The AirPods Max are stirring the market with social media overflowing with users buying the $500 headphones. So we decided to give you the best AirPods Max alternatives that are in the same range as Apple’s offering. I’m thankful to Apple for pricing the AirPods Max in the $500 segment.
I say so because Apple’s move has normalized spending $500 on a pair of headphones. While this price is pretty much the starting point for audiophiles, our AirPods Max alternatives are for the everyday user looking for a premium sound.
Why Consider The AirPods Max Alternatives?
Apple’s latest headphones surely stepped-up the luxury game in the consumer headphone segment. However, if you dig deeper, there’s a lot missing from the AirPods Max. For instance, there’s no real case to protect the headphones, they’re not foldable, and the aluminum ear-cups will become a scratch magnet if not handled with care.
On the other hand, the AirPods Max alternatives on this list come with premium cables, a good build, and some unique acoustic features. These headphones are the closest competitors to the AirPods Max, and most of them are cheaper than the AirPods. So these are the AirPods Max alternatives that you can get today. They’re also some of the best headphones under $500.
1. Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.
This one lands squarely in the AirPods Max territory and that too for $200 less. The Marshall Monitor II A.N.C. comes in a leather finish, sports 40mm dynamic drivers, and gives a playback time of up to 30 hours with active noise cancellation. All these features make the Marshall one of the best travel headphones.
You can download the accompanying Marshall app on your phone and switch between 3 equalizer settings of your choice at the push of a button. You can buy the Marshall Monitor II for $319.99 from the Marshall online store.
2. Sony WH-1000XM4
Simply called the Sony XM4, this pair of headphones was quickly called the best AirPods Max alternative. However, it’s not the only one giving the AirPods Max a run for its money. The Sony WH-1000XM4 packs a Sony QN1 noise-canceling chip, which makes them one of the best noise-canceling headphones you can get.
With a 1.57″ dome type driver, the Sony XM4 gets a battery life of up to 20 hours. The accompanying app for the headphones makes it easier for you to tune them to your taste. Made almost entirely out of plastic, the Sony WH-1000XM4 handles scratches of headphones. It is a rather lightweight and comfortable option for long sessions. You can get these headphones for $279.99 from authorized Sony dealers.
3. Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless
One of the best Apple AirPods Max alternatives you can get in terms of design and build. The MOMENTUM 3 comes with signature Sennheiser sound, bespoke design, and a premium build. The MOMENTUM 3 houses leather finish on the headband and premium material on the ear cups. The hybrid active NoiseGard ensures a leak-free ANC experience, and the aptX codec brings out the details.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 gives you a playback time of 17 hours with a single charge. You can buy these headphones in black or sandy white colors at $349.95 from the Sennheiser online store.
4. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
These look like a pair of headphones right out of a sci-fi movie. The Bose NC Headphones 700 come with a stainless steel headband with a silicone underside. The ear-cups are made of protein leather, and they tilt up to 15 degrees to adjust to the shape of your head. These headphones have 11 levels of noise cancellation and will give you up to 20 hours of listening time with a full charge.
Build aside, another good thing about the Bose Headphones 700 is the balanced sound. In fact, I used the Bose Quiet Comfort 35, which is a watered-down version of the 700s, and the sound is as neutral as it gets. It’s a good pair of headphones if you don’t like thumping bass or a screeching treble. You can get the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 starting at $279.95 from Amazon.
5. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are a reliable pair of headphones from Microsoft. Fitted with a 40mm Free edge driver, the Surface headphones are capable of reduced distortion at high volumes. The volume and noise cancellation are controlled via physical wheels on both ear cups. Another good thing about this pair of headphones is the 13 levels of noise cancellation, which lets you easily crank up or dial down outside noise.
If you’re looking for a premium everyday pair of headphones, the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is a good alternative to the AirPods Max, and that too at half the price. You can get the Surface Headphones 2 in light gray or matte black colors for $249 from Amazon.
6. JBL Club One
There’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the looks of the JBL Club One. However, these headphones are packing 40mm dynamic drivers carved out of custom orange graphene. While most headphones pack a neodymium driver (including the AirPods Max), a graphene driver can deliver clearer, higher-resolution sound.
The drivers in the JBL Club One are tuned for distortion-free listening even at high volumes. You might not like the standard ear cups on these headphones, but you’ll dig the premium leather headband and metal hinges. These JBLs can deliver a 45-hour playback without active noise cancellation, and 25 hours with it. You can buy them from the JBL online store for $299.95.
7. Meze 99 Classics (Wired)
If you’re ready to give up the cable-free active noise cancellation experience, these are the headphones for you. The Meze 99 Classics are literally all about acoustics. The ear cups on these are made of solid wood. You can even choose if you want a maple wood finish or a walnut one.
While these pack a standard 40mm neodymium driver, the ear-cups are memory foam on the inside. The only thing that stands out about the 99 Classics is the wooden ear-cup. For a seamless wired listening experience, the headphones come with a premium Kevlar cable which is replaceable in case you damage it. The Meze 99 Classics start from $309 at the Meze online store.
Which AirPods Alternative You Should Choose?
All of the above are premium headphones for everyday listening. If you’re looking for sturdy headphones for travel, I’d recommend you go with the Marshall, Sony, or the Sennheisers from the list. It is so because they have collapsible design and a build that can resist minor scratches and bumps.
If audio purity is on your mind, and you don’t mind losing wireless functionality, you can go with the Meze 99 Classics, or the JBL Club One for the JBL signature sound. Lastly, if you’re looking for a futuristic design or easy-to-use controls, the JBL 700s and the Microsoft headphones are the best options.