Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max 2024: Review and Specs

With the release of the WH1000-XM5 by Sony, another pair of headphones that try to be the best active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones joins the race. We know that the older Sony WH-1000XM4 can compete with the Apple AirPods Max, but can the newer Sony WH-1000XM5 do the same? We put the Sony WH-1000XM5 vs AirPods Max up against each other to see which one is the best ANC workhorse headset.

A lot of things about the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Apple AirPods Max are the same here. On both sets of headphones, there are soft ear pads and smooth telescoping headband arms that let you change how they fit. Both sets of headphones can also be turned so that they lay flat, but despite having simple designs, neither set has hinges that allow it to fold up.

Price and availability

The more expensive choice here is the Apple AirPods, which cost £549, $549, or AU$899. Deals come and go, but if you keep an eye on our page for the best headphones deals, you never know what you might find. The Sony WH-1000XM5 are much less expensive. They cost £380, $399, or AU$550 when they first came out, but the price tends to go down around Prime Day and Black Friday.

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Comparison Table

Sony WH-1000XM5AirPods Max
ColorsBlack, SilverSilver, Space Grey, Red, Blue, Green
3.5mm headphone jack?YesNo
Special featuresANC, Sony 360 Reality Audio, Speak to Cha, Amazon Alexa, Google AssistantANC, spatial audio, audio sharing, Siri
Battery life30 hours20 hours
Weight8.8 ounces13.6 ounces

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Design

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs Airpods Max

The WH-1000XM5 are very different from their award-winning predecessors, the WH-1000XM4. Their radical makeover includes a “noiseless design” (old joints and hinges have been taken out to make a smooth look) and plastic made from recycled car parts that is good for the environment. We can’t complain about their accuracy or comfort.

Still, the Sonys look and feel almost cheap compared to the much more expensive Apple AirPods Max, which have ear cups made of a single piece of anodized aluminium and a stainless steel headband that connects them. Memory-foam cushions between the cups and your head make it easy for even the biggest ears to fit inside, making a very good seal.

Apple’s bold design may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you give someone a pair of AirPods Max, they will think they cost a lot more than the Sony XM5.

Because Apple uses high-quality materials, the AirPods Max are much heavier than most wireless headphones. With a weight of 385g, they are 135g heavier than the Sonys. But because of how well they spread out the weight, they don’t feel heavy on the head.

The Sony WH-1000XM5, like the XM4, is controlled by touch gestures on the right ear cup. You can play/pause, change the volume, and go to the next track by tapping and swiping. Everything works great.

Apple, on the other hand, has resisted the urge to add touch controls to the AirPods Max. Instead, it has physical controls, like a button to switch between noise-cancelling modes and a volume dial that looks like the digital crown on the Apple Watch. The second option is elegant, but it’s too easy to knock it when adjusting the headphones.

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Performance

Both the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Apple AirPods Max are great headphones in terms of sound quality. You won’t be disappointed by the sound quality no matter what you’re listening to, because the headphones are great for all kinds of music.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that neither has stronger qualities. When I listened to Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5” on the Sony WH-1000XM5, the layering made the bass sound more powerful and kept the other instruments clear. The AirPods Max, on the other hand, seemed to give slightly fuller vocals, even though the rapper changed the tone of his voice throughout the song.

In the companion app for the Sony WH-1000XM5, you can manually change the equaliser, but you can’t do that with the AirPods Max. They do, however, have a feature called “Adaptive EQ” that can check how well the earcups fit and seal and then adjust the sound to fit.

Spatial Audio is one of the best features of AirPods Max. It lets you listen to music and videos in a 3D, immersive way. There is a feature on the Sony WH-1000XM5 called 360 Reality Audio, but it only works with certain streaming services.

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Active noise cancellation

Both the AirPods Max and the Sony WH-1000XM5 are great when it comes to cancelling out noise. Both headphones almost completely blocked out the sounds of birds, sirens, and noisy cars coming from my balcony.

They also turned loud construction sites and busy grocery stores into a low hum that let me get lost in my music. When it was time to hear what was going on outside, the AirPods Max’s Transparency mode was just a little bit louder and clearer than Sony’s ambient noise feature. But when I went for a walk, both helped me stay aware of my surroundings.

Both of these headphones are great for noise cancellation and ambient sound, but only the WH-1000XM5 can switch between the two on the fly. Adaptive Sound Control is one of the best things about the XM5. It uses your phone’s sensors and location information to switch between noise cancellation and natural sound based on where you are and what you’re doing.

For example, when I stood still on the train, the headphones would switch to ANC mode. When I walked out of the station, they would automatically switch to ambient sound mode. Sony’s headphones also have a very useful feature called “Speak-to-Chat,” which stops the music when you start talking.

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Sound Quality

Very good, as you’d expect from the top models of two well-known brands. The Sony XM5 has a great sound that is easy to listen to. The XM4 was our favourite sounding pair of headphones at this price, but the XM5 is a huge improvement.

Their music has a sound that is more open and clear. The bass notes are played with a new level of accuracy, and the amount of detail these cans bring out is amazing. Dynamic shifts are done well, and they have a great sense of when to do things.

The AirPods Max are truly unique. Even the Sonys can’t match their clarity and energy, and they sound more interesting and real than the Sonys. They are easier to move around in and even more precise and exciting. Both in terms of sound and build quality, they feel like a big step up. Movie performance is also very good, especially when it comes to virtual surround sound and spatial audio. The presentation as a whole is very clear, open, and convincing.

Still, in terms of sound quality, the AirPods Max are worth every penny more than the Sonys. However, it should be noted that high-end competitors like the Mark Levinson No.5909, Focal Bathys, and Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are just as good as the Apples.

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs AirPods Max Battery life

Sony WH1000-XM5 vs Airpods Max

No competition here the Sony WH-1000XM5 can last up to 30 hours with ANC activated, while AirPods Max are rated for just 20 hours of playback. Without ANC, the Sony WH-1000XM5 can last up to 40 hours.

Sony’s headphones recharge faster too. Just three minutes of charging an empty pair will grant three hours of listening time. The AirPods Max, meanwhile, get 1.5 hours of playback from a 5-minute charge. Might this have something to do with the Sony’s charging via USB-C and the AirPods Max charging via Lightning?

Also, oddly, the AirPods Max don’t have a power button. Instead, magnets in the included Smart Case initiate a low-power mode than effectively preserves battery when the headset isn’t in use. Most of the best AirPods Max cases include these magnets as well.

Sony WH1000-XM5 Pros and Cons


  • Excellent noise-cancellation
  • Wonderful sounding performance
  • Smart ambient features
  • An app you’ll actually want to use


  • New design is less portable
  • Still no water resistance
  • More expensive than previous models

AirPods Max Pros and Cons


  • Superb audio and noise-cancelling
  • Cinematic spatial audio
  • Exceptional build quality


  • Near-pointless case
  • Audio cable not included
  • Practically Apple-only

Which one should you consider?

First, you should know what you can and can’t do. Only people who have an iPhone should buy the Apple AirPods Max. If you can’t use the Settings app on an iOS device, your experience will be much worse, and it will not be worth the money. But if you already use Apple products and don’t plan to switch, the Apple AirPods Max are a great pair of headphones.

They have great noise cancellation, great sound quality, and a tonne of premium features like Spatial Audio and transparency mode that make listening to music or podcasts a great experience. If you don’t mind that you can’t turn off the headphones without the case or that you can’t listen to music through a wire, this could be the headset for you, especially if you have a lot of money.


Is Airpod Max better than XM5?

The Sony XM5 headphones might not feel as high-end as the AirPods Max, but they have a longer battery life and sound great. Plus, they have features that both iOS and Android users can use, which the AirPods Max don’t.

What is better than the Sony WH-1000XM5?

In terms of battery life, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is better than the WH-1000XM5. The Momentum 4’s already great battery life is made even better by the fact that it can be charged quickly. Both the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless have very good battery life, but there’s a clear winner here, and it’s not even close.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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