Apple's slick new AirPods Max headphones are every bit as handsome and advanced as we had hoped, but the price tag is large enough to make anyone hesitate.
- Comfortable fit for long wear
- Beautiful, distinctive design
- Impressive smart features
- Apple ecosystem
- Soooo expensive
Best virtual work buddy
Lovely sound quality, state-of-the-art noise cancellation, and voice-amplifying technology combine in these high-end headphones that are suddenly looking pretty affordable.
- Easily adjustable listening experience
- Incredible voice separation for voice calls
- Includes travel accessories
- Accidental swipes and button presses are common
- Not as comfortable for long wear
It's hard not to be impressed by the beautiful aluminum, mesh, and stainless steel construction of Apple's AirPods Max. They look every bit as expensive as they are, and a variety of smart features set them apart from any other headphones on the market. When set against the high-performance Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, however, it's hard to say if the benefits are worth $200 more. We'll explore the pros and cons of each to help you decide.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Key differences
The Apple AirPods Max and the Bose NC 700 are two sets of headphones that offer very different experiences. They look different, feel different, and offer different features, but each has its strengths. As for basic specs, here is a simple rundown:
|Header Cell - Column 0||AirPods Max||Bose NC 700|
|Type||Over-Ear Wireless Headphones||Over-Ear Wireless Headphones|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Bluetooth range||100 feet||30 feet|
|Battery life||20 hours||20 hours|
|Charging cable||Lightning to USB-C Cable||USB-C to USB-A|
|Ambient noise mode||Yes||Yes|
|Volume control||Digital crown||Touch sensor|
|Colors||Space Gray, Silver, Green, Sky blue, Pink||Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone, Triple Midnight|
|Case||Soft smart case||Hard carrying case|
|Weight||384.8 grams||254 grams|
|Materials||Mesh textile, stainless steel, anodized aluminum||Stainless steel, hard plastic, protein leather|
|Microphones||Nine total: Six for ANC and three for voice||Eight total: Six for ANC and two for voice|
|Physical controls||Digital crown and ANC button||Buttons for voice assistant and ANC adjustment|
|Voice assistant||Siri||Google assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri|
Here you can see that these two headsets have very little in common, although they do both offer a high-end, premium sound experience. Let's look at how these differences pan out for actual functionality.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Apple brings distinction and comfort
As is usually when Apple releases a new product, the AirPods Max have an innovative look that makes them distinctive and appealing. Besides the sleek, smooth aluminum earcups, the mesh knit headband has a unique appearance that translates into incredible comfort. The lightweight material offsets the heavier feel of this weighty headset and distributes pressure over the entire head, so you'll feel no discomfort or awkward pressure points. Combine this with big, plushy memory foam earcups, and you have an ultra-comfy, high-performance product that looks as good as it feels.
Bose's NC 700 headphones are certainly not unpleasant to look at, of course. They also have a sleek modern design that incorporates a slim metal headband and soft leather earcups that are quite comfortable. Design-wise, these are some of the best-looking headphones on the market, with four colors to choose from alongside the AirPod Max's six-color lineup. However, those leather earcups on the Bose NC 700 can be problematic in hot temperatures; the material seems to hold in heat and encourage sweat. This is a problem you won't see in the AirPods Max's mesh-lined earcups, but it's certainly not a dealbreaker.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Equally soundtacular
It's no surprise that both of these high-end headphones deliver amazing sound quality. The AirPods Max offer a wide, deep soundstage that sets off every instrument and note to absolute clarity. Here you have an incredible range with rich bass notes, bright highs, and gorgeous detail for everything in-between.
The Bose NC 700 are also quite soundtacular with a beautiful clear sound that will never deteriorate or distort, even at max volume. Although the soundstage is not quite as wide, you have great depth and detail with any music. The punchy bass does not disappoint, and every instrument can be heard with perfect clarity. The AirPods Max may have a slight edge on overall sound quality, but the edge is small.
One area where the Bose NC 700 may pull ahead is noise cancellation. The AirPods Max offer excellent active noise cancellation with six dedicated microphones that are meant for this purpose. Still, Bose offers the same technology along with the ability to adjust noise cancellation to your liking. The ANC button gives you ten levels of noise cancellation, so you can decide exactly how much ambient noise you want to let through. With the AirPods Max, it's either on, or it's off. The Bose headset also has unique voice recognition software, which we'll go into in the next section.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Smarts versus professional convenience
Let's talk about those microphones. The AirPods Max have nine, and the Bose NC 700 has eight. Both use this array of microphones to measure ambient noise and provide active noise cancellation, as well as a couple for making voice calls. This makes for state-of-the-art noise cancellation in both models. Apple also uses two microphones inside the earcups to measure the sound and noise that's actually reaching your ears, using this to enhance the listening experience. This might make the ANC slightly better in the AirPods Max, but it's not a huge difference.
Now, if you're using your headphones for voice calls, Bose has upped their microphone game by picking up and amplifying the sound of your voice while muffling ambient noise. That means you can take important calls, even if you're on a loud, busy street or working from a crowded cafe. While there's nothing wrong with the voice microphones on the AirPods Max, they have not optimized their system in this way. So, the Bose NC 700 wins when it comes to voice calls.
However, for smart tech, you just can't beat Apple and that H1 chip. Like the AirPods Pro before them, the AirPods Max offer adaptive EQ — a technology that measures your headphones' fit and seal and actively adjusts audio for the best possible sound. While Bose offers a handy equalizer within their Bose Connect App, it can't quite compare with active, automatic equalization that adjusts to the unique fit of your earcups! In addition, AirPods Max offer the cool spatial audio feature for surround sound during movies and videos. Plus, it lives in the Apple ecosystem with all the seamless functionality that comes with it.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Bose wins this round
When the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones came out, many people balked at the considerable price tag. Now with the Apple AirPods Max entering the ring with an astounding price tag that's over half a grand, that Bose NC 700 is starting to look downright affordable. Granted, Apple does offer some unique benefits and high-end materials, but budget-conscious shoppers will have a hard time justifying the higher expense.
Bose offers great sound and some of the best noise-cancellation on the market, while Apple comes in with all of that plus a swanky look and some very cool smart features. It's up to you to decide if the AirPods Max are worth the price, but Bose definitely wins on affordability.
Apple AirPods Max vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Which should you buy?
Both the AirPods Max and the Bose NC 700 deliver amazing sound quality and state-of-the-art noise cancellation, so your decision will likely come down to the way you plan to use your headphones. If you're an avid user of Apple products, the AirPods Max offer seamless functionality with all of your devices, switching between them intuitively at a moment's notice. There's also audio sharing functionality, so you can share your tunes with other users of Apple headphones nearby. This, combined with the impressive smart features and gorgeous sound quality of the AirPods Max may be enough to justify the high price tag if you have the budget.
On the other hand, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 will benefit professionals and individuals who spend a lot of time listening in noisy, crowded environments and making voice calls. Not only can you change how much ambient noise is blocked using adjustable ANC controls, but Bose's specialized microphones can also pick up the sound of your voice and amplify it during voice calls, allowing your listeners to hear your voice loud and clear despite the ambient noise around you. And let's not forget that these headphones are over $200 cheaper than the AirPods Max, so this is an important factor to consider if you're watching your budget.
Smart from the inside out
Your Apple devices will work seamlessly with the beautifully designed and extra-smart AirPods Max. If you're an avid user of Apple products and you can afford the high price tag, these are the headphones for you.
If you find yourself trying to make work calls from crowded coffee shops and loud street corners, you'll appreciate the voice-amplifying technology of the Bose NC 700. They also deliver high-end sound quality for a more affordable price.
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Jaclyn Kilani is a content writer at iMore. She's a longtime Apple addict with a flair for creating (written works, design, photos; you name it!) on her devices. Jaclyn has also worked in the marketing sector for over 16 years, dabbling in a bit of everything from writing to graphic design and digital marketing. In her heart of hearts, however, she is a born writer and an avid reader who adores everything about the written word. Someday she may even churn out a book or two.
Throughout her career, Jaclyn has also developed something of an addiction to all things Apple. Her professional and personal life is enhanced by an ever-growing collection of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and even AirTags. Luckily, this expensive habit is of great use to her work at iMore, where she writes with authority on Apple products and the accessories that go with them.