AirPods Max review: Stunning sound, the case is a joke, and I’m trying to justify the price Review

Victoria D. Doty

Apple declared the AirPods Max, a $550 pair of headphones, last 7 days. This 7 days, the headphones began delivery, and I was lucky plenty of to seize a pair prior to the delivery dates slipped to March of subsequent calendar year.  I’ve been employing the costly headphones for approximately […]

Apple declared the AirPods Max, a $550 pair of headphones, last 7 days. This 7 days, the headphones began delivery, and I was lucky plenty of to seize a pair prior to the delivery dates slipped to March of subsequent calendar year. 

I’ve been employing the costly headphones for approximately twenty hrs, or the identical total of time Apple point out the battery need to last. And regardless of the magic of Apple’s AirPods lineup — comprehensive with an H1 chip, effortless setup, and seamless integration with the relaxation of the company’s ecosystem — I am still not fully offered. 

Jason Perlow: Heck yeah, they are costly, and rightfully so

The case is, properly, a joke. At least it feels like a person. And $550 is a whole lot of cash for headphones, no matter who makes them. I system on screening a whole lot a lot more in the coming times, but in the meantime, listed here are some of my very first impressions of Apple’s AirPods Max. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Construct high-quality and convenience

If you’re judging the AirPods Max based mostly on create high-quality alone, then they are a hit. The whole housing is designed of a blend of stainless metal for the headband and aluminum on the ear cups. The side influence of those significant-conclude supplies is that it translates into greater pounds. Nonetheless, when sitting at my desk or on the couch and donning the AirPods Max for a few hrs, they will not really feel hefty at all. In reality, rather the opposite. 

The mesh canopy, which is what Apple calls the headband, won’t implement hardly any force on the prime of my head, and the memory foam cushions on each individual ear are even a lot more at ease. 

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Due to the fact I dress in eyeglasses, I have a tricky time donning on-ear headphones for an prolonged total of time. The force on my ear, in opposition to the stem of my eyeglasses, is ultimately not comfortable, and I have to choose a break. 

I’ve gone as a result of a few multi-hour listening periods with the AirPods Max, and not the moment have I felt any distress. 

The pounds of the AirPods Max is a lot more visible if you’re donning them while strolling about and going. I can not see an individual donning these to workout in, but perhaps which is just me. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Seem high-quality and supplemental characteristics

By far the most amazing element of the AirPods Max is their sound high-quality. Prior to the AirPods Max, I had practically no complaints about the AirPods Professional, but which is absolutely adjusted now. 

The Max sound as great as some higher-conclude headphones I’ve been privileged plenty of to listen to all through demos at trade exhibits like CES. 

You will find a crisp sound for specific devices and notes that I just will not get with AirPods Professional, and nowhere in close proximity to shut to what I hear in the unique AirPods. 

I even related the Max to my Xbox Sequence X controller via a Lightning to three.5mm headphone cable (which I begrudgingly had to shell out $35 for) and employed them as my gaming headphones for a pair of hrs. They didn’t have the complete surround sound capabilities that my committed gaming headphones do, but there was some direction to the audio coming as a result of them. 

Enable me preface this subsequent element by stating my practical experience with energetic noise cancelation has been limited to AirPods Professional and other wi-fi earbuds that assistance the identical attribute. I have under no circumstances employed a pair of significant-conclude, ANC-able headphones. 

With that said, I’ve discovered the AirPods Mac ANC to be as complete and amazing as the AirPods Professional, if not a little a lot more so. With the quantity at approximately 50{394cb916d3e8c50723a7ff83328825b5c7d74cb046532de54bc18278d633572f} and ANC on, I can not hear an individual conversing to me in the identical area, and the roar of my office’s furnace is minimized to just a hum. 

There are two characteristics where I believe the AirPods Max seriously shines: Transparency mode and Spatial Audio. 

Transparency mode enables you to hold the headphones on but allows some of the environmental noise. It is really a handy attribute if you’re donning earbuds or headphones while commuting to get the job done, or if you want to listen to music but need to have to hold an ear on your children participating in in a further area. 

The attribute is readily available on the AirPods Professional, but when it is really energetic, there is a slight hiss or static to the sound high-quality. Nonetheless, with the AirPods Max, that white noise is gone. You hear your music and then you hear the person’s voice as if you have been owning a conversation with an individual and participating in music as a result of a speaker which is in in between the two of you. It is really tricky to explain, but it is really really amazing. In reality, when I very first turned it on and asked my spouse to converse to me, I verbally said: “Whoa.” Even as a jaded tech journalist, there are periods when I am caught off guard. This was surely a person of those periods. 

Spatial audio is something I want to devote a lot more time screening, but it is really just as amazing as transparency. Working with the situation of your head in relation to your Apple iphone or iPad, the AirPods Max get the job done collectively with iOS to build a surround sound-like influence when you’re observing a movie or present that supports Dolby Atmos five.1 or 7.1 audio.

Viewing The Mandalorian and some of its a lot more rigorous struggle scenes with lightsabers and blasters likely off, I could hear the sci-fi weapons that went throughout the monitor — zooming from a person ear to a further as if I was sitting in a complete studio with a far a lot more costly house theater procedure.

It is really a shame the attribute is limited to the Apple iphone and iPad suitable now. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Which is not a case

It is really a lot more like a sleeve that you slide the headphones into to set them into an ultra-low-electric power point out. Really, which is as shut as you get to absolutely powering them off, thanks to a pair of magnets put in the case. 

As I said in the latest episode of Jason Squared, if I am shelling out $550 for a pair of headphones, I want to be ready to choose them almost everywhere with me and really feel like they are protected. Due to the fact the AirPods Max will not fold down, they are not only bulky to set into a backpack, but even if I designed room, the case does really little to secure my investment. 

In reality, the base of the ear cups are not even absolutely enclosed in the case. There are modest cutouts that go away the exterior of the headphones uncovered, and the headband is absolutely out of the case, doubling as a cope with for you to have them. 

Then there is the reality that in less than 48 hrs the go over is now filthy, and I’ve tried my hardest to hold it away from nearly anything and every thing that could get it dirty. 

It’d be far less complicated and a lot more effortless to have about my AirPods Professional and its modest charging case when I start off traveling once more. Then once more, I’d be dropping out on twenty hrs of battery lifetime and the enhanced ANC. 

Are they really worth it? It is really a subjective dilemma, and it is really a person I will not have an solution for nonetheless. One particular moment I have confident myself that I am going to return the AirPods Max soon after I am performed examining them, but then the subsequent moment I locate myself hoping to justify them as a “organization investment.” If absolutely nothing else, they are definitely an expense I can compose off. 

$549 at Finest Purchase

$549 at Adorama

$549 at Crutchfield

If you have a pair of AirPods Max or just powerful thoughts about them, be confident to let us know in the opinions.

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