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  • Compared: AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5

    I did extensive tests with AirPods Max vs the XM4. I only have iPads. Android on my phone and Windows on my PC. 
    I’m disappointed with the XM5s because they don’t support Spatial audio. No support for head tracking. It should at least support this on iOS since Android and Windows still don’t have built in support for it either.
    Having tested the XM4 vs the AirPods Max, side by side. Switching devices. Doing all sorts of tests in different conditions and environments. Using different EQ profiles on the Sony to make them sound even better. Same for the Airpods Max. Using wavelet on Android and Headphone Accommodations on iOS.  
    The AirPods Max still win in all departments. Only losing in the portability department. 
    As for the price, it’s not 2020 anymore. You can buy them for $400 easily these days. 
    AirPods Max has better transparency mode. Better noise cancelling mode. Better sound quality. And the killer feature. Spatial audio with head tracking that is available only on iOS. The competition seems to be stuck in the past in this area. 
    My point is, having loads of software features mean nothing if in practice the execution is poor vs the competition. 
    In practical terms:
    - Sony supports LDAC, but the Max still sound better even though they are stuck with AAC. (this comes from someone that has audiophile headphones, dacs and amps)
    - Sony supports fine tuning the noise canceling and transparency on their app but the AirPods Max noise cancelling is better and transparency mode is still superior with no need to tweak or change anything. 
    - You can EQ straight from the Sony app and have the EQ profiles move across different devices. But you can EQ the AirPods Max as well while having better sound quality. Wider soundstage. Better instrument separation. You just need to use 3rd party apps.

    As I pointed out I have DACs and AMPs. My current main portable DAC/AMP is the ifi-man xDSD Gryphon. Got a pair of mid range audiophile headphones. I mostly use the  Hifiman Sundara to enjoy music when in a quiet environment since the sound quality is better than any of these other headphones (as expected) but they are open back so not suited for noisy environments. 
    BUT, the AirPods Max are the wireless noise cancelling headphones that come closer to the sound quality I get in audiophile headphones. 
    TLDR. With the AirPods Max I can do on Android and Windows almost everything the Sony headphone can do while getting better sound quality, transparency and noise cancelling and when I switch to the iPad I get the bonus of the best spatial audio with headphone tracking implementation on the market. 
    The XM5 didn’t bring anything new to the table. They don’t surpass 2 years old AirPods Max in the most important areas. And in my opinion they are not the best Android headphones. The AirPods Max are. You just need to install some additional apps to enable Android features on the Max such as invoking google assistant with the push of a button.
    XM5 is an incremental update with nothing new. To the point that many of you are just happy to see that the XM4s are going to stay around and drop price.
    This means the XM5 isn’t offering anything special. Everyone complained about the AirPods Max high price, but two years after release they still put up a fight against the newest kids on the block. 
    Sorry but the competition needs to do better. It’s not normal when Apple builds superior ANC headphones then companies like Sony, Boss etc…
    It’s not normal that two years later Apple has the only high end mainstream headphones with spatial audio + head tracking. Samsung is trying to do the same thing but the Samsung Buds are not in the same level as the AirPods Max. What is the market waiting for?