A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding Apple AirPods Max: Review and Analysis

(Image: © Future)

Pros & Cons

  • + Luxurious design and feel
  • + Easy-to-use controls
  • + Crisp and balanced sound
  • + Spatial audio is a game-changer
  • + Fantastic noise cancellation
  • - Expensive
  • - No on/off switch
  • - Smart case provides no protection

Apple AirPods Max Specifications

  • Price: $549 / £499 / AU$899
  • Colors: Space gray, silver, sky blue, green, pink
  • Size: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Speakers: 40mm dynamic drivers
  • Features: ANC, spatial audio, audio sharing, Siri
Do the $549 Apple AirPods Max make sense? Considering how much less expensive the majority of the best over-ear headphones are, it could seem improbable. Furthermore, the AirPods Max are incompatible with the recently released Apple Adaptive Audio feature set, despite being the company's most expensive headphones to date and having wired connectivity. Nevertheless, we can affirm that the AirPods Max are worth $549. As a matter of fact, you might legitimately rank them as some of the greatest noise-canceling headphones, headsets, and headphones for working from home, or as the finest headphones period. Although there are less expensive options for the AirPods Max, the actual thing is quite alluring because to its functionality, style, and sound quality.

However, it's not a rash purchase. I'll thus condense my review of the Apple AirPods Max especially for individuals who are unsure about making the investment: They sound better, they look fantastic, and they offer enough more features to make even $549 worthwhile. The newest headphones from Apple are a true value for the money. Additionally, there are fantastic accessories available, like as our selection of the top AirPods Max covers and cases.

Price and Availability

The AirPods Max are available for purchase at Apple stores and online at Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, with a price tag of $549, £499, or AU$899. There are five hues available for them: silver, sky blue, pink, green, and space gray. The magnetic ear cushions may be switched out, and more pairs are available for $69. A carrying Smart Case and a Lightning-to-USB-C cable are included in the box with the headphones, however there is no power adapter. The Lightning-to-3.5mm audio connection, which costs $35 and is required if you want a non-Bluetooth listening option, is also absent from the AirPods Max. Put another way, while the AirPods Max headphones are more affordable than many of the top audiophile headphones, they will still set you back a significant amount of money.


The AirPods Max are available in an array of vibrant colors that complement a vintage style, in contrast to the Apple AirPods, which are enclosed in the recognizable white plastic. I'm not in the slightest bit nostalgic about candy after testing the pink ones. The cans are dripping rose gold, and the headband and case perfectly capture Pantone's iconic Living Coral color.
(Image credit: Future)
Although the oval memory foam cushions covering the pivoting ear cups aren't as pulpy as those on the Sony WH-1000XM4, they nonetheless produce a spongy, snug seal around my ears.

(Image credit: Future)
Their 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3-inch stainless steel frame is joined by slender, telescoping arms that extend to form a mesh headband at the top. I feel that the 13.6 ounces feel lighter than they actually are because of the pressure released by the permeable canopy. Nevertheless, compared to the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, the AirPods Max are notably heavier.

(Image credit: Future)
Using the Digital Crown from the Apple Watch, which they enlarged for the AirPods Max, was a brilliant decision by Apple. On the AirPods Max, the crown is utilized for volume control, track skipping, and playing/ stopping music, much like it does on Apple's wristwatch. It may also be used to initiate and terminate phone calls, as well as to call Siri. It's true that there's a certain satisfaction in turning the dial, even though I have occasionally swished the volume up while fiddling with my hair.

(Image credit: Future)
There is a choice for both transparency mode and noise cancellation on the other button on the right earcup. You might wonder, then, where the AirPods Max power button is. Whatever way you look at it, the fact that there isn't one is strange. I still believe Apple ought to have added a feature that allows users to totally shut off the AirPods Max, even when they enter low-power mode when they remain still for a few minutes or when they are in the magnetic smart case.

Sound Quality

Each AirPods Max cup has a 40mm dynamic driver that was specially made to provide clear high frequencies, accurate midrange tones, and deep bass. Additionally, even at maximum volume, a dual neodymium ring magnet motor keeps harmonic distortion to less than 1%. The music continued to sound balanced even after I cranked the AirPods Max all the way up, but my Apple Health noise alerts rose.

(Image credit: Future)
Apple has achieved computational music capability comparable to the iPhone 12's computational photography capabilities with the use of sophisticated software, a bespoke acoustic design, and an H1 chip in each ear. Ten audio cores on each chip, capable of nine billion operations per second, provide adaptive equalization (A/E) for customized listening and on-the-fly sound adjustment.

Let's get past the technical details now. True audiophiles or audio experts who demand lossless playback are probably not going to choose the AirPods Max because they are wireless headphones. Although they might not sound as luxurious as corded recording equipment, Apple headphones are nonetheless more sophisticated than the majority of well-known headphone brands.

(Image credit: Future)

 Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" had a deep, steady bassline, and I could hear the rapper articulating his lines with a clarity to the music that I had not heard before. Although they are equally clear, the WH-1000XM4 don't offer as much clarity. Similarly, using the AirPods Max, Alicia Keys' performance in the first verse of "You Don't Know My Name" sounded more fluid but accurate. I had the impression that I was listening to these two tracks in a studio.

I turned to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" for a more live concert atmosphere. I could feel the vibration of Tom Hamilton's bass guitar, the deliberate acoustics of Joe Perry, and the crisp vocals of Steven Tyler, which took me back to my very first Aerosmith concert at an outdoor amphitheater on Long Island.The bass drum of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" produced a similar effect, booming through the song's distinctive growl.

(Image credit: Future)
All of my favorite musical genres have something to offer when it comes to the soundstage of the AirPods Max, but music wasn't my favorite part of the testing process. One of the most revolutionary features of the AirPods Pro is spatial audio, which Apple introduced and which elevates the product to the top of the wireless earbud market.

In essence, spatial audio is surround sound adapted for a headgear. When watching videos on your iPhone or iPad, it utilizes built-in head tracking technology to adjust the sound to match what's seen on screen. It supports 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos video content.For instance, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the buzzes and hums of the ships precisely followed from my left ear to my right ear as they sped from the left side of the screen towards the right and down towards a planet. It always impressed me that as I shifted my head, the spatial audio likewise adjusted.

Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode

I purchased the AirPods Pro a few months ago in order to block out the noises of my apartment's surrounding traffic, screamy infants, and noisy appliances. Although they have been a big assistance in helping me focus on my job, the AirPods Max will make it hard to go back to earphones. There's only one degree of noise cancellation, but it works really well. With 11 noise cancelation settings, the Bose 700 is likely a more sensible choice for you if you desire precise tweaking for this feature. However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has many ambient sound options, whereas the AirPods Max only provide one.
(Image credit: Future)
With AirPods Max, the general consensus is that having more options isn't always a good thing. Apple's headphones are tied for first place in side-by-side testing with the top two noise-canceling headphones available. I'm not sure if AirPods are the new ANC king. Since I seldom leave my apartment these days, YouTube has provided me with ambiance sounds from New York City that mimic the sounds I hear during rush hour commutes. While the Bose 700 was superior at blocking out low-frequency sounds like wind and traffic noise, the AirPods Max performed better at canceling out mid- and high-frequency noises like tire squeaks and automobile horns.

Again, you might not want to use the AirPods Max as your go-to headphone if you're serious about altering your sound—or not.But you won't be sorry if you're willing to cede control to Apple's superior processing capabilities.

Connectivity and Siri Control

(Image credit: Future)
It should come as no surprise that users of other Apple products can get the most out of their AirPods Max experience. The H1 chip in these headphones allows for rapid connection with your iPhone as soon as you take them out of the case. This means you can quickly operate your AirPods Max from your Apple Watch or switch between playing music on your iPad and HomePod mini.

You'll also have Siri, which works well for sending messages and taking calls but isn't my favorite voice assistant. Additionally, you can use the AirPods Max to operate the greatest HomeKit gadgets using Apple's AI helper.

Call Quality

When it comes to phone calls, I discovered that the AirPods Max outperform previous AirPods models, cutting out the majority of background noise according to the people I tested them with. I became aware that I could hear myself talking, which helped to prevent unintentional screaming. The AirPods Max even increase the loudness of my own speech in my ears while in transparency mode.

Smart Case

(Image credit: Future)

Normally, I wouldn't devote a full review section to a device's holster, but there has been a lot of humor and memes about the AirPods Max Smart Case. To be honest, even though it has the appearance of an opulent leather purse, I don't despise it. Not only does the flexible case take up very little room while not in use, but I have no problem using the headband as a carrying handle.

However, I do have two worries: An uncovered headband first appears to be a germ magnet. As a sanitary person, I would never pick up the AirPods Max if there was any dirt or crumb on my hands. Secondly, there is no sensation of protection offered by the Smart Case.The AirPods Max are not something I would throw in my backpack with my other belongings, like my AirPods Pro. A better casing is one of the five improvements we want to see with the AirPods Max 2. Until then, getting one of the top AirPods Max cases is a wise decision.


Battery Life

Throughout my testing, I discovered that the AirPods Max deliver on Apple's promised 20 hours of battery life, regardless of how long I used them for chatting, listening, or isolating myself from the outside world. My AirPods Max had around 10% remaining battery life after two days of use, which included three hours of phone conversations, ten hours of music or TV, and several hours of quiet in between. And the battery hardly ran out when it was kept in their case overnight. This effort to remove the power button was well-planned by Apple. With typical use, most users should be able to get several days' worth of battery life out of the AirPods Max thanks to its efficient low power modes.However, if a long-lasting battery is a priority for you, the Sony WH-1000XM4 will last an additional 10 hours.

It's important to remember that charging the AirPods Max is still necessary even if you decide to use the lightning to 3.5mm adapter. The cable cannot be used to charge the cans; it only provides a wired listening option and removes the chance of audio lag.


It's unfortunate that the greatest Apple headphones, the AirPods Max, are not more reasonably priced. However, these headphones enhance Apple's environment in a manner that I didn't realize was important, and now that they're out, I'm finding it difficult to want any other over-ear headphones. It's difficult to top the cozy comfort, faultless audio quality, and incredible features like spatial audio. Apart from being more suitable for Android users, the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are also more affordable by hundreds of dollars and provide similar noise cancellation. Additionally, both include useful casings, an off switch, and a headphone port.

The AirPods Max are your pass to luxurious headphones if you can get beyond these drawbacks and have the extra cash to invest. I'm here to reassure you that it's alright if you feel under pressure to join Apple's horde of devoted fans. The AirPods Max are extraordinary—they're not frivolous.

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