AirPods Max and Sony WH1000XM4, which is better to buy? — 2022
Are Apple's AirPods Max or Sony WH1000XM4 better? Given that the former have entered a niche of products where those of Sony previously reigned, it is understandable that this doubt arises and therefore comparisons between the two are necessary. Although they are very different headphones in several aspects, they are also similar in others. In this article, we analyze, based on our experience, point by point, the most relevant aspects of these headphones.
Are they really comparable for price?
Let's start by talking about what could probably give for a larger debate and that is the price of the headphones. Starting the AirPods Max cost 629 euros , while the Sony WH1000XM4 were launched for 380 euros . The 250 euros difference between the two may mean a greater or lesser difference depending on the purchasing power of each one, the benefits sought or the custom that each one has when paying for headphones.
It must be taken into account that the price devaluation of Sony is greater than that of Apple, which very rarely lowers the prices of its devices and even less of headphones. Therefore, it is even possible to find offers on the Sony WH1000XM4 that place them for less money than the starting price, however, over time you will also be able to find different AirPods Max offers in establishments such as Amazon or other shopping centers, but yes, never in an Apple Store. In any case, it can be understood that both are high-end headphones, although there are differences between them that can tip the balance towards one side or the other, although we already told you that it will depend on what your priorities are to choose one or the other, since there is none that can be classified as better.
Of course, to contextualize the matter even more, you should know that none of these is prepared for the most demanding public. In other words, those sound professionals who need the highest-end headphones possible. Yes, these are high-end, but there is still one more step above them and we can find devices that cost 1,000 euros and even more.
Design and contents of the box
Although they may seem minor aspects when choosing one or the other, the truth is that the point of design can be fundamental as well. After all, they should enter your eyes and you will hardly choose to buy a product that you will wear on your head if you do not like its aesthetics. In the following sections we analyze everything related to its aesthetics, as well as that of its included accessories.
In construction materials win the AirPods Max
The aesthetics of these two pairs of headphones are very different. Judging if one is prettier than another is ultimately subjective. Those of Sony have a design that could be classified as more classic and that in turn does not differ much from previous generations of these. It is available in white or beige with construction materials in which plastic abounds. Although this material is not as aesthetic as that of the AirPods Max, the truth is that it cannot be said that they are bad materials because they are not bad plastic either, in fact they are very resistant headphones and that with the two finishes with the that counts, they make them discreet but also very elegant.
The AirPods Max, for their part, attract attention first of all for having a much broader series of colors with availability in black, white, green, blue and pink. Aluminum materials are present in all versions, making visual effects look more premium in them and that can make a significant difference from the start, since this is also paid for. Probably its most differential part is the headband, although we will talk about that and the comfort it has in the other section. There is no doubt that in the comparison of materials the clear winner is the AirPods Max, and in terms of design these are something completely different from what was available until the time of its launch. Surely, this point is something that has considerably affected the price of these being so high, and it will be up to each user if he really believes that it is worth it or not.
Another point to note is that the pads design not only does it end up being much more durable in the AirPods Max in the long run, but it is also easily interchangeable and these tips are even sold separately in the Apple Store. This is something that has to be taken into account, since on many occasions when the pads of some headphones are damaged, they practically have to be discarded, something that does not happen with Apple's AirPods Max because it is extremely easy to make that replacement of pads. Of course, at least in the first units of Apple headphones, a condensation problem has been detected that mainly affects these elements. However, they have not caused any major problem so far and in the event of a breakdown, the company would take care of replacing them at no cost.
What accessories do they include?
Beyond the packaging of each one of them and assuming that the headphones themselves come inside (it would be the last straw if they didn't) we can find other added accessories that already come as standard. The AirPods Max come quite bare In this sense, since they only bring a Lightning to USB-C cable that allows you to recharge your battery, although they do not include a power adapter.
If you want to purchase a cable with 3.5 mm Jack for AirPods Max you will have to checkout. In Apple it is sold for 39 euros. However, there are other cheaper alternatives in other stores that can also serve, although it must be taken into account that not all of them have identical internal technologies and therefore it is still recommended to use Apple's own or one of identical quality. This is something really debatable, since precisely the price of Apple headphones is not very low so that the Cupertino company does not include accessories that are present with the vast majority of headphones on the market.
The Sony WH1000XM4 come better equipped and although in their case they do not come with a power adapter for their charging cable (USB-C to USB-C), they do come with a cable with 3.5 mm jack ends that will be used to connect to equipment by other means than other than Bluetooth connectivity. It also comes with an adapter for airplanes.
As for the cases for both we find a complete accessory for the Sony in which the headphones fit perfectly and there is space for the cables, protecting them and keeping them well protected at all times, ideal for traveling and including those in a backpack or suitcase. However, for the AirPods Max, we hardly found a Smart Case that, in general, has not been very popular due to its visual appearance and the little service it provides to transport it, although there is the fact that AirPods Max won't fold completely and they only offer the logical movement that the earmuffs allow or the possibility of extending the temples to fit the head. Without a doubt, this decision by Apple has surely been the one that has been called into question the most, since it really is not a case, but simply a case that will serve so that your headphones, having no way to turn off, enter a state of maximum energy saving (in practice it is as if they were turned off). In this way, all those users who want to store these headphones in a backpack or suitcase, if they want to carry them well protected, will have to invest more money in a case where they can be stored.
Headphone comfort and portability
To tell the truth, this question is also somewhat subjective. However, we have based ourselves both on our own criteria and on that of the majority of user reviews that we have been able to read. The first thing to note is how well the AirPods Max breathe thanks to the mesh that it has on its headband, which adjusts to the head with great ease and also gives a feeling of lightness that Sony's do not provide, despite the fact that they do not sweat badly either. When the headphones have been used for many hours, the AirPods Max end up being more comfortable.
However, there is another point to highlight, such as the the earmuffs and it is that the AirPods Max weigh a lot in this sense. Understand that a lot as something relative, since you will not notice that your head goes to one side with them on, but if we compare its weight with that of other headphones such as Sony and add the lightness of its headband, we have a strange sensation that without being unpleasant, if it is noticeable in the first minutes of use.
Regarding the sound of the headphones
We are now going to comment on sections that are really very relevant because, after all, they are the reason for the existence of the headphones. In the following points, we will tell you everything we think you should know about the audio and functions offered by headphones.
Settings available on AirPods Max and Sony
Let's start with something controversial, but with an explanation: the AirPods Max do not have a manual equalizer . What does this mean? Well, basically we do not have any application or parameter in its settings that allows us to modulate the sound to our liking. However, it has an intelligent system in which, thanks to the two H1 chips it has, it is capable of detecting the situation in which you find yourself, the type of sound that is playing and carrying out a series of automatic readjustments in the background to regulate the sound without you noticing. It must be said that it works quite well, although for those who like to tinker more with this type of adjustment, it is something to take into account.
The Sony WH1000XM4 have a complete application available on iOS and Android that allows you to make a multitude of adjustments. The equalizer is just one of them, but within the app we can find options to regulate the ambient sound and noise cancellation, open an ear detection system that improves quality while listening to music, activate adaptive sound modes that even They let you know if you are on the street and there is a noise nearby (a car, for example). And it even allows you to activate or deactivate the voice announcement that tells you what sound mode you are in, if the headphones have been connected or the battery level.
Although the absence of adjustments in the AirPods Max is perfectly covered by the automations created by Apple, the truth is that at this point Sony offers a range of customization possibilities that are much more attractive.
Controls on the headphones
Fortunately, both devices have sound control and playback modes from the headphones themselves. Although all the settings that can be managed from here can be changed from the device on which it is being played, there is no doubt that it is more interesting to have them at your fingertips without having to go to the mobile, computer or tablet that you have. is being used.
The Sony have on the one hand two buttons on their left earphone, one of them is used to turn the headphones on and off, as well as open the optimizer or know what battery level is left through a voiceover. The other allows you to select between noise cancellation, ambient sound or disable both functions. In the other earpiece they have touch playback controls that work through gestures, either to increase or decrease the volume or to pause or advance playback. They also have an interesting function that means that if you put your hand completely on the right earphone, playback continues but allows you to hear the ambient sound amplified (ideal if they are talking to you and you don't want to pause playback).
The AirPods Max, for their part, have a control system with buttons identical to that of the Apple Watch, with a digital crown that will serve to raise and lower volume and a button with which to switch between noise cancellation modes, ambient sound and functions deactivated. It does not have playback controls as such, although it does have an intelligent detection system that makes if you take off a headset it will pause playback and that if you remove both, it stops completely, something that already happens in the small AirPods and has been transferred to these headband headphones.
Sound quality, complex to decipher
This section is not only the most relevant in the end in the comparison of headphones, but it is also the most complicated to analyze in a text, so we also attach a video comparison that we made on our YouTube channel. However, we will give our own conclusion obtained in this writing about the headphones.
We must start from the idea that none of these options is intended for the most audiophile users looking for perfect sound. Although both Sony and Apple headphones offer very good quality, neither reaches the perfection that many would like and that can be obtained with other brands whose products even reach four figures in price.
As for the sounds serious It can be seen that the Sony option offers much more consistent sounds, but when it comes to precision Apple's are the ones that offer something closer to the aforementioned perfection. The latter does not occur when talking about sounds low , where the AirPods Max move away from that perfection while Sony approaches, but without reaching a level that makes it shine especially.
In any case, the sound quality in both is beyond any doubt in the sense of finding rare things such as distortions or canned sounds. In the case of the Sony we find an audio that is compressed to a high resolution and that is based, like the AirPods Max, on a series of intelligent analyzes carried out in real time to offer a much more faithful sound.
Very even noise cancellation
This functionality is one of the most acclaimed in recent times, since it can offer the possibility of isolating ourselves while listening to content without interruptions. While it is ideal for noisy environments such as offices and even homes, it can be useful on the street to some extent. Caution should always be exercised around cars and other street obstacles, but other than that, it's an absolutely wonderful feature and one that no high-end headset should be without.
Both have cancellation active , which means that beyond having a passive cancellation that is given by the isolation offered by the earmuffs, they also have technology that prevents noise from passing through if desired. This is achieved through a complex mechanism of microphones and software settings that prevent it from sneaking into your ears. In both headphones we find a very good noise cancellation and although it is true that Sony has a more extensive experience in this field, Apple has managed to do things very well in its AirPods Max (something that it already did in the in-ear 'Pro' model ).
Frankly, we have had a hard time deciding on one or the other cancellation. Tests in different environments leave us with similar sensations and we could say that, together with the also popular Bose 700, they are the headphones with best noise cancellation on the market.
Important differences in ambient sound
At this point we do find more than reasonable differences. In our opinion, the AirPods Max win the battle in this case . All this is motivated by how well it has been possible to have a way in which you continue to listen to what you have around you, thus discriminating perhaps unnecessary noises and without losing the prominence of the music or content that is being played. The ambient mode especially stands out when you are talking to someone who is not necessarily next to you, since you can hear them very clearly in this mode and our own voice also stands out in such a way that we do not have to raise our voice even if we continue listening to music. .
Sony's ambient mode also has a very high level, even more so if we add the adaptive control mode that can be activated in the application. It is possible select ambient mode level that is desired or whether or not we want to highlight our voice in this modality. However they tend to distort very loud ambient sounds or make vocals sound slightly canned. However, it is not something worrisome either or that makes the headphones lose the entire headphones in this mode, but compared to the AirPods Max it has given us the feeling that they are behind.
Why choose the Sony or the AirPods?
The first thing to say is that there are many other headphones from other manufacturers that could perfectly meet your needs, although since we are comparing these two, we must say that both can be ideal for practically anyone. If you want a conclusion to what is written in this article, we leave you the following table in which we score the highlights, with 0 being the lowest score and 10 the highest.
|pulled apart||AirPods Max||Sony WH1000XM4|
|Intelligent sound analysis||9||8|
|Value for money||7||8.5|
|Media final||7.83 (8)||8.06 (8)|
In any case, we believe that in the end this table of scores is purely indicative , since aspects as different and subjective as design or sound quality are put on the same level. Therefore, the final conclusion is that each one must assess which are the most relevant points in their case.