Best Apple AirPods Max Alternatives: Better, Cheaper Options…

Apple’s newly launched AirPods Max cost a literal FORTUNE, so what are some better, cheaper alternatives? Let’s investigate…

Apple’s AirPods Max have finally launched. And they cost A LOT of money. How much? You’re looking at $549 for a pair. And that makes them WAY more expensive than some of the best current wireless headphones on the market.

As someone that uses and abuses headphones on a pretty regular basis, I know that there are plenty of really good headphone options on the market right now – and 100% of them are cheaper than Apple’s AirPods Max.

RELATED: AirPods Battery Life: Each Model Compared

I haven’t tested Apple’s AirPods Max yet, but I’m willing to go out on a whim and claim the following, cheaper options will be better.

Why? Designing and making headphones is an art form. The brands listed below have been designing and making headphones for decades. And this kind of experience really does count for a lot when you’re talking about sound quality and overall performance. I’m also really not impressed with how much the AirPods Max cost – $500 for a pair of headphones is just a stupid amount of money.

Apple has always charged too much for its AirPods. And while this hasn’t exactly hurt its sales, the more savvy shopper, those after more value for money, need to be aware of alternative options that are not only better but also cost a lot less money. Let’s do this…

Best Apple AirPods Max Alternatives – Our #1 Picks

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#1 – Bose QC35 II

The Bose QC35 II headphones might not be the newest pair of headphones on this list, but for me, they are easily the most comfortable and accessible wireless over-ear headphones on this list.

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Super comfortable to wear and with amazing noise cancellation, the Bose QC35 II has been my go-to headphones for almost four years now. I bought a pair after testing them for KYM, and I always come back to them.

Battery life is great, you have support for Siri and Google Assistant, and the sound quality produced by them is brilliant – you hear everything, from deep low-end rumble to higher notes and middle-range frequencies.

I think the Bose QC35 II is essentially perfect. I love mine. And if I lost them, I would immediately go out and buy another pair. That’s how good they are…

Bose QC35 II Specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 170.2 x 180.3 x 81.3 mm
  • Weight: 235.31 g
  • Voice Assistant: Alex, Siri, Google Assistant
  • Noise-Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: 20 Hours
  • View Latest Prices

#2 – Sony WH-1000XM4

The is a great option too. You have, again, excellent battery life, brilliant sound performance, and they’re super comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. I tend to prefer how Bose handles noise-canceling, but the Sony WH-1000XM4 is still excellent.

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Sony has also made some choice improvements to the Sony WH-1000XM4; it has improved the call quality and added in support for multiple Bluetooth connections, so you can pair it to your phone and your PC and, if you get a Zoom call on your PC, the headphones will automatically revert to your PC’s audio.

I’m a bit of a Bose fanboy, but if I weren’t the Sony WH-1000XM4 would be what I would be using. The Sony WH-1000XM4 has received rave reviews, is loved and used by hundreds of thousands of users, and looks totally badass. I would take these over Apple’s AirPods Max every day of the week, and twice on a Sunday.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 170.2 x 180.3 x 81.3 mm
  • Weight: 230g
  • Voice Assistant: Siri & Google Assistant
  • Noise-Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: 30 Hours
  • View Latest Prices

#3 – Anker SoundCore Life

Bose and Sony’s headphones are pretty expensive. But if you want a truly cheap pair of wireless headphones that deliver a metric ton of value for money, then you should 100% be looking at the Anker SoundCore Life headphones.

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For around $80, the Anker SoundCore Life headphones are around $150 cheaper than both Bose and Sony’s headphones. And while the Anker SoundCore Life does lack the finesse and overall sound quality of Sony and Bose’s headphones, for the money they’re still a killer set of bins.

Noise-canceling and voice calling isn’t quite as good as it is on the Bose and Sony options, but at this price point that is to be expected. Overall, though, the sound quality and finish on show here is exemplary – you will not find a better pair of wireless headphones for this amount of money anywhere.

Anker SoundCore Life Specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 8.00 x 5.20 x 3.00 cm
  • Weight: 0.13 Pounds
  • Voice Assistant: Yes
  • Noise-Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: 40+ Hours
  • View Latest Prices

#4 – Sennheiser Momentum 3

When it comes to audiophile headphones, Sennheiser is essentially a household name. It has been making premium-quality headphones for decades. And more recently, it has started focussing on wireless headphones with noise-cancellation. And the Sennheiser Momentum 3 is a testament to just how good the company has become at this kind of thing.

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The Sennheiser Momentum 3 are, to my ears, on a pair with the Bose and Sony options listed above. The sound quality you get on the Sennheiser Momentum is utterly sublime, especially if you’re listening to high-quality sources.

Like the Bose and Sony options, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 are expensive headphones. But you do get plenty of bang for your buck. Call quality is excellent and Sennheiser’s noise-canceling is as good as what you get with Bose and Sony headphones.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 231 x 193 x 104 mm
  • Weight: 321g
  • Voice Assistant: Yes
  • Noise-Cancelling: Yes – Supports Multiple Modes
  • Battery Life: 17 Hours
  • View Latest Prices

#5 – Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Bowers & Wilkins make expensive, lavish headphones. The company is often the #1 choice of the most hardcore audiophiles. The original PX7 headphones were great, but the updated version, released in 2019, improved things dramatically, making them more comfortable, improving their noise-canceling abilities, and generally making them better across the board.

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The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is the most expensive headphones on this list. That’s why they’re last. With respect to sound quality, they’re brilliant – easily as good as the Bose and Sony options. You get crystal-clear call quality, multiple types of noise-cancellation, and they’re super-lightweight and comfy.

With battery life, you’re looking at 30 hours. And the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 support AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, and they charge via USB-C, so you can top them up seriously quickly. If you can stretch to $400, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is very, very impressive…

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Specifications: 

  • Dimensions: 8 x 17.5 x 22 cm
  • Weight: 302g
  • Voice Assistant: Yes
  • Noise-Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: 30 Hours
  • View Latest Prices

Be sure to check out Do AirPods Affect Your Hearing? And also check out Do AirPods Automatically Turn Off?

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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