The AirPods Max are exceptional noise-canceling headphones with a luxurious design, sophisticated soundstage, and clever computational features. But the $549 price and unconventional case are difficult to overlook. Let’s review AirPods Max with Bestechz!
AirPods Max Review – a perfect balance of exhilarating high
AirPods Max review: Price and availability
The AirPods Max cost $549 and come in five colors: Space gray, silver, sky blue, green and pink. The ear cushions are magnetic and swappable, with replacement pairs costing $69.
Along with the headphones, in the box you’ll get a carrying Smart Case and Lightning-to-USB-C cable, but no power adapter. The AirPods Max also skip on the Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable, which you’ll need to pick up for $35 if you want a non-Bluetooth listening option.
An important note about AirPods Max availability: While you can purchase them from Apple at any time, it could take up to 10 weeks for them to arrive, according to recent shipping estimates.
Unlike AirPods earbuds, which are sheathed in an iconic white plastic, the AirPods Max comes in a fun color range that lends itself well to a retro aesthetic. The pink ones I tested remind me of candy, but not in a childish way. The headband and case embody Pantone’s infamous Living Coral hue, while the cans drip rose gold.
They’re connected by a 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inch, stainless steel frame with slim, telescoping arms that expand at the top for a mesh headband. I sense the pressure relieved by the breathable canopy is what makes the 13.6 ounces feel lighter than they are. That said, the AirPods Max is noticeably heftier than the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose 700 headphones, which both weigh just 8.96 ounces.
Apple made a clever move to borrow and enlarge the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown for the AirPods Max. Similar to how the crown provides navigation for Apple’s smartwatch, on the AirPods Max the crown is used for volume control, skipping tracks, and playing or pausing audio. It’s also a means of summoning Siri and answering or ending phone calls. I’ll admit there’s something satisfying about swiveling the dial, although I did swipe the volume while fussing with my hair more than once.
The Audio Technology includes an Apple-designed dynamic driver, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking.
The headphones sport some top of the line sensors. Each ear cup has an optical sensor, position sensor, case-detect sensor, and accelerometer sensor. Only the left ear cup has a gyroscope sensor.
The AirPods Max have a total of nine microphones. Three are for voice pickup. Eight of the microphones are for Active noise Cancellation.
There is an Apple H1 headphone chip in each ear cup. The headphones weigh 384.8 grams and the Smart Case 134.5 grams.
The Controls fall under a Digital Crown and it can be turned for volume control. If pressed once they can be used to play, pause, or answer a phone call. Press twice to skip forward. Press three times to skip back and hold for Siri.
It includes a noise control button. It can be used to alternate between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode.
Apple estimates battery life for the AirPods Max to be roughly 20 hours, assuming a mix of ANC and audio playback. Ultimately, your results will vary with your ANC usage and your volume levels. When the headphones are stored in the included Smart Case, they enter an ultra-low battery consumption/sleep mode.
Speaking of the Smart Case, it sure looks cool, but it’s odd that it does very little to protect the headphones—plenty of the earcups’ side panels, and all of the headband (and potentially easy-to-tear canopy) are exposed. Nearly every competitor offers a more traditional case that may not look quite as cool, but does the job of protecting the headphones in a more thorough manner. The case’s rubberized surface is also a dust magnet—it would’ve been nicer (especially at this price) to see a material here that works less like a Swiffer, such as smooth leather or a classy fabric.
The noise cancellation provided by the Apple AirPods Max is very strong, and we’d say it’s on par with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Each ear cup features three outward-facing microphones to detect environmental noise, while one microphone inside the ear cup monitors the sound reaching your ear.