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my AirPods Max vs my Sony XM3’s


Well-Known Member
Battle of the appliances?
I’ve had the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphones probably since they came out. I never use them. Last time was five months ago. So, anyway, I just bought the AirPods Max on Friday. I hate wearing headphones. But Apple used the term “magic” to describe the AirPods Max no less than three times by my count. Probably more. I’m always impressed when the magician takes those two inseparable rings and manages to separate them. So I was sold.

TL;DR - I want to say I prefer the AirPods Max for sound quality, but feel that’s not entirely fair to the Sony’s.

Sound quality:
I have faith that this wasn’t scientifically tested. But for what it’s worth I had the Sony’s paired to my iPhone 11 and they indicated that they were using the AAC codec for bluetooth streaming. The AirPods Max were paired with my iPad Pro and presumably were using AAC codec for the bluetooth streaming based on what the Internet tells me. I streamed the same 256kbps AAC song files for comparison.

Song #1 - Holly Cole - ”Train Song”
Winner is the AirPods Max. At first I was expecting more bass, but the bass ultimately was good. Plus the AirPods Max just sounded what to me would be considered more “Hi-Fi”. I dunno. If I try and use big words that I don’t quite fully understand maybe some of my feelings can be somewhat correctly represented in print. What I mean is that at times with “Train Song” I felt maybe it was a little easier to hear some of the finer moments. Slightly better clarity on the AirPods Max perhaps. Whatever. The bass on my Sony XM3 seemed a little overboard and kind of ruined the rest of the music. Though a little alcoholic inebriation would surely make the Sony’s sound better to me. To be certain I’ve done this and it makes the Sony’s sound fantastic. I’m not shitting you. Anyway...

Song #2 - Maroon 5 - “Sugar”
Winner is the AirPods Max. Like before I’ll just say that I think this little pop song sounds closer to whatever “Hi-Fi” and good sound are in my stupid little head. Maybe a little more clarity or treble. Maybe a little more pop. Something.

Song #3 - The Time - “Jungle Love”
Winner is the AirPods Max. On the AirPods Max I love the sound of that incessant repetitive percussive sounding percussion thing when the song starts. (Or is it an incessant repetitive percussive sounding keyboards thing when the song starts?) On the Sony XM3s I hear the incessant repetitive thing, but I don’t love listening to it.

Song #4 - Taco - “Puttin‘ on the Ritz”
Winner is the Sony XM3. No idea what Taco would think is best, but the Sony makes it sound like I expect this song to sound. The AirPods Max not so much. The AirPods Max try to sound detailed or maybe a little bright. I dunno. Doesn’t fit the song to me. I like the Sony’s presentation. Nice full-bottomed synths. No overbearing highs. This is what it sounds like when I’m listening to it in my Kia’s non-premium sound system. And maybe I don’t think this song is supposed to sound “hi-fi” because I grew up hearing it on a TV speaker. Whatever. But seriously. i prefer how Taco sounds on the Sony.

Song #5 - E. Power Biggs - “Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565”
This was tough. Both were good. But the Sony wins. The Sony’s almost overbearing bass is perfect for this organ music. I maybe hear the details a little better with the AirPods Max, but the Sony’s come closest to making me feel, if just barely, that almost magical sensation I used to get years ago when I’d listen to this song in multi-channel SACD with a big-ass subwoofer. The Apple’s weren’t magical with Bach’s music. Neither were the Sony XM3s, really, but they came closer.

Oh and if anyone was wondering. Yes, the AirPods Max are noticably heaver almost to a fault. if I return them it’ll be because of how heavy they are.
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Well-Known Member
Upon first reading, I thought for sure that you were comparing the Sony headphones to some Apple earbuds. Just so I have this right , there are Apple Airpods (buds) Airpod pro (buds) and Airpod max (headphones)?


Well-Known Member
Yep. AirPods Max are over the ears full sized Bluetooth headphones. Closed back. Metal for some reason so they’re heavy and some peoples ears sweat inside them and the headphones accumulate condensation under the foam. That last part is kind of gross.


Well-Known Member
Oh... I just re-read that first paragraph I wrote. I can see where me complaining about headphones probably didn’t help. fwiw... I just hate headphones in general. Earbuds, too, for that matter. I want to like them. It’s just that they always kind of hurt my ears. Over-the-ears headphones my left ear always kind of hurts after a bit. And in-ear buds my right ear canal always hurts. AirPods Pro come closest to comfort for me for in-ears. (Yeah, I have the Apple earbuds, too.) Though I use a Samsung Galaxy earbud at work since I’m only allowed to wear one at a time. Go figure.