Cyber Monday Is a Great Time to Grab Some New Headphones

Woman wearing Beats Studio Pro.
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Black Friday may be over, but there are still many great deals to be had on Apple gear and other accessories. This includes not only Apple’s classic AirPods but other headphones and true wireless earbuds for your listening enjoyment.

After all, Apple’s AirPods are great — especially for Apple fans — but they’re far from the only game in town. That’s especially true if you want a set of headphones that will work just as seamlessly on an Android smartphone or tablet, a Windows PC, or a smart TV.

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A set of AirPods will pair with these devices as they still use Bluetooth, but you won’t get the same experience when it comes to things like spatial audio and being able to adjust settings for transparency and active noise cancellation.

Plus, as we shared on Black Friday, Apple’s AirPods Max are decidedly on our “do not buy” list for this year’s holiday shopping season. While they’re still a good set of headphones, they’ve been on the market for three years and aren’t worth anywhere near their asking price, especially with new second-generation AirPods Max on deck for next year. The best Black Friday deals we’ve seen have only shaved about $100 off their usual $549 price tag.

That’s already $50 more than the regular $399 price of Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM5 headphones, which are hailed by reviewers as having the best ANC in the business. However, for Cyber Monday, Amazon is knocking the Sony WH-1000XM5 down to $328. That’s $100-150 less than the best prices we’ve seen for the AirPods Max.

The downside is that while the XM5s have head-tracked spatial audio, you’ll only get that from an Android 13 device. Still, if you’re only planning to use them to listen to music, that’s not going to be a serious deal-breaker, and since they support the same AAC codec as the AirPods Max, you’ll get the same sound quality from Apple Music; near-lossless audio requires a wired connection no matter which set of cans you’re using.

Even the brand-new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones can be had for only $379 this Cyber Monday. That’s only $50 off their normal price, but it still handily beats the best AirPods Max deals, and you’ll get best-in-class ANC plus Bose’s new “Immersive Audio,” which creates a Spatial Audio sound stage from any source you’re listening to, not just specific platforms and apps. It’s a bit hit-and-miss with stuff that isn’t specifically mastered for Spatial Audio, but the Bose headphones hold their own against the AirPods Max when it comes to Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music.

If you’re looking to save a bit more, check out Sony’s previous-generation WH-1000XM4, which are down to $228 for Cyber Monday. That’s $57 off the regular price and about half the price of Apple’s AirPods Max. They perform nearly as well as the XM5s, lacking only a second ANC chip, but they’re still at least on par with Apple’s AirPods Max for noise cancellation. Plus, they fold down to pack away more easily, something Sony oddly abandoned in the XM5’s redesign.

However, the best Cyber Monday headphone deal of all is on Apple’s Beats Studio Pro, which can be picked up from Amazon for only $170 — that’s less than half their normal $350 asking price.

While the Beats Studio Pro headphones technically come out of Apple’s Beats Electronics division rather than the team behind Apple’s AirPods, it was still stunning when the company released a new set of over-ear headphones that surpass the AirPods Max in nearly every way.

You get a platform-agnostic set of headphones that will work just as well on an Android device as they do with an iPhone or iPad, plus great sound, ANC, and transparency modes, and a USB-C port that supports digital audio which means you can enjoy full Hi-Res Lossless Apple Music over a wired connection — as long as your source device has a USB-C port. That sadly leaves out the older Lightning-equipped iPhones, but it does include the entire iPhone 15 lineup, as well as Apple’s iPads, MacBooks, and, of course, almost all Android smartphones.

The Beats Studio Pro also deliver remarkably good sound and more than capable ANC, and more importantly, they’re the first non-Apple-branded headphones to fully support the same dynamic head tracking and Personalized Spatial Audio features found on the third-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. Add to that seamless pairing on both Apple and Android devices, and Find My support for both ecosystems.

Whether the Beats Studio Pro compete with the Sony XM5s or Bose’s QC Ultra Headphones is open for debate, but they leave the AirPods Max in the dust in every way except perhaps design; however, that’s a category that’s entirely down to personal preference. Still, while the Beats Studio Pro might be a tougher call over the Sony and Bose options at $350, at $170, they’re almost a must-buy if you’re in the market for a new set of cans.

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