AirPods Max - current impressions

Now that the AirPod Max has been out for quite some time, I am interested in the current impressions from those who use one.
ie:
Pros
Cons
Noise cancellation
Battery Life
Would you buy again?

I still love mine. They’re my standard headphones for video calls. Noise cancellation is great. Battery life is decent. The sound quality is excellent. Since I’m going back to the office a couple of days per week I’ve started taking them with me for a bit of quiet and privacy. They are a bit big in the backpack. The Apple “case” they come with is rubbish, but Waterfield has that covered.

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I basically stand by everything I said in my initial review of them.

They’re the best sounding wireless ANC over-ear headphones I’ve tried, with the best transparency mode and noise cancelling that’s as good as Sony’s (but tuned differently and nowhere near as customizable). They aren’t the best for calls, customization options, portability, or value.

The most significant downside for me is comfort: I find them to be the least comfortable pair of headphones in the category, largely thanks to the combination of significant weight and clamping force. Comfort is subjective, but they are objectively the heaviest. That will either bother you or it won’t, and it probably depends on how much experience you’ve had with other headphones.

I’ve used a box to stretch them out gently to help alleviate the clamping force a bit, but there’s nothing you can do about the weight. The headband is very comfy and does its best to mitigate the issue but if you’ve ever tried one of the competing pairs you’ll probably find these to be a downgrade on the comfort front.

Battery life hasn’t been an issue for me—I reliably get two days out of my pair with a combination of listening to music, nature ambience, and being on various calls for work.

I’m an audiophile so I would buy them again (in fact I did—I returned my first pair but missed them and bought another almost immediately) because they offer the best combination of sound and features in this category. But they aren’t without their flaws, and I don’t recommend them to most people who ask me about them. It all depends on your priorities.

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Great headphones. Have not regretted buying them and would definitely buy again.

Noise Cancelling in the office and during travel is great. Video on iOS and AppleTV is fantastic. Apple Music sounds great.

Bought a third party smart hardshell case to protect it in my backpack. Definitely larger than the Bose QC/700 case but the headphones make up for it.

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Just +1 to all the positive reviews. I used them for hours on calls and I love them.

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I don’t have anything more to add really, still love mine. Still love that they are green. I would say not only do they sound great, but I really love the noise canceling. My neighbor’s have a special needs kid who communicates by screaming. When it was still open windows weather, I could put on my headphones, listen to music, and not hear him.

I know there were a lot of complaints early on that they weren’t comfortable for longer uses. I would slightly agree, after 2 hours or so I am ready for a break, but it’s not horrible, I have never owned a set of headphones that I could wear all day. I do not find the weight to be an issue either. Not at all.

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I’m very happy with them. I was having problems with what I can only call an allergic reaction to the AirPod Pros and so I was looking for an alternative. I had previously had a pair of the famous Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones (stolen on public transit). I considered getting a new pair of those but since I was moving away from Alexa devices I opted for the AirPod Max. I’m really happy with them. I’d say that for everything that I care about, that is, sound quality, noise cancelling, responsiveness to commands, and long term wearability I’m very pleased and would personally give them higher marks than either the AirPod Pros or the Bose QuietComfort 35 or the Beats Studio.

Of these devices the Beats Studio are my least favorite with the most problems although they fit better in my ears than the AirPod Pros. However, they have all sorts of technical glitches with an odd lack of responsiveness to commands even though it’s supposed to be the same technology as the Pros. There is something off about the implementation of the technology in the Beats Studio (also no wireless charging which is lame). Bose makes a great product but the Max are superior on all the things that I care about. The Pros are also great but I’ve never been able to get them to fit as well as the regular AirPods (also that skin reaction). The one technical critique I have with the AirPod Max is that if you move your head to swiftly away from center, the internal processing that is creating the noise cancellation and Atmos effects can’t keep up and you will experience some extra pass through. I don’t recall this with the noise cancelling technology Bose headphones employ.

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They are my happy place. I put them on and the cacophony that is the world goes away.

I love the blue color.

I have skin issues, and they initially irritated my skin a bit, but not now. I can wear them for 8 hours or more at a time with minimal discomfort. Sometimes I need to tuck my earlobes, but that’s about it.

Cons
$600
Bra/case

Context: previously owned Bose QC-25 and QC-35. The noise canceling and sound quality, battery life, etc. are all better on the AirPods Pro Max.

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I have the Sony 1000mx3. The one thing I don’t like about them is that I can’t connect them to more than one device without first disconnecting. What I like about them is the fact that I can connect via a wire to IFE when I fly and they work if the battery goes dead.
Anybody switch from Sony to Apple and have an opinion to share?

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I also love mine. I don’t use them anywhere near as much as my AirPods Pro though.

Out of interest, those that are using them for calls, do you have them in transparency, noise cancelling or off mode during the call?

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A bit of additional experience: Today was my first day in the office with someone sitting at an adjacent workstation. When he was on a video call the AirPods Max’s noise cancelling did a good job knocking down his end of the conversation, even though I wasn’t running any music or white noise through them at the time.

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Noise cancelling mode.

Just posted this

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I always have then on Noise Cancelling mode unless I’m talking to a person in front of me.

I will try it with some calls tomorrow. I just find I sound funny with NC on when in calls which has put me off previously

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I usually have them in NC, but did try Transparent mode, and I think it was some better. With NC on, it sounds like you have a pillow over your head. (which would be noise canceling :-))

Thanks to all for your thoughtful replies. I think they will work well for my use-case. Will use these for 1-2 hours at a time while reading, so battery life and weight (hopefully) shouldn’t be a problem. I am easily distracted so the noise cancellation should help. Also have significant tinnitus. Will listen to a lot white noise, nature sounds, bells, and instrumental jazz/classical, etc. Can’t listen to vocals while reading or even instrumentals where I know the words to the songs; I end up hearing the words instead of what I’m reading. I will probably purchase through Adorama for the $100 off (thanks @DannyR for linking this). Trying to decide between blue and green. Again, my thanks.

Why has no one brought up the real benefits?

Neck strength.

My trapezious is beefy now.


I kid, but there actually is a really cool feature no one has mentioned: “Hey Siri, turn on noise cancelling.”

Switching from nose cancelling to transparency mode with just my voice has been invaluable while taking care of my now-10-month-old. My hands are often too dirty or full to tap the headphone buttons, much less interact with my phone.

Two complaints about the Max, though.

First, HomePods tend to hear the commands I mention above and, obviously, they have no idea what to do with it.

Second, mine quit on me every once in a while. The phone will think it’s playing (e.g., the track is counting down in Music or podcasts) but no audio is playing. After disconnecting and reconnecting a few times, this resolves. Not unexpected, I suppose; bluetooth audio has always been fraught. But unfortunate for such expensive headphones.

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I gave the AirPods Max a real go. twice actually:

December 2020:

March 2021:

On both occasions, because of comfort reasons, I returned them.

A few months later, I bought them again. I also have stretched them out using my Sonos One box and its bearable now. With that said, I only use them a few hours a day at best because my AirPods Pro are more comfortable. But the Max sound AMAZING. So its a compromise but worth it for the sound stage. Recently, have used it for movies as well and they work well with the ATV.

Its expensive. I get it. And in my right mind, I know I can live without it. But I just enjoy the experience it provides so much that I made peace with it.

BTW, I also got Apple Care for these. because of the way batteries work, I am sure the battery life will degrade over time. I intend to get it replaced under Apple Care before my 2 years expires.

This is an issue for me as well. One workaround that I found has been working well for me is to listen to music with vocals in a language I don’t speak. Spanish, Portugese, French, Dutch and German all work fine, and the language itself becomes a melody. Also a fun way to find new artists.

Weridly, Italian does NOT work for me. Possibly too much passion :slight_smile:

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