Side By Side Comparison - AirPods Max, B&O H95, Dali iO-6, B&W PX8, ML 5909, M&D MW75, Focal Bathys and more
Jul 19, 2021 at 9:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 440

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.

Edit (11/13/2022) - Added the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 and Focal Bathys. Modified all sections to account for these added headphones.

Edit (11/20/2022) - Updated the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 Sound Quality after more experience.

Edit (12/23/2022) - Repurchased the B&O H95 to directly compare to the newer Focal Bathys, B&W PX8, and T+A Solitaire T. I have updated the H95's rankings.

Edit (01/14/2023) - Added the T+A Solitaire T.

Edit (11/18/2023) - Added the Bose QuietComfort Ultra
Edit (01/15/2024) - Added the Dali iO-12


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 tonality is tasteful to my ears.

3) I have an honorable mention that I know is a favorite 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.

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

1a) Dali iO-12 - It was so difficult for me to choose a winner between the Solitaire T and iO-12. I've been going back and forth for weeks. Here's the thing, and I'll go ahead and get this out the way, both in my opinion are head and shoulders the sound quality leaders among all anc headphones on the market. Which you prefer will come down to preference. When comparing both in my preferred listening modes ( High Quality for the Solitaire T, Hifi with ANC On for the iO-12), the Solitaire T is the more intimate headphone with a more musical midrange to my ears. Its treble is little more relaxed, which gives it a slightly more relaxed presentation overall. The iO-12 is much more spacious and displays greater detail with more emphasis in the treble region. What's amazing is, it does this without sounding harsh to my ears. There's no annoying S and T emphasis to speak of. The soundstage is incredible and easily supplants the Focal Bathys as the new leader in soundstage. Both headphones are comparable in transparency, and bass when both are in ANC mode. Where the Dali has the advantage is you feel its bass a little more due to its bigger drivers (50mm vs 42mm). It sounds bigger if that makes sense. I don't like using marketing terms like driver size, but I felt it necessary in this case because it was something that stood out to me when comparing the two. Another thing I should note is that, the iO-12 is not quite as good as the Solitaire T when it comes to consistent sound quality in all modes. It doesn't sound good passively, and when using the iO-12 with ANC off, you gain a little more clarity while losing some of the wonderful bass response. It's not as drastic as it was with the iO-6, which I couldn't even listen to with ANC off, but it is noticeable. The iO-12 are bigger and don't fit as snug as the Solitaire T so it may be a seal issue. In the end, I consider them equal in overall sound quality, but my preference is the iO-12 by a hair.

1b) Solitaire T - Let's see, how can I put this? This headphone in my opinion, is the new standard for wireless ANC headphones when it comes to sound quality. While for some it may not have the typical "fun" sound that we've become accustomed to in anc headphones, there is no headphone clearer, more revealing, more neutral (Especially in HQ mode), and with a better tonality. This is as close to audiophile perfection as I've heard in a wireless anc headphone. The highs, mids, and bass all get equal attention which is very refreshing from the typical tuning of wireless anc headphones. The thing is, I really didn't want to like this headphone. For the $1600 price tag, my plan was to try them, make the comparisons to the others, and then box them up and send them back. Well, let's just say that after a month I still have them, and they will remain in my collection. Yes, they sound that good to my ears. If you appreciate neutral, accurate, audiophile quality sound, there's no wireless anc headphone currently at this level. If I had to pick a flaw with the Solitaire T, and I'm nitpicking, it'd be the soundstage is not as wide as some of the others on this list. The Bathys, 5909, and Momentum 4 all have a bigger stage to my ears, but the Solitaire T's analytical quality is so good that it really is a nonissue for me. I have no problem hearing details or detecting space in sounds and instruments. I've heard some complain about the volume being a little low, for me, that hasn't been an issue either. Maybe I'm just too lost in the sublime sound that I don't notice LOL. The Solitaire T just sound correct no matter what I'm listening to. I should also mention that not only is the Solitaire T the new standard for wireless anc sound quality, but it's also the new standard for passive sound quality and sound consistency among all modes of listening for a wireless anc headphone. This headphone sounds amazing and consistent in all modes, including using it powered off. The only mode that sounds a little different is when using in HQ mode, and it's by no means a bad thing. Its HQ mode is what I call the super neutral mode. In HQ mode, the best way I can describe the sound is, the same signature from all the other modes, but with its accuracy and detail turned up a notch, but with a couple of dbs less bass. This is truly a remarkable headphone across the board for sound quality, and I could easily recommend this as an excellent analog wired headphone as well.

3) Focal Bathys - If the $1600 Solitaire T or $1300 Dali iO-12 are unreasonable, and for many they will be, this headphone is the next best thing for sound quality in my opinion. Before the Solitaire T, I honestly thought it would be a while before another wireless anc headphone would match the 5909 when it comes to the combination of soundstage, accuracy, and tone. Boy, was I wrong, and it only took about a year. Upon first listen, the Bathys instantly impressed me, and it took less than an hour for me to see that I prefer the Bathys to the 5909. Now I'm not saying it's a night and day difference between the two, and I can easily see some preferring the 5909 to the Bathys. Both headphones are excellent and top of the class in soundstage, detail retrieval, and tone in my opinion. So, what is it for me that allows the Bathys to surpass the 5909? First, and most important for me, the Bathys get a great deal louder with my Apple devices than the 5909. For my ears, there are times where the 5909 at full volume aren't loud enough. Second, while both soundstages are wide and deep for what they are, the Bathys has this unique 3D like presentation to its sound. It reminds me of the Dali iO6 in this regard but to a greater degree. And finally, the bass is slightly bigger on the Bathys which I prefer. Neither are bass monsters, but the Bathys ever so slightly more emphasized bass is definitely noticeable when doing things like watching movies and/or gaming. The Bathys taps into the fun side of listening a little more than the 5909. I will say that the mids and highs are slightly more resolving on the 5909, but not enough to where it overrules the 3 advantages the Bathys have for me. The Bathys highs still have great resolution, they're just a little smoother in texture to my ears. The mids on the Bathys slightly takes a backseat to the rest of the spectrum, but still sound natural and never gives me the feeling that something's missing in the range. I can definitely see those who are maybe classical music enthusiasts, and need every bit of accuracy and resolution, preferring the 5909. It just isn't my preference when comparing the two.

4) Mark Levinson 5909 - Prior to the Bathys and Solitaire T, it was this headphone that first took wireless anc sound quality to new levels never seen. It's extremely detailed and has excellent resolution only bettered by the Solitaire T. Just a very well-done tuning. The Levinson company says this is a Harman tuned headphone, but to my ears and what I hear when listening to my 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 headphones. 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 become ever so slightly fuller. 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, a problem the Solitaire T doesn't have. The only real negative I have with the sound is that I wish they were a little louder. Other than that, if detail and resolution is your thing, and you don't want to pony up for the Solitaire T, this is the next best thing.

5a) B&O H95 - I'm not sure what happened, but initially I rated this headphone's sound as follows: "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". I just repurchased these on 12/17 to direct compare to some of my newer favorites. I'm not sure if my more recent experience with more accurate sounding wireless anc heaphones like the Focal Bathys and T+A Solitaire T has changed my hearing and/or preferences, or if the newer firmware that has come out since I last owned these has impacted the sound, but I'm hearing these in a different light. Do I dare say that they sound naturally fun? I hear these now as a little more toward the fun end with a healthy, very well-done lower bass emphasis. I no longer hear any metallic qualities to the treble. I actually was very impressed coming back to these after all this time. Now direct comparing it to the AirPods Max, it sounds a step above. I put it in the same class as the PX8. The PX8 is warmer with more of a mid and upper bass emphasis. The H95 has a better treble response and digs deeper in its bass response. The H95 also has a little bit better instrument separation. Which you prefer will come down to preference. I personally prefer the H95.

5b) Bowers & Wilkins PX8 - I don't have much to say on this headphone as you can read what I wrote about the PX7 S2 below to understand most of my thoughts on this headphone. The PX8 is a more detailed, resolving, cleaner PX7 S2 to my ears. It pretty much has the same characteristics as the PX7 S2 in being a big, fun, live concert type headphone, it just does it in a more grown-up way. I will say that I personally put the PX8 a tier below the 5909 and Bathys (2 tiers below the Solitaire T and iO-12), when it comes to pure sound quality, something that's not very popular on the PX8 thread 😂. I just feel those headphones are more resolving, accurate, and detailed. The one flaw I've found in the sound of the PX8 is a thickness in the high bass/low mids. Depending on source, it can cause issues with the overall presentation. Despite this one flaw, these are excellent sounding, musical headphones. There are many who prefer the PX8 to all others on this list and I can definitely understand why.

7) Dali iO-6 - This headphone has a very natural, musical sound to my ears. It has excellent resolve and tone. It's only bested by the 5 headphones 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 one of the most addicting wireless anc headphones I've had the pleasure of owning. 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.

8) 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. It uses the same type of driver as the 5909 and is very similar in tonality, it's just tuned differently. While it's not as resolving as those above it, its overall bass is bigger than all. To my ears, it's the best bassy headphone on this list. Also, similar to the Solitaire T and ML 5909, it sounds excellent in passive mode.

9) Bose Quiet Comfort Ultra - These are pretty neutral sounding headphones with a slight bass boost from the mid bass all the way down to the sub bass ranges. The bass extension and bass clarity is very impressive with these. If I had to pick a flaw, it would be that for me I like a little more treble presence. This is easily fixable with the in app EQ. I personally don't feel they stand out from the other consumer oriented headphones like the PX7 S2, Momentum 4, and AirPods Max when it comes to their standard stereo sound. Where these do separate in my opinion, is in their immersive mode. This is like Apple's spatial audio except it works with any application or device you use the headphones with, not just tied to the Apple ecosystem. In my opinion, it's VERY well done. I can't say it sounds good for every single use case, but what it did for me is make me go back and listen to a lot of my favorite albums just to see how these headphones would present it. It was a very fun ride for me. Because of it's immersive mode, it moves ahead of the PX7 S2, Momentum 4, and Apple AirPods Max for me when it comes to sound quality. It's the most neutral of the bunch as well which makes it more versatile for different use cases.

10a) 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 headphone with a little emphasis throughout the bass range. Its midrange is lush, and its treble is a little reserved, but very smooth and easy on the ears. It's a very natural listen while also keeping most of its 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 below the headphones above it is because they all offer more detail and resolution, however, they all cost much more than this headphone.

10b) 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 is the Momentum 3 with a slight reduction in warmth, and in mid and high bass, but a slight increase in resolution and detailing. Its 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 third best natural soundstage on this list, only bested by the ML 5909 and Bathys 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 fuller 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.

10c) 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 headphones ranked above it. I feel the PX7 S2 and Momentum 4 both sound a little more natural and less digitized. 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.

13) 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 for me. I'm more sensitive to pressure on top of my head. My narrow, long head helps me avoid clamping pressure. Most of these headphones are comfortable for me and I can wear them all day. I am really nitpicking just to give a ranking.

1) Bose QC Ultra - We have a new champ in the comfort department. Big ears, little ears, big head, little head, crown sensitivity, it doesn't matter, these are super light and comfortable.
2) Sony 1000XM5 - Very light clamping pressure and very light on the head. Feels like pillows surrounding my ears.
3) Solitaire T - I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable these are. I don't have big ears, so the cups hug my ears just right and they sit comfortably on my head. Bigger ears may not find these as comfortable as the cups are on the smaller side, but the cups are so soft and plush, I'd recommend you still give them a try no matter your ear size.
4) Dali iO-12 - Although big, like the iO-6, they feel light on the head. A rather lose fit which helps in the comfort, but may cause seal issues for some.
5) ML 5909 - Very comfortable. Love the feeling over the ears and on the head. Distributes weight really well.
6) Momentum 4 - Nice size ear cups that sit comfortably over the ears. Feels light on the head with a light clamping force.
7) Focal Bathys - Spacious ear cups, acceptable clamping force. I have no problem wearing these all day.
8) Dali iO-6 - These feel light on the head. Perfect clamping pressure. Can be problematic if sensitive to round ear cups.
9) B&W PX8 - Very close in comfort to those above. After going back and forth, these are a little below those above due to stronger clamping force. However, they do feel the most secure on my head. No problem wearing these all day
10) B&O H95 - Has a really snug, comfortable fit. Really fits my ears well. Clamping pressure is a little high.
11) AirPods Max - Has the least amount of pressure on top of the head due to the netting material on the headband. I love this. The shape of the earcups make it hard to forget you're wearing these.
12) B&W PX7 S2 - Similar to the PX8, but less comfortable ear pads.
13) 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. 2nd best ANC. Tied for 5th with the Dali iO-6 and PX8/PX7 S2 for battery life. The best app 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 all the others on this list. 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. 2nd best travel headphone on this list. 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 its own when it comes to features.
2) B&W PX8/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 5th 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. The PX8/PX7 S2 is currently tied for 3rd 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) Bose QC Ultra - The new king of ANC and my current favorite travel headphone. This is the strongest ANC that I have encountered so far, and I personally don't detect that cabin pressure feeling that some are sensitive to. Best ANC, 2nd best transparency mode, Immersive Mode, button for switching connected devices, and the ease of setting different listening profiles make this the 3rd best headphone on this list for features. I still give the edge to the 1000XM5 due to a better in app EQ, speak to chat, and quick attention mode which I still feel are all very useful features. The QC Ultra has a better mic quality but doesn't filter out background noise as well as the 1000XM5. Battery life on the QC Ultra is just average. The PX8/PX7 S2 still has my personal favorite feature, which is the ability to stay connected to your phone when using a wire on another device.
4) 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, very good ANC, good transparency mode, and the 3rd best battery life behind the Solitaire T and Momentum 4. AptX Adaptive for Android users. The best, most responsive touchpad on a headphone. Biggest flaw for me is you can't manage bluetooth connections from the app.
5) Momentum 4 - Good ANC, transparency mode, and phone call quality. Like the PX7 S2, can manage multipoint bluetooth connections via the app. The 2nd best battery life currently on the market with 60 hrs runtime. Also has a simple EQ. App is 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.
6) Solitaire T - Very good ANC, call quality, and transparency mode. Battery life is the best on the market at 70 hours. Excellent size for travel and commuting. APTXHD for Android users, with LDAC promised in a future update. This also has one of my favorite PX8/PX7 S2 features in the fact that you can remain connected to your phone via bluetooth when using these with a wire. I wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention that these do have a couple of missing features that may be a deal breaker for many. First, these don't have a detailed EQ in the app. They have a couple of presets, but that's it. Also, they do not have multipoint. You can only connect to one device at a time. These also have issues with its touch controls that have been improving with firmware updates.
6) ML 5909 - Good ANC. Its Transparency Mode is only bested by the AirPods Max, Bose QC Ultra, and Focal Bathys on this list. Phone call quality is excellent. Excellent battery life, only bested by the Solitaire T, 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, PX8/PX7 S2, AirPods Max, Solitiare T, M&D MW75, and B&O H95 for travel, and I have to consider that a big part of owning a wireless ANC headphone.
7) Focal Bathys - I debated putting these above the 5909. The Bathys have a better transparency mode only bested by the AirPods Max and Bose QC Ultra, and it has a better in app EQ only bested by the 1000XM5. The reason I put it below the 5909 is because the 5909 has better codec support, slightly better phone call quality in noisy environments, and the Bathys are missing a passive mode which is huge for many. If the battery dies the Bathys don't work.
8) M&D MW75 - Pretty much shares the same features with the ML 5909 except with a worse battery life, worse call quality, and no LDAC support. I do prefer the look of these over the ML 5909. A little more travel and commute friendly in my opinion.
9) AirPods Max - If you're in the Apple ecosystem, these are better than every headphone on this list when it comes to features. 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 3rd 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.
10) Dali iO-12 - No app. Very good ANC, transparency, and call quality. Does have multipoint. AptX Adaptive and multiple listening modes. 4th best battery life. You're getting this headphone for the best sound quality you can get in a wireless anc headphone.
11) Dali iO-6 - No app. Average ANC and Transparency. Average call quality. This is a barebones headphone that you're strictly getting for the great sound quality you get for the price.

Overall

1) B&W PX8/PX7 S2 - For most, if you could only own one wireless ANC headphone, this would be it. Has a very natural, unique, 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. If your budget allows get the PX8, if not, the PX7 S2 is a great choice and is arguably one of the best values in wireless anc headphones.
2a) Bose QC Ultra - I was very close to putting this above the PX8. If this had a little better build quality and went for slightly better drivers, it would run away with this. I put it tied with the 1000XM5. If ANC, transparency mode, and a more versatile sound is most important, get this, if you prefer a bassier sound, better battery life, and more features, get the XM5. This is the best travel headphone on this list, the most comfortable, and it's neutral sound plus immersive listening option make it very versatile for music listening, gaming, or movies. Has a very smooth, non fatiguing sound that sounds very natural and clean at all volumes. It's missing some of the dynamics and finer details that the PX8 can provide so I couldn't in good conscious put this above the PX8 as a one stop shop of a headphone. But I highly recommend this headphone if your main use case is away from home.
2b) Sony 1000XM5 - If this headphone had the sound quality of at least the PX7 S2, it would be the holy grail of wireless ANC headphones in my opinion. Its features are unmatched, has the best call quality on the market, extremely comfortable, 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 its stock EQ and tonality. Now if you EQ it, you can get it close to the level of the PX7 S2 and Momentum 4 in tuning 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.
4) Solitaire T - For me, this is my pick as my favorite overall wireless anc headphone overall. I pick this over the PX8 for a few reasons which I consider important if you're talking about a single do it all wireless anc headphone. It has a passive mode and sounds amazing passively. This really could replace your wired headphones in many instances. It has the best battery life currently on a wireless anc headphone. Its call quality is better than the PX8. Although the PX8 is a little better with its passive isolation, the anc and transparency is comparable. I find it more comfortable than the PX8 for my ears, it's just as portable in size, and I have no problem commuting or traveling with these. However, my goal when I started this thread was to not just see headphones through my own vision and preferences, but to try and look at the headphone community as a whole. We have enough fanboys on headfi as it is, I don't aim to be one of them. Because of the $1600 price tag and the fact that these do not have multipoint, I can't in good conscience recommend these as the overall winner for most people. The PX8 is about 85% of the way there in sound quality and is a better value and more complete package overall, so I give it the number 1 spot for most.
5) B&O H95 - Excellent features, a very clear sound signature that steers a little toward the fun side with a little bass emphasis, excellent battery life and call quality, very good ANC, and good transparency mode. Very good for travel and commuting. For me, I prefer these overall to the Sony 1000XM5 but ranked it lower due to the fact that those are excellent values and more affordable for most people. If this had a way to manage multipoint in the app, this would surpass the PX8 as I like it better in most respects. Just such a fun headphone to use.
6) Sennheiser Momentum 4 - If the App was more stable on iPhone, and the ANC was a little better, these would be tied with PX8/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 its weight when it comes to wireless ANC headphones (I call it the baby Bathys), it has excellent comfort, and its battery life is only bested by the Solitaire T.
7) Focal Bathys - The 3rd best sound quality of the bunch in my opinion, excellent battery life, excellent transparency mode, excellent in app EQ, and very good call quality. The reasons I don't rank it higher overall is because although its case is travel friendly, it's not my favorite looking headphone for travel and commuting due to its size. Also, its ANC is fairly mediocre compared to the top choices. These are important factors when choosing one single do it all wireless anc headphone. However, if sound quality is priority, you don't have $1300+, and you don't mind having more than one listening device, I'd recommend getting this and either the AirPods Pro 2 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and getting the best combination of sound and portability that money can buy 😜.
8) AirPods Max - If fully in the Apple ecosystem, I rank this headphone right behind the PX8/PX7 S2. 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. Its only issue is a very mediocre battery life.
9) ML 5909 - If I were getting a wireless ANC headphone for mostly home usage, only behind the Dali iO-12 and Solitaire T, this would be it. Sound is unmatched when compared to any of the headphones on this list outside of the Solitaire T, Dali iO-12, and Focal Bathys. It works in passive mode and sounds very good doing it. The only reasons I have it below the others is because of lack of travel friendliness with the huge case and big size, and because of the price. In my opinion, because of the existence of the PX8 and Focal Bathys, these are not as good a value.
10) Dali iO-12 - It does the basics of a wireless anc headphone very well. Excellent battery life, very good comfort, anc, and transparency. It does have multipoint, but no app to manage it. I say this a lot, but you're getting this for sound quality. Same as the Bathys, if you can afford it, get this and some AirPods Pro or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. The sound quality alone is worth the price if you're serious about your sound.
11) M&D MW75 - If these were more comfortable, they would be ranked higher. It's similar to the ML 5909 in features and tonality, but with a more exciting sound that gets louder. Works well as a travel/commuter headphone as well.
12) Dali iO-6 - If you get these, you're getting them strictly for sound and comfort. Battery life is good too. It's a barebones wireless anc headphone with no app and no special features to speak of. Its ANC and transparency mode are mediocre. However, I love it's sound enough that I'd still recommend it as a good value today if features aren't a big deal for you, or as a companion headphone to one of the more fun oriented, travel friendly wireless anc headphones on this list.

My Personal Favorites and the ones I use the most as of 01/15/2024
1. B&O H95
2. AirPods Pro 2
3. Dali iO-12
4. T+A Solitaire T
5. PSB M4U 9
 
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Jul 20, 2021 at 12:18 PM Post #2 of 440
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.
 
Jul 20, 2021 at 9:28 PM Post #4 of 440
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 440
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 440
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 440
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.
 
Jul 26, 2021 at 1:19 PM Post #11 of 440
IMG_1907.jpeg




I purchased the Sennheiser Momentum 3 headphones at a discount early last week and have now added them to the comparison.
 
Aug 4, 2021 at 10:28 AM Post #12 of 440
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 440
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 440
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 440
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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