AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WH 1000XM4: Comparison (2024)

Odi Productions May 14, 2024
32 People Read
Holding AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 side by side in hand

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

In this article, I'm going to share my HONEST Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 comparison in detail, after personally owning both products. I have thoroughly tested each of these headphones for hundreds of hours, and aim to offer a critical opinion from the perspective of an audiophile and professional music producer.

I'll be comparing these two head to head on categories like price, comfort, features, battery life, noise cancelling, and sound quality.

Then at the end, I'll share which is the better overall value for the money, and my overall recommendation on which you should buy.


Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Price Compared

Overall, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 is $78 cheaper than the Sony WH 1000XM4 at current market prices for brand new. This translates to the AirPods Pro 2 being 39% less expensive than the Sony's.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Prices

  • Retail: $249.00

  • New: $199.99

  • Renewed: $171 (save up to $29)

Sony WH-1000XM4 Prices

  • Retail: $348.00

  • New: $278

  • Renewed: $215 (save up to $63)


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $29 on Apple AirPods Pro 2 with Renewed below:

Save up to $63 on the Sony WH-1000XM4 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Comfort

Sony WH 1000XM4 weighing 251.6 grams on scale

Let's start this head-to-head comparison with the comfort category.

  • Apple AirPods Pro 2 Weight (earbuds only): 10.9 grams

  • Sony WH 1000XM4 Weight: 251.6 grams

It may seem a little silly to compare the weights of wireless earbuds with full-sized, over-ear headphones, but let me explain.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is the lightest over-ear noise cancelling headphone I have tested, while the Apple AirPods Max is the heaviest I've tested in this category.

Being the lightest over-ear headphone I have tested, this has a great effect on the comfort of the Sony's in comparison to wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro 2.

Pressing on the Sony WH 1000XM4 leather earpad material

Add in the supremely plush leather on both the earpads and the headband of the Sony WH-1000XM4, and it scores a nearly perfect score.

The only drawback to these over-ear headphones is the warmth that accumulates inside of the earcup within 1-2 hours.

Now, the AirPods Pro 2 weigh close to nothing, and are easy to wear for hours on end. So why not a perfect score?

Having to insert the eartip into the inner ear canal can be discomfortable for some (myself included) and I actually had to upgrade to memory foam AirPods eartip replacements.

I'd actually give the comfort edge to the AirPods Pro 2 with the upgraded eartips, but stock for stock, it's a tie.

Apple AirPods Max Comfort: 4.5 out of 5

Sony WH 1000XM4 Comfort: 4.5 out of 5

Winner: Tie


Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling

Apple AirPods Pro 2 with USB C charging case

Features

When it comes to features, these two share more similarities than differences.

The AirPods Pro 2 and Sony WH-1000XM4 both include:

  • Adaptive Noise Cancelling

  • Transparency mode

  • Bluetooth wireless

  • Built-in microphones for phone calls

The AirPods Pro 2 are a little newer and have the latest features such as Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos Support.

Although the Sony WH-1000XM4 doesn't have those, it does have a virtual "360 sound" feature that is similar to Spatial Audio.

Also, the Sony's have a dedicated smartphone app with customizable EQ that is something the AirPods Pro 2 doesn't have.

Looks

When it comes to looks and wearing either of these, it's no contest for me. The AirPods Pro 2 earbuds are so small and incognito, whereas the Sony WH-1000XM4 is very bulky and not as flattering when worn on head.

If this matters to you, I'd feel less self-conscious rocking the AirPods Pro 2 in public than the Sony's.

Sony WH 1000XM4 vs AirPods Max Battery Life Comparison

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has 500% longer battery life than the AirPods Pro 2 on a single charge, but the same when factoring in multiple charges with the AirPods charging case.

  • Apple AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life: Up to 6 hours on single charge, Up to 30 hours with charging case

  • Sony WH-1000XM4 Battery Life: Up to 30 hours on single charge

It's important to note that both of these will last longer with their active noise cancelling and additional features like Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos turned off.

The AirPods Pro 2 small form factor means a smaller battery and more frequent charges are necessary, as compared to the full-sized Sony headphones.

Sony WH 1000XM4 vs AirPods Pro 2 Noise Cancelling: Which is Better?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has superior noise cancelling performance compared to the AirPods Pro 2, since they are over-ear and can block out more noise naturally.

The AirPods Pro 2 are just earbuds, so they only block the ear canal but the rest of the ear is exposed.

I have found in airplane travel that the Sony's do a better job at effectively quieting outside noise such as the airplanes jet engine.

The AirPods Pro 2 has decent noise cancelling, but it doesn't seem as advanced or effective to the Sony WH-1000XM4. It's simply an entire tier below, and also is less effective than its "big brother" AirPods Max.

AirPods Pro 2 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 out of 5

Sony WH-1000XM4 Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 5 out of 5

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4


AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WH 1000XM4 Sound Quality Comparison

Side view of Sony WH-1000XM4 in black on desk

For most consumers who are not audiophiles, both of these headphones/earbuds will sound very good and impressive.

For the audiophile who is a little more discerning, I'd say the AirPods Pro 2 has a more balanced and neutral sound signature.

I really have grown fond of the natural representation that the AirPods Pro 2 has when it comes to music, vocals, and instrument timbre.

The Sony's are less impressive on the technicalities, and in fact, inferior when it comes to soundstage and resolution.

The AirPods Pro 2 have a surprisingly wide soundstage for being so constrained by physics, whereas the Sony's are quite narrow and lack even more depth.

The Sony's are fun to listen to and engaging, benefitting from an upper bass peak that creates some muddiness in the mids. Also the treble is quite veiled, leaving vocals quite dull without the airiness and sparkle from higher-end headphones.

For sound quality, I prefer the AirPods Pro 2 for my preferences, mainly for its more accurate and natural representation.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Sound Quality: 8.1 out of 10

Sony WH-1000XM4 Sound Quality: 7.9 out of 10

Winner: Apple AirPods Pro 2


Value

The AirPods Pro 2 is currently $78 cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM4, and are pretty much my favorite pick under $200 overall.

When I compared the Sony WH-1000XM4 vs AirPods Max, the Sony's actually presented quite a good value to the Max's eye-watering $500+ price tag.

So although the Sony's present a nice overall package for the money, the AirPods Pro 2 takes that even further by being cheaper while still being competitive in most categories.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Value: 5 out of 5

Sony WH-1000XM4 Value: 4.0 out of 5

Winner: Apple AirPods Pro 2


Apple AirPods Pro 2 Overall Rating: 8.4 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 8.1 / 10

  • Comfort: 4.5 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 3.5 / 5

  • Value: 5 / 5

  • Total: 21.1 / 25


Sony WH 1000XM4 Overall Rating: 8.6 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.9 / 10

  • Comfort: 4.5 / 5

  • Features / Battery Life / Noise Cancelling: 5 / 5

  • Value: 4.0 / 5

  • Total: 21.4 / 25


Overall Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4

Holding Sony WH-1000XM4 headphone earcup

Wow this comparison was a close one, and a bit of a shock to me.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 narrowly beats out the AirPods Pro 2, and a lot of that boiled down to having superior noise cancelling and much longer battery life on a single charge.

Personally, this is so close that either choice would be a winner in my book, depending on what you prioritize.

If you want better noise cancelling for travel and other noisy environments, I'd pick the Sony WH-1000XM4 all the way.

But if you want to save some money and have a very, very appealing package with arguably superior sound quality in a tiny form factor, the AirPods Pro 2 is the way to go.

Let's also not forget that comparing headphones and earbuds is not exactly apples-to-apples, but I know there are people who are curious due to the similar price and overall value.

If you're purely interested in wireless headphones with better sound quality, you better check out the Sennheiser Momentum 4 as well.


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $29 on Apple AirPods Pro 2 with Renewed below:

Save up to $63 on the Sony WH-1000XM4 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


How We Tested and Our Methodology

RecordingNOW.com is a 100% independent publisher with over 10 years of experience testing and reviewing consumer electronics and headphones.

We currently purchase the products we test with our own money, and are not paid by any company or manufacturer to influence our opinions or decisions.

After purchasing the product, we conduct up to hundreds of hours of detailed hands-on testing in a controlled, acoustically-treated environment.

ODi Productions is our resident expert and author of this article, with 10 years of experience as a professional music producer, tech journalist, and audiophile.


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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.