AirPods Max Unboxing Videos: 'More Than Good Enough to Compete With Other High-End Headphones'

Earlier this week, Apple introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, and first impressions and unboxing videos have now surfaced from various media outlets and YouTube channels. Priced at $549, the AirPods Max launch December 15.

airpods max hands on

A first real-life look at AirPods Max via CNET

AirPods Max feature a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that is said to provide "rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension." Each ear cup is equipped with Apple's H1 chip for "computational audio" to deliver the "highest quality listening experience possible," according to Apple.

While more time is needed for in-depth reviews, The Verge's Nilay Patel said AirPods Max sound "more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones":

Sound-wise, I've had fun listening to the AirPods Max for a few hours — they're crisp and bright, with a pleasingly wider soundstage than my Sony headphones, and no distortion at all, even at max volume. We'll have a full review of these soon, including tests of spatial audio and Apple's claim of Atmos surround sound support, so stay tuned for that. But for now, rest assured the AirPods Max sound more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones.

Apple says the AirPods Max feature a "breathable knit mesh" spanning the headband that distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure, but this might be more marketing speak than anything, as Patel said he "can't say it feels very much different than my Sony WH-1000XM2s, but it's possible I just have a very large head."

Patel says that it takes two hours to charge AirPods Max to their full, advertised 20-hour battery life using Apple's small 5W charger, with no option for fast charging, even if you use a Lightning to USB-C cable. That said, if you forget to charge the AirPods Max overnight, a five-minute charge provides enough juice for 1.5 hours of listening time.

CNET's David Carnoy believes the AirPods Max "raise the noise-canceling bar," edging out both Sony's WH-1000XM4 and Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, two of the most popular over-ear headphone models on the market:

On top of that, their noise canceling is arguably the best I've experienced, slightly edging out the noise canceling on both Sony's WH-1000XM4 and Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. (I haven't yet compared them closely to Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds, which offer the best noise-canceling for true-wireless earphones.) They don't completely silence the world around you, but I was out on the streets of New York, and they did a bang-up job of muffling noise -- I could barely hear the traffic around me. Finally, they work quite well as a headset for making calls and are particularly good at reducing wind noise.

Carnoy also said the AirPods Max have "impressive" build quality, although he noted that the headphones are quite heavy:

For heavy headphones they are comfortable, but not necessarily super comfy. It'd be nice if they were 20% lighter, but the way the headband is designed, with its mesh canopy, it takes a good amount of pressure off the top of your head. They might look and feel a little big for people with smaller heads, but they do seem to fit a good range of head types.

AirPods Max come with a carrying case called the "Smart Case," which puts the headphones in an ultra-low power state to preserve battery charge when not in use, according to Apple. The case has already become the butt of a joke on social media, and many of the first impressions shared so far agree that the case looks rather peculiar.

airpods max smart case hands on

Smart Case for AirPods Max via CNET

CNBC's Todd Haselton found the AirPods Max to be "super comfortable" with extended use, and he also praised the precise volume control offered by the Digital Crown, a feature adapted from the Apple Watch:

I wore the AirPods Max for several hours Wednesday and they felt super comfortable. There's a breathable mesh band on the top that felt light on my head and didn't get sweaty or hot. I also love the ear cups, which are spacious and fit around my ears instead of sitting on them.

There are a lot of high-end touches, like aluminum cups and a steel frame, instead of plastic parts you might find in competing headsets. I also dig the Digital Crown that Apple brought over from the Apple Watch. It feels solid and turns easily to adjust the volume. A lot of competing high-end headphones use touch controls for volume, which isn't as accurate as a physical control.

Videos




More Coverage

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Buy Now)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

Zimmy68 Avatar
10 months ago
I can't wait to see iJustine's super critical review and unboxing from her free pair.
Score: 81 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LongWayHome Avatar
10 months ago
iJustine has reached a new level of cringe for me. Her "reviews" are nothing more than her trying to be cute for the camera and fawning over whatever product Apple has given her for free. The least she could do is act somewhat professional and not like a 12 year old girl trying to mug for the camera.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
10 months ago

Not a fan of these headphones.
i thought the time of big over the ear headphones was over.
They are just as or more popular than ever.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
H.E. Pennypacker Avatar
10 months ago
iJustine is the most biased apple reviewer on the planet, I take anything she says with a grain of salt.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbplayer5 Avatar
10 months ago
For that price.... it shouldn’t just “compete”.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MecPro Avatar
10 months ago
MKHBD said they do not turn off unless you put them in the case.

That's a no, HUGE no for me.

Edit* Nilay says they go to sleep after a period of inactivity, but not sure that’s good enough. Still reading as many different sources as possible.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

airpods max blue

Gurman: Apple Not Working on Second-Generation AirPods Max, But Has Considered New Colors

Friday May 28, 2021 6:11 am PDT by
In a report focused on upcoming third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman added that Apple has yet to start working on second-generation AirPods Max, although he said the company has discussed launching additional color variations for the over-ear headphones in the future. The relevant bit from the report:The last AirPods-related hardware...
airpods max b

Apple's AirPods Max Weigh 384 Grams, Heavier Than Most Competing Over-Ear Headphones

Tuesday December 8, 2020 7:02 am PST by
Anyone who owns a pair of over-ear headphones will tell you that the weight of the headset can make a big difference to the listening experience. Especially if you're wearing headphones for several hours straight, weight starts to have a real impact on overall comfort. Apple's new AirPods Max over-ear headphones weigh 13.6 ounces (384 grams), which might not sound like much, but that's...
airpods max blue

AirPods Max Now Backordered Until March in All Colors [Updated]

Tuesday December 8, 2020 8:50 am PST by
Apple today introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, and delivery estimates have already slipped into 2021 on Apple.com. AirPods Max in all five color options, including space gray, silver, green, sky blue, and pink, are now estimated for delivery in 12-14 weeks. While the estimates could change at any time, this means the AirPods Max are currently backordered until...
airpods max b

Apple Announces AirPods Max Over-Ear Headphones With Noise Cancellation, Priced at $549

Tuesday December 8, 2020 5:33 am PST by
Apple today introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, with key features including high-fidelity audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, and spatial audio. Priced at $549, the headphones can be ordered starting today on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning December 15. AirPods Max come in five colors, including space gray, silver, sky...
AirPods Max Smart Case Battery Life Feature2

AirPods Max Battery Drains Only Slightly Faster Outside of Case

Thursday December 17, 2020 11:13 am PST by
Apple did not include a power button on the AirPods Max, so there's no definitive way to turn them off, but Apple says that putting the headphones inside the included Smart Case puts them into an ultra low power mode. That's left a lot of questions about what happens to the AirPods Max when they're not inside the case yet not being actively used, so we've done some testing to attempt to...
AirPods mix and max hero

Here Are All 25 AirPods Max Color Combinations You Can Make With Swappable Ear Cushions

Tuesday December 8, 2020 10:37 am PST by
Apple's new AirPods Max headphones feature magnetically attachable ear cushions, and replacement ear cushion sets will soon be available for $69 on Apple's online store, providing customers with the opportunity to mix and match colors. MacRumors graphics designer Ryan Barrieau has mocked up all 25 possible combinations, providing a helpful look at the various options. While many of the...
maxresdefault

Apple Promotes AirPods Max in New 'Journey Into Sound' Ad

Tuesday December 8, 2020 7:55 am PST by
Apple today introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, and it has since shared the first ad for the headphones on its YouTube channel. The 90-second video is titled "Journey into Sound" and shows someone wearing AirPods Max in space. "Introducing AirPods Max," says Apple. "Computational audio. Adaptive EQ. Active Noise Cancellation. Transparency mode. Spatial audio."...
airpods max listening

Apple Shares Helpful Tips for AirPods Max and Fitness+, Confirms AirPods Max Aren't Water Resistant

Tuesday December 15, 2020 7:52 am PST by
Following the launch of the AirPods Max this week, Apple has shared a series of support documents with helpful details about the headphones. Apple has also shared some helpful tips on getting started with its new Fitness+ workout service. How the LED Status Light Works on AirPods Max On the bottom of the right ear cup of the AirPods Max, there is a small LED status light that serves...
airpods max ear cushions

Apple Now Selling Standalone Ear Cushions for AirPods Max

Wednesday January 27, 2021 11:08 am PST by
Apple is now selling standalone ear cushions designed for the AirPods Max, allowing AirPods Max owners to purchase cushions in different colors. The ear cushions are available in all of the AirPods Max colors - silver, black, red, sky blue, and green - and are priced at $69. AirPods Max ear cushions attach to the ear cups magnetically and can be popped right off, so making a swap to a new...
AirPods Max In Stock Pink

AirPods Max in Pink Now Available to Ship on Amazon

Thursday March 11, 2021 11:39 am PST by
AirPods Max in Pink are now shipping on Amazon, for the regular price of $549.00. This is the first time AirPods Max have been in stock and available to ship from a major Apple reseller in March, and we are only seeing availability in Pink at this time. You can also get Pink AirPods Max on AT&T with a March 16 shipping estimate. Before today's restock, Silver and Space Gray were the most...