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Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Bose and Apple go toe-to-toe in this noise canceling headset showdown.
By

Published onNovember 29, 2023

Apple AirPods Max
MSRP: $424.99
8
Check price
Positives
Nice design and solid build quality
Amazing active noise canceling and transparency mode
Comfortable ear pads and fabric headband
Decent battery life
Button and digital crown are great to use
Good sound quality with no distortion
Great connection strength with Bluetooth 5.0
Negatives
No 3.5mm headphone jack becomes a pain
Uses a Lightning connector instead of USB-C
Proximity sensors and voice assistant activation do not work on Android or Windows
No aptX or LDAC high quality codec support
The smart case is absolutely terrible and provides no protection
Microphone quality is just okay
The Bottom Line.
While the Apple AirPod Max is a great pair of headphones with best-in-class active noise canceling (ANC) and a good sound signature, it also has a few annoying quirks that make it very obviously an Apple product. If you live in the Apple ecosystem and already love your AirPods Pro, then the AirPods Max is more of the same just in a pair of over-ears.Read full review...
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
MSRP: $379.00
8.2
Check price
Positives
Great active noise canceling
Sleek design
Gesture pad works perfectly
Better sound than the QC35 II
Negatives
No folding hinges
Expensive
The Bottom Line.
While the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 can't beat the Sony WH-1000XM4 at active noise canceling, they still does a great job. These cans are exactly the upgrade that Bose needed to make, and their beautiful design and excellent sound quality will attract many music lovers.Read full review...

The Apple AirPods Max made waves in the consumer audio world, not because they’re groundbreaking, but due to their price. Consumers expect pricey products from Apple; however, the company may have pushed the envelope too far with its $549 headphones. We’re pitting the Apple AirPods Max against the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 (NCH 700) to see which top-notch headphones are worth your while.

What's new?

Editor’s note: this article was updated on November 29, 2023, to include direct comparison charts, standardized microphone demos, and a Controls section. We also updated the formatting and Alternatives section to ensure all information is current.

Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700: Which headphones have the best design?

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 rest on a tree stump.
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 features touch panels, whereas the AirPods Max uses tactile controls

Both the Apple AirPods Max and Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 feature over-ear designs. Bespectacled listeners can listen for hours with either set of cans. The AirPods Max ear pads are plusher, and the Bose NCH 700 are significantly lighter (254g compared to 384g).

Bluetooth CodecsWired connectionBattery life (ANC)ControlsSoftwareWeightCharge port
Apple AirPods Max
Bluetooth Codecs
SBC, AAC
Wired connection
Yes (requires special cable, or adapter)
Battery life (ANC)
20 hours
Controls
Tactile, and automatic ear detection sensors
Software
iOS
Weight
384g
Charge port
Lightning
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bluetooth Codecs
SBC, AAC
Wired connection
Yes
Battery life (ANC)
21 hours, 25 minutes
Controls
Touch
Software
iOS and Android
Weight
254g
Charge port
USB-C

Apple and Bose’s flagship headphones share futuristic, minimal designs with metal components. Neither Apple nor Bose engineered foldable hinges with their headphones, making travel cumbersome. Bose’s included carrying case is much more protective than the Apple Smart Case, which is required to power off the AirPods Max.

The Apple AirPods Max and its smart case on a white desk.
The AirPods Max Smart Case only covers the ear cups.

Bose’s zippered case fully protects the headset, while the AirPods Max Smart Case leaves the mesh headband exposed and vulnerable to rogue pens or keys whenever you carelessly plop the headphones into your backpack. You can always buy a third-party case for either headset, but you shouldn’t have to shell out more money for a sturdy case when paying top dollar.

Is it easier to control the AirPods Max or Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700?

ActionRight headphone
Two taps
Play/pause. Answer/end call.
Hold
Decline incoming call
Swipe forward/backward
Skip/previous track
Swipe up/down
Increase/decrease volume
Buttons
Power, voice assistant, noise control
Customizable controls?
Yes, Bose Music app

Bose’s headset gives you more control over your music than Apple’s. You can use the touch panels on the Bose Noise Canceling Headphone 700 to control playback, volume, and more. You can even create gesture shortcuts, which the AirPods Max doesn’t allow. In a surprise move, Apple’s AirPods Max use tactile controls exclusively. Rather than swiping on the large headphones, you must interact with the Digital Crown and Noise Control button.

ActionMedia controlsCall controls
Action
Noise control button
Media controls
Toggle ANC and Transparency mode
Call controls

Action
Headset: remove/wear
Media controls
Auto-pause/play
Call controls

Action
Digital Crown: rotate
Media controls
Adjust volume
Call controls

Action
Digital Crown: one press
Media controls
Play/pause
Call controls
Answer/end call; answer incoming call and put current call on hold
Action
Digital Crown: two presses
Media controls
Skip track
Call controls
Reject incoming call; answer incoming call and end current call
Action
Digital Crown: three presses
Media controls
Previous track
Call controls

Action
Digital Crown: hold
Media controls

Call controls
Reject second incoming call
Action
Customizable controls?
Media controls
Yes, ANC toggle only
Call controls
No

How do the AirPods Max and Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 connect?

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 onboard button controls.
You can reassign the multifunction button within the Bose Music app.

The Apple AirPods Max and Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 rely on Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and support two Bluetooth codecs: SBC and AAC. In either instance, only iPhone owners benefit from consistent, high-quality audio. Android historically has trouble encoding the AAC codec depending on the hardware.

Connection stability is fine with either headset, but only the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 support Bluetooth multipoint, so you can connect it to two sources simultaneously. The AirPods Max don’t support multipoint and instead have automatic source switching between compatible iOS devices.

Do the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have better app features than the AirPods Max?

The spatial audio pop-up on an iPad Pro.
Like the AirPods Pro, these are compatible with Apple’s own Spatial Audio.

The Apple AirPods Max works best with Apple devices, specifically iOS and iPadOS devices. You access all features through the iOS or iPadOS Settings app. When paired with an iPhone, the AirPods Max gets features like “Hey Siri,” Adaptive EQ, some control customization, and Spatial Audio with head tracking. You can’t create a custom EQ profile, even with an iPhone.

If you want to update your AirPods Max firmware, you’ll need an Apple device. These really aren’t the headphones for Android users.

The Bose NCH 700 works on iPhone and Android, but the AirPods Max features are limited to Apple devices.

The Bose Music app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and operates uniformly on either system. You can use the Bose Music app to adjust noise canceling intensity, remap the multifunction button, and create a custom EQ profile. If you don’t care to tinker, you can always fall back on Active EQ.

Bose Noise Canceling headphones 700 pictured from above on a Huawei Matebook X Pro
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 works on Android and iOS.

Bose’s headphone app also serves as a one-stop shop for all your favorite music streaming services, which reduces the need to swipe through designated radio and music apps. It’s a hub for your Bose smart speakers and soundbars, too. You can control multi-room playback, group speakers together, or listen to different playlists in different rooms.

The Bose Music app is also an access point for Bose AR, the company’s augmented reality platform that combines its audio peripherals with AR apps. You can use Bose AR through apps like Navisens NaviGuide AR, which provides audio-enhanced directions.

How does the AirPods Max battery compare to the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700?

A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are a great pair of headphones.

The Apple AirPods Max lasts 20 hours on a single charge with ANC enabled, while the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 last 21 hours and 25 minutes. We test battery life by subjecting each headset to a constant output, peaking at 75dB(SPL) until their respective batteries deplete.

Both headphones support quick charging: connecting the Lightning cable to the AirPods Max for five minutes yields 90 minutes of playback. Doing the same over USB-C with the Bose Headphones 700 for 15 minutes yields 210 minutes of playback.

Does the Apple AirPods Max have better noise canceling than the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700?

A chart compares the Bose NCH 700 and AirPods Max overall attenuation, revealing the AirPods Max does more to affect low frequencies.
You’ll get better passive isolation with the NCH 700 but better low-frequency attenuation with the AirPods Max.

Bose might have introduced active noise canceling (ANC) to the world, but the AirPods Max have better ANC than the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

The AirPods Max ANC nullifies background noise much more effectively than the Bose Headphones 700, rendering some midrange frequencies up to four times quieter. The AirPods Max also quiet low-frequency sounds more effectively than Bose’s cans. This frequency range is where you hear sounds like an airplane engine or the droning grind of the train during your commute.

Both headphones have good noise canceling, but Apple takes the cake here. Apple’s stellar ANC performance is because each headphone houses an H1 chip, Apple’s proprietary processor, which powers tasks like ANC. Apple’s headset also uses eight mics for its ANC, while only six of the eight mics in Bose’s headset are dedicated to ANC processing.

Bose vs Apple: Which headphones sound better?

A comparison chart of the Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 frequency responses, which shows the AirPods Max has a more consistent volume output across the frequency range (notably with treble sounds) compared to the Bose NCH 700.
The Apple AirPods Max has a more consistent volume output across the frequency range than the Bose NCH 700.

The AirPods Max and Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 sound great. Music of all genres will come through clearly with either pair of headphones. By our objective measures, the Apple AirPods Max and Bose NCH 700 have similar frequency responses until about 1,000Hz. Here, the AirPods Max boosts the response, while the NCH 700 under-emphasizes it. This means you may have an easier time hearing cymbal hits and harmonic detail from Bose’s headphones than Apple’s.

With Bose’s headphones, you can EQ the sound in the Music app, which you can’t do with any AirPods. You can’t go wrong with either headset’s sound quality, but if we’re splitting hairs, the Bose NCH 700 scored a bit higher in our objective measurements than the AirPods Max.

Is the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 microphone better than the AirPods Max?

A man wears the white Apple AirPods Max while sitting in green chair.
The AirPods Max has a sturdy all-metal build.

Apple and Bose have advanced microphone arrays jammed into their particular headsets. The AirPods Max reserves three microphones for voice pickup, two of which are shared with ANC. The Bose Headphones 700 has four microphones for voice pickup, two of which are also shared with ANC.

Either headset is great for personal use and perfectly fine for conference calls, but voice quality depends on your source device. Listen to our demos below and let us know your thoughts.

Apple AirPods Max microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Apple AirPods Max microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone do you think sound better?

8461 votes

Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700: Which should you buy?

A man wears the Apple AirPods Max and adjusting volume via the digital crown.
The Digital Crown is smooth and feels great for adjusting volume.

Unless you have an iPhone and a flexible budget, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are a better buy. Bose’s headphones support important, simple features like a custom EQ module and configurable controls. We also like how they work on iOS and Android; no features are limited to a single operating system.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
SG recommended
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
MSRP: $379.00
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have you covered.

Now, the AirPods Max are very good noise canceling headphones. Really, they’re nothing shy of excellent: noise canceling performance is the best around, bar none, and the headphones sound great. But all of those features come at a cost, and one very few consumers can afford, or at least justify. Apple makes beautiful, reliable hardware and integrates all of its products into its ecosystem. Still, even the convenience of the AirPods Max may be hard for the most ardent Apple fan to swallow.

Apple AirPods MaxApple AirPods Max
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Apple AirPods Max
One of the best ANC • 20-hour battery life • Well-built pads
MSRP: $424.99
A spectacular pair of headphones with best-in-class ANC
The AirPods Max wireless headphones offer best-in-class noise canceling with twenty hours of battery life. They provide excellent frequency response and great audio features.

What should you get instead of the AirPods Max and Bose Headphones 700?

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones next to magazines on a wood bench
The Sony headphones have hinges so you can fold them to toss in your bag, and the earcups can rotate 90 degrees.

For the best of the best noise canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($387 at Amazon) is where it’s at. These have amazing ANC, great sound quality, and an in-app equalizer. The microphone quality is outstanding for sub-optimal conditions. an outstanding microphone. Their predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon), shares similar features with an older design.

If you aren’t satisfied with either pair of noise canceling headphones, you’re in luck: we’re in the middle of ANC audio’s heyday. The next obvious option is the Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279 at Amazon), which does well against the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset.

You have other brands to consider, like the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless ($289.23 at Amazon), which sounds great sound quality and a whopping 56-hour battery life.

Frequently asked questions about the AirPods Max and Bose NCH 700

Both headsets support wired audio playback, which should be good news if your library is full of FLAC files, or you subscribe to a service like Tidal HiFi or Amazon Music HD. Bose integrated a 2.5mm stereo input socket on its headset, which means you’ll really need to hang onto the included cord for wired use. However, Apple’s headphones force you to use a $35 Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable and a $9 audio dongle if your smartphone doesn’t have a headphone jack. Unfortunately, there’s no way to send digital audio directly to the AirPods Max over a cable, even though the cables exist.

It’s much easier to connect the AirPods Max to your iPhone than it is to connect the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 to an iPhone, though even that is a simple process. When you first power on the AirPods Max near your iPhone, a pop-up notification will ask permission to connect the headset. That’s all it takes. Connecting the Bose Headphones 700 to an iPhone or Android smartphone is a bit more involved and requires navigating through the device’s Bluetooth menu.

No, none of the Apple AirPods support Bluetooth multipoint. However, you can use automatic device switching between Apple hardware under the same iCloud account. This means when you’re listening to music on your iPhone and playing a video on your MacBook, the AirPods (3rd generation) will stop playing from your phone and immediately switch to the laptop’s audio output.