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AirPods Max vs Bose 700 (2021): Comparing Apple’s Noise-Canceling Headphones with the Competition

Apple has revealed the new AirPods Max, its first over-ear headphones that many of its fans have been waiting for. They even have active noise cancellation to boot, putting them in direct competition with the likes of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Thing is, the AirPods Max are on the expensive side of the spectrum, leaving a pretty wide price gap between them and Bose 700, which aren’t exactly the most affordable either. We compare the two to see whether Apple’s new headphones can justify this price difference when measured against one of the most popular and established models in the audio market.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700 Comparison Chart

ModelApple AirPods MaxBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
 New Apple AirPods Max - GreenBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 — Over Ear, Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Built-In...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Microphones9 (8 for active noise cancellation)8 (6 for active noise cancellation)
ControlsDigital Crown, noise control buttonPhysical, touch
Transparency Mode/Conversation ModeYesYes
Active Noise CancellationYesYes
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
CodecAACAAC, SBC
Battery LifeUp to 20 hours, up to 1.5 hours in 5 minutesUp to 20 hours, up to 3.5 hours in 15 minutes
Weight384.8g or 0.84 lbs0.56 lbs

Design

The AirPods Max are a lot heavier than the Bose 700, but they’re by no means uncomfortable to wear.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700 Design
Apple used a mesh canopy design for the headband of the AirPods Max (in photo).

The two don’t look anything like each other. At all. The first thing that’ll probably jump out at you are their frames and ear cups. While both frames are made of stainless steel, the AirPod Max’s stems end at the top of the ear cups and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700’s stretch across the cups toward the bottom. Apple also went with a non-traditional rectangular form factor for the cans, instead of the more usual oval shape.

As for their headbands, the AirPods Max have a breathable mesh canopy that should distribute weight to reduce overall pressure. Meanwhile, the Bose 700 have a cushioned top.

Their controls are different too. Apple fitted a Digital Crown similar to that of the Apple Watch and a noise canceling button on the AirPods Max. As everybody probably knows by now, the Bose 700 headphones have physical buttons and touch controls.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700

In terms of color options, the AirPods Max are available in silver and space gray, as well as in brighter colors such as sky blue, pink and green. The Bose 700 come in Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone and Triple Midnight. These may not seem as exciting, but if nothing else, they’re more discreet.

Now the AirPods Max are a heavy pair. They come in at 384.8g or 0.84 lbs, while the Bose 700s are 0.56 lbs. At that, most people would likely dismiss them as uncomfortable to wear, but surprisingly, they’re pretty comfy. That’s thanks to the aforementioned canopy headband, which seems to be working as advertised.

Sound

The AirPods Max come with plenty of features to deliver an excellent listening experience for Apple users.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700 Sound
Both the AirPods Max (left) and Bose 700 (right) provide superb active noise cancellation.

On paper, each ear cup of the AirPods Max is powered by an H1 chip, and they’re packed with technologies like Adaptive EQ, Transparency mode and, of course, active noise cancellation (ANC). They also feature Spatial Audio, tracking the wearer’s head using the headphones’ and, say, an iPhone’s gyroscope and accelerometer to remap the audio field based on user motion. Last but not least, there’s Audio Sharing too, so you can share whatever you’re streaming with another AirPods user.

Apple touts the AirPods Max as having high-fidelity sound, cramming its proprietary 40mm dynamic drivers for deep lows, accurate mids and clear highs. On the other hand, the Bose 700 provide rich bass that doesn’t overpower the mids so they can still come through with clarity. They produce highs without reaching the point of being grating as well, all in all making for one balanced listening experience.

Now the AirPods Max are working with nine microphones in total, eight of which are used for ANC. The Bose 700s have eight, six of which are for ANC. Both are excellent in the noise-blocking department, but the AirPods Max seem to do a cleaner job in the sense that the “hiss” typical of noise-canceling headphones are more minimal.

For the record, the 700s also have a Conversation mode that allows you to hear your surroundings without removing them, which is basically the same thing as Apple’s Transparency mode.

Battery

Don’t expect USB-C on the new AirPods Max.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700 Battery
The AirPods Max (left) and Bose 700 (right) boast a battery life of up to 20 hours.

Both headphones promise up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. The AirPods Max can give you about 1.5 hours of listening time in only five minutes, while the Bose 700s can give you up to 3.5 hours in 15 minutes’ time.

One difference worth mentioning here is their ports. The AirPods Max use Lightning—surprise, surprise—while the 700s use USB-C.

Price

The AirPods Max are more expensive than the Bose 700.

AirPods Max vs Bose 700 Price
The price of the Bose 700 (in photo) has already dropped, making them even more appealing to a wider audience.

The AirPods Max cost a lot more than the Bose 700, and considering that the latter is more than a year older, there are already price drops rolling out for them. The bottom line is you’ll have to fork over more dough for the Apple headphones than for Bose’s cans.

Verdict

The choice is pretty clear for Apple users.

On one hand, the Bose 700s are an established pair of noise-canceling headphones that’s made a solid reputation in the business. On other other hand, the AirPods Max are the promising newcomer in the competition.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, the AirPods Max are the better pick for Apple users because of exclusive features like Audio Sharing and Spatial Audio. Meanwhile, the 700s are better suited for other users since they’re more affordable and have a sound profile that could be serviceable for most audiophiles looking for a wireless option.

FAQs

📌 Are the AirPods Max worth getting?

Even though they’re on the pricey side, the AirPods Max are worth getting because of their impressive active noise cancellation and Apple-specific features such as Spatial Audio and Audio Sharing.

📌 Are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 worth it?

Yes, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are worth the buy. Even though they’re no longer the latest model, they’ve withstood the test of time and came out as one of the most popular and reliable noise-canceling headphones around.

📌 Is Apple coming out with new headphones?

Yes. After years of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally announced the AirPods Max, its first noise-canceling, over-ear headphones.

📌 Do the AirPods Max have active noise cancellation?

Yes, the AirPods Max have active noise cancellation.

Last update on 2020-12-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.