Apple AirPods Max Review: Is it Still Worth Buying in 2024?

A dream pair of ANC headphones .. for Apple devices.



Niya Andrew • August 23, 2023 • 13 mins read

Apple AirPods Max

Apple has always been ahead of the curve in producing cutting-edge electronics and building the appropriate buzz around them. It debuted its first wireless over-ear headphones, Apple AirPods Max, in December 2020. Two years later, they are still among the best-selling headphones in the United States. Some may be skeptical about the company because it has yet to release a new set of over-ear headphones or announce any plans to do so. It is possible that the headset didn’t sell well or the business had no plans to release a sequel. 

However, if you buy it from Apple directly, you’ll have to pay the ridiculously high amount it initially did. While you might be able to get the headset at a lower price elsewhere, it’s hard to justify spending more than £549 for headphones, especially considering that, by 2023, several other headphone makers have gotten close to offering headphones with similar features and performance to Apple’s AirPods Max for a considerably smaller sum. 

However, the brand’s new features may be irresistible for Apple loyalists. Read on to find out about all the great specs of the Apple AirPods Max. 

Excellent Choice For iPhone Users

We tested the Apple AirPods Max individually for several weeks and compared its performance to other luxe headphones brands. And now, the headphones are a perfect choice for anyone looking for a compatible pair of over-ear headphones for their iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, or MacBook. You’ll enjoy a seamless experience listening to your favorite music, streaming TV shows, or having on-call conversations. 

How Does Apple AirPods Max Look and Feel?

Apple AirPods Max Look and FeelThe Apple AirPods Max box includes headphones, a charging case, and a cable.

The Apple AirPods Max looks effortlessly stylish, to put it briefly. As might be expected, the aluminum exterior of the elliptical cups and the stainless steel mesh headband is padded for comfort, as are the earpieces, which have plush fabric cushions—a wide array of colors, including silver, grey, blue, pink, and green.

The only controls are a digital crown on one cup for changing the volume or the song and a button to toggle between noise cancellation and transparency mode. This little dial, which can be squeezed in to activate Siri or answer calls, is recognizable to everyone who owns an Apple Watch. The headphones have a Lightning plug at the base of the other cup, and a full charge takes only two hours. To connect your AirPods Max to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you must buy a £40 jack from Apple.

Apple AirPods Max Look and FeelThe Apple AirPods Max is comfortable for extended hours.

If you’re wondering what wearing an Apple AirPods Max feels like, let us paint the picture for you. The headphones provide adequate comfort, although some users may feel bulky for over-ear headphones. They feature a lot of clamping force, which can get tiring after listening. The AirPods may easily swap out the plush padding in the ear cups for a fresh layer. The headband is more relaxed than it appears, although the metal frame may still cause discomfort, depending on your head shape.
Moreover, the stability of these headphones is satisfactory. If you wear them while working at a desk, they won’t budge because of the strong clamping force. The headband may wiggle somewhat if you listen to music while donning it.

And lastly, their breathability. Apple AirPods Max is reasonably spacious. The fact that they cover the ears means that they trap heat, which can become oppressive. While sitting at your desk, however, you won’t notice it too much. While they can make your ears feel warmer than usual during exercise, this is not their intended use.

Active Noise Cancelling & Transparency Mode

The Apple AirPods Max’s built-in active noise cancellation is excellent. A good ANC feature is crucial since a headphone’s sonic quality is directly proportional to its ability to isolate the listener from ambient noise. While working at our workstation, the hiss of the heating system being turned on was entirely muffled by the Apple AirPods Max we tested. 

Moreover, the noise cancellation feature may feel bothersome because only an iOS device can turn off the ANC mode. The headphones have a button that default switches between transparent and active noise cancellation modes. You can change this setting on an iOS device, but neither ANC nor transparency is accessible.

Apple AirPods Max Active Noise Cancelling & Transparency ModeTransparency mode and ANC are activated using the same control button.

There is no better transparent mode than the Apple AirPods Max. Instead of damping out ambient noise, this function employs external microphones to boost it within the audible range. It doesn’t require turning down your tunes to hear what’s happening; instead, it boosts the microphones to the same level as your music. This means that even if you’re actively attempting to pay more attention to the world around you, you’ll never have to worry about missing out on your favorite part of a song.

Sound/Audio Performance, Battery Life & Carrying Case

Regarding Bluetooth headphones, the Apple AirPods Max is among the best available. Although they can’t compete with the highest-quality wired headphones, these wireless cans hold their reputation against Bose, Sennheiser, Bang & Olufsen, and Sony. They have a great sound devoid of distortion and spread nicely across a wide stereo image.

Our head-to-head tests led us to conclude that most listeners would be pleased with the sound quality, especially since Apple’s “Adaptive EQ” feature automatically adjusts the volume and tone to suit the type of music the user plays. 

The main point is that while the Apple AirPods Max does a reasonable job of reproducing sound, they are not noticeably superior to their immediate competitors, and other better alternatives exist. Consider this if sound quality is crucial to you.

Apple AirPods MaxThe Apple AirPods Max are charged by lightning cable, which comes with the headphones. 

The AirPods Max’s battery life was on par with the competition when these headphones were first introduced. However, with other emerging ANC wireless headphones, things have changed. The Apple AirPods Max has a maximum noise-canceling (ANC) battery life of 20 hours, while other models now routinely last around 30 to 50 hours or more with the ANC turned on. It’s crucial to note that the cans have a limited battery life of 20 to 30 hours, and carrying their proprietary charger around on your travels may feel annoying sometimes.

Apple AirPods Max Apple’s ‘protective’ case could do better.

And lastly, their case. For a brand famous for its innovations and technological advances, coming up with a ridiculous ‘protective’ case design makes you wonder what went wrong. The headphones’ headband isn’t covered because the sleeve is designed to fit solely over the two ear cups. The band can be used as a handle for transport. Hence, Apple did this on purpose. The headphones can be put into a power-saving sleep mode using magnets inside the case.

Apple AirPods Max JackPot Features! 

Spatial Audio

Each AirPods Max earbud houses an Apple H1 chip, which, like the H1 chips in the original AirPods and AirPods Pro, supports Adaptive EQ, active noise cancellation, Transparency mode, and Spatial Audio.

Spatial Audio, introduced with iOS 14, is compatible with 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content and places sound all around you within a virtual sphere, making it seem as though, for example, a plane flying overhead in a Dolby Atmos film is passing above you.

By utilizing the position of your iOS device and the built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes of the AirPods Max, Spatial Audio ensures that the sound always appears to be coming from the screen, even as you move your head.

All you need is a source that offers content in one of the supported surround formats to give it a try. Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, and HBO Max all support Spatial Audio on iOS, while other services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have yet to do so.

Thankfully, by accessing the settings menu on your iPhone when listening with AirPods Max or AirPods Pro, stereo content can be converted to Spatial Audio.

We tested the AirPods Max’s Spatial Audio with Apple TV Plus material, and we were pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. Although it lacks the realism of a dedicated Dolby Atmos system, the addition of this capability makes watching movies on an iPhone or iPad a very immersive experience.

Apple AirPods Max AppClick here to learn how to use the Spatial Audio feature in Apple AirPods Max.

Customizing Features

Another key perk of using Apple Music as your primary music streaming service is access to songs in spatial audio. The recording and mastering quality will determine how impressive this sounds. 

And yet another plus for Apple: if you’re listening on an Apple device, you can pair these headphones with other Apple AirPods or Beats headphones to share audio with them, allowing you to listen together without buying multiple sets of headphones or a headphone splitter. 

These will function to some extent with Android devices, but why you’d buy the Apple AirPods Max if you already use a Google Pixel is beyond us. Because of the inability to customize the settings without an Apple device, we cannot recommend them to Android users.

Alternative To Apple AirPods Max

Apple has always been an upfront brand that produces high-end electronics with prices that go out of range for many. Being in 2023, we can’t say that Apple Airpods Max is the only best ANC headphones worth buying. As mentioned in the article, many alternatives in the market for the Apple AirPods Max provide competitive comfort and sound performance. 

We recommend Bose 700 wireless headphones. Apart from being a cheaper alternative to Apple Airpods Max, we found the set to have crystal clear audio from top to bottom, from midrange to bass, and everything in between. When you put these on, drifting off into your tranquil oasis is easy. Even the microphone has noise isolation, allowing the users to have smooth phone calls. 

My Final Verdict:

The Apple AirPod Max boasts Adaptive EQ, a feature that dynamically fine-tunes the audio output to match your listening experience by considering factors like fit and seal. The neutral mid-range of their sound profile guarantees a captivating listening experience with intricate vocals and prominent lead instruments. These speakers’ slightly exaggerated bass range adds a subtle touch of warmth and a satisfying thump and rumble. In conclusion, this product’s underemphasized treble range produces a veiled sound with dull sibilants. In conclusion, individuals with thick hair or glasses may encounter a decrease in bass delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apple AirPods Max

How comfortable are Apple Airpods Max? 

Because of the high-quality materials, the Apple Airpods Max Wireless Over-ear Headphones are noticeably heavier than many other wireless headphones on the market. However, the weight-distributing design is so efficient that they don’t feel cumbersome on the head, and there are no significant pressure areas. After almost two years of daily use, the AirPods Max has yet to cause us any discomfort or weariness during our lengthy listening sessions.

How do I check if Apple Airpods Max is real?

Here are a few steps to check for original Apple Airpods Max Wireless Over-ear Headphones;

  1. Check the packaging for;
    – 
    Tiny stickers with compatibility information and the UPC
    – Original Apple Logo (should not be a sticker or an inset)
    The contents should have a manual, warranty card, and a safety sheet.
  2. Verify the product’s serial number should be of a genuine Apple product.
  3. Check the charging case; on the bottom should be a Lightning port
  4. The multifunction button on the back should sit flush with the casing
  5. Connect to your phone; 

If the phone can’t verify the product and says that you need to connect to your “AirPods” conventionally, it’s a fake. The “find my” earbuds won’t work on a fake pair, either. 

Are Airpods Pro Max waterproof? 

Apple Airpods Max Wireless Over-ear Headphones are not water resistant. It doesn’t even repel water, which is a significant drawback. Take this off and put it somewhere if you get trapped in a downpour. To be fair, this is characteristic of high-end headphones, but audiophile headphones are only built for portability and use in the home. Even though the headphones are considered to be one of the best over-ear noise-canceling headphones, Apple messed up by not making the AirPods Max waterproof, given that its design prioritizes portability, especially compared to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are similarly priced but have a higher water resistance rating (IPX4).

How long does the Airpods Pro Max last?

With Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled, your AirPods Max can deliver up to 20 hours of listening, talking, or movie playback. Five minutes of charging the AirPods Max provides approximately 1.5 hours of listening time.

Can Airpods Pro Max connect to Android phones?

Yes. Apple Airpods Max Wireless Over-ear Headphones are compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled devices. Certain features, such as spatial audio and head tracking, are exclusive to Apple devices. However, I use them with my iPhone/iPad/MacBook and Windows computer at work.

What does AppleCare Plus do for AirPods Maxes?

If your Apple AirPods Max experiences hardware malfunctions within a year of purchase, you are entitled to a free repair under the limited one-year warranty. It does not cover damage caused by accidental drops, mishandling, or stolen Airpods. You can also receive free technical support for up to ninety days. 

For added peace of mind, you can opt for AppleCare Plus coverage for $59, which includes two years of 24/7 priority access tech support via chat or phone. It also covers accidental damage for up to two incidents per year, each subject to a $29 service charge. Battery service coverage is also included.

However, if your Apple AirPods Max suddenly stops working or acting up, check out How To Resolve Connection Issues In Apple AirPods Max?, before contacting AppleCare Plus. This will save you alot of bucks. 

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