPhone and does not want to spend more than needed, then Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is the way to go. Besides, over 70% of regular users prefer using Android outside of the Apple ecosystem. These users account for 129 million smartphone users who also want a premium headphone experience. For them, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is the way to go. It has been serving audiophiles for years and is the most respected ANC device presently on the market. Additionally, if you’re used to attending meetings and taking classes online because of the pandemic, the speak-to-chat functionality of Sony’s WH-1000XM4 delivers on that front well.

Likewise, it has an incredibly integrated ambient sound with excellent comfort, making you want to listen to the headphones for hours. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 also provides heavy customization through its EQ proprietary software. In addition to this, Sony’s headset often runs a 50 dollars discount, which is in addition to its being $150 cheaper than AirPods Max.

 In terms of performance and ANC feature, AirPods Max, without a doubt. However, in terms of pure value, Sony’s WH-1000XM4 comes ahead. Moreover, Sony’s is much more portable and isn’t much behind in ANC and music performance. You’re not going to go wrong with either, so you might as well flip a coin if you’re using both iPhone and Android.

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