Early Reviews Say AirPods Max Will Make Your Ears Happy

Pricey, but worth it?

Key Takeaways

  • The new $549 Apple AirPods Max headphones are just starting to reach reviewers, but so far the reaction has been positive despite the high price tag. 
  • Sound quality is "impressive" with a "wide soundstage," according to one reviewer. 
  • Battery life is reported to be good, with one reviewer saying they live up to Apple’s claim of 20 hours per charge.
Someone listening to an iPad with AirPods Max.

Apple’s new AirPods Max headphones are getting rave reviews from those lucky enough to get their hands on a pair.

At $549, the new wireless headphones are pricey. But they provide clear sounds and the company’s signature ease of use. The AirPods Max are sold out until March, which is a sign that Apple must be doing something right. 

Excellent sound quality is the first thing you’ll want in headphones this expensive, and Apple’s latest doesn’t skimp in that area. "The AirPods Max do sound impressive, like high-end headphones, with tight bass, natural mids, crisp highs, and a wide soundstage for a closed-back headphone," writes David Carnoy for CNET.

"Apple does have EQ settings (under Music in Settings)—for Apple Music anyway—and you can make some slight customizations to the sound profile. But I mainly went with the default sound profile across multiple music services, which suited my eclectic music tastes just fine." 

Wide-ranging Sound

Olivia Tambini, writing for TechRadar, agrees, saying, "The soundstage generally feels quite wide, with room for all the instruments to really shine; you don't get that 'closed-off' sensation that over-ear headphones sometimes impart. There's plenty of detail, great imaging, and we didn't notice any issues with rhythmic accuracy in the short time we spent listening with the AirPods Max."

Apple AirPods Max

Noise canceling is one of the promised features on these headphones and, apparently, the AirPods Max don’t disappoint. "On the subject of noise cancellation, we’ve been limited to testing indoors with background noise created from a speaker and by standing near the air vents for our HVAC system," writes Jacob Krol on CNN. "The AirPods Max are pretty neck and neck with Sony’s WH-1000XM4s in this regard."

Battery life seems to be stellar, as well. "Apple says AirPods Max get up to 20 hours of battery life per charge, and that’s been my experience using them as my primary headphones for about a week," writes Brandt Ranj in Rolling Stone. "I plug them in for an hour or so every couple of days, and that gets me through long music and podcast listening sessions without battery anxiety."

A Signature Look in Five Colors

The Max’s look is premium, with stainless steel and a choice of five different colors: space grey, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. "The headband is stainless steel covered in white rubbery material, with a 'breathable mesh knit canopy' across the top; Apple says this distributes the weight of the headphones more evenly across your head," writes Nilay Patel on The Verge.

"(I can’t say it feels very much different than my Sony WH-1000XM2s, but it’s possible I just have a very large head.) The headband connects to the earcups with adjustable stainless-steel extensions culminating in a pleasantly spring-loaded hinge, all of which is nicer than any other premium headphones I’ve used."

Blue AirPods Pro in slim storage case.

The minimalism extends to the design as well, although the AirPods Max weigh 384 grams, more than some competitors. "Buttons are kept to a minimum and emulate the Apple Watch—there's a Noise Control button to switch between noise canceling mode (on, off, or transparent/ambient), and a larger version of the digital crown to control volume and give you play/pause functions," writes Stuart Miles on Pocket-lint.

"We've already found ourselves pressing that Noise Control button when positioning the headphones on our head. That could be annoying over time. If buttons aren't your thing you can also talk to Siri."

Comfort is critical when it comes to something you’ll be wearing on your head for long periods. "Thus far, they are incredibly comfortable," writes Andrew O’Hara on AppleInsider. "Past headsets have given us a bit of discomfort on top of our head or while wearing glasses, but after a few hours, this doesn't seem to be as problematic for AirPods Max. The woven mesh top just barely rests on our head."

That $549 price tag is a bummer, but I’ve almost convinced myself they are worth the cost based on reading early reviews. Too bad I’ll have to wait until next year to get my hands on a pair.

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