Hands-On With the AirPods Max

Today is the official launch day for the AirPods Max, Apple's newest headphones in the AirPods family. ‌AirPods Max‌ are a little bit controversial because of the high price, so we picked up a pair to see what you're getting for that $549 price tag.


‌AirPods Max‌ have aluminum ear cups that are cool to the touch with mesh padded ear cushions and a mesh headband. Design wise, the headphones look and feel premium when it comes to build quality. There's a Digital Crown on the top which is a nice physical control method, along with a button for controlling Active Noise Cancellation.

The buttons work well, but we missed the inclusion of a power button as there's no way to turn the headphones off. They go into standby mode when removed or an ultra low power mode right when put in the case, but otherwise there's no power control option.

airpods max flat
Speaking of the case, it's not great. It looks weird and it doesn't offer much protection at all because it's made from a soft material. The case doesn't cover the headband, and there are openings at the bottom too, so it's not something you're going to want to toss in a bag with your $549 headphones inside.

The case also doesn't charge the headphones (there's a USB-C to Lightning cable included for that), and it's made from a smart cover-like material that may attract dust and dirt.

airpods max case
When it comes to comfort, the ‌AirPods Max‌ didn't cause pain even though they're very heavy, but we've only used them for a short period of time so far. In the amount of time we've had them, we've been impressed with the comfort level and the way the mesh band distributes weight on the head. The telescoping arms for adjusting fit are also a nice touch, and overall, everything feels premium.

airpods max digital crown
By the way, the ear cushions are magnetic and pop off, so if you want to buy a second set for $69 when Apple starts selling them, you can mix and match colors. The headband isn't removable though, so the ear cushions are the only customization option.

‌AirPods Max‌ have all of the same H1 features that other AirPods do, so expect quick pairing, easy device swapping, and long Bluetooth range. They have Adaptive EQ to adjust the sound to the fit on your head, and Active Noise Cancellation. We're going to go more in-depth on Active Noise Cancellation in a future video that compares the ‌AirPods Max‌ to other noise cancelling headphones, but so far, the noise cancellation is excellent.

airpods max ear cups
In terms of sound quality, the ‌AirPods Max‌ sound amazingly crisp, even at high volume levels. Combined with the Active Noise Cancellation, it's an isolating experience that completely blocks out the outside world.

We haven't been able to test battery life, but Apple says the ‌AirPods Max‌ will last for up to 20 hours before needing a recharge. There's also a quick charge feature that gives you over an hour of battery life after five minutes.

airpods max headphones cups
‌AirPods Max‌ now have a 12 to 14 week wait if you're ordering online for shipping, but you may be able to get them in an Apple retail location if you check each morning now that in store pickup is available.

Have you picked up ‌AirPods Max‌? Are they worth the price? Let us know in the comments.

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

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Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
45 months ago
Good product?: Yes
Heavy?: Yes
Horrible Case?: Yes
Great ANC?: Yes
Better than Sony WM4?: Neutral
Good Case?: NO

Worth it for $550?: Nope.
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iGeneo Avatar
45 months ago

Good product?: Yes
Heavy?: Yes
Horrible Case?: Yes
Great ANC?: Yes
Better than Sony WM4?: Neutral
Good Case?: NO

Worth it for $550?: Nope.
What color did you get?
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blicked Avatar
45 months ago
That case is just so comically awful. For the way this product is priced, it's insulting.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
crewpride Avatar
45 months ago
I still can't imagine spending more than $200 more for these than what the Bose 700's cost (currently $340), and still not getting a 3.5mm cable and an absolutely useless case, haha.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fumi2014 Avatar
45 months ago
I wish Apple would drop the audiophile nonsense.

Headphones/Earphones that really concentrate on audio do not have Noise Cancelling Algorithms, Spatial Cinema (Lol) or Bluetooth. All these things hinder, taint and ultimately ruin the source input. They are conveniences where the trade-off is really crappy sound.

If you're fine with that, (and the conveniences out-weigh the audio quality) then this new Apple offering is probably about as good as the Sony XM3 or XM4 - once you stop drooling over the design and actual concentrate on the audio quality.

I have a pair of XM3s. They're okay for watching a film or maybe YouTube but I'm under no illusion that these are what I would choose for actually listening to music. For that, I'd go to the Shure SE846 or something similar.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
45 months ago
For $549, that is one lousy case.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)