Sony WH-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Max: best bang for your buck?

Two of the largest competitors in the current market for noise-canceling headphones are Sony WH-1000XM5’s and Apple’s AirPod Max’s. The headphones perform at a close race, both offering features that are extremely similar. Thus, it’s crucial to know which headphones will work best for the user according to their most important checkpoints. 


Right off the bat, the AirPod Max’s price tag is substantially more, selling at $550. On the other hand, the Sony XM5’ falls at a lower price, selling for $350. 

The culprit for the Airpod Max’s higher price is the H1 chips which are in charge of the highlighting factors that make the AirPod Max’s competitive on the market, such as noise-cancellation, spatial tracking, and device switching. 

“For any potential buyers, I would say, if you have the money, go for it because they’re kind of pricey, but they’re definitely worth it,” said Carlos Florencio.


Many people are opting for the minimalistic look which both the Sony XM5 and AirPods Max fit. 

“The main reason that attracted me to buy the headphones was the appearance because they looked very sophisticated,” said Carlos Florencio.

The Apple AirPod Max’s are designed to alleviate on-head pressure. They do so through the canopy that spans across the headband. There are also aluminum ear cups that balance the pressure. In comparison to the XM5’s, the AirPod Max’s weigh more at 385g, whereas Sony’s is 250g. 

“The aluminum  build of the Max with the comfortable headband almost makes it feel like it isn’t as heavy as it is,” said Keyon Shi.

Although the AirPod Max’s weighs more, the design of the headphones is weight-distributing, enabling less on-head pressure. 

The Sony XM5’s have ear pads that are made out of memory foam and havehas a plastic build, thus it weighsweighing less than the AirPod Max’s. 

As for the controls, the Sony XM5’s use a touchpad on the right pad and buttons on the left pad. The AirPod Max’s uses a Digital Crown on the right pad that controls the volume and summons Siri. There’s also the Noise Control Button to access the noise- cancelingcancelling and transparency modes. 

Pros and Cons 

The AirPod Max’s are not as compatible when it comes to brands outside of Apple. There are various features that non-Apple users miss out on, such as auto-pause, firmware updates, spatial audio, etc. This puts Sony at the forefront since the XM5’s are compatible with any operating system. 

“I mostly use Apple products,” said Krishna Thapar. Most users who buy the AirPod Max’s are already familiar with Apple products, making the Max’s a better option for them. 

Regarding battery life, the Sony XM5’s take the lead. They have a 30-hour battery life with a quick- charging of 10 minutes, which provides 5 hour playback. The Apple AirPod Max’s has a battery life of up to 20 hours and with five minutes of charging time, you’ll get 1.5 hours of playback. 

The Sony XM5’s also have an analog feature and Bluetooth multipoin,t which the Apple Airpod Max’s lack. Instead, the AirPod Max’s use a digital lightning connection, which you need to buy a cable for, as well as an adapter, costing an extra $44. 

For both of the headphones, some features users would like to see in the future are the addition of folding hinges and water resistance. 

Both the Sony and Apple headphones are “closed-back.” 

Which is the Best Fit for You?

Thus, if you’re an Apple user who prioritizes noise-cancellation features and isn’t bothered by the higher price tag, you should go with the AirPod Max’s.“My favorite feature would be the noise cancellation part, you really can’t hear anything, it encloses all the audio and it sounds really nice,” said Carlos Florencio.

If you’re a user who wants long battery-lasting headphones that are more customizable, you should purchase the Sony XM5’s.“In the end, in terms of wireless headphones, I think the price is well deserved for the quality we get,” said Keyon Shi. 

Areebah Choudhury

Hi, I’m Areebah! I’ve always been intrigued by the workings of technology and so I’ve taken steps into learning more about programming through college classes, summer programs, etc. That interest has inspired me to pursue a career in software engineering. I’d like to utilize journalism as a tool to spread up-and-coming advancements in technology. Besides writing, I also enjoy crocheting, reading, and gardening.