I test headphones for a living, here's 4 Prime Day AirPods alternatives you should watch out for

AirPods Max
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I love AirPods, I really do — but I test enough headphones to know that there are some excellent alternatives out there if you want to save some money, don’t want the same thing as pretty much everyone else, or want better sound quality. It also happens to be Prime Day in just a few weeks on July 16 and as expectations for the deals event start to burgeon, I’m going to use my expertise to show you what else you can get for your money.

I’ll do it by AirPods model — looking for X AirPods? Here’s X alternative, and why you should consider them instead. We’re not looking to say the AirPods are bad here by any stretch of the imagination, but we are looking to show you that there are different options out there depending on what you’re looking for. So, without further ado, here are four alternatives to AirPods you should consider this Prime Day.

AirPods 2

Denon AH-C830NCW

(Image credit: Tammy Rogers/ iMore)

The base model AirPods 2 are some great headphones, and the cheapest way to join the AirPods faithful. They do have some key weaknesses, however, such as a lack of noise canceling and what some find to be a loose fit. They’re getting a bit old at this point as well so you may want to look elsewhere for your in-ear bud fit.

We’d recommend the Denon AH-C6309W instead. Despite their annoying numerical name, they are an excellent pair of earbuds with wicked sound quality, noise canceling, and a very comfortable fit. They might be larger than the AirPods, but they are a better pair of buds. They’re around the same price too — nice. We gave them five stars in our review, so they get our stamp of approval as well.

AirPods 3

Marshall Motif II

(Image credit: Marshall)

The AirPods 3 are the black sheep of the family — they’re not a bad bud at all, but they are very overpriced. The main difference between them and the AirPods 2 is their shape and the addition of Spatial Audio. Apart from those key differences, you don’t get anything new for the extra that you’ll spend on the weirdest AirPods of the bunch.

Instead, we reckon you should check out the Marshall Motif II. They have more visual charm with their throwback marshall amplifier stylings, for one, and their silicon tips make for a more comfortable, useable bud. They’re around the same price as the AirPods 3, but you get more battery life and noise-canceling for the trouble. We gave the Motif II a four-star review, loving their genre-focused sound and comfortable fit. The ANC isn’t the best around, but it’s got it where the AirPods do not.

AirPods Pro 2

Denon PerL Pro earbuds on a colorful psychedelic background.

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

The AirPods Pro 2 are some of iMores favorite wireless earbuds, with a super comfortable fit, excellent noise canceling, and some wicked extra features. There are adaptive noise-canceling modes, reasonable battery life, and MagSafe charging so you don’t need to worry about taking multiple chargers out and about with you wherever you go. There’s only one thing that needs some work — the sound quality.

If you want the best sound possible, we’d say go for the Denon Perl Pro. You’ll pay a price premium, that’s for sure, but you’ll get a similarly comfortable fit, comparable noise canceling, and some of the best sound quality in a pair of wireless in-ear buds. You’ll pay $100 more, but you won’t regret sticking a pair of these in your ears.

AirPods Max

Master & Dynamic MW75 Headphones

(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

If you want the most impressive pair of headphones that Apple has to offer, then a pair of AirPods Max is going to be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Expensive, heavy, and super-premium, they’re a stunning pair of headphones with a price tag to match. To some, however, their design could be over the top, with their mesh headband and square earcups.

If you want a pair of headphones that look and sound the part, then the Master & Dynamic MW75 are an excellent option. The sound quality is monstrous, the build quality excellent, and the carrying case a masterwork. They are more expensive than the AirPods Max, but you do get what you pay for — and then some.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.