AirPods Max rival just launched with features that beat Apple

V-Moda M-200 ANC
(Image credit: V-Moda)

Another AirPods Max alternative has come out of CES 2021: the V-Moda M-200 ANC, a $500 set of over-ear cans with customizable earcup shields and, as the name suggests, active noise cancellation.

The headphones, which are on sale now, might be one of few headphones to almost match the $549 price tag of the AirPods Max — but there’s no doubt the M-200 ANC are brimming with features, many of which Apple headphone's can't match.

For instance, the ANC is adjustable to 10 different levels via the mobile app, which also offers 6 EQ presets and full customization of the lows, mids and highs if you’d prefer to tweak them yourself. Personalization seems like a major focus of the M2-200 ANC in general, as the aluminum shields on the outside of the earcups can be removed and replaced with different designs.

V-Moda says you’ll get six color options to start with, and will be able to have custom designs printed or laser-engraved in the future. That’s quite an answer to the AirPods Max’s $69 replaceable earcup pads, though we don’t know how much these shields will cost separately.

Sound-wise, the M-200 ANC are equipped with 40mm dynamic drivers and are, like the JBL Tour One, certified for Hi-Res Audio playback from lossless music sources. The aptX Bluetooth codec is supported too.

The M-200 ANC's smart features might give the AirPods Max pause as well. Covering the left earcup with your hand activates “Voice In” mode, whereby playback volume is lowered and ANC is paused until you move away. This sounds like am ambient mode you don’t need to manually trigger in an app or activate with a delicate serious of taps, which could be a practical improvement on a lot of ANC headphones.

Battery life with noise cancellation is given as a modest 20 hours, but that’s the only thing about the  M-200 ANC which isn’t particularly extreme. That goes for the price, too: $500 may be a few dollars cheaper than the AirPods Max but it's still well above what you’d pay for most of the other best noise cancelling headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM4.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.