AirPods Max, Bose 700 or Sony XM4? Testing the best noise-canceling headphones
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AirPods Max, Bose 700 or Sony XM4? Testing the best noise-canceling headphones

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So you're looking for a pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones. Well, you've come to the right place. You might be choosing between something like the air pods Max, maybe you're looking at the Sony wh 1,000x Mark fours, or it could be the Bose noise canceling 700 I've been using all three headphones for several weeks. And I'm here to help you make that decision and work out which one is right for you. [MUSIC] Hey there my name is Lexy and I love testing out headphones. I had so much fun making this video, cuz I gotta listen to a lot of music. Now I'm going to cover up everything about these three headphones, from sound quality to active noise cancellation, transparency mode or ambient sound mode, as well as connectivity, battery life, overall performance and poor quality. So let's get started. Your first decision is likely to do with price The airport's Max are the most expensive of the bunch at $550. The Sony's are the cheapest generally of the bunch at around $350 and the Bose 700 are in the middle at around $375. Now, of course those are just the retail prices. If you wanna find out the most up to date pricing, you can check out the links in the description below. Let's take a look at what's in each of the headphones boxes. For Bose 700 you get a hard carrying case, a 2.5 to 3.5 millimeter audio cable and a USBC cable for charging. With the Sony WH-1000X Mark fours you get a hard case A 3.5 millimetre audio cable, a USB C cable for charging and a headphone adapter for using on an aeroplane. With the Air Force Max, you get a smart case, a lightning cable for charging. And that's it. There's no audio cable included in the box Andy If you do want to buy that for listening to a wired audio source, you're going to have to fork out another $35. At least on top of $550. You've spent on a pair of headphones that doesn't even come with a protective case. Now I thought look, there's a great way to get around this because I don't want to spend another 35 plus dollars. I'm going to try and use that 3.5 to lightning little adapter jack. Great. I've solved the problem. Doesn't work. Don't buy it. It's not gonna work. [MUSIC] Sound quality is arguably the most important part of any headphone. And I've listened to a range of music across different genres from different sources to help give you an idea of what these actually sound like and the whole listening experience. Let's start with the Bose seven hundreds. Now these ones when I first put them on my ears I really noticed that the bass was nice, deep and really rich, and it was a lovely listening experience on my favorite playlist. The sound profile was a little bit more neutral overall compared to say the Sony's for example. But I really enjoyed that and I found that like the whole sound profile and the soundstage. Was quite tight, so I definitely didn't feel like anything was getting lost. There was no muddiness and I just really enjoyed listening to these particular headphones. Now the Bose also come with an app for iOS and Android that lets you adjust the equalizer. So tooth Does the Sony. So that basically means that you'll be able to adjust the sound profile if you don't like the defaults. You can do that in the app. Now the sound profile on the Sonys, these ones for my ears are the most warm out of all of these three headphones. The bass is booming, and I just really loved listening to these as well. What I would say is that the sound on the Sony's, to me it sounds a little bit weird to say this, but it sounds for most intimate and so I really felt like I was up close and personal with my music. When I was listening into the Sony's. It was just vibrant and exciting to listen to a range of different tracks. The Sony's also come with a digital sound enhancement engine. That's basically to give a little bit of boost to sounds that are coming from streaming app society like Spotify, or Apple Music. Now if you are an apple music lover, I definitely think that the airport's Macs are going to sound the Best Overall I noticed when I was listening to say, Spotify and Apple Music. On an iOS device I could feel and hear the difference on the airport max. Now overall, this being the most expensive of the three headphones, they definitely have to meet the widest soundstage. But the bass is not as punchy straight off the bat, but the mids and the troubles are super well defined. I really found when I was listening to vocals, And strings especially on the air pods max by sounded beautiful, so clean and so clear and also when you crank the volume up really high, there's really no distortion at all which is fantastic. If you really like To pump your music. Now the AirPods Max comes with what's called an adaptive equalizer. Now this is automatically changing the sound properties of the headphones, depending on a number of different variables like how the headphones fit on your head, but there isn't a way to universally control it manually. So if you do wanna change the sound profile, you're gonna have to do that either in an app like Spotify through that equalizer. Or if you're listening on Apple Music for example, in your IOS settings, you can change the equalizer to now let's talk about active noise cancellation and transparency mode or ambient sound mode. So, these three headphones are all excellent at blocking out the sounds of the external world. Through active noise cancellation and all three definitely pass the someone comes up behind you tries to offer you a cup of tea and you get the living daylights scared out of you because you didn't hear them test. But because I haven't been able to travel and use them in a situation where active noise cancellation is arguably the most crucial part of the listening experience which is on an aeroplane. I've been able to recreate, white noise situation at home, with a noisy overhead heating unit. I've tested all three listening to both music playing at the time, and not having music playing at the time. And they've all done an excellent job. Now, I think to my ears. The best noise canceling experience was from the AirPods Max. This does not surprise me because they're the most expensive headphones and also have the most microphones dedicated to noise canceling. The bows and the Sony were also excellent. And honestly if I hadn't listened to the AirPods Max with the ANC turned on. These would be absolutely top of their class and they really are. I think the bows are probably a little bit better at looking at those kind of lower frequencies. But overall, the kind of most seamless performance for me was from the air pods max. Now as for transparency mode or ambient sound mode, this mode actually pipes in sounds of the external world to give you some more awareness of your surroundings. So you don't, walk into traffic get hit by a car or you can hear things like a screaming baby when you're jamming out to your tunes because that's pretty important. Now again, for my ears, the airport's max actually did the best job overall with transparency mode. It is the most natural sounding to my ears and really if you've used any other pair of Apple headphones such as the airport's pro It's a very similar experience with the air pods max Apple just does a really good job of transparency mode. Again, the other two are really good at the ambient sound modes, but it just doesn't sound as natural and as organic. It just does sound a little bit more like microphones are compensating and trying to pipe in some sound. Whereas with the airport's Max, I generally feel like I can have a conversation with you super easily. I can hear everything that's going on here my own voice. I'm not shouting things like that. But I really do appreciate that the Sony's do have an actual slider where you can change the level of the ambient sound mode coming in. So you can either make it super loud if you're in a situation where you really need to have high sensitivity to what's going on around you. Or it can be very low, so you can only hear just some voices, and things come through. The Bose's on the other hand have an adjustable noise cancellation setting. So, it can be anywhere from one to ten, which I personally love. Having an adjustable noise cancellation setting. The other two it's either only on or off [MUSIC] Now let's talk about the comfort, the design and the controls of all three headphones. Starting off with the air pods max. Now these headphones look honestly, they're heavy. I've been using them for over three months now. When I first took them out of the box and put them on my head, I just thought well, they're just too heavy. Maybe I can get used to them. It's been three plus months now and I'm still not used to the weight of these headphones. They're a lot heavier than the The other two and that's to do with their construction. There is the stainless steel telescopic arms. There's the aluminium or aluminum ear cups and a mesh headband that's used to distribute the weight a little bit better across your head. Now, yes, I think the mesh bat headband really does make a difference overall, but if you're at all sensitive to any sort of weight on your head or any kind of clamping force The airports max might be a little bit too heavy for you. The airports max do have some other redeeming features especially around the cops. They are the deepest and the biggest of all of the three headphones. And I really like that especially if you have larger ears or someone One who's found that your ears generally press up against other noise cancelling headphones, you probably won't have that issue with the AirPod Max. The only other problem with AirPod Max though is you see these cups that come off like this. Yeah, that's great, but If you choose a lighter color like me, because this was the only option available when I ordered them, they're gonna get pretty dirty. I wear makeup and it just gets lots of dirt and grime. So I recommend either getting dark hair with the dark cups or giving them a bit of a clean but fortunately you can take them off like so and clean them pretty easily. Now the births have been hundreds have a plastic construction on the cops As well as nice foam padded ear cups and a nice padded headband like so now this actual headband itself is stainless steel so it is a little bit heavier even though overall it's the same weight as the Sony's and much much lighter than the air pods max which I really appreciate now, overall these are super comfortable to wear but there is a massive design false If you have long hair like me, and you like to take off your headphones and rest them on your neck like this when you don't have your hair tied up. Well let me just tell you I've lost a lot of hair. And I've had to go to some extreme measures to get my head untangled from these headphones. So, definitely do be careful if you have long hair. And you wear these. Now, fortunately Sony does not have the problem of your hair getting caught in these. The design is a little bit more simple, there isn't a headband, that's kind of a different design to the rest of the headphones themselves. Again, it is a plastic construction with nice padded Ear cups and a padded headband like so. To me, these ones actually felt the lightest and the most comfortable to wear all day, which I really appreciated. And when it did come to an extended listening session And I definitely felt like I was just wanting to pick up the Sony's and put them on my head more often than the other two. They were just much more comfortable overall, both the Bose and the Sony come with physical buttons and touch panels so the buttons are for powering on and off the headphone, as well as switching between active noise cancellation your other modes and activating your voice assistant. Perhaps If you want to do that, I found the touch panels were both really responsive on both. I think for me the design of the Sony's was just a little bit better overall because that entire front touch panel on the cup, you can actually use that entire surface and control the headphone whereas the Bose I found that I was just rubbing up against the actual where the headband. Meets the ear cup a little bit much. It was just wasn't as easy for me to get to know them as it was the Sony's now the airports max do not have touch panels. They have simply two buttons. You can either use the digital crown to rotate through things like change the volume Answer calls and so on switch between tracks and one button to activate noise cancellation and transparency mode. Now at first I thought Look, this is not as going to be as flexible as other over ear headphones just because I like having more buttons and things to press and things to tweak. But actually I think in this case, the simplicity was actually a really good part about the air pods max for me. It didn't take me very long at all to learn which button did what. Whereas the other two, there's just a little bit more muscle memory involved. Again, your mileage may vary. I just found that the simplicity of the air pods max Was nice. I want you to actually hear the microphone from h, and say what you think. Or is and see 700 testing on the iPhone 12 Pro. Take a listen to the microphone and see which one you like. Those time on Android, take a listen to how the microphone sounds, and the camera app recording in pro video mode. Sony WH 1,000x Mark four little Sony have an easier name to say I don't know. Microphone sample in the iPhone 12 Pro recording on the Sony on Android This is the note 20 Ultra taking a listen to the microphone sample efforts max recording on the iPhone 12 Pro take a listen and see what the microphone sounds like. And the airport's max on Android. It's kind of funny, when I listened to the samples back I've definitely noticed that airports Mac sounds the best when I'm using the camera app to record but for call quality itself, there is a difference and for that one the Bose definitely sound. Sound better. So it's just really interesting how they vary and I hope this helps you decide which one's gonna be best for your application. So now you've heard the samples from all three on Android and IOS. I'm really curious to know what you think and which one you prefer the most. So make sure you leave me a comment down below. [MUSIC] As for the features of all of these three headphones, they are quite different and there are a few things to keep in mind. Starting with, The Bose seven hundreds. Now you have a choice of voice assistant depending on what platform you're on Google Assistant, the Siri voice assistant if you're on iOS or an always on Amazon assistant, I'm not going to say it because again don't want to start your voice assistant off. Now those also have a specific button that you can program and press To activate an ambient sound mode, so as you speak, you're not going to be talking over your music. It's going to duck your music and go into that sound profile so you can have a normal and natural conversation. And as for codecs, the Bose is using SBC and AC codecs. The Sony also use the same three voices instance as the Bose depending on the platform that you're on. It also has a speak to chat features. So as soon as you start talking the headphones will detect that pause your music and turn into ambient sound mode which is very useful so you don't physically have to press a button if you don't want to. The only problem is it It is foiled by singing along to music. So if you do that and you'd like to jammer out to your tunes and sing along to them, you're probably going to want to turn that off, because otherwise, you'll be singing and all of a sudden, the music will stop and it's just a little bit sad, weird and lonely. So turn that off. The other thing that the Sony has, that is quite useful, is a mode where you can actually, put them on your head, and then cover the right ear cup. Automatically go into the ambient sound mode so you can have a natural discussion without necessarily needing to turn on the speak to chat. There is also an ambient sound mode that can actually automatically determine your location if you're using the headphones app on iOS or Android and change it from noise cancellation if you're say in an office or stationary and working Or an ambient sound mode to let in the outside world if you're commuting or walking around the codecs it uses, SBC AC, and LD AC. There is also a 360 audio mode on the Sony's although it is only available in around four apps at the moment, including title The airport Mac's as you might expect only have one voice assistant that you can use them with on iOS, which is Siri. You can also though get Siri to have the Hey, functionality so it will actually automatically Quickly activate and be always listening for your voice to speak command. You can also get it to read messages aloud in your ear as well. The AirPod Max using AAC and the SBC codec. Now the spatial audio feature on the AirPod Max is something that we first saw on iOS 14 with the AirPod Pro. It's using accelerometers and gyroscopes in both the headphones and the iOS device. You're listening on. To basically turn compatible movies and TV shows into a virtual surround sound experience. It sounds really nice on the airport's max. And it's a really cool experience but it is only available on certain apps at the moment such as HBO Max and it's only good for TVs and movies. But if you spend a lot of time consuming that kind of content, then you might wanna consider the airport's max. [MUSIC] As the connectivity, all three headphones were really good across testing a number of different devices, such as a computer or a phone or a tablet. V bars and the Sony now have multi device pairing so you can pair up to to, say a phone or a tablet or a phone and a laptop like I like to do in the workday, and you can have both devices connected simultaneously which is super useful. The airport's Macs have quick device switching. However you do need to be on iOS or a Mac with Big Sur and above. Be signed into the same Apple ID on all those devices to be able to switch seamlessly between the two. It works for me I'd say like 80 to 85% of the time and the rest of the time I do have to double check which one that I'm actually connected to. But the Airpod Max do you have really really rock solid connectivity when it you are on iOS, And also, the H1 chips. Make sure that connection when you first establish it with a phone, for example, you get that nice pop up and it does it every single time thereafter. The Bose and Sony are also really good at connecting to these devices, but you don't get that nice visual interface and it's just an extra step of having to go through the app to set it up, rather than just seamlessly being able to do it on the Apple's max with an iOS device. [MUSIC] All three headphones have really good and really strong battery life. Now the manufacturer claims of the Bose in the airport is around 20 hours. I've done my own tests on all of them. The airport's max gave me around 20 hours. 20 minutes of listening time at around 50% volume and active noise cancellation turned on the Bose got me a little closer to 21 hours actually, which was pretty impressive. But the Sony's look these ones were the best overall in terms of battery life. Manufacturer claim is 30 hours and I've pretty much met that and got a little bit extra out of them so I was really impressed. The fact that these with the lightest on my head and also gave me the longest listening time between charges was pretty impressed. Pressive. One other thing to keep in mind about battery life is that the Bose and the Sony you can use in a passive mode with wired listening if your battery is dead. The AirPods Max unfortunately don't have any kind of passive mode. So when the battery goes even if you've got that $35 cable, you're out of luck. You need to give them a recharge. Fortunately all three also have, a fast recharge option, that gives you just a little bit of extra juice, in say a 10 or 15 minute period, overall the Sony's, just gave me a little bit more quickly, than the other two. [MUSIC] So now you know everything about these three headphones. It's the hard part of the video. When I have to make a decision and you also need to make a choice about which ones that you like the most if you are making the buying decision or maybe you already have one of these pairs and you're like, I hope she chooses the one that I bought. Well let me tell you all three are fantastic. And I loved using all of them, as I said, straight off the top of the video. But I really do want to make kind of a Frankenstein's monster headphone that incorporates the best part of all three now obviously can't do that but I will give you some guidelines on which ones I think are the best for certain applications for the best sound and calls if those two things are very important to you I would choose the Bose 700, I really liked the sound profile the bass was deep and rich and the call quality was excellent. But the best sound for the price 100% is this Sony's warm and just like a big warm hug when you're listening to your music, it gives you the goosebumps when you're listening to your favorite tunes. I loved listening to these. And you honestly can't beat the price, especially because they're usually a little bit cheaper than the retail price of $350. For the best noise cancellation and transparency mode I'm gonna choose the AirPods. Max. I also think that these are probably the best choice. If you have an iPhone and you don't mind. Heavier headphone. They are an incredibly rich and rewarding listening experience. And the transparency mode, as I mentioned, is the most natural overall, but for me, it's hard to get past that weight. They're just too heavy for me. And you're probably thinking Lexi, you got to choose one, right? You gotta choose one and help me out. So For all encompassing all of those categories price, battery life comfort, sound quality. I'm going to choose the Sony wh 1,000x Mark fours. These ones were just a joy to listen to very comfortable to where they work well across Android and iOS. Plus the sound is warm, rich and inviting Thanks so much for watching. I hope this has been super helpful for you in working out which headphone is the right one for you. Make sure to hit that like button. And subscribe if you wanna catch up with lots more headphones and audio content here on CNET. And if you have any more questions about each of these headphones, you can hit me up in the comments or on your favorite social media platform. I'll see you next time.

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