Apple AirPods Max vs Sony 1000-XM5 Headphones

Apple AirPods Max vs Sony 1000-XM5 Headphones

Amazon Customer Rating



Premium stainless steel design

Plastic build


Heavier at 0.85 lbs

More compact and lighter at 0.55 lbs


Physical buttons for controls

Touch controls


Proprietary “bra-like” case

More practical and protective case


Noise Cancellation Quality

Excellent active noise cancellation (ANC)

Excellent active noise cancellation (ANC)

Noise Cancellation Specifics

Better at cancelling out loud conversations

Slightly better at blocking out constant, consistent noise

Adaptive Sound Control



Music Quality

Neutral, analytical sound profile

Warmer, more engaging sound signature

Bluetooth Connections

Limited to AAC Bluetooth codec

Supports higher-quality LDAC codec

Battery Life

Up to 20 hours of battery life

Up to 30 hours of battery life

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The Apple AirPods Max Headphones

The Apple AirPods Max Headphones have made a big splash since they came out in 2020. They are renowned as having incredible sound and an immersive experience. If you are a die-hard Apple fan, there will be no convincing you that an alternative at $200 less could be just as good. But you may want to have an open mind and read on.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones


These are unquestionably, the best alternative headphones to Apple AirPods Max. Some say they are even better. The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones emerge as a pivotal iteration in Sony’s esteemed lineup of noise-cancelling headphones, building on the legacy of its predecessors with refined design and technological advancements. As the latest entry into the market, these headphones are positioned to compete with the best, offering an amalgamation of top-tier noise cancellation, audio performance, and comfort. Here’s an in-depth look at what sets the WH-1000XM5 apart, along with its few shortcomings.

What’s awesome about them?

Exceptional Active Noise Cancellation (ANC): Sony has once again set the bar high with its ANC technology, offering an even more immersive listening experience that effectively drowns out external noise without compromising audio quality.
Superior Sound Quality: The WH-1000XM5 delivers a balanced and detailed sound profile, with crisp highs, clear mids, and deep, controlled bass. The sound can be customized further through the Sony Headphones Connect app.
Advanced Microphone System: The upgraded microphone system ensures clearer call quality, even in noisy environments, making these headphones ideal for both personal and professional use.
Long Battery Life: With up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge with ANC on, these headphones are built to last through long flights and extended listening sessions.
Comfortable for Extended Wear: The redesign focuses on comfort, featuring a lighter build and more cushioned ear pads, making them comfortable for prolonged periods of use.
Intuitive Controls and Features: Touch sensors on the ear cups allow for easy control over music playback and calls, along with smart features like Speak-to-Chat, which automatically pauses music when you start talking.
Size and Portability: While these aren’t headphones that you will shove in your back pocket, they are just a few inches larger in height and width than the Apple AirPod Max. However, they weigh in at just 250g while the Apple AirPod Max comes in at a hefty 385g.

What could be better?

Price: The premium features and enhancements come with a higher price tag, positioning the WH-1000XM5 as an investment piece in the realm of high-end headphones.

No IP Rating: The lack of an official waterproof or dustproof rating might concern active users or those looking for headphones that can withstand all elements.

Highlight Feature: Exceptional Active Noise Cancellation

The standout feature of the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones is undoubtedly their active noise cancellation capability. Sony has refined its already leading ANC technology to offer unparalleled silence, making it the headphone’s most compelling selling point. Whether you’re trying to focus in a noisy office environment or wanting to immerse yourself fully in your music while traveling, the WH-1000XM5 creates an almost silent sanctuary for the listener.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Advantages over Apple AirPods Max

1. Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Performance:

The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones boast exceptional ANC capabilities, often rated as some of the best available. While the AirPods Max also offer excellent noise cancellation, many users and reviewers find the WH-1000XM5’s ANC to be slightly more effective in a wider range of environments, especially in handling mid to high-frequency noises.

2. Battery Life:

One of the clear advantages of the WH-1000XM5 is its battery life. Offering up to 30 hours of playtime with ANC activated, it surpasses the AirPods Max, which provides up to 20 hours under similar conditions. This makes the WH-1000XM5 more suitable for long flights or extended listening sessions without the need for a recharge.

3. Customization and Control:

Sony’s Headphones Connect app allows for a broad range of customizable sound settings, including an equalizer, ANC control, and ambient sound settings. This level of customization is more granular than what’s available through the settings for the AirPods Max, appealing to users who like to fine-tune their listening experience.

4. Comfort for Extended Wear:

Though both headphones are designed for comfort, the WH-1000XM5, with its lighter build and pressure-relieving ear pads, is often considered more comfortable for long-duration wear, which is a subjective area but notable in user feedback.

5. Universal Compatibility:

The WH-1000XM5 works seamlessly across various devices and operating systems. While AirPods Max offers excellent integration within the Apple ecosystem, its functionality can be somewhat limited on Android or Windows devices, making the WH-1000XM5 a more versatile choice for non-Apple users.

Features Not as Good as Apple AirPods Max

1. Build Quality and Materials:

The AirPods Max features a premium design with a stainless steel frame and aluminum ear cups, giving it a more luxurious feel and durability compared to the mostly plastic build of the WH-1000XM5. This robust construction of the AirPods Max, however, contributes to their heavier weight.

2. Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking:

A standout feature of the AirPods Max is its spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, offering a theater-like experience for movies and music. While the WH-1000XM5 provides excellent sound quality, it lacks this advanced spatial audio implementation that makes the AirPods Max stand out for immersive listening, especially for Apple users.

3. Seamless Ecosystem Integration:

For users heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, the AirPods Max offers unparalleled convenience with features like automatic device switching, audio sharing, and integration with Siri. The experience is more fluid and intuitive when using multiple Apple devices, something the WH-1000XM5 cannot match to the same extent.

4. Case Design:

The Smart Case of the AirPods Max, despite some criticisms regarding its protective capabilities, automatically puts the headphones in an ultra-low-power state to preserve battery life. The WH-1000XM5 comes with a traditional carrying case without smart features but offers better physical protection.

The WH-1000XM5 is celebrated for its exceptional active noise cancellation, extensive battery life, and a level of customization through its app that appeals to audiophiles seeking to fine-tune their listening experience, alongside its comfort for extended wear. In contrast, the AirPods Max shines with its premium build quality, leveraging materials like stainless steel and aluminum for a luxurious feel, alongside unique features such as spatial audio with dynamic head tracking for an immersive audio experience, and seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem, offering functionalities like automatic device switching that cater specifically to Apple users. While the WH-1000XM5 offers broader compatibility across devices and a more customizable sound experience, the AirPods Max delivers on build quality and specialized features for Apple product users, making the choice between them a matter of prioritizing certain features and ecosystem compatibility.

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