I've reviewed many wireless noise-canceling pairs for Ars over the past few years, from in-ears to over-ears, and some of the better options I've used happen to be on sale during the Black Friday barrage.
For noise cancelation (ANC), the XM4 do better than most pairs I've tested at blocking out lower- and mid-frequency noises like the hum of an air conditioner or the rumble of a jet engine, and they're unusually effective at reducing higher-pitched sounds like nearby voices.
They aren't perfect: their sound profile out of the box goes a bit heavier on the bass than some might prefer (though Sony's companion app has an EQ tool to customize this to be more neutral); their microphone quality is just OK for calls; and they don't allow you to adjust the strength of their active noise cancelation (ANC)—a feature found on other high-end pairs like Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
If money is no object, and you're an iPhone user, the AirPods Max might be a better buy than the WH-1000XM4.
They sound better than any other wireless headphones I've used to date, even without a customizable EQ tool.
(To be clear, the audio quality of any wireless headphones still can't match the best wired pairs.).
To my ears, the AirPods Max also do a better job canceling low- and mid-frequency noise than any other headphones I've worn.
The headphones have an attractive design and an aluminum finish that's cool to the touch.
The AirPods Max are also really expensive, with an MSRP of $549.
But if you're an iPhone user, and want the best audio quality and active noise cancelation possible, the AirPods Max should make for a swanky gift.