Apple has been the technology dominator since Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded the company back in the late 70s, but despite this, one thing that’s always been apparent is that it’s expensive. And the release of their new noise cancelling headphones, AirPods Max are no exception to the rule.
Launched last week, Apple announced that they would be introducing a new product to their ever-expanding range and no, for once it isn’t a new iPhone. It was the introduction of AirPods Max.
Apple have always gone for a rather sleek, thin and minimal finish to their products, and this extended further to the introduction of their AirPods back in 2016, offering some of the teeniest Bluetooth headphones on the market. But last week saw Apple launch their first overhead headphones. The catch? They cost £549 per pair.
Sure, all of their products are well over the typical price bracket of their competitors, but somehow they continue to draw in new customers and hardened Apple lovers again and again with the release of their new products. But isn’t £549 for a pair of headphones a little steep? Of course it is, and fans of the brand agree.
If you’re on the search for a new set of noise cancelling headphones but don’t fancy forking out almost £600 for the privilege, we’ve rounded up five of the best dupes.
But first let’s take a look at what sets the new Apple AirPods Max apart from the rest.
Apple has labeled them the “innovative wireless headphones that bring the magic of AirPods to an over-ear design with high-fidelity sound,” and that’s just what they are. For the premium price tag of £549, you can expect premium quality. They bring the high sound quality and easy set up of the AirPods, and transform them into an over the head version.
The headphones feature Apple’s spatial audio, as well as Audio Sharing, Adaptive EQ and H1 chip, all of which help to make for a unique listening experience. The spatial audio experience helps to create a 360 audio effect, meaning every detail can be picked up, delivered and enjoyed, while the noise cancelling helps to elevate this effect even further.
Apple knows how to deliver on aesthetics too; these headphones are beautiful, as much as headphones can be anyway. They come in five different colours, and every angle and detail has been carefully thought out, from the knit mesh canopy to the stainless steel headband frame. Find out more here.
Now onto the best dupes…
Sony’s best on the block noise cancelling headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM4 helping you to shut out the world and really focus on the refrains, melodies and sounds of the music.
Sony has built on their QN1 processor helping to deliver the best noise cancellation, slotted against the Adaptive Sound Controls, you can chop and change the settings to fit your environment and movements. Bluetooth powered, they’re also known for being the best in the business for their battery life, lasting up to 30 hours. Still on the expensive side but these guys are the best all-rounder headphones on the market.
Often compared against the Sony WH-1000XM4, the Bose 700 are the best slightly cheaper alternatives. The headphones have been designed to give out great sound, voice pickup and designed with comfort in mind.
The battery life can last up to 30 hours, and they use microphones both inside and outside the ear cups to help monitor the sounds around you, meaning you can cancel them out more easily. They also have eleven settings; one of which allows you to have full transparency, perfect for when you want to listen to music in a work setting but will be able to hear if someone shouts your name from across the room. Also, they’ve got a triggered conversation mode too, making switching off the headphones even easier.
A slightly cheaper version for Bose are the QuietComfort wireless headphones, available in black and silver.
They’ve got Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa functions built-in, meaning you can have instant access to millions of tunes at the touch of a button or simply by using your voice. If you aren’t an Amazon or Google user, you can use this control to manually adjust your noise cancellation levels between three different settings.
The actual earcups are built with comfort in mind, using cushioning so you can listen for longer without that irritating ear ache you can sometimes get.
We feel like Beats don’t get the credit they deserve on the noise cancellation front. Sure their features aren’t quite as fancy as Apple and Sony’s, and they aren’t as sleek, but they do do a great job on the noise cancellation and wireless front.
The Solo Pro headphones have two listening modes, meaning you can easily switch between noise cancelling and transparency mode, and last up to 22 hours meaning you can listen for a whole lot longer.
They’re simply designed but do provide great comfort for long haul trips or for when you just want to dive into an alternate reality for a day.
For those looking to cut the costs but don’t want to surrender to terrible quality, look to Sennheiser’s HD 458BT. The foldable design comes with a dash of red, offering deep sound and exquisite noise cancellation, meaning you can listen wherever, whenever, without having an extra backing track blaring in the background. They’re compact, meaning you can take them with you wherever you’re headed and right now they’re just £99.
Of course they aren’t going to have the same sound quality and design as Apple’s AirPod Max’s, but for a trusty headphone that does the job and comes in at under a hundred pounds, these will soon become your best friend.