AirPods Max vs. Bose Headphones 700 vs. Sony XM4:...

With the AirPods Max, Apple challenges other noise-canceling headphones such as the Bose Headphones 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4. Here you can find out how the over-ear headphones differ – and for whom the AirPods Max could be worth the price.

Design and workmanship: The AirPods Max are noble, but heavy

The Bose Headphones 700 are the most compact headphones in the bunch. This is followed by the Sony WH-1000XM4 and, at a certain distance, the Apple AirPods Max. This is also reflected in the weight: The Bose weighs 250 grams, the Sony a comparable 255 grams and the Apple headphones a lush 384.8 grams .


The AirPods Max look comfortable – but are also heavy.

Image: © Apple 2020

Sony WH-1000XM4


Alex attested the Sony WH-1000XM4 to be very comfortable to wear.

Bild: © TURN ON 2020



The Bose Headphones 700 are just as comfortable to wear, says Andreas.

Bild: © TURN ON 2019

No wonder Apple advertises the breathable mesh fabric that covers the headband and is supposed to distribute the weight evenly. The independently rotatable aluminum shells should contribute to comfort and the seamlessly extendable telescopic arms made of stainless steel ensure a fitting fit. The memory foam ear pads should feel like soft pillows and seal the headphones tightly.

Since we have already been able to test the Bose Headphones 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4, we can report that the two headphones can also be worn comfortably for a long time. Both are stable, albeit with more plastic than the AirPods Max. On paper, it definitely sounds like Apple is going one better in terms of workmanship – but also in terms of weight.

Bose Headphones 700
Buy now at

Sound: The thing about the bluetooth codecs

Sony WH-1000XM4fullscreen

The Sony WH-1000XM4 can play music in high quality thanks to the LDAC codec.

Image: © Sony 2020

The AirPods Max rely on 40 millimeter drivers that Apple designed itself. The Sony WH-1000XM4 also have 40-millimeter drivers – these are basically the speakers in the headphones. Bose keeps the driver size to itself, it is probably on the same level. Theoretically, larger drivers can reproduce lower frequencies better and louder, i.e. stronger bass. But whether a headphone has 40 or 50 millimeter drivers says little about the sound quality. Basically, the dynamic drivers of the three headphones seem to be technically similar. There can be qualitative differences that cannot be read off the paper.

Sony WH-1000XM4
Buy now at

So we already know that the Sony WH-1000XM4 sound a bit more detailed and natural than the Bose, which is what specialist magazines like Whathifi generally assess. We cannot rate the sound of the Apple headphones yet. However, the Sony has the Bluetooth codec LDAC ahead of the two competitors. This can transmit sound in a higher quality than AAC and SBC – at least under optimal conditions.

The question arises what Apple means by “hi-fi sound”. It would be conceivable that the AirPods Max could play Hi-Res music with the optional Lighting-to-Jack cable, but that’s speculation. After all, there are advanced H1 sound chips in both listeners, which could ensure good sound tuning. The QN1 chip in the Sony has a lot to offer.

Smart features and runtime: Apple and Sony are ahead

The smart features of the AirPods Max


The AirPods Max do not save with smart functions.

Image: © Apple 2020

  1. Active Noise Canceling: ambient noise is canceled out by anti-noise.
  2. Adaptive EQ: Adaptation of the playback to the seat of the ear pads. Inward-facing microphones measure the sound and change the frequencies of the music.
  3. Transparency mode: Outside noise is let through at the push of a button.
  4. On-head detection: headphones stop playback when removed, continue when put on.
  5. 3D audio with dynamic head tracking: Together with iPhone or iPad, head movements are recorded and the sound is adjusted to the position of the device.
  6. Optimized for Apple devices: Easy setup, audio sharing with other AirPods.
  7. Multiple coupling: Playback automatically switches between iPhone, iPad and Mac.
  8. Voice control: With Siri always on. In addition to the usual functions, Siri can read and reply to messages.
  9. Find lost headphones with iCloud: Lost headphones can be located on a map.
  10. Battery life: 20 hours with activated noise cancellation and 3D audio, 5 minutes of charging for 1.5 hours of playback.

Die Smart-Features der Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4fullscreen

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a particularly large number of smart features.

Bild: © TURN ON 2020

  1. Active Noise Canceling: ambient noise is canceled out by anti-noise. 20 steps. Filters out medium and high frequencies such as voices if desired. Air pressure optimization for air travel. Adapts to the activity such as traveling, walking and waiting.
  2. Transparency mode: Sony calls it “Ambient Mode” and “Quick Attention Mode”. Outside noises are let through at the push of a button.
  3. On-head detection: headphones stop playback when removed, continue when put on.
  4. Voice control: With Google Assistant or Alexa.
  5. Multiple pairing: Playback automatically switches between two Bluetooth devices.
  6. DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine): Optimized with artificial intelligence digital music files in real time, mainly intended for the improvement of music in lower quality.
  7. Speak-to-Chat: Music pauses when the user speaks.
  8. Find lost headphones with Fast Pair: misplaced headphones can be found with an acoustic signal or the My Device app.
  9. 360 Reality Audio: Object-based 3D sound with Deezer, and Tidal.
  10. Battery life: 30 hours with active noise cancellation, 10 minutes charge for 5 hours of playback.

Die Smart-Features der Bose Headphones 700


With the Bose Headphones 700, smart functions play a subordinate role.

Bild: © TURN ON 2019

  1. Active Noise Canceling: ambient noise is canceled out by anti-noise. 11 levels.
  2. Transparency mode. Bose calls it “talk mode”. Outside noises are let through at the push of a button.
  3. On-head detection: headphones stop playback when removed, continue when put on.
  4. Voice control: With Google Assistant, Alexa, Xiaowei or voice control on the smartphone.
  5. Bose SimpleSync: Synchronize with the Bose Soundbar 500 or 700 for a personal, cross-device sound experience.
  6. Battery life: 20 hours, 15 minutes of charging for 3.5 hours of playback.

As you can see, the Sony and Apple headphones have the most smart features. But it is also a personal question which and how many of these features you would like. In addition, the AirPods Max are specifically optimized for Apple devices and therefore appeal to a certain target group.

Value for money: is Apple worth twice as much?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are currently being offered for around 350 euros, the Bose Headphones 700 for around 300 euros. Meanwhile, the Apple AirPods Max cost around 600 euros when released, a good double. The comparison is not entirely fair, because the price of headphones from Bose and Sony has fallen a little over time. The Bose originally cost 400 euros.


The AirPods Max are in a different price range than the headphones from Bose and Sony.

Image: © Apple 2020

Perhaps the AirPods Max can compete more with headphones in the 600 euro range. Here you can find the comparable Montblanc MB 01, also a luxurious noise-canceling headphone. Otherwise, this price range is reserved for audiophile listeners and professional headphones for music production. However, there is another representative of the noise-canceling over-ears in a price class higher up: The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 for 800 euros.

A test has to show whether the Apple AirPods Max are worth the money. Until then, it can be said that the Sony WH-1000XM4 offer a lot of features and a great sound. The Bose have a little fewer smart functions and the sound is not quite on the hi-fi level – but they are cheaper. You don’t make a mistake with any of the headphones.

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