Beats Studio Pro vs. Apple AirPods Max

In many ways, the Beats Studio Pro and Apple AirPods Max couldn’t be more different. They’re not in the same league in terms of price, and while the Beats use a design that is little changed from the wireless headphones the company was making a decade ago, the AirPods — with their aluminum-clad earcups and unique mesh headband — look like nothing else on the market.

Still, they’re both built with Apple’s ecosystem of phones, tablets, computers, and media streamers in mind, which means that there’s definitely overlap when it comes to how most people will use them. The question is, which one of these noise-canceling cans is right for you?

Beats Studio Pro

Apple AirPods Max


Beats Studio Pro on side.

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

This one’s as cut-and-dried as it gets. Apple shocked the headphone world with the $549 price tag of the AirPods Max. And, frankly, we’re still in shock. The Beats Studio Pro are far more accessible at $350, even if some might argue you’re still paying a premium for that big “b” on the earcups.

Section winner: Beats Studio Pro

Beats Studio Pro


Apple AirPods Max.

Riley Young / Digital Trends

Unlike some wireless headphones that are festooned with advanced options, both the Studio Pro and AirPods Max keep things simple. You get play/pause, track skip forward/back, volume up/down, ANC/transparency, and call answer/end.

The difference is in how these commands are executed. The Studio Pro use a series of button presses. The big “b” on the left earcup takes care of play/pause, track skipping, and calling options, while hidden buttons above and below that Beats logo handle volume changes. The weird one is ANC/transparency, which requires a double-press of the tiny power button located on the bottom of the right earcup. While quite precise and easy to use, each of these buttons produces a fairly loud clicking sound inside the headphones.

The AirPods Max, on the other hand, use just two controls on the top of the right earcup for everything. The rectangular button on the front switches ANC/transparency modes, and the digital crown, which was borrowed from the Apple Watch, does everything else. But it’s the volume control that really stands out. Instead of repeatedly (and loudly) pressing buttons as on the Studio Pro, you simply spin the digital crown clockwise or counter-clockwise, which gently increases or decreases the volume.

Throw in the AirPods Max’s wear sensors, which can auto-pause your music when you remove the headphones (something the Studio Pro lack) and the AirPods come out as our favorite in this category.

Section winner: Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max

Spatial audio

Person listening to Apple AirPods Max in spatial audio.


Both headphones are equipped with motion sensors that enable head-tracked spatial audio when you’re listening to Dolby Atmos Music from Apple Music, or Dolby Atmos/multichannel audio on select movies and shows from streaming services like Disney+. This works on iPhones, iPads, and even the Apple TV 4K (sorry, no Android support yet).

But much like with overall sound quality, there’s a difference when it comes to execution. It’s a little less noticeable for 3D music, but for movies and TV shows, the AirPods Max offer a much more immersive and realistic experience.

We found that especially when using an Apple TV 4K, the AirPods Max had us totally convinced we weren’t wearing headphones at all — it sounded just like a full home theater system. You get a sense of that with the Studio Pro too, but it’s just not as convincing.

Section winner: Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max

Full Specs

Editors’ Recommendations

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