Side By Side Comparison - AirPods Max, B&O H95, Dali iO-6, B&W PX7 S2, ML 5909, M&D MW75, and more
Jul 19, 2021 at 9:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 73

Maukey

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Edit (07/26/2021) - Added the Sennheiser Momentum 3 I picked up last week at a discount.

Edit (03/30/2022) - Added the Mark Levinson 5909.

Edit (03/30/2022) - Updated the entire post to account for the headphones I've added since the original post. Also added a personal favorites section to show which headphones I'm currently using and enjoying the most.

Edit (08/24/2022) - Added Master & Dynamic MW75 AMG Edition and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2

Edit (09/06/2022) - Added the Sennheiser Momentum 4 and Sony 1000XM5. Removed the PX7 and Momentum 3 as they are now replaced by the newer, and in my personal opinion, improved models. Removed the NAD Viso HP70 as it has been discontinued. Also changed all the rankings after more experience with each of these.


So, over the past few years I've tried almost every wireless bluetooth ANC headphone known to man. In that time I developed a few personal favorites that at different times I would praise/recommend here on Head-Fi. With the popularity of the AirPods Max, I've had a few members private message me asking me to compare various headphones to the AirPods Max or even the B&O H95. Due to the fact that I only had in my possession the B&O H95 and AirPods Max, I could only compare off of memory. Well, a couple of months ago I decided to pick back up 3 of my older favorites in the B&W PX7, Dali iO-6, and NAD Viso HP70 so that I could see how they all compare to each other. Figured I'd make a thread giving my thoughts on how they all compare and which is my personal favorite after weeks of going back and forth.

First I need to make a few points:

1) I'm not a graph person. My opinions are based solely on what my ears hear and what I personally like. I will do my best to explain what I hear and how it aligns with my preference in sound quality using as few words as possible. I don't claim to be the best at verbalizing what I hear, so pardon me if I occasionally use terms in the wrong manner.

2) My preferred sound signature tends to lean toward a punchy, vibrant bass with some impact. Not overly done or loose/sloppy, but definitely present. I'm not sensitive to highs, so I don't mind a little elevation/sparkle up top if it's not overly done or harsh. My ears have a tendency to be more sensitive to harsh upper mids as opposed to highs. I can appreciate a warm/dark or neutral headphone as long as the tuning is tasteful to my ears.

3) I have a few honorable mentions that I know are favorites for some on here but are not my favorite. The Shure Aonic 50 are probably the most analytical wireless ANC headphones out right now but don't have enough bass for me and the sound changes too drastically when you switch on ANC. Now it's been a while since I owned the Aonic, so this all could've very well been fixed in a firmware update. The Sony 1000XM4 are in my opinion the best value in wireless ANC headphones, especially if you find them for their often sale price of $278. They frankly just don't sound as good to my ears as the others.

4) I'm mainly in the Apple ecosystem so all my testing is done on iPhones, Macs, and iPads, with the exception being my Surface Pro 8.

5) I will rate on 4 categories, Sound, Convenience/Features, Comfort, and Overall, as these are what I consider the most important. I stay away from build quality as that in my opinion can only be truly measured in time. Just because one headphone is plastic and the other is metal doesn't necessarily mean the metal headphone's build is better as the plastic headphone could very well last longer which to me says better build quality.

Let's begin.

Sound

1) Mark Levinson 5909 - This headphone has put itself in a tier all unto itself. In my opinion and to my ears it has taken wireless anc listening to another level. It's extremely detailed, natural, and musical. This title use to go to the Dali iO-6, but the 5909 has taken it up another notch in my opinion. When listening to the Dali side by side with this headphone, you immediately notice more detail and more spaciousness to the sound of the 5909. Just a very well done tuning. The Levinson company says this is a Harman tuned headphone, but to my ears and from what I remember of the AKG K371, this is a little more dynamic than that headphone which I'm ok with. The bass is definitely harman like, but this headphone has a slight treble push and brings more detail than what I've heard of harman influenced heaphones. When you first get the 5909, it can come across as bright. I've never been one that's big on burn in, but to my ears, this headphone has gotten better with time. Over time the highs mellow out a bit and the bass becomes ever so slightly more full. So if you're interested in this headphone, my advice would be to give it time, or, run a 100 hr white noise through them if you find the treble too forward. Also, this headphone sounds excellent passively, something not many wireless noise cancelling headphones can claim. The bass response is the only thing that takes a hit when using it passively. The only negative I have with the sound is that I wish they were a little louder.

2) Dali iO-6 - This headphone also has a very natural, musical sound to my ears. It's only bested by the 5909 above it. The one catch with this headphone is that it's the most dependent of all the headphones listed on getting a proper fit/seal. I never could understand how people found this headphone too trebly with no bass. Repurchasing this headphone and spending more time with it I learned that it does not play well with glasses. If you wear glasses, you will either need to leave ANC on to help correct the broken seal, or you'll need to remove your glasses. With the round earcups, head/face shape alone can mess with the seal. A broken seal almost completely alleviates the bass leaving a trebly, borderline harsh sounding headphone. I'm lucky enough that these fit me perfectly. With the proper fit/seal, these have excellent natural bass that really reverberates. The mids are very natural and clear, and the highs are slightly accentuated which for me gives a nice airy feel. I love how the sound has an almost 3D like feel to it. This is probably the most addicting wireless anc headphone I've tried. Just really a joy to listen to. It's only the seal and fit that can be a problem, otherwise, they are excellent sounding wireless anc headphones.

3) M&D MW75 - This is a V Shaped headphone with great tonality. Very musical with plenty of detail and deep, punchy bass. It's dynamic and energetic, perfect for modern music, while still handling softer genres like classical and jazz with a respectable candor. This headphone is in my opinion, the most fun headphone on this list. While it's not as resolving as the 2 above it, I love the fact that it gets louder. Also, similar to the ML 5909, it sounds excellent in passive mode. In fact, I'd say it's the best when it comes to keeping a consistent sound signature no matter the mode.

4a) B&W PX7 S2 - B&W hit it out of the park with this headphone in my opinion. It takes what the PX7 did and cleans up the treble while adding a little more resolution and detail. It's a warmish neutral headphone with a little emphasis throughout the bass range. It's midrange is lush, and it's treble is a little reserved, but very smooth and easy on the ears. It's a very natural listen while also keeping most of it's fun, big sound the PX7 is known for. I can see many preferring this sound signature to every headphone on this list. I LOVE it for gaming and movies, just as I did the PX7. The only reason it's ranked 4th on this list is because the 3 headphones above it all offer more detail and resolution, however, they all cost much more than this headphone. I seriously could listen to this headphone all day, and as of right now, it's my favorite headphone to listen to on this list.

4b) Sennheiser Momentum 4 - I honestly spent a god awful amount of time going back and forth between this headphone and the PX7 S2. I think they are both the two best sounding headphones in their class and price range. The Momentum 4 to my ears are the Momentum 3 with a slight reduction in warmth, and in mid and high bass, but a slight increase in resolution and detailing. It's bass seems more focused on the sub bass frequencies now. It's substituted just a little of the Momentum 3's fun for more accuracy and detailing. It has the second best natural soundstage on this list, only bested by the ML 5909 which costs about 3 times as much. When compared to the PX7 S2, I'd say the Momentum 4s are a little more resolving and detailed, and has a deeper bass. The PX7 S2 has a more full sound, with more warmth, and a punchier bass. To my ears, the PX7 S2 is the more musical, creative headphone. Brings more of a freshness to my music. I would give the Momentum 4 a slight edge when it comes to accuracy. I consider the Momentum 4 tied with the PX7 S2 when it comes to sound quality. It's all in what you prefer. I personally enjoy the PX7 S2 more, but that takes nothing away from how great the Momentum 4 sounds. As a matter of fact, along with the PX7 S2, I'd say these give you the best bang for your buck out of all the headphones on this list.

5a) AirPods Max - These are slightly warm headphones with an excellent tuning. The sub bass is the star of the show with these. You won't find many wireless ANC headphones that display a sub bass this deep and clean. Pretty fun headphone as well. If you have access to Apple's Spatial Audio, there's no headphone on this list that can do movies better. The weakness is it lacks a little in clarity when compared to the top 3. I feel the PX7 S2 and Momentum 4 both sound a little more natural and less digitized which is why they are ranked higher. The AirPods Max do resolve a little better than those 2 though. These are pretty much neck and neck with the Momentum 4 and PX7 S2.

5b) B&O H95 - This headphone is very similar to the Dali with the difference being that it's treble is a little less emphasized which some may prefer, and the bass isn't as impactful and 3D like, although it has a VERY nice sub/mid bass. These are non fatiguing and very easy to listen to, perfect headphones for sitting in a recliner with a glass of Scotch. If I had to pick a weakness, it's that these can sometimes come across as boring, and the treble doesn't sound as natural as I would like. I have my moods where I want more fun from them. I pretty much consider these tied with the AirPods Max. It all depends on whether you want more clarity and accuracy in the H95, or more fun and warmth in the AirPods Max. I personally prefer the latter.

7) Sony 1000XM5 - This is the most consumer oriented sound on this list. A very in your face sound. Has the typical Sony house sound. Big bass, warm mids, and a treble roll off. A very easy listen. The EQ in the app works really well. You can actually EQ these to sound at the same level as the PX7 S2 and Momentum 4 although it still won't sound as natural.

Comfort

Note: I have pretty small ears so most headphones are comfortable on my ears. I'm more sensitive to the pressure on top of my head. My narrow, long head helps me avoid clamping pressure. Pretty much all of the these headphones are comfortable for me and I can wear them all day. I am really nitpicking just to give a ranking

1) Sony 1000XM5 - For my ears, these are the most comfortable. Very light clamping pressure and very light on the head. Feels like pillows surrounding my ears.
2) ML 5909 - Very comfortable. Love the feeling over the ears and on the head. Distributes weight really well.
3) Momentum 4 - Nice size ear cups that sit comfortably over the ears. Feels light on the head with a light clamping force.
4) Dali iO-6 - These feel light on the head. Perfect clamping pressure. Can be problematic if sensitive to round ear cups.
5) B&W PX7 S2 - Very close in comfort to the top 3. After going back and forth, these come in 4th due to stronger clamping force. However, they do feel the most secure on my head.
6) B&O H95 - Has a really snug, comfortable fit. Really fits my ears well.
7) AirPods Max - Has the least amount of pressure on top of the head due to the netting material on the headband. I love this
8) M&D MW75 - I would say the biggest knock on these for many will be the comfort. They have a pretty high clamping force and pretty small ear pads. They almost feel like on ears. I can see people with bigger ears than mine having issues if they're sensitive to the on the ear feel.

Features and Convenience

1) Sony 1000XM5 - These are hands down the champs of features. This is my favorite travel headphone. Tied for 4th with the Dali iO-6 and PX7 S2 for battery life. The best app, ANC, and phone call quality on the market. When on the phone, you can be standing in the middle of a construction site and the person on the other end will think you're in a library. It's app based EQ is hands down better than the others on this list and works really well. Speak to chat, which is the ability to start talking and have the headphones automatically pause your music and turn on transparency mode, works well in a work environment. Quick attention, which is the ability to temporarily turn on transparency mode by placing your hand over the ear cup, is very convenient. I could go on all day on the many features, but for the sake of time I won't. Most know about all the features this headphone offers, but if by chance anyone has questions, feel free to reach out. This headphone is in a league of it's own when it comes to features.
2) B&W PX7 S2 - Excellent app. Love the ability to manage your bluetooth connections in the app. Makes it very easy to connect to multiple devices without digging through settings. Other headphones in this list can now do this as well, but I give B&W the credit because they were the first I saw do it. Solid phone call quality. Tied for 4th in battery life with the Dali iO-6 and Sony 1000XM5. AptX Adaptive for Android users. There's a simple EQ in the app which is an added feature over the original PX7. However, the biggest, and honestly my favorite feature on these headphones, is the ability to keep a bluetooth connection while using them with a wire. This is so big if you use them for gaming or movies on your TV. If I get a call while gaming, I can hear the ringer and answer my phone without having to take the headphones off. LOVE THIS FEATURE. Another cool feature worth mentioning is that the app will stay connected to the headphones wether you're connected to your phone or not. This is also an underrated feature seeing as how most wireless headphones rely on app features to get the most out of them. This also gives this headphone an advantage when managing bluetooth connections. Say you're connected to your TV and Laptop, you can still manage your connections without having to be connected to your phone. Also, the PX7 S2 is currently tied for second with the AirPods Max as my favorite travel headphone. My biggest gripe is that you can't use these passively. I don't count this against it too much as headphones like the 1000XM5 and Momentum 4 can be used passively but they sound horrible. As I'm sure you can tell, this headphone has a couple of my favorite features. If it's ANC and call quality were better, they'd be ranked above the 1000XM5 for me.
3) B&O H95 - Excellent app that includes a simple EQ that saves to the headphones. Multipoint bluetooth, dials for different levels of noise cancelling and transparency, excellent call quality, and the 2nd best battery life behind the Momentum 4. AptX Adaptive for Android users. Biggest flaw for me is you can't manage bluetooth connections from the app. I no longer own these so that may have changed with a firmware update.
4) Momentum 4 - Very good ANC, transparency mode, and phone call quality. Like the PX7 S2, can manage multipoint bluetooth connections via the app. The best battery life currently on the market for a wireless ANC headphone. Also has a simple EQ. App is still a little sluggish when compared to others on this list. Also, unlike the PX7 S2, you have to be connected to your phone to use the app. ApX Adaptive for Android users.
5a) ML 5909 - Very good ANC. It's Transparency Mode is only bested by the AirPods Max on this list. Phone call quality is excellent. Excellent battery life, only bested by the Momentum 4 and B&O H95. Simple, easy to use app. Has the best Codec support on this list with LDAC, AptX Adaptive, and AAC. The only knock is these are big headphones and I personally wouldn't commute with them. I know many wouldn't mind the big size since they perform so well, but I prefer headphones like the Sony 1000XM5, PX7 S2, AirPods Max, M&D MW75, and B&O H95 for travel, and I have to consider that a big part of owning a wireless ANC headphone.
5b) M&D MW75 - Pretty much shares the same features with the ML 5909 except with a worse battery life. I also prefer the look of these over the ML 5909. A little more travel and commute friendly in my opinion.
6) AirPods Max - If you're in the Apple ecosystem, these are better than every headphone on this list. However, I know that's not the case for everyone so I'm trying to be fair in my assessment. If in the Apple Ecosystem you get Spatial Audio and seamless device switching between all your devices. It also has the 2nd best ANC, and the best Transparency Mode of the bunch. Call quality is very good. The reason I'm putting it below the others is because if you're not Apple, you lose the Spatial Audio and multipoint device switching, there's no app, and AAC is not as good on Android.
7) Dali iO-6 - No app. Average ANC and Transparency. Average call quality. This is a barebones headphone that you're strictly getting for sound.

Overall

1) B&W PX7 S2 - If I could only own one wireless ANC headphone, this would be it by a hair. Has a very versatile, natural, big sound. Excellent comfort for me, excellent battery life, very good ANC and transparency, and solid call quality. Excellent for at home use or travel. Honestly a great value when you look at what they cost compared to a few on this list.
2) Sony 1000XM5 - If this headphone had the sound quality of the 5909, or even PX7 S2, it would be the holy grail of wireless ANC headphones in my opinion. It's features are unmatched, has the best ANC and call quality on the market, and has an excellent battery life. Honestly it's sound is it's Achilles heel. Although it doesn't sound bad, it's a step below every headphone on this list with it's stock EQ and tuning. Now if you EQ it, you can get it to the level of the PX7 S2 and Momentum 4 with the only drawback being that it sounds a little more digital than those. Other than that, you have to respect what Sony has done with this headphone.
3) Sennheiser Momentum 4 - If the App was more stable on iPhone, and the ANC was a little better, these would be tied with PX7 S2 for the top spot. As far as value goes, this is arguably the best on this list at the US retail price of $350. It's sound quality punches well above it's weight when it comes to wireless ANC headphones, it has excellent comfort, and it's battery life is unmatched.
4) B&O H95 - Excellent features, a very clear and neutral sound signature with a little bass push, excellent battery life and call quality, very good ANC and transparency modes. Very good for travel and commuting.
5) AirPods Max - If fully in the Apple ecosystem, this would be my number one choice. Excellent features, ease of use is unmatched, excellent combination of ANC, transparency, and call quality. The best headphone on this list to commute with if in the Apple ecosystem due to all the features like "Hey Siri", reading and sending texts without touching your phone, etc. It's only issue is a very mediocre battery life.
6) M&D MW75 AMG - If these were more comfortable, they would be in serious contention for the #1 spot. It's similar to the ML 5909 in features, but with a more exciting sound that gets louder. Works well as a travel/commuter headphone as well. Tied with the blue PX7 S2 as my favorite looking headphone currently out.
7) ML 5909 - If I were getting a wireless ANC headphone for mostly home usage, this would be it. Sound is unmatched when compared to any of the headphones on this list. It works in passive mode and sounds very good doing it. It's honestly the first wireless anc headphone I feel I could give up my wired options and be perfectly ok with it. The only reasons I have it below the others is because those are better as travel/commuter headphones in my opinion, and the price of these are not realistic for most people.

My Personal Favorites and the ones I use the most as of 09/07/2022
1. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2
2. Master & Dynamics MW75 AMG Edition
3. Mark Levinson 5909
4. Sony 1000XM5
 
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Jul 20, 2021 at 9:28 PM Post #4 of 73

yticolev

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What, no video?! As much as I enjoyed your previous videos (2 perhaps?) on the APM, this writeup is better. Kudos.

As someone who has never even seen most of those headphones (thanks for the picture), I have two suggestions to make your writeup better (for me anyway). No need for value comparisons, but some sort of street price on each would be a nice frame of reference. (Yes, could Google each one myself). Another interesting frame of reference would be percentage of your listening time to each headphone when you are not doing direct comparisons. On the very long APM thread, I think I have seen several posters who have complete turnarounds and based on perhaps convenience or "good enough" sound and ended up using the APMs most of the time. I'm sure that happens a lot to the headphone freaks here every year with one or another model of cans.
 
Jul 20, 2021 at 10:46 PM Post #5 of 73

Maukey

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What, no video?! As much as I enjoyed your previous videos (2 perhaps?) on the APM, this writeup is better. Kudos.

As someone who has never even seen most of those headphones (thanks for the picture), I have two suggestions to make your writeup better (for me anyway). No need for value comparisons, but some sort of street price on each would be a nice frame of reference. (Yes, could Google each one myself). Another interesting frame of reference would be percentage of your listening time to each headphone when you are not doing direct comparisons. On the very long APM thread, I think I have seen several posters who have complete turnarounds and based on perhaps convenience or "good enough" sound and ended up using the APMs most of the time. I'm sure that happens a lot to the headphone freaks here every year with one or another model of cans.
Thanks for the feedback. I actually listen to all 5 of these headphones around the same as I use them pretty much all day throughout the day. I'm likely to start off the morning with one headphone, switch to another at lunch, and then grab another when I get off LOL. It all depends on my mood and what I'm doing. Today I used the PX7 most of the day as I was in the mood for it's big, cinematic sound. When I got off work I spent a little time with the H95. Yesterday I couldn't take the iO6 off. I will say that when watching TV or movies on my 55inch, I prefer the HP70 or PX7. Watching movies or videos on my AppleTV or iPad Pro, AirPods Max are king. If I want headphones when commuting, it's the AirPods Max, although I tend to prefer true wireless for commuting. My commuter companions are the Sony WF1000XM4, Beats Studio Buds, or AirPods Pro. When traveling I'll take the AirPods Max, H95, or PX7, again, depending on my mood.
 
Jul 21, 2021 at 10:10 PM Post #7 of 73

Maukey

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Thanks for that tidbit. Always assumed owners of multiple headphones would gravitate towards using just one mostly.
I’m a person that appreciates different sound signatures in headphones. I’m fortunate enough to be able to own multiple if I choose to. I will be honest, I will probably return or sell one of these. I’m still in the return window on the B&W PX7 and Dali iO6, although the Dali is a lock to stay in my collection. I’ve been debating on either returning the B&W PX7 or selling the B&O H95. I will most likely end up keeping all of them though as I enjoy them all that much.
 
Jul 24, 2021 at 5:49 AM Post #10 of 73

heathman

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That’s exactly what it is and no I haven’t tried my AirPods Max with it. I typically use my AKG K371
OK, thanks. I read a comment elsewhere by a drummer who said AirPods Max wired to the module and with Transparency Mode turned on makes it seem like the electronic drums are an acoustic set filling the room with sound. I'm eager to try that for myself.
 
Aug 4, 2021 at 10:28 AM Post #12 of 73

angelom

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Nice done. Completely agree about your assessment of the H95 vs AirPods Max. As much as I loved the H95, the forced transparency when on calls and the fact that ANC was not as good as Sony XM4s made me ultimately go the AirPods Max route.

B&O fixing this in h95 with firmware update 2 or 3 months ago and now you having possibility of transparency, ANC or off when you're making telephone call or using WhatsApp audio/video call for example. Now you having too the possibility for muting your voice with a button in the left ear cup during the audio/video call.
 
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Sep 2, 2021 at 3:59 AM Post #13 of 73

8bitfanatic

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Thanks for a true and honest personal biased review of those headphones. It helps me a lot in my quest for finding ‘my’ best option. Pity about the Dali, I wear glasses and really cannot do anything without them. In your experience, which of them has the most wide soundstage experience?
 
Sep 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM Post #14 of 73

Maukey

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Thanks for a true and honest personal biased review of those headphones. It helps me a lot in my quest for finding ‘my’ best option. Pity about the Dali, I wear glasses and really cannot do anything without them. In your experience, which of them has the most wide soundstage experience?
Believe it or not, I would say the Momentum 3. Now I can't say I've ever fully understood soundstage, but my basic understanding of it is the sound coming out of the headphones sound like it's coming from all around you, not in your head. None of these are as good a my Sennheiser 560S open backs, but Momentum 3 is the best of the bunch in my opinion. The PX7 is pretty good as well.
 
Sep 3, 2021 at 2:53 AM Post #15 of 73

8bitfanatic

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Believe it or not, I would say the Momentum 3. Now I can't say I've ever fully understood soundstage, but my basic understanding of it is the sound coming out of the headphones sound like it's coming from all around you, not in your head. None of these are as good a my Sennheiser 560S open backs, but Momentum 3 is the best of the bunch in my opinion. The PX7 is pretty good as well
Sometimes fate has humour. Two years ago I bought the M3 and sent it back because I thought the ANC was lacking. Instead I went on with sony’s IEM’s. And now you make it very tempting to buy it again…
 

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