AirPods Max Customer Impressions: Premium Design and Competitive Sound Quality, Can Feel Heavy on Ears and Smart Case is Useless

Today is AirPods Max launch day in the United States and many other countries, and as orders begin arriving, first impressions of the headphones from customers are beginning to surface. We've already shared AirPods Max impressions from media outlets and YouTubers, and customer opinions provide additional perspective.

airpods max customer photos

AirPods Max photos shared by MacRumors forum member Boardiesboi

MacRumors forum member Boardiesboi picked up a pair of AirPods Max from an Apple Store and said they are "premium quality" and "very well made," adding that the stainless steel and aluminum design is "miles ahead" of the plastic used in Bose's QuietComfort 35 II and Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones. They also found the AirPods Max to have better sound quality and active noise cancellation than those Bose and Sony options.

Boardiesboi finds the ear cups to be "light and airy," but said the AirPods Max are "much heavier" than Bose and Sony headphones. "I've been wearing them for 45 mins or so and I'm starting to notice the weight on the ears (not the top of the head)," they said. (Apple says the AirPods Max headband is designed to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure.)

Of course, not everyone is as impressed with the AirPods Max. MacRumors forum member Macaday said that while the AirPods Max have superior build quality and aesthetics, they weren't convinced they are better than Sony's WH-1000XM3 headphones:

Mine arrived a couple of hours ago and although it's too early to make a final call - on initial impressions I'm not sure I like them over my Sony XM3's. The sound signature is no doubt very pleasing to some but to me it lacks warmth and depth compared to the Sony's. The Sony's are also a lot comfier, you forget you're wearing them where as the AirPods Max really have a weighty presence that feels like pressure on your head and ears.

I'm a little shocked if I'm honest that the Sony's have a much more pleasing sound. The AirPods Max probably have a little more detail in the mids and highs but being able to EQ the Sony's means I can get a much more custom sound that suits me.

Max volume is also higher on the Sony's which helps with the quieter recordings. Both have no distortion at high volumes.

Build quality and looks go hands down to Apple, the crown to control the volume is brilliant but sound and comfort is surely the number one priority and that is where I'm afraid the Sony's win - so far.

MacRumors forum member LongWayHome ranked Bose's QuietComfort 35 II and Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones ahead of the AirPods Max in terms of comfort, noting that the AirPods Max are heavy:

I've owned these now for about an hour, and they sound fantastic and theh noise cancellation is excellent. One thing to keep in mind though, these things are heavy. I've been wearing them for an hour and I can definitely feel the weight of them. I hope this doesn't turn into something that I don't like wearing for extended times due to the weight, but I think most everyone will feel it when they wear them.

MacRumors forum member Moriarty emphasized that the AirPods Max ear cups are "deep and spacious," and they feel this deserves more attention:

The earcups are deep and spacious (at least as big as my QC25). My ears touched the insides of the XM4 so I returned them: I do not have this problem with the AirPods Max. I feel like this feature has not gotten half the attention that it deserves. So many wireless headphones have far too small earcups and I cannot stand it. No such problem here. This is partly why the headphones are so big. Most of the depth is taken up by the earcup and the driver, and all the electronics are around the edge. It’s very well thought out.

Several customers expressed appreciation for the physical controls on the AirPods Max, compared to touch controls on some other over-ear headphones. Like the Apple Watch, the AirPods Max have a Digital Crown for volume control, playback, phone calls, and Siri, as well as a noise control button for switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes, the latter of which lets a bit more outside sound in.

Like reviewers, many customers agree that the "Smart Case" carrying case included with the AirPods Max ranges from "useless" to "awful."

"It's almost like Apple's design team forgot about the case and they got one of the cleaners to design it on a piece of paper," quipped MacRumors forum member honglong1976. "The case is absolutely useless for travelling."

Priced at $549, the AirPods Max are available to order on Apple.com, but they currently have a lengthy 12-14 week delivery estimate. For more impressions, visit the AirPods subforum in the MacRumors forums. And if you're still waiting on your AirPods Max, track your order alongside other Apple fans in our pre-order discussion thread.

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

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

You Can Give Siri a New Name With iOS 18's Vocal Shortcuts

Friday June 14, 2024 4:33 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 added a Vocal Shortcuts accessibility feature, and now that iOS 18 is available in a beta capacity, users have figured out that this option can be used to give Siri a new wake word. With Vocal Shortcuts, you can assign a custom phrase that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete "complex tasks," and one of the shortcuts you can set up is an alternative for "Hey...
iOS 18 Wallet Feature

Here's What's New in Apple Wallet on iOS 18 for Event Tickets and More

Friday June 14, 2024 7:32 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a handful of enhancements to the Wallet app on the iPhone, with new features for Apple Pay, Apple Cash, event tickets, and more. Below, we outline everything new for the Wallet app on iOS 18, based on information from Apple's press release and a WWDC 2024 coding session. Redesigned Event Tickets Event tickets have an all-new design in the Wallet app on iOS 18, complete...

Top Rated Comments

MacFather Avatar
46 months ago
That Smart Purse is a joke. Premium headphones, premium case.

Score: 79 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thadoggfather Avatar
46 months ago
I hate that you have to use the 'case' for standby mode without severe battery drain

learned that from Marques Brownlee video
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RamGuy Avatar
46 months ago
I've been using my pair for a little while and it's too early to tell. But I find the comment "I'm a little shocked if I'm honest that the Sony's have a much more pleasing sound" rather funny but it just goes to show how personal audio and sound truly is.

The soundstage of the Apple AirPods Max is leaps beyond the Sony WH-1000XM4. They feel so wide and spacious and vocals have a true spark to them. The XM4 have a very V-shape sound profile. Meaning they are more upfront and "in-your-face" which emphasis bass. I find them to be rather muddy like most headphones with a v-shaped profile as it puts the lower frequencies more upfront which ends up sacrificing width, separation and clarity.

This has pretty much been confirmed and verified by rtings.com in their excellent and in-depth review of the XM4's.


The AirPods Max are very different from the XM4's. They try to be wide and spacious providing a great soundstage with crystal clear sounds that you can easily pinpoint. If you are one that prefers the sound to feel like they are coming from within your head and for the bass to be in focus you won't like the AirPods Max at all.

But like most high-end headphones it's all about making the audio feel like it's coming from all around you. This is why most high-end headphones tend to be open-back as it's much easier to achieve a very wide soundstage when the headphones are open-back. The AirPods Max are best closed-back ANC headphones I've ever heard in terms of bringing an extremely wide and spacious soundstage. If you are not one that enjoys or appreciate width in your audio and music then you are pretty much waisting your money with the AirPods Max.

V-shaped audio is much easier to achieve and you'll get a much better "in-your-head" kind of audio signature from way cheaper options.


I can't really comment on the ANC as of yet as I've been using mine inside and there isn't much noise here for me to really test the ANC.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Quu Avatar
46 months ago
Having owned heavy headphones in the past I know how it can ruin the experience no matter how good they sound. If people are already reporting discomfort after only 40 minutes ... not great :(
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G5isAlive Avatar
46 months ago
I am not defending the case, agree 100% not great for traveling and I no doubt will be replacing it with a third party case made for travel. BUT. I took my Max off at one point and put it on the desk, and immediately got nervous about the aluminum cans getting scratched and instantly understood Apple's case. It was just designed for keeping the cans from being scratched during routine use. Nothing more, nothing less. Given how many people complain about their phones and watch scratching I see where Apple was coming from. I expect to be called a fan boy for not totally roasting Apple over it, but I am typing this while listening to a movie and just blown away by the soundstage, and so just don't care that much about the case. It will protect it enough sitting at home.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Seoras Avatar
46 months ago
Smart case isn't useless if you live somewhere (Australia comes to mind) where 8 legged things can crawl into the ear pod for a rest just before you pop them on...
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)