AirPods Max vs Sony XM4 comparison – which one should you get?

YouTube channel MaxTech posted a new video in which they compared AirPods Max vs Sony XM4 (WH-1000XM4) headphones. Both of them claim to have an industry-leading sound quality and top-notch noise cancellation.

In this video, MaxTech ran a bunch of tests to determine which one of those headphones are worth the money.

AirPods Max vs Sony XM4

AirPods Max vs Sony XM4 – which one is better

In the video posted by MaxTech, they ran different tests like microphone quality, ambient and transparency modes, active noise cancellation, latency for gaming, and much more.

Case and Battery Life

For starters, the case for the AirPods Max makes the headphones bump with each other and is ‘inconvenient’. Moreover, there is no way to shut off the AirPods unless or until you put them back in the case, or users could wait approximately 2 hours for them to shut off on their own.

For Sony’s XM4, it is a nice hard case that offers protection and is convenient to carry. After opening it up, there are various slots for cables, adapters, and the headphones themselves.

As for battery life, XM4 are rated for 30 hours with active noise cancellation whereas AirPods Max last for 20 hours.

Design & Comfort

AirPods Max are actually heavier than XM4. AirPods Max weigh 0.85 lbs, however, while XM4 weigh 0.55 lbs. As for the comfort level, AirPods Max uses ‘a very interesting net kind of design for the headband’. There is nothing on the net so when a user puts them on, they can barely feel a thing. There is substantial weight of the ear cups and the cushions are quite soft.

Sony XM4 are lightweight but the headband is quite noticeable when a user wears them and the cushions are not as soft as AirPods Max’s. After about 2-3 hours they start to produce pressure and it can cause pain.

AirPods Max vs Sony XM4

Build Quality Comparison

As for the build quality, XM4 are completely made out of plastic which is good for being lightweight but it gives off an average look rather than a premium look. The headphones can be folded to make them compact, which makes them easier to carry around in a bag or backpack. The plastic body along with rubberized coating prevents them from getting scratches and being worn out.

AirPods Max are built with all aluminum and stainless steel with texturized rubber. Even with the design being super awesome, there is a flaw and that is it can not be folded inwards, they can only be twisted which takes up a lot of room. The aluminum coating means that scratches can get on there easily compared to the XM4. Most importantly, the headband net, if not taken care of, can be scratched or ripped which would basically ruin the whole look.

Active Noise Cancellation Test

MaxTech started the noise cancellation test with the XM4. Most of the noise was gone but he could hear some of the white noise and some of the high frequencies were still there. Upon hearing the voice of his crewmate, he could hear the voice in high frequency and all the low end was gone. 

After toggling AirPods Max’s noise cancellation, everything was much quieter and the voice sounded natural rather than nasally. 

Upon hearing some construction-like noises, modulation of sound, and the pulsing of the compressor could be heard. Whereas the AirPods Max kicked it down a notch and was able to cancel out noise much better.

Ambient & Transparency Mode

The test was started with the XM4 and after enabling Ambient Mode and turning off Focus on Voice, the sounds coming from the room ‘sounded higher frequency, a little but digital but not too bad. The voice cancellation removes the background voice and the voice of a person ‘sounds more nasally’.

For AirPods Max, after toggling the Transparency Mode everything sounds natural and real with a little bit higher voice. The Transparency Mode on AirPods Max is ‘worlds away from Sonys’.

Sound Quality

MaxTech listened to some different genres on both headphones to see which had better sound quality. Started off with a typical song, the results were very interesting. The XM4 produce more bass and there is more deep lower base and everything sounds blended. For AirPods Max, there was little bass but there was a separation in instruments used and it sounded much better.

After that, he listened to some piano and low notes. With the XM4, it felt like the voice is right around the crown of the head along with a little bit of separation and issues with instruments moving around. With AirPods Max, it felt like the sound stage was much wider and the 2 speakers were far off from the user which produced a much better sound.

Moving on, MaxTech tested rock music and Hi-Fi uncompressed Mozart songs. AirPods Max managed to come out on top listening to both genres. AirPods Max brought out the sound clearer and the separation between instruments was much better compared to XM4.


If someone is in the market looking for secure headphones with good active noise cancellation, or music quality comes second, or the music preference is EDM or the likes, the Sony XM4 is a much good option.

If someone cares about convenience and wants to explore music quality on the next level, then they should definitely go for the AirPods Max.

The AirPods Max are available on sale for $549, whereas the Sony XM4 are available for $278.

You can watch the full video by MaxTech below:

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About the Author

Usman has been playing games for as long as he can remember. He is an editor at iThinkDifferent and writes about games, Apple news, hardware, productivity guides, and more. When not writing for iTD, Usman loves to play competitive Team Fortress 2, spends time honing his football skills, and watches superhero movies.

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