Best Apple AirPods Max alternatives for less: Sony, Bose, AirPods Pro and more

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7 min read
fairly easy
Apple has introduced the AirPods Max, its swanky new over-ear noise-canceling headphones. They aren't exactly cheap at $549. Here are the best alternatives.
Apple's long-awaited full-size noise-canceling headphones have finally arrived. They're called the AirPods Max (rumors that pegged them to be called AirPods Studio turned out to be wrong) and they're mostly what we expected them to be: super high-tech, luxury-priced headphones that have some notable design and feature traits, including Apple's spatial audio virtual surround (for iOS devices), that help distinguish them from the host of other premium noise-canceling headphones on the market.

The AirPods Max also have sensors for detecting when the headphones are on your head, a total of nine on-board microphones (two are inside the earcups) for noise-canceling as well as noise and wind reduction when making voice calls and a transparency mode. And finally, the protective storage cover has integrated magnets that tell the headphones to go into an ultralow energy mode so your batteries don't wear down while the AirPods Max are sitting around.

While it's fairly safe to assume the AirPods Max should perform very well, until I get my hands on a pair, I can't tell you how their sound and noise canceling compares to other leading models or whether their $549 price tag, which is raising some eyebrows on social media, is crazy -- or not. But for those of you who know you don't want to spend that kind of money on a pair of noise-canceling headphones, we've got you covered with some excellent alternatives, a couple of which even cost less than $100.

Below, I've rounded up several top noise-canceling headphones, all of which I've fully reviewed or used hands-on over a period of time. For each set of headphones, we've listed how much you'll save compared to the AiPods Pro Max.

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