Cheaper (better?) alternatives to AirPods Max?

I know AirPods Max aren't exactly the audiophiles' cans of choice. I've had mine since summer and whilst they are great, I'd like to try something new and possibly cheaper.

I'm looking for a cheaper (<£350) set of wired or wireless headphones that provide superior sound quality to the AirPods Max.

So far I'm looking at the Sony XM4, Bose 700 and the Sennhesier 175. All are primarily wireless but I'm more than open to wired.

They will be mostly used for watching films, so a set that can provide a Dolby Atmos or virtual surround sound-like experience is essential.

I'd also lean towards a set that has a good level of bass. My one issue with the AirPods Max is that the bass doesn't ever feel deep enough.

At the moment I would say I'm leaning towards the XM4 but can easily be persuaded.



Well-known Member
Neither will be better than Airpods, you should probably look into wired to clearly better them but that might involve getting a dac and amp also.

Sennhesier 175 might be what you're looking for though, as they're geared towards TV watching.


Senior Moderator
"Better" in what metric?

If your iPhone does not have the 3.5 mm headphone port then a wired headphone = a DAC/headphone amp is required. Even if the Apple dongle, which has been shown to measure well

Or go the Bluetooth DAC/amp route with the iFi Go Blu


Well-known Member
How will you be feeding the new ones an Atmos signal. I’m definitely no authority but not sure I know of any other than Max that fill your brief. For extra bass have you tried EQ?
Thanks for the replies. Admittedly (and probably very obvious to anyone reading) I am in no way, shape or form an audiophile and my knowledge of audio is limited.

Appreciate "better" is a bit vague. I know headphones are subjective, but generally I would be looking for a set comparable to or "better" in terms of overall audio quality - particularly more prominent bass. Build quality is less important. I'd settle for a set 'as good as' AirPods Max in terms of audio quality - Apple are known for adding a premium for their tech, so I was hoping that even though they cost £500-£550, there would be cheaper sets at least comparable.

I would be using them solely with a MacBook Air which has a 3.5mm input.

As for the Atmos signal - I didn't know this was a specific thing. I understand most wireless headphone manufacturers have a similar version of Atmos - Apple's Spatial Audio for example, and that anything advertised as being compatible with Atmos can be taken advantage of in a similar way. I know Sony have their own equivalent (called something like '3D Audio').

Got to go now, but will revisit thread later.


Well-known Member
If you stick to wireless then nothing under the AirPod Max will be better. The xm4 are great at their price but not as much fun to listen with as the Max. If you go wired you’ll likely find ‘better’ for the money but only in a hifi stereo sound sense not a bell whistles and gizmos sense as these tend to only be on active headphones as they require processing.
Personally unless you need money out of selling the Max or really, really like the Sonys I’d stick with what you have and spend money elsewhere.


Well-known Member
As per my recent post, I’ve tried/owned most of the headphones in that price bracket. It depends what exactly floats your boat in terms of sound quality, but the APM are probably the best all-rounders. My previous favourite were the Bose 700, but the Apples have a more refined sound, and are much better built. (Didn’t like the Sony 1000s, despite the magazine’s loving them).

In-ears can sometimes give you more bass without boominess.


Standard Member
If you want wired with rich bass for movies, try the Meze 99 Classics. $310. Gorgeous build quality. Wooden cups, metal and leather headband, metal hardware, not a centimeter of plastic on them.

The bass bleeds a bit into the mids, but nowhere nearly as bad as the Sony's you're considering.

Two other plusses: The 99 Classics also are excellent for bass-heavy music, like EDM and hip-hop. Plus they don't need an amp to drive them.

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