“The AirPods Max are exquisitely crafted headphones, constructed for Apple lovers.”

Finest-in-class ANC

Superb transparency mode

Glorious construct high quality

Glorious sound high quality

Prime-notch name high quality

Costs by way of Lightning cable

Heavy on head

I’m a headphone geek and have been for nearly twenty years now. And undoubtedly, the $550 Apple AirPods Max are probably the most enjoyable headphones I’ve reviewed in 10 years — however that doesn’t essentially imply you should purchase them.

I’ve heard lots about these headphones over the previous few weeks, and now that I’ve gotten a pair for myself, I’ve to be frank: I don’t agree with loads of what I’ve heard. I wish to dig into these headphones from the attitude of not solely somebody who has examined gobs of headphones through the years, however as a studio musician, a fan of high-end sound, and an individual who likes to make sensible purchases with hard-earned cash. Let’s look at what’s good, what’s nice, and what’s not-so-great concerning the AirPods Max and, after all, toss in some comparisons to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose ANC 700. 

Construct high quality

When beholding the AirPods Professional, probably the most putting design ingredient is their metallic earcups. They really feel nice in your hand —  the truth is, each a part of this set of headphones feels nice to the contact. The material materials within the headband has a cool springiness to it, the telescoping portion of the headscarf has a satisfyingly easy motion, the earcups are squishy and lined with a lush textile, and even the outsized digital crown and noise-cancellation/transparency mode toggle button really feel nice to twist and press. It’s actually astonishing simply how pleasurable they’re to carry. 

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However for as satisfying as they’re to the contact, they aren’t referred to as handphones — they’re referred to as headphones, and they should really feel nice in your head. Now for some customers, the AirPods Max could really feel completely tremendous. Deep earcups, breathable ear cushions, and well-balanced clamping drive assist a bit. However the issue is that there’s loads of weight to compensate for. An excessive amount of weight for my part. These supplies are good. They make the AirPods Max really feel super-luxurious, however virtually talking, I really feel like these headphones could also be too heavy for some people. Particularly when you put on your headphones for hours at a time as I do. 

To be clear, Apple did a powerful job of decreasing pressure on the crown and ears through the use of intelligent engineering and supplies, however tright here’s a purpose headphones just like the Sony XM4, Bose ANC700, and even the Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Carbon Version are made with high-grade plastics and composite supplies quite than metallic: As a result of they work effectively for acoustics, and they’re light-weight and comfy. 


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As you may count on, the AirPods Max work finest with Apple merchandise. Not solely do they join instantly, however they’ll additionally swap from one Apple gadget to a different in a snap. One other profit is that you should use an iOS gadget to show ANC off within the headphones part of the management panel, AND you’ll be able to really toy with the digital sign processor (DSP) by means of the accessibility part — which I’ll point out once more later after we speak sound high quality. Sadly, if you’re an Android person, you lose all of that. There’s no turning ANC off so far as I can inform, and no adjusting the DSP with out an Apple gadget. So for connectivity, AirPods Max win for Apple customers, whereas Sony and Bose, which each have apps for each platforms with a lot of adjustability, win for everybody. 

The outsized digital crown is implausible.


On the subject of controls, I’ve to present it to the AirPods Max. The outsized digital crown is implausible. It’s simple to search out when sporting the headphones, and the amount management is unusually satisfying to show — you even hear a bit of clicking sound as you modify the amount. The digital crown can be extraordinarily correct and granular. I had no downside reaching my loudness candy spot, whereas with different headphones and cellphone quantity controls, I discover I’m all the time one click on away from the amount being too loud or too tender. 

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Additionally, having an nearly comically giant button only for toggling ANC and transparency mode is definitely a feather within the AirPods Max’s cap. Once more, discovering the button whereas sporting the headphones is not any downside, and the satisfying button press is a much better expertise than holding your hand over the fitting earcup on Sony’s XM4s or looking for whichever button stands out as the proper one on the Bose ANC 700. I used to assume the swipe management factor was cool, too, however I’m form of over it now. The AirPods Max have simple controls on the headphones that I wish to use. That is the form of stuff Apple simply will get proper.

The place’s the ability button?

On the subject of battery life, charging occasions, and the truth that there isn’t any energy button — this may increasingly shock you: I’ve bought zero issues with any of it. Hear me out.

Some really feel the truth that the AirPods Max don’t have an influence button and might’t actually be shut utterly off is ludicrous. I don’t assume it’s.

The AirPods Max go right into a low-power mode after a brief interval whenever you set them down. In reality, I set them down on my desk at about eight p.m. and picked them again up at 7 within the morning the subsequent day and so they had discharged a measly 7%. I can get that energy loss again plus heaps extra with 5 minutes of charging, which nets you 1.5 hours of listening time.

If the AirPods Max sit unused for about 72 hours, they go into an ultra-low-power mode of types, sipping even much less energy. Virtually talking, with such sluggish energy loss, it’s laborious to think about a state of affairs the place needing an influence button is totally essential. Maybe when you maintain them round your neck unused all day as a vogue accent? However even then, it’s not as if they’re draining shortly and sure to die on you that day.

Riley Younger/Digital Developments

As for the claimed 20-hour battery life, I’ve discovered that score to be conservative. I bought nearer to 25 steady enjoying hours with ANC on, and that’s sufficient to get by means of a few days of use earlier than it’s a must to take into consideration charging. So I’m good with the battery life, even when the score is about half that of the Sony XM4 — in actual life, it’s completely adequate.

I believe what’s precious about this always-on-standby technique is that when you get a cellphone name or a Zoom name, they’re instantly able to go. Simply put them on and click on to reply. I really like that — it’s much better than having to long-press an influence button and wait round for the headphones as well up whereas the cellphone continues to ring.

What I don’t love is the USB-C to lightning cable included with the headphones. I believe it was a mistake to go along with lightning when USC-C is a way more good selection.

That’s not a case

Riley Younger/Digital Developments

One space through which I agree with different reviewers and commenters is the so-called “case” that comes with the AirPods Max. Since there are many others trashing this “not-a-case” as I’ll name it, I don’t really feel the necessity to pile on with extra vitriol. It’s not a case, it isn’t protecting, and if it weren’t for the magnets inside it, that are wanted to activate ultra-low-power-mode, I’d say toss it. 

Transparency mode is superb.

ANC and transparency mode

I wish to begin with transparency mode as a result of it’s superb — maybe the AirPods Max most spectacular characteristic. It’s as near NOT sporting headphones as I’ve ever heard. Every part else pales as compared.

I’m additionally trying ahead to trying out the energetic noise canceling on a flight sooner or later as a result of, from what I can inform, the AirPods Max could rule the skies. Since I’m not getting on planes simply but, to check the headphones, I attempted the AirPods Max, Sony XM4, and Bose ANC 700 close to some loud followers and an HVAC system. The AirPods Max did extraordinarily effectively in comparison with the most effective noise-canceling headphones I’ve examined.

Riley Younger/Digital Developments

The AirPods Max do even higher with day by day sounds just like the hammering of a mechanical keyboard, slurping of espresso, and different annoying stuff. I wore them right into a espresso store and was shocked by how little I heard coming from the espresso machine and common barista noises. Is it the most effective noise canceling on the planet? I can’t say but. I actually need to get on a airplane to make certain, however it’s darn shut. Shut sufficient that I can’t simply name the Sony XM4s the reigning champ any longer, as there’s now one other large canine on the hill. I’ll say, nonetheless, that the AirPods Max received’t depart anybody wanting for extra noise canceling. 

Name high quality

The AirPods Max are excellent for making calls and taking video conferences — even higher than the Bose ANC700, that are glorious in their very own proper. I discovered that surrounding noises have been very effectively muted, whereas voice readability was very good. The AirPods Max are additionally very adept at dealing with wind noise.

Sound high quality

Earlier than I get into constancy, I do wish to point out that I did some testing with Spatial Audio, which if you’re unfamiliar, is a 3D sound competitor to Dolby Atmos, DTS Headphone:X, and the like. I believe it’s enjoyable for watching motion pictures, however I’m much less passionate about its implementation for music. It’s a cool characteristic, however not a promoting level for me. 

On the subject of audio constancy, the AirPods Max sound superb. Specifically, I believe the midrange has attractive presence and readability — one thing that you simply don’t get as a lot of from the Sony XM4 since they’ve have a bump within the midbass that tends to crowd the vocal vary.

The Sony’s midbass bump can be notable as a result of it lends the XM4 extra punch, so when put next on to the AirPods Max, the Apple cans appear much less impactful. That doesn’t imply the AirPods Max lack stable bass. They really get very deep — deeper than the Sony XM4 or Bose ANC 700 — so tonally every part is there. I simply seen that the bass guitar in most of the tracks I prefer to hearken to was much less outstanding and the kick drum had rather less punch than with the XM4 and Bose headphones. However, as talked about earlier than, the extra balanced midbass permits for the Max’s glorious midrange response.

I discovered Apple Music sounded higher than Spotify with the Apple AirPods Max.”

As for the treble area, there’s a very good quantity of sparkle in cymbals and brass devices, which I loved fairly a bit — sibilance or harshness just isn’t a difficulty right here. Nevertheless, I didn’t be aware notably well-executed instrumental separation, and so far as soundstage and imaging go, I believe the AirPods Max fare about common.

Typically, I really feel a bit of nearer to the music when listening to the Sony XM4 and the Bose ANC700, however I really feel like I hear extra element with the AirPods Max, that are definitely probably the most balanced of the three headphones I in contrast.

An attention-grabbing be aware: I discovered Apple Music sounded higher than Spotify with the Apple AirPods Max, and I think that’s as a result of Apple makes use of the AAC codec (which is the one codec the AirPods Max assist), whereas Spotify’s MP3-based supply is extra lossy — but one more reason to get immersed within the Apple ecosystem for music listening. 

Riley Younger/Digital Developments

I’ve famous that some have stated the AirPods Max sound higher with the ANC turned off. I didn’t discover that to be the case. Maybe the frequency response is flatter, however I really feel just like the music loses a few of its life. I additionally heard that making changes to the DSP by means of the accessibility menu in iOS might enhance the sound, however frankly, I like the way in which they sound out of the field with the balanced setting and the slight increase setting. 

So from an audio perspective, I benefit from the AirPods Max very a lot, and I wish to proceed to hear solely to the AirPods Max a bit longer as a result of I’m guessing my penchant for punch could subside a bit over weeks and months, however for proper now, I are likely to desire the Sony XM4 sound signature. That’s a deeply private choice, although. I can see why somebody may desire the sound of the Max over the lengthy haul, and I’ll modify this overview if I modify my tune. They sound superb. Adequate to lend some justification to their $550 price ticket. 

When it comes to cool issue, there’s little doubt the AirPods Max have it in spades, and there’s little doubt they’re one of the enjoyable headphones I’ve gotten to check in a few years. 

Our take

The AirPods Max are darn-near excellent, with best-in-class noise canceling, probably the most outstanding transparency mode I’ve ever heard, balanced and detailed sound with loads of deep and musical bass, and a really premium really feel. My chief complaints are their weight, which I fear could not work for multi-hour use, and the dearth of a correct carrying case.

Is there a greater different?

For a better degree of consolation, I’d counsel contemplating the Sony WH-1000xm4, which supply aggressive sound high quality and noise-canceling, and superior battery life in a lighter-weight headphone. The Sony additionally include a legit carrying case and are extra moveable. With that stated, the AirPods Max are a splendidly premium headphone with unmatched construct high quality.

How lengthy will they final?

Given the excellent construct high quality I simply talked about, I think about the AirPods Max will final so long as their rechargeable battery will enable them to. They arrive with Apple’s customary one-year guarantee towards producer defects.

Do you have to purchase them?

In case you don’t thoughts a heavier headset with a premium price ticket, then completely sure.

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