Sony has released an updated version of its flagship headphones WH-1000XM5, and in this article we compare them to AirPods Max to see which is better and whether it is worth buying a $400 Sony headphone or an Apple AirPods Max at a $549 price tag.
name and design
◉ First off, AirPods Max wins when it comes to naming, and we can almost bet that you haven't read the full name of the Sony headset, and we don't really know why Sony chose this name, but Sony is known for not being good at naming their things like TVs, headphones and other special devices them, so Apple gets the naming preference.
◉ Sony WH-1000XM5, has an updated design, but AirPods Max still has a premium look. The Sony headset is characterized by a plastic structure, and perhaps this explains the price difference. While the AirPods Max are made of aluminum and come in more than one color, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones come in cream “silver” and black only.
◉ The Sony headset does not fold down like the previous version and is less portable, but Sony offers a much better option than the AirPods Max case.
◉ In terms of weight, the Sony WH-1000XM5 feels light on the head and is comfortable to wear for longer.
Features and operating functions
◉ There are swipe and touch gestures that control playback functions, similar to the previous Sony WH-1000XM4, connecting the WH-1000XM5 to an Apple device is not the same as the quick pairing method of AirPods Max. AirPods Max also supports automatic device switching, spatial audio, and other features.
◉ Both WH-1000XM5 and AirPods Max have Active Noise Canceling (ANC), Sony has enhanced this feature in this version. There are dual QN1 chips, compared to a single QN1 chip in the WH-1000XM4, and that makes a significant difference.
◉ In our testing, the AirPods Max and WH-1000XM5 performed well at blocking out ambient noise, but the Sony WH-1000XM5 performed slightly better.
◉ The WH-1000XM5 and AirPods Max also offer transparency to let you hear what's going on around you, but the transparency works better on AirPods Max.
◉ As for sound quality, the Sony WH-1000XM5 has drivers smaller than the WH-1000XM4 and a different sound profile that makes it more similar to AirPods Max. Both headphones offer depth, clarity, and low distortion at low frequencies, and the audio is optimized enough that it's hard to tell whether the AirPods Max or the WH-1000XM5 delivers better sound.
◉ The WH-1000XM5 offers up to 30 hours of battery life, which is 10 hours more than the AirPods Max, which is something that makes one of us think about it a lot. AirPods Max should last for 20 hours, but it doesn't reach that long when Active Noise Cancellation is on.
◉ The Sony headset has a physical power button, which is required to not waste battery, plus it comes with more customization options for active noise mode, gestures and voice.
If you don't like the design of AirPods Max and the set of unique features that it offers to users of Apple devices, then the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphone is worth considering as an affordable alternative.