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Apple AirPods Max Wireless Headphones Review

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Picture

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are Apple's first pair of wireless over-ear headphones. Unlike other headphones from Apple, like the sleek, white plastic Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless , which only come in one color, they have an aluminum frame with knit padding that comes in several different colors. That said, you can still expect a premium design as well as a powerful noise cancelling (ANC) experience. They also have an adaptive EQ, so the headphones automatically adjust their sound based on the unique shape of your ears, and their H1 chip is great for easy pairing with all of your iOS/iPadOS devices. Unfortunately, there have been a few user issues with  Build Quality . You can't turn the headphones off either, and you can read more about this in our  Battery  test.

Our Verdict

The Apple AirPods Max are good for neutral sound. These headphones have Adaptive EQ, which adjusts the audio as you're listening to it based on fit and seal. Their sound profile has a neutral mid-range that ensures detailed vocals and lead instruments. Their slightly overemphasized bass range also adds just a hint of extra warmth, as well as thump and rumble. However, the treble range is mostly underemphasized, resulting in a veiled sound with dull sibilants. You may also experience a drop in bass delivery if you have thick hair or glasses.

  • Great build quality.
  • Excellent continuous battery life.
  • Audio cable not included.

The Apple AirPods Max are good for commute and travel. After updating to firmware 4E71, they do a fair job of reducing bass-range noise like bus or plane engines, and their excellent continuous battery life is enough to get you through long trips. However, they're heavy, and some users can find them fatiguing to wear over time. Their carrying case doesn't protect the headphones from damage either, as they only cover the ear cups and leave the headband exposed.

  • Great noise cancelling.
  • Heavy, bulky design which can be fatiguing to wear.

The Apple AirPods Max aren't designed for sports and fitness. While they're decently comfortable and well-built, they're very heavy and bulky. The headband can move around your head if you're doing moderate physical activity. Unfortunately, even though we don't currently test for it, they lack an IP rating for water resistance. Luckily, their wireless design makes it difficult for something to snag on the headphones and pull them off your head.

  • Mediocre breathability.

The Apple AirPods Max are decent for office use. They block out office chatter around you, which is handy if you work in a noisy environment. They also don't leak too much audio, so you won't disturb others around you. Their long continuous playback time easily lasts you through a couple of 9-5 workdays, too. Their H1 chip also allows you easily connect with other devices in your Apple ecosystem. However, they're heavy due to their build, and can be fatiguing to wear for several hours at a time.

  • H1 chip for seamless pairing with Apple devices.
  • No NFC or multi-device pairing.
  • Mic struggles to separate your voice from background noise.

The Apple AirPods Max aren't compatible with PlayStation or Xbox consoles. While you can use them with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming.

While you can use the Apple AirPods Max wired, you need to purchase a Lightning to AUX cable separately.

  • Need to purchase a lightning to 1/8" TRS cable separately.

The Apple AirPods Max are passable for phone calls. They use an integrated mic, and recorded speech sounds understandable, although a bit muffled and thin. It also struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise around you, even in moderately loud environments. On the upside, it has an outstanding ANC feature, so you can focus on your call.

  • 7.6 Neutral Sound
  • 7.7 Commute/Travel
  • 7.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.2 Wired Gaming
  • 6.3 Phone Calls
  • Updated Oct 11, 2023: We've added a comparison between these headphones and the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless in Bass Accuracy .
  • Updated Oct 04, 2023: We've added a comparison between these headphones and the Dyson Zone Wireless in Comfort .
  • Updated May 12, 2023: We incorrectly reported that the analog cable you can purchase from Apple was lightning to TRRS, not lightning to TRS. We have updated the text for the following tests: Battery , PC Compatibility , PlayStation Compatibility , and Xbox Compatibility .
  • Updated Feb 03, 2023: We've made minor changes to this review's text to ensure accuracy and clarity.
  • Updated Dec 23, 2022: We have retested the frequency response of these headphones using the Lightning to AUX cable and have updated Sound Profile . We have also added more information regarding this cable to our Wired test.
  • Updated Dec 15, 2022: Users have requested us to retest the ANC's Noise Isolation using FW 5B58. We measured a similar performance to our previous results and the scoring of this test hasn't changed. However, we're still looking into our Noise Isolation results and will update our review again with our findings.
  • Updated Nov 09, 2022: We're currently looking into our Noise Isolation results and have updated the text with our current findings.
  • Updated Oct 20, 2022: We have retested Noise Isolation using firmware update 4E71.
  • Updated Jun 28, 2022: Updated 'Virtual Soundstage' to better reflect Spatial Audio's capabilities.
  • Updated Jun 28, 2022: We've retested the headphones for passive playback with the lightning to 1/8" TRRS cable, which isn't included in the box. We've changed the results of the 'Wired' test to better reflect the headphones' support for this cable.
  • Updated Nov 19, 2021: Tested cabin pressure when the ANC is on.
  • Updated Sep 17, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  • Updated Jun 29, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.5 .
  • Updated Apr 06, 2021: We've retested Sound Profile and Battery using firmware update 3C39. We've also added Breathability, as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X Compatibility.
  • Updated Jan 11, 2021: We've raised the score of the Build Quality test. We've also updated the Test Settings and App Support test boxes.
  • Updated Jan 07, 2021: Review published.
  • Updated Jan 04, 2021: Early access published.
  • Updated Dec 17, 2020: Our testers have started testing this product.
  • Updated Dec 17, 2020: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  • Updated Oct 25, 2020: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

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Differences between sizes and variants.

The Apple AirPods Max come in several color variants: 'Space Gray', 'Sky Blue', 'Pink', 'Green', and 'Silver'. We tested the Space Gray variant, and you can see its label here . We expect each color variant to perform similarly to our model. That said, if you're looking to change up the look of your headphones, you can purchase replacement ear cushions in the aforementioned colors directly from the manufacturer.

If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Apple AirPods Max are high-end headphones with a premium design. Their noise cancelling feature is great and rivals many of the  best noise cancelling headphones  we've tested, like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless . Thanks to their Adaptive EQ, they can adjust their sound based on their fit and seal on your head. As a result, they have a warm sound profile with a touch of extra bass, although it's neutral enough for most audio content. However, they don't turn off, and putting them in their carrying case only puts them into a very low-power mode, which can be frustrating for some users.

For more headphones, check out our recommendations for the best headphones for music  and the best over-ear headphones .

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless and the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless are both great headphones. If you care about noise isolation or if you're an iOS user, you'll want to check out the Apple, which have a great noise cancelling system that can block out background noise. These premium over-ears also have an H1 chip for seamless pairing with Apple devices and they have a versatile sound profile. That said, the Sony are more customizable, thanks to their companion app, and their battery lasts longer too.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are better headphones than the  Apple AirPods Max Wireless . The Sony are more comfortable and offer an even more powerful ANC. While they don't sound as neutral out-of-the-box as the Apple, they have a companion app that offers a lot of customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets. They also come with a 1/8" TRS cable if you want to use them wired.

The Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 are more versatile headphones than the Apple AirPods Max Wireless . The Bose are lighter and more comfortable, delivering audio more consistently. Their ANC does a better job of blocking out background noise as well. Their integrated mic offers significantly better overall performance, they support multi-device pairing, and you can use them wired via their 1/8" to 1/16" TRS cable, though you can only receive audio. However, the Apple feel better built and have a virtual soundstage feature.

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless  and the  Apple AirPods Max Wireless  have different strengths and depending on your preferences, you may prefer one over the other. The AirPods Pro are truly wireless in-ears that are more comfortable, portable, and stable. Their carrying case also holds around five charges, giving you a total battery life of over 30 hours. However, the AirPods Max are over-ear headphones. Their integrated microphone performs better, and they have a continuous battery life of about 21 hours, which is longer than the approximately five hours provided by their truly wireless counterpart. They also have a slightly better noise isolation performance.

The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are slightly better headphones for commute and travel than the  Apple AirPods Max Wireless . While both over-ears have a similarly warm sound profile, and have great build quality, the Bose are more comfortable and have a better performing integrated mic. Their ANC performance is better too, and you can also control their ANC via their companion app as well as pair them with up to two devices at a time. However, the Apple have lower latency on iOS and Android.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless and the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless have different strengths, so depending on your usage, you may prefer either one. The Max are over-ears with better overall battery performance and have flatter, more even mids, so vocals and instruments sound accurate. However, the second generation of the Pro have a more comfortable fit and their ANC performance is significantly better too.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are better overall headphones than the  Apple AirPods Max Wireless . The Bose are more comfortable, have a better-balanced sound profile, and their active noise cancelling (ANC) performs slightly better overall. They also come with an AUX cable if you want to use a wired connection. However, the Apple charge a bit quicker.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless  and the Beats Solo Pro Wireless have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. While both headphones are very well-built, the Apple are more comfortable, have a virtual surround feature, and block out more ambient noise. They also have a standby feature to help conserve battery life when they aren't being used and exhibit lower audio latency on iOS and Android. However, the Beats have a more neutral sound profile and their fit is more stable.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless  and the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless have different strengths. While both headphones are well-built, the Apple have a more immersive passive soundstage, support Spatial Audio, which can help make your audio seem more immersive, and are able to block out significantly more background noise. They also have an H1 chip for seamless pairing with your Apple devices. However, the Sennheiser are more comfortable and have a slightly more neutral sound profile. They have a significantly longer continuous battery life, have sound customization features, and support multi-device pairing. 

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better headphones than the  Apple AirPods Max Wireless . The Sony are more comfortable, come with a better case, and have a more stable fit. They also have a better noise isolation performance, and you can tweak their sound via the graphic EQ found in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. However, the Apple have an H1 chip, which makes it easier to seamlessly pair with other Apple products. They also charge up in less time and have a standby mode to help conserve battery life.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless and the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer one over the other. The Apple have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, a significantly better noise isolation performance, and a longer continuous battery life. They also have an H1 chip, so you can seamlessly pair them with your other Apple devices. Conversely, the Sony have a more stable in-ear fit, and you can customize their sound profile using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.

The Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless are better headphones than the Apple AirPods Max Wireless . The Bose are much more comfortable, their ANC can block out more background noise, and their battery life is longer, too. Thanks to their companion app, they're also more customizable, and you can pair them with up to two devices at a time. However, the Apple are better built and have a more neutral overall sound profile, which some users may prefer.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless and the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless  have different strengths, and you may prefer either. The Max are over-ear headphones with ANC. Their noise isolation performance is much better, they have a longer continuous battery life, and they have a more neutral bass response that some may prefer. On the other hand, the 3 are earbuds with a much more portable design. They come with a charging case and have an IPX4 rating for water resistance.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are a better deal than the Dyson Zone Wireless . The Apple are better-built, support Spatial Audio, and have an H1 chip to seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices. Their ANC does a better job of blocking out background noise too. However, the Dyson Zone are still worth checking out if you want on-the-go air purification and a more comfortable fit. Their microphone has a better overall performance too.

The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Drop + THX Panda Wireless . The Apple are better-built, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and an active noise cancelling (ANC) system that can block out a significant amount of ambient noise. They also have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices. However, the Drop are more comfortable, and their battery performance is better, too.

Test Results

perceptual testing image

The Apple AirPods Max have a refined and minimalist design that reflects their premium status and high-end materials. The ear cups have a sleek aluminum cover with a satin finish, and the headband is wrapped in athletic knit webbing, which adds texture to the look. They come in several colors to better suit your style: Space Gray, Sky Blue, Green, Pink, and Silver. You can also buy additional magnetic ear cushions from Apple separately if you prefer to mix and match colors.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Comfort Picture

These headphones are decently comfortable. Although lighter than the Dyson Zone Wireless , they still feel heavy overall. The headband doesn't distribute the weight well, and depending on your head shape, the metal frame can put pressure on your head. They also have a high clamping force, which can be fatiguing throughout a long listening session. On the upside, the ear cups have replaceable plush padding.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Controls Picture

They have very good controls. There are only two buttons found on the right ear cup's top side, and registering commands is very easy. They have a unique Digital Crown, which acts as both a knob and button. It makes a clicking sound when you adjust the volume. There are audible beeps to indicate when you're connected or disconnected from a device. Unfortunately, when you press the crown, it doesn't give any feedback. The headphones also lack a power on/off button, which is a little disappointing.

The digital crown has the following functions:

  • When turned: Adjusts volume.
  • One press: Plays or pauses audio. Also answers calls.
  • Double press: Skips the track forward.
  • Triple press: Skips the track backward.
  • Press and hold: Activates Siri.

There's also a button that offers the following controls:

  • One press: Allows you to cycle between ANC on, ambient mode, and ANC off.
  • Press and hold: Enters pairing mode.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Breathability After Picture

The Apple AirPods Max have passable breathability. Due to their over-ear design, they trap some heat, which can become uncomfortable over time. It won't be too noticeable while working at your desk, though. While they can make your ears especially warm if you're wearing them while working out, they aren't designed for this purpose.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Portability Picture

The Apple AirPods Max have mediocre portability. They're bulky and don't fold into a more compact format. While they come with a carrying case, it doesn't make them easier to take with you on the go.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Case Picture

Their carrying case is passable. It's a sleeve that only fits over the two ear cups, so their headband isn't protected at all. This is by design, as you can use the headband as a carrying handle. There are magnets near the inside of the case that automatically put the headphones into a low-power sleep mode.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Build Quality Picture

The Apple AirPods Max 's build quality is great. Compared to other premium headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless , which are both made from hard plastic, the Apple are made with premium materials and have an aluminum exterior with a metal and silicone headband. However, these materials have different pros and cons than traditional plastic builds. The mesh screen surrounding the headband feels very fragile as it can rip or become damaged, especially if you're using the headband as a handle when carrying the headphones around. That said, the ear cushions are held in place by magnets, so you can easily replace them if they get damaged.

There have been reports from users about condensation forming on and inside the drivers after wearing them for a few hours. It can occur even if you're wearing them at your desk or if you live in a dry climate. Some reports suggest that this is due to the metal ear cup design, which can trap heat from your ears, and create condensation. They don't have an IP rating for dust or water resistance, as Apple hasn't had them IP-evaluated.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Stability Picture

These headphones have alright stability. They won't move around if you're wearing them at your desk, thanks to their clamping force. If you wear them while headbanging to a song, the headband can move around a bit.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Angled Picture

  • Apple AirPods Max
  • USB-C to Lightning charging cable
  • Carrying case

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Frequency Response

These headphones use Apple's Adaptive EQ, which adjusts their sound to the fit and seal of the headphones on your head. As a result, they have a slightly warm sound profile, which is suitable for a variety of audio content. The touch of thump and rumble can especially please fans of EDM and hip-hop. However, the dip in the low-treble veils vocals and lead instruments. While they don't have any built-in EQ presets, if you have a compatible iOS or iPadOS device, you can access a couple of different EQ presets in the 'Accessibility' settings to help you adjust their sound.

We've also tested their sound via firmware 3C39 and they perform very similarly to the original firmware's sound profile. You can see a graph comparison of our results here . However, what does make a difference in sound profile is whether the ANC is on or off, as this effectively turns the Adaptive EQ on or off, respectively. Both the wired and Bluetooth connection have a very similar frequency response when the ANC is on. However, if you turn the ANC off, there's a minor difference between frequency responses , and is most prominent in the bass range. Using Bluetooth reproduces more low-bass while using the headphones wired results in less thump and rumble but a bit more boom and warmth. You can also see all four passes together here .

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Consistency L

They have satisfactory frequency response consistency. They're somewhat prone to inconsistencies in bass and treble delivery due to the headphone's fit, seal, and positioning on your head. You may especially notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or glasses.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Raw FR L

These headphones have excellent bass accuracy. Although the whole range is slightly overemphasized, the extra thump, punch, and warmth don't overwhelm vocals or instruments. If you're looking for noise cancelling headphones with more bass, try the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless .

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Mid

The mid accuracy is outstanding. The range is very even and neutral, which is great for vocals and instruments. In songs like Flowers by Miley Cyrus, vocals in the chorus sound clear, present, and detailed.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Treble

The Apple AirPods Max 's treble accuracy is okay at best. The whole range is underemphasized, although the low-treble has the deepest dip, which really veils vocals and instruments. In songs like Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye (feat. Kimbra), Kimbra's vocal climax in verse three lacks detail and presence, especially when compared to the melody and percussion. That said, the underemphasis in the mid-treble is quite minor, so sibilants like cymbals are a touch dull.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Peaks/Dips Graph

The Apple AirPods Max 's peaks and dips performance is decent. There's a peak throughout the low-bass, which adds thump and rumble to your mixes. Another peak in the high-mids can make vocals and lead instruments sound a little harsh. However, a large dip towards the end of the low-treble veils the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments, dulling their clarity and detail, while the peak in the mid-treble makes sibilants like S and T sounds shrill and piercing.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Group Delay

These over-ears have good imaging. Apple products tend to have good quality control and ergonomics, so you can expect your unit to have reliable imaging too. Our unit's L/R drivers are well-matched in group delay and phase response. This ensures tight bass as transparent treble, as well as helps stabilize the stereo image. While there's a slight mismatch present in amplitude and frequency response, it's quite minor.

Note: Unfortunately, we couldn't test the left and right drivers at the same time, as we normally do. These headphones use Apple's Adaptive EQ, which adjusts its sound profile to the fit and seal of the headphones on your head. You can't turn off this feature unless you turn off ANC or Ambient mode as well. We ran the left driver separately from the right driver to test with the ANC on. While we don't know how comparable the results are due to this change in our methodology, the results of this test are still valid for our unit.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless PRTF

These headphones have poor passive soundstage. Just like many other closed-back headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless , their soundstage sounds unnatural, closed-off, and as if audio is coming from inside your head, rather than from speakers placed around you.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Virtual Soundstage

The Apple AirPods Max support Spatial Audio. This feature allows the virtual soundstage to reorient itself based on your head movements, creating a more immersive and 3D audio experience. If you're watching a movie and turn your head to the left, audio will become more noticeable in the right driver as your right ear is closer to the audio source. Spatial Audio also works with Dolby Atmos content available on Apple Music. It can help make your favorite tunes sound like you're at a live concert, as Dolby Atmos virtually creates different audio channels to help create the impression that sound is coming from all around you rather than from strictly the left and right drivers. You can turn Spatial Audio on/off by going into your iPhone's Bluetooth settings or when you connect to them for the first time with iOS 14.3. It's only available on newer Apple devices, and not all apps or services support it.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Weighted Harmonic Distortion

These headphones have a good weighted harmonic distortion performance. There's a small peak at normal listening levels in the low-treble, but it can be hard to hear with real-life content. They also perform well at max volume, resulting in clear and pure audio reproduction.

These are the settings we used to test the Apple AirPods Max , and our results are only valid when using this configuration. Although we tested these headphones using SBC codec, we have also tested them using AAC, which is Apple's proprietary codec. We first tested them by placing them on our Head Acoustics HMS, using a PC with SBC codec, and we ran a sweep. Without changing the position of the headphones, we then connected to our iPhone 11 Pro (iOS 14.3) with AAC and ran another sweep. We didn't detect any significant changes to the frequency response, and you can see the graph here . For over-ear headphones, we also do a sweep with humans and match the crossfade. Ignore anything below the 200-300hz range on this graph, as this was entirely measured on our testing equipment.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Noise Isolation

Note: These over-ears have a great noise isolation performance thanks to their adaptive ANC system. The ANC automatically adjusts depending on the headphones' seal around your ears as well as to your environment, depending on the kind of noise and its directionality. It means their performance is highly dependent on the environment and fit. That said, the ANC reduces sounds like ambient chatter and the hum of AC units extremely well. We also noticed that when we extend the length of time of any particular frequency, the overall ANC performs more favorably. As a result, it's hard to compare their performance to other non-adaptive ANC headphones or between firmware updates, as the ANC may perform better in some cases than others. However, there have been a few articles and threads that note a drop in performance, starting in May 2021, and users also have alerted us of a potential change to ANC strength after updating to firmware 4E71. We measured a difference in our unit's isolation (you can see our previous results here ), but don't know if this is due to the firmware update, or another factor affecting their measured noise isolation. There's a difference in non-ANC measurements that indicates that these results aren't directly comparable⁠, and it extends to our firmware 5B58 measurements. We're currently investigating this issue and will update the review as soon as we can.

Users have also reported high cabin pressure when using ANC. It's a pressure-like feeling inside your ears when the ANC is on and is a similar sensation to when a plane ascends and descends. It's caused by your brain perceiving the lack of low-frequency sound as a pressure difference between the inner and outer ear, which can become uncomfortable. The cabin pressure of these headphones feels strong when their ANC is on. However, it won't be an issue for most users unless you're already sensitive to ANC. In comparison, other ANC over-ears, like the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless , seem to have somewhat less noticeable (but still present) cabin pressure.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Leakage

They have a decent leakage performance. They leak a bit of sound across the range, but most of it falls below the noise level of an average office. It's unlikely that it'll bother others around you, even if you're listening to audio at a high volume.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Microphone Frequency Response

The Apple AirPods Max 's mic has an alright recording quality. Your voice sounds thin and a bit muffled, but speech is still intelligible to whoever's on the other end of the line.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless SpNR

The Apple AirPods Max 's microphone's noise handling is poor. It has a hard time separating speech from moderate ambient noise, so if you're taking a call from a loud environment like a busy street, your voice can be drowned out.

The Apple AirPods Max have a great battery performance. While there have been user reports that firmware 3C39 has improved the battery performance, we received similar results after updating our model to this firmware. With their ANC on, they're advertised to last 20 hours continuously, and we measured just over 21 hours, which easily lasts through long days on the go. They also charge pretty quickly, and have a 5-minute quick charge that gives you up to 1.5 hours of playback time. On the downside, the headphones don't technically turn off unless you completely drain the battery. Instead, they enter a very low-power state when placed in their carrying case. They also go into a low-power mode when in an idle position for five minutes. If you don't want to be away from your audio for too long, you can use them while charging. Even though you can use them wired with a Lightning to 1/8" TRS cable, this cable isn't included in the box. You won't be able to use them passively either, as the headphones need power to produce audio.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless App Picture

The Apple AirPods Max don't have a companion app but an interface limited to iOS and macOS devices. On the iOS screen, you can switch between ANC, Ambient mode, and off. You can reconfigure the Digital Crown knob to adjust the volume by going up and down or down and up. You can also turn the Spatial Audio feature on or off and access the same controls on macOS via your headphones' Bluetooth settings.

Apple allows you to adjust their sound through Headphone Accommodations in iOS and iPadOS 14. You can find instructions on how to access these features here . This interface allows you to tune audio for 'Balanced Tone', 'Vocal Range', and 'Brightness'. This interface is only available for select Apple and Beats headphones, and it only works on iOS and iPadOS 14. You can't use it on macOS, Android, or Windows. Due to this limited compatibility and because these features are found outside the headphones' interface settings, we don't consider these to be EQ presets for the headphones.

The Apple AirPods Max have decent Bluetooth connectivity. Although they don't support NFC pairing, and you can't connect them with more than one device at a time, they have an H1 chip. This chip allows you to seamlessly pair them with other devices in your Apple ecosystem. If you like to stream videos, their latency on iOS and Android devices is low, so you won't experience a significant audio delay. However, their latency on PC is much higher, which can negatively affect video streaming or gaming. However, some apps and devices compensate for latency differently though. Unfortunately, these headphones don't support lossless audio via Bluetooth.

Apple AirPods Max Wireless Cable Picture

Right out-of-the-box, you can't use them wired, and they only come with a Lightning to USB-C cable for charging your headphones. However, if you want to use them wired, you can purchase a Lightning to AUX cable separately. The headphones must have battery life remaining for you to use them wired via the lightning to AUX cable. That said, you'll be able to use ANC and transparency mode using this connection.

The Apple AirPods Max can wirelessly connect to Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, you can't connect them in any other way out of the box. You can purchase a lightning to 1/8" TRS cable separately, though.

These headphones can only connect to PlayStation consoles if you already have a lightning to 1/8" TRS cable. However, this cable isn't included in the box.

Out of the box, these headphones aren't compatible with Xbox consoles. However, you can purchase a lightning to 1/8" TRS cable for analog compatibility.

Apple Airpod Max 2

Traveling with the Apple AirPods Max

The end of April through most of May, Lee and I were traveling for almost the entire time – successfully surpassing the number of consecutive trips we've ever taken. We flew for all of them and just before leaving on our first trip, decided to do the research and both purchase a pair of quality, over the ear headphones to make travel and working while traveling more enjoyable.

This is a review of the Apple AirPods Max headphones – specifically a review of how they hold up during travel. If you've been interested in purchasing a pair, need a good quality headphone for travel or work, or even have never heard of these before, keep reading to get my thoughts on:

  • f irst impressions
  • how we made our decision
  • where to purchase
  • how they held up
  • favorite features
  • care and cleaning

First Impressions

Let me start by saying Lee and I had ruled out purchasing these headphones. Completely took them off our list for purchasing. With not a lot of knowledge about them, we chalked them up to another expensive Apple product that was just marketed super well.

But before a larger purchase, if we can, we like to see and experience the products firsthand, so we went to Best Buy to try on and interact with four different over the ear headphones by Bose, Sony, Beats, etc. They were fine. Not great. Just fine.

I have a pretty small head and small ears ( one of the reasons regular AirPods don't work for me) and the other brands of OTE headphones just didn't fit quite right. On a whim we walked to the Apple display and tried on the AirPods Max and knew immediately we wanted them.

Knee jerk reactions were:

  • they fit more securely on my head than other headphones
  • the noise canceling feature was unparalleled
  • the sound quality was amazing
  • they felt like a quality product

Apple Airpod Max 10

Our Decision and Purchase

We left the store really trying to justify why the Sony product could be better than the Apple product. We were trying really hard not to like the AirPods Max, but after sleeping on it, we knew the next morning those were the headphones for us both.

A little bit of research and we actually found that Amazon was selling them for the best price around with free one day shipping. After that, it was game over for us. We pulled the trigger on two pairs – Space Grey for Lee and Silver for me. They came the next day in the brand new Apple packaging and truly, honestly, after the past 2 months with them I cannot imagine not having them, especially for travel.

Price Breakdown of Where to Purchase (due to change):

  • Amazon – current price $479 * free one day shipping with Prime
  • Apple – current price $549 * free engraving from Apple
  • Target – current price $499 * 4-5 day shipping
  • Best Buy – current price $499 * 6 months free of Apple Music

Putting Them To The Test

I am not an early adaptor of tech. I like what I like and I don't love trying to learn new features or processes with my tech. So, I was really pleased when, from the moment I took them out of the box, they synched with my iPhone and the three buttons did exactly what I expected them to do.

About a week later we boarded our first flight to New York. It was a small Delta plane and as luck would have it we were sitting in the very last row of the plane.

I've never traveled with noise cancelling headphones before, so when I put my AirPods on, clicked play on my chill beats playlist, and turned on noise cancelling, the world literally fell away.

I was shocked. I'm not a super nervous flyer, but take off always gives me a little moment of anxiety so to be able to zone out and not hear the creak and grumble of the plane during take off was a GIFT. It also made every flight just absolutely fly by (no pun intended).

Apple Airpod Max 6

Favorite Features of the AirPods Max

Let's start out with a little list:

  • noise cancelling. Most over the ear headphones are noise cancelling, but the technology to take out the low decibels of noise in the Apple product is noticeable. It's obviously not 100% noise cancelling. Like I'm sitting in a coffee shop at the moment with the noise cancelling on and I can still hear people talking, but they're very muffled, I can't hear the cars just outside, or the grind of the espresso machine. Like I said, on the plane they were able to remove the engine noise during the flight which now I realize is very exhausting to hear.
  • they fit my head. Due to the adjustable mesh band over the top of the headphone and pretty impressive adjustable width I have a feeling they would fit any head shape or size. Every other pair of OTE headphones I tried on felt like I were sitting on my ears or sat very low on my jaw line – the Apple ones fit snuggly over my ears and seal around them to truly block out the noise.
  • they're very lightweight. I was expecting them to be heavier and start to feel like they were squeezing my head after a while, but there wasn't any of that. I did have a few days of a "transition" period where I had to get used to their placement on my head, but that was just due to the fact that I've never worn those type of headphones before.
  • they're low profile. I don't feel like I'm wearing huge hulking headphones when I wear them. I also think they look really sleek and classy and love the different colors that Apple made them in. Although I got the silver, the green is very pretty too.

Care and Cleaning

Another feature I love is that the ear pads on these headphones easily snap on and off and are attached via a magnet so you can easily clean the ear pads.

I did find after a few trips and several weeks I had some makeup build up on the ear pads because it obviously reaches down to your jaw line and covers your cheek. But I just used a couple Laundress products:

  • Delicate detergent in a little bit of water
  • Stain brush to gentle scrub the ear pad
  • a soft cloth to wipe away any excess water

They cleaned up very well. There is one small foundation spot that's faded now, but I think I'm going to do a gentle clean a little more often so makeup doesn't get built up again.

Apple Airpod Max 8

If you're in the market for over the ear headphones or are just looking for a couple products to make your travel days less exhausting, I could not recommend these more. They were absolutely game changing for me and I didn't even realize how much they would be helpful until I had them.

Apple Airpod Max 7

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Apple AirPods Max, a traveler’s perspective: great audio isn’t everything (video)

If you're looking for amazing sound quality from a pair of Bluetooth headphones and the price is not a problem, sure, buy the AirPods Max. But know what you're in for.

Anton D. Nagy  contributed to this post.

I don’t even know how to say this politely, so I’ll just start from the beginning. Apple’s AirPods Max is the most frustrating piece of hardware that I’ve ever wanted to almost love… There, I got it off my chest.

Let me explain: I travel a lot, 150,000 miles a year kind of a lot. It’s been the story of my life since I was 3, and for the past 20 years, it’s a sort of requirement I’ve set before taking any job. I’ve always been kind of like that George Clooney character in Up In The Air, where I only buy toiletries in small packages, I spend insane amounts of money on specific kinds of luggage just because they’re easier to drag, and I use Peak Design bags and tripods almost exclusively because of the amount of thought that’s put into making them compact.

Point is, I value ergonomics, practicality, and thoughtfulness before buying any product, and I’m willing to spend more on it. Obviously, with this pandemic, we all had to take a break from travel, but it’s the main reason I felt the only way to finalize the review of these Max correctly, was to wait until I could fly again with them. The sound should be one of the most important reasons for you to buy a pair of headphones, but for anyone willing to spend so much money, it’s not everything.

Thoughtfulness, as a noun, is the consideration for the needs of other people. Let’s be real, Apple hasn’t always been famous for this. Remember the excessive obsession over thin and light at the expense of battery life? Remember the only two USB ports stuck so next to each other that one was pretty much useless on the old MacBooks. Or fine, just one USB-C port for everything on the MacBook? Sure, this is the company that put a thousand songs in your pocket, but it also killed the headphone jack against user feedback. 

So, AirPods Max. Let me start with basic a disclaimer. This is not an audiophile review, and I’m sure the Internet is full of them. I even battle with the idea of such an analysis for wireless headphones. At the moment, Bluetooth hasn’t really reached what most would consider as High Fidelity territory, even if Apple disputes it in their marketing. You either choose the convenience of a wireless connection at the expense of quality or the other way around at the expense of money, cause yeah, it can get thousands of dollars more expensive.


That said, for Bluetooth, the AirPods Max is NOT at all affordable. At this price, *any* pair of headphones should sound amazing, and these do but bear with me. Let me begin with the things I like before you get the impression that this is a bashing piece. What we have here is a different approach through computational audio, where the H1 chip detects everything from the music you hear to the fit in your ears in order to balance the EQ dynamically, and I can tell. I actually do appreciate the aluminum design, but for reasons that contradict the purpose.

I seriously think Apple chose the materials more to boost the audio experience than the build quality. See, probably what I like most about these headphones, is that I’ve never heard a broader soundstage from Bluetooth Headphones. I’m talking instrument separation, and crisp bass, if there is such a thing. I’m trying to find a word to describe how I can actually feel it without providing any sort of distortion. The aluminum actually seems to contribute to creating this sort of rumble all around that I can’t say I’ve experienced before. 

Now, disclaimer number 2. I have no scientific way to prove this, but I’ve only experienced this soundstage on Apple Music. Yes, I know this is the same exact AAC codec that Spotify uses, which I also download at maximum quality. Thing is, for whatever reason that should seriously be obvious, Instrument separation and audio quality on Spotify is good, but I consider it better on Apple Music.

I say obvious because this is a very Apple thing to do. If you want to take maximum advantage of what these headphones can do, you have to be in their ecosystem. Pair them to one, and then they’re smart enough to switch between the rest of your Apple devices. Spatial Audio capabilities exist depending on the content supporting it, and all you have to do is say Hey Siri to get them to play whatever music you want… on Apple Music, of course. The concept of having this Apple Watch-style digital crown for audio and music playback is a smarter approach to capacitive controls, but I think my favorite feature is the button next to it.

AirPods Max noise cancelation

See, Noise cancelation on these headphones isn’t just great, but different. The biggest problem with most other offerings is the sort of suction they produce, which can make anyone feel uneasy for an extended period of time. By contrast, the choice in hardware and materials help these balance out the feel so well that you’ll notice the noise dissipate without added discomfort.

That said, what I like about these AirPods Max most is their Ambient Mode. Like on AirPods Pro, these headphones can also balance the inner feal and outside noise so well that you can barely tell you’re covering your ears, which is quite convenient in cold New York winters, even if it throws people off because they think you can’t hear them. Match this with a pretty good set of microphones, and yes, I have no problem recommending them for phone calls.

I also appreciate the mesh used in the earcups, which does a far better job at not making your head sweat than the faux leather on other offerings. The fact that they’re easily replaceable guarantees they’ll look good for longer.

The not so good

So yes, they sound great, they cancel noise or invite it better than most. So, what’s wrong? Well, I wish that the same amount of thought that was put into their audio experience was ported to the practicality of their design. This is the company that forced every competitor to make smaller cases for their earbuds, and yet somehow failed at it here.

First, they’re large, which is fine while you’re wearing them, it comes with the territory, but the problem is when you don’t. They don’t collapse in any way, which makes carrying them an exercise in frustration. People make fun of the case, I don’t since it barely adds to the footprint. The problem is that it makes you flip the muffs sideways, which only makes them even less compact, which then leads to the problem that if they don’t fit in your bag you’ll do what I do and carry them on the side, which is then more of a problem since they’re not water-resistant nor protected by the case, which means. Figure out how to make them fit, or just don’t take them off, or just don’t travel with the damn things at all.

Second, don’t carry them in this extended position or let alone drop them without the case. As it is, the aluminum finish collides with itself, meaning you’ll end up scratching them quicker than you think, which is more visible on every color except silver.

The third is that if you have a large head as I do, you’re not gonna like to wear them for extended periods of time. They’re heavier than average, and really the light canopy at the top seems to just serve as a way to join them together as the stainless steel bar mechanism is really what’s clamping them to your head. As a result, that continuous force you’re receiving can make wearing anything else on your face uncomfortable, whether it’s eyeglasses depending on how thick they are, but I even feel this way about face masks. And then you’d think the solution for that is to take them off and carry them around your neck every now and then, but since the stems aren’t long, the force of that clamping mechanism on your neck is also uncomfortable. I know! It’s like if your head doesn’t get a break unless you fully take them off, and we already know carrying them is a nightmare.

Last but not least, there’s Lightning. Like, what year is this? This is a cable that Apple has been phasing out. I charge my Mac and iPad with USB-C and my iPhone and AirPods Pro through MagSafe. Now I have to carry an extra cable because there’s also the problem that there’s no way to turn these off without the case. The 20 hours of battery life is quite accurate if you keep in mind that at least a little power is constantly drained by them, meaning a week-long trip might require you to charge them once or twice. But then my other problem is the need for Apple’s expensive lightning to headphone jack cable if I’m editing a video. Sadly even with all the advancements on these Max, you will jump into the eventual latency issues on Final Cut Pro that every other headphone brings unless you use a wire. So yeah, two cables to carry, and a carrying case that can’t fit them.

AirPods Max: conclusion

To conclude, I think you know where I’m going with this review. Apple’s AirPods Max are the best sounding pair of Bluetooth headphones that I’ve ever used, so long as I’m using Apple Music, or if I’m listening to Spatial Audio from content that supports it, only on an iPhone or iPad, so long as I’m not having to carry them anywhere.

This makes, and doesn’t make sense. At this price, we want amazing audio without compromise in basics like how to carry them around. This only reminds me of how much I hated the first AirPods, but for opposite reasons. Those were great for calls, and carrying them was effortless, but the fit was so bad that it made the audio quality forgettable. We needed AirPods Pro to fix the fit problem in order for the entire experience of using them to be worth the money.

Same problem here. The AirPods Max is clearly a fantastic idea that suffers from the curse of a first-generation product. Unless your bag has enough space, I struggle to recommend them for a frequent traveler, or who wants them for the daily commute on the train. The weight and lack of an IP rating also mean they’re not for fitness. Really I’d call these more a good pair of headphones for the couch, which kind of defeats the purpose of their wireless connection or longevity.

If you’re looking for amazing sound quality from a pair of Bluetooth headphones and the price is not a problem, then sure, buy the AirPods Max . But know what you’re in for. If your plan is to use these to replace all the convenience of say, a pair of Bose QC35s, or 700s, the Sony Mark Fours, or the Jabra Elite 85H which are my favorite, you might want to wait for generation 2. All of them sound great, cost a lot less, and can collapse into something smaller when you’re done. You know, logical things can only be achieved when thoughtful design considers that audio is just part of the experience.

Apple AirPods Max review

The airpods max are the noise-cancelling headphones apple fans have been waiting for, and they don’t disappoint despite the high price.

Apple AirPods Max review

Tom's Guide Verdict

The AirPods Max are exceptional noise-cancelling headphones with a luxurious design, sophisticated soundstage and clever computational features. But the $549 price and unconventional case are difficult to overlook.

Luxurious design and feel

Easy-to-use controls

Crisp and balanced sound

Spatial audio is a game-changer

Fantastic noise cancellation

No on/off switch

Smart case provides no protection

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Are the Apple AirPods Max worth $549? It might seem unlikely given most of the best over-ear headphones are a lot cheaper. And, despite being both Apple’s most premium pair of headphones yet and capable of using a wired connection, the AirPods Max isn't even be compatible with Apple Music lossless .

Price: $549 Colors: Space gray, silver, sky blue, green, pink Size: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches Weight: 13.6 ounces Battery life : 20 hours Speakers: 40mm dynamic drivers Features: ANC, spatial audio, audio sharing, Siri

And yet, our answer is yes: the AirPods Max are worth $549. In fact you could fairly count them among the best noise-cancelling headphones or the best headsets and headphones for working from home , and even the best headphones overall. Yes, there are cheaper AirPods Max alternatives , but the design, sound quality and features on offer make the real thing very tempting indeed.

You can also check out our face-off between Sony WH-1000XM5 vs. AirPods Max .

  • How to use AirPods and AirPods Max : Tips and guides
  • Our picks of the best AirPods Max alternatives that cost less
  • The best Apple AirPods alternatives : Money-saving earbuds

That said, it's certainly no impulse buy. So I’ll summarize this Apple AirPods Max review specifically for those wondering whether they should splurge: They look great, they sound better, and they have enough bonus features that even $549 can be worth paying. With Apple’s newest headphones you really do get what you pay for. And there are some great accessories to choose from too, including our pick of the best AirPods Max cases and covers . 

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.

In other words, the AirPods Max is cheaper than true audiophile headphones like the Focal Clear , but will still cost you a pretty penny.

AirPods Max review: Design 

Unlike the Apple AirPods , which are sheathed in an iconic white plastic, the AirPods Max come 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.

Those pivoting ear cups are covered by oval pillows of memory foam that aren’t as pulpy as those of the Sony WH-1000XM4 , but still create a spongy, secure seal around my ears.

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 are 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 swivelling the dial, although I did swipe the volume while fussing with my hair more than once.

The other button on the right earcup is a switch for noise cancellation and transparency mode. So where is the AirPods Max power button, you might ask? There isn’t one, which is odd no matter how you frame it. Although they kick into low-power mode when they’re stationary for several minutes or in the magnetic smart case, I still think Apple should’ve included a way to completely power down the AirPods Max.

AirPods Max review: Audio performance

The AirPods Max’s sound starts with a custom-built, 40mm dynamic driver in each cup, which are designed to deliver deep bass, accurate mid-range sounds and clean high-frequencies. There’s also a dual neodymium ring magnet motor that limits harmonic distortion to less than 1%, even at max volume. When I turned the AirPods Max all the way up, music sounded balanced as ever, although my Apple Health noise notifications increased.

Apple leverages an H1 chip in each ear, a custom acoustic design, and advanced software to achieve computational audio performance that’s akin to the computational photography prowess of the iPhone 12 . Each of the chips have 10 audio cores that can perform 9 billion operations per second, supporting Adaptive EQ for tailored listening and adjusting sound appropriately on the fly. 

Now, enough with the technical specs. As wireless headphones, the AirPods Max likely aren’t the choice for true audiophiles or audio professionals who require lossless playback. Apple’s headphones still sound high-end, perhaps not as high-end as wired recording equipment, but offer more complexities than most popular headphones models.

The steady bassline in Kendrick’s Lamar’s “Humble” rang deep, and I could hear the rapper enunciating his words with a crispness I never noticed in the song before. While the WH-1000XM4 are similarly clear, they don’t provide the same degree of definition. Likewise, Alicia Keys sounded more smooth, yet precise in the opening run of “You Don’t Know My Name,” through the AirPods Max. With both these songs, it felt like I listened from a studio.

For more of a concert experience, I turned to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion." Tom Hamilton's bass guitar vibrated through my ears, while Joe Perry's acoustics were intentional and Steven Tyler's sharp vocals transported me back to my first live Aerosmith show at an outdoor Long Island amphitheater. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" supplied a similar outcome; the bass drum boomed through the song's signature rumble.

I found something to appreciate about the AirPods Max’s soundstage across all my favorite musical genres, but my favorite aspect of testing didn’t come from music. Spatial audio , which Apple introduced with the AirPods Pro and helped put them among the best wireless earbuds , is a game-changing listening feature.

Spatial audio is basically surround sound but for a headset. It supports 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos video content, and uses built-in head tracking means to make sound relative to what you’re seeing on screen while watching video on your iPhone or iPad. For example, as ships zoomed from the left side of the screen towards the right and down towards a planet in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, their buzzes and hums followed with precision from my left ear to my ear one. Spatial audio also recalibrated when I moved my head, which never failed to impress me. 

AirPods Max review: Noise cancellation and transparency mode

Just a few months ago, I picked up the AirPods Pro to drown out the sounds of screaming babies, noisy appliances and traffic in or around my apartment. They’ve been a huge help for focusing on work, but boy, the AirPods Max will make it difficult to go back to earbuds.

Although there’s only one level of noise cancellation, it’s excellent. If you prefer acute tuning for this feature, the Bose 700 is probably a more rational fit for you with its 11 levels of noise cancellation. Conversely the AirPods Max offer only one level of transparency, while the Sony WH-1000XM4 have several settings for ambient sound. 

The common theme for AirPods Max is that more options isn’t necessarily better. In side-by-side testing Apple’s headphones are neck-and-neck with the two best noise-cancelling headphones in the game. I’d hesitate to call AirPods the new ANC king. I don’t leave my apartment much these days, so YouTube supplied me with New York City ambience sounds that recreate my rush-hour commuting soundscape. The AirPods Max did a better job than the Bose 700 at eliminating the low-frequencies of wind and the hum of busy streets, but Bose’s headphones excelled with mid- and high-frequency sounds like honking car horns and squeaking tires.

And again, if you’re keen on customizing your sound (or lack thereof) then the AirPods Max might not be your ideal headset. But if you’re okay giving up control to Apple’s computational performance powers, you won’t be disappointed.

AirPods Max review: Setup, Siri and phone call quality

It’s no surprise that those who own other Apple devices will be able to make the most of their AirPods Max experience. When you pull these headphones out of the case, the H1 chip initiates instantaneous pairing with your iPhone, and soon you can control your AirPods Max from your Apple Watch or handoff playback between your iPad or HomePod mini . 

You’ll also get Siri, which isn’t my preferred voice butler but nonetheless helpful for sending texts and answering calls. You can use Apple’s AI assistant to control the best HomeKit devices via the AirPods Max, too.

I found the AirPods Max are better than other AirPods models when it comes to phone call quality, eliminating most background noise per those I called for testing. I noticed I could hear myself speaking, that way I wouldn’t end up yelling by accident. In fact, in transparency mode the AirPods Max even boost the volume of my own voice in my ears. 

AirPods Max review: Smart case

I normally wouldn’t dedicate an entire section of a review to a device’s holster, but the AirPods Max Smart Case has been ridiculed and memed to no end. I’ll be honest, I don’t hate it, even if it looks like an ostentatious leather purse. I’m not opposed to using the headband as a carrying handle, plus the supple case takes up minimal space when it's not in use. 

I do have two concerns, though: First, an exposed headband seems like a germ-magnet. I’m a hygienic human being, but should I pick up the AirPods Max with any kind of grime or crumb on my hand... just, ew. Second, the Smart Case doesn’t provide any sense of protection. I wouldn’t toss the AirPods Max in my backpack with the rest of my crap like I would other headphones, including my AirPods Pro. One of the five upgrades we want to see in the AirPods Max 2 is a better case. Until then, it's a smart idea to invest in one of the best AirPods Max cases . 

AirPods Max review: Battery life

In my testing, I found the AirPods Max live up to Apple's claimed 20 hours of battery life, no matter how much time I spent listening, talking or quieting the world around me. Over the course of two days — including 3 hours of phone calls, 10 hours of music or TV and several hours of simple silence in between — my AirPods Max still had about 10% of juice left. And overnight, stored in their case, the battery barely drained. 

Apple planned out this no-power-button move pretty well. The low power modes are effective enough that most people should get several days of battery life out of AirPods Max with normal use. But if a long lasting battery is important to you, know you’ll get another 10 hours out of the Sony’s WH-1000XM4. 

Another thing to note is if you do opt for the lightning to 3.5mm accessory, you still need to charge the AirPods Max. The cable simply adds a wired listening option and eliminates the possibility of audio latency, but can’t be used to charge the cans

AirPods Max review: Verdict

The AirPods Max are the best Apple headphones, so it’s a shame they’re not in a more palatable price range. But these headphones round out Apple’s ecosystem in a way I didn’t think I cared about, and now that they’re here, I’m having a hard time desiring any other over-ear headphones right now. The combination of cushy comfort, pristine audio quality and killer features like spatial audio is hard to beat.

Besides the fact that they’re more compatible for Android users, the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones both cost hundreds of dollars less and offer comparable noise cancellation. Plus, both come with practical cases, a headphone jack and an off switch. 

If you can look past these caveats and have the dough to spend, the AirPods Max are your ticket to listening luxury. You might feel pressured to hop on the train with Apple’s legion of loyal customers, and I’m here to tell you that’s okay. The AirPods Max aren’t frivolous — they’re exceptional.

More from Tom's Guide

  • Not convinced? Check out the best AirPods Max alternatives

How to reset AirPods Max

  • This inexpensive accessory makes AirPods Max even better

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the  Tom's Guide TikTok account , which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

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White Apple AirPods Max on top of a green book on a coffee table.

Apple AirPods Max review

Apple airpods max.

December 15, 2020

Ever since acquiring Beats by Dre for an ungodly amount of money in 2014, it’s been obvious Apple has its eye on the consumer audio space. The original AirPods was a hit despite being terrible, and the AirPods Pro is actually among the best true wireless earbuds you can get. So when Apple announced its long-awaited over-ears, the AirPods Max, we were excited but skeptical.

Is this just another overpriced Apple product, or is it actually a good pair of headphones?

Editor’s note: this article was updated on November 6, 2023, to ensure the timeliness of the information within.

People in the Apple ecosystem will love the AirPods Max, as well as people who love the AirPods Pro but want over-ears. You can enjoy many of the same software perks as the AirPods in a more comfortable form factor. Anyone who wants the best noise canceling should get the AirPods Max, which outperforms both the Sony WH-1000XM5 and XM4 , along with the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and QuietComfort 45 .

What is it like to use the Apple AirPods Max?

The Apple AirPods Max and its smart case on a white desk.

Using the AirPods Max is a mixed bag. This headset is fantastic in particular situations, but any time you want to use the AirPods Max in a way Apple doesn’t intend, things get weird. For example, even just going wired means you need to jump through a few hoops.

The AirPods Max doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so if you want to use anything other than a Bluetooth-enabled device, you’re out of luck unless you ante up for a $35 Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable from Apple. If your chosen device doesn’t have a headphone jack (like Apple’s own iPhones), you need another $9 USD dongle. That said, as long as you remain in Bluetooth land, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Man wearing the white Apple AirPods Max while sitting in green chair.

The AirPods Max has top-notch noise canceling and a transparency mode to let you hear what’s going on around you with the click of a button. Volume and playback controls are assigned to the digital crown at the top of the right ear cup, and it is insanely smooth. At times, I find myself accidentally raising or lowering the volume when trying to readjust the headphones. Tiny sensors on the inside of the ear cups also auto-pause playback when you take off the headphones. Resuming playback is as simple as putting the headphones back on.

There is no power button to turn the headset on or off. Instead, it enters a low-power mode when you put it in the case, and it’s ready to go when you take it out again. This is convenient but only useful when you actually use the case. When the AirPods Max isn’t in the case, it remains on for a few hours before going to sleep, draining the battery the entire time.

How are the build quality and design of the AirPods Max?

The inside of the right ear cup for the Apple AirPods Max.

The AirPods Max plays the part of luxury headphones extremely well. The stainless steel headband and aluminum ear cups feel sturdy, and I don’t feel like they’ll break if I toss them in my backpack. All that metal means the AirPods Max is also really heavy, weighing in at 385 grams. That’s much heavier than the other top noise canceling headphones we’ve tested, and you feel it. That’s not to say these aren’t comfortable, though. The headband is brilliantly engineered to distribute the weight evenly.

The plush padding and light fabric headband feel really nice. The ear cups feel amazing—they’re, without a doubt, my favorite thing about the headset. They are comfortable, and you can easily pop off the padding to replace them as needed. This allows you to mix and match colors, though you’ll have to shell out another $69 if you want to go that route.

The headband of the Apple AirPods Max.

The ear cups are extremely deep, which is actually very important. Providing plenty of room around your ears brings a number of benefits, from effective weight distribution to making noise isolation easier to accomplish. It may seem like a little thing to gush about, but bigger ear cups mean more things go right for more people, which we’ll demonstrate a bit later on.

One notable downside here is the lack of any folding hinges. While the rotating ear cups are nice when you want to slip them into your bag, they don’t fold down like other headphones. The headband is made of metal that slides when adjusting the fit but won’t fold to save space.

The AirPods Max is not waterproof. Unfortunately, it isn’t even water- resistant . If you get caught in a heavy rainstorm, it’s a good idea to take this off and stow it away. To be fair, most high-end headphones are like this, but typical audiophile headphones aren’t made to be used outside of your house. The AirPods Max is made to be portable, so not having any kind of water protection is definitely a miss on Apple’s part. Especially when you consider that the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 has an IPX4 water resistance rating and costs far less.

How do you use the AirPods Max Smart Case?

Man holding the smart case for the Apple AirPods Max.

The case that comes with the AirPods Max is basically useless as a case—its main purpose is as an off-switch. Most headphone cases are supposed to protect your investment from serious harm, but not here. This case is more like a skin that protects the metal from minor scratches but is useless in protecting it from anything more. You’re better off buying a third-party case to protect your investment.

While I’m confident that the metal headband won’t bend or break in most situations, I’m not so sure about the soft fabric. Tossing the exposed headband into a bag with just a few pens could potentially result in at least a few unwanted marks if not an accidental puncture. There are just so many little accidents that happen in daily life that this case does not protect against. Where the original AirPods case was a perfectly functional object, this feels more like a swing and a miss.

What Bluetooth codecs does the AirPods Max support?

The Apple AirPods Max in white on a coffee table next to a newspaper.

The connection with the AirPods Max is generally pretty solid, which has to do with the H1 chip . Like the smaller AirPods Pro, this uses Bluetooth 5.0 with the AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. A SoundGuys colleague reports occasional glitches when listening to Spotify from an iPhone SE2, as well as some strange behavior where podcast audio isn’t routed to the AirPods Max despite an established Bluetooth connection.

For the unfamiliar, a Bluetooth codec is the method of communication between two Bluetooth devices. All Bluetooth audio devices use the standard SBC codec to transfer sound back and forth. The AirPods Max also uses AAC , which is superior, but it tends to not play well with some Android phones (through no fault of its own). Be aware that if you have an Android phone that supports higher-quality codecs like aptX or LDAC , they’re not going to be of much use here. If you’re on iOS, you have nothing to worry about since iOS devices will default to AAC anyway. Suppose you plan on playing lossless files or using a high-quality streaming service like Qobuz or Deezer. In that case, you won’t be fully taking advantage of the quality those services have to offer because of Bluetooth’s limitations .

How do you connect AirPods Max to iOS devices?

The quick-pair pop-up on iOS devices.

Connecting the AirPods Max to iOS devices is just as easy as with any of the other H1-enabled devices. All that you need to do is hold the headset about two inches away from the device you want to connect to and wait for a card icon to pop up. From there, just hit the “Connect” button, and you’re good to go. The AirPods Max will now automatically connect to all devices on your iCloud account, so you won’t need to redo the process every time.

Will the AirPods Max work with Android or PC?

Yes, you can connect your AirPods to an Android or Apple device! However, you’ll be missing a few smart features. To connect the AirPods Max to Android devices or Windows computers, just follow these steps:

  • Remove the headphones from the case, but don’t put them on—Seriously. I found this process doesn’t work at all if the headphones detect you wearing them.
  • Hold down the noise canceling button at the top of the right ear cup.
  • When the LED at the bottom of the right ear cup begins to blink white, then you know you’re in pairing mode.
  • Navigate to the Bluetooth settings of the device you want to pair to and click on the AirPods Max to connect. That’s it!

As I mentioned, you won’t get all of the same features on Android or Windows. For example, the proximity sensors on the inside of the ear cups will not work. This means taking them off won’t auto-pause or automatically resume playback. You also won’t be able to access any virtual assistants on other devices. Long-pressing the digital crown to access a voice assistant only works with Siri, so if your device doesn’t support Siri, then it won’t work.

Does the AirPods Max have Bluetooth multipoint?

Technically, the AirPods Max does not support true Bluetooth multipoint , but it still functions the same way as long as you’re using iOS devices. While you can pair the AirPods Max to multiple devices, it doesn’t switch automatically—you’ve got to manually go into Bluetooth settings to disconnect from one device and reconnect to another. This isn’t a problem if you’re only using Apple products, as the headphones will automatically switch to whichever device is playing audio. If you’re like me and jump between Apple and non-Apple devices, prepare to go through your Bluetooth settings a lot.

What is Apple spatial audio?

The spatial audio pop-up on an iPad Pro.

Spatial audio is what Apple calls its surround sound technology . In a typical surround sound speaker system, you have multiple speakers positioned around the listener to give the illusion of space. Software processing can be used to create the same effect in headphones. Sounds get encoded as objects and come through the left and right channels positioned in 3D space, producing a surround sound effect.

The overall effect is really cool and immersive when watching movies or shows that support it. Apple even makes sure the sound seems to be coming from the same place when you move your head. The AirPods Max (and the AirPods Pro) does this by matching the gyroscopes and accelerometers in the headset with the ones in your iPhone or iPad. This tech can then figure out which direction your head is moving relative to the viewing device and adjust the sound accordingly.

Spatial audio is another feature you can’t benefit from if you’re not using an iOS device as your source. Sorry, Android and Windows users.

How long does the AirPods Max battery last?

Close-up of the Lightning connector for the Apple AirPods Max as they lay next to a newspaper.

Apple claims the AirPods Max will last you around 20 hours of constant playback with active noise canceling turned on. With our standard test of continuous music playback peaking at 75dB(SPL), we found that we actually got closer to 21 hours using either an iPhone or an Android device or just over 21 hours with ANC disabled. The headphones do a great job at sipping battery in my time with them, which is just as well, considering you can’t physically turn them off! Of course, we’ll always lambaste a set of headphones that chooses to waste power, especially when you consider that it’s so bad for the longevity of tech . You can’t replace the batteries in the AirPods Max easily, so be sure to take care of them as best you can.

Putting the AirPods Max in the case activates a low-power mode, and it will wait for a few hours before powering off automatically if you leave it out. I feel like this is a little too long, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple push an update that shortens this time in the future.

To charge the AirPods Max, you need to plug it in via the Lightning port on the bottom. The included charging cable is a Lightning-to-USB-C. Apple doesn’t provide a charging brick. We’d really like to see wireless charging when the second-generation AirPods Max appears.

How is the active noise canceling?

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The active noise canceling on the AirPods Max is fantastic. This is important because the better your headphones are at preventing outside noise from reaching your ear, the better the chances are that your headphones will sound as good as they can. Wearing the AirPods Max while sitting at my desk completely blocks out the hiss from my heat turning on, as well as almost every other sound. The music my roommate plays in her room during the workday becomes barely audible, and even typing on the keyboard is significantly quieter.

One annoying thing about the noise canceling: you can’t turn it off unless you have an iOS device. By default, the button on the headphones toggles between transparency mode and active noise canceling mode. With an iOS device, this behavior can be modified, with neither ANC nor transparency available as an option.

The AirPods Max also has the best transparency mode around. This feature uses external microphones to amplify external sounds in the useful voice band instead of canceling them out. Instead of lowering the volume of your music so you can hear what’s going on, it amplifies the microphones to match what you’re listening to. This means you’ll never feel like you’re missing out on your favorite part of a song while trying to be more aware of what is happening around you.

Close-up of the noise canceling toggle on the Apple AirPods Max as it is on a desk.

Looking at the results of our isolation tests shows just how impressive this headphone’s ANC really is. To learn exactly how to read our charts, make sure to check out our full explainer , but the short version you need to know right now is the higher the dashed, blue trace gets on the chart, the better the noise canceling. The solid pink line represents just the passive isolation (how well these block outside noise with active noise canceling turned off).

Most over-ear headphones do fairly well at blocking noise in the mid to high frequencies, which are anywhere to the right of the 1000Hz mark, but great noise canceling headphones block sounds below that. This is where you’ll find sounds like airplane cabin noise or the hum of an air conditioner. It’s also where other headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 45 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 excel, which is why they’re consistently at the top of the list for best noise canceling headphones .

A chart showing the active noise cancellation performance of the Apple AirPods Max.

If you compare the AirPods Max to the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise canceling graph, you’ll see that the AirPods Max outperforms Sony’s ANC in this crucial part of the frequency range. Where the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise reduction slopes off below the 70Hz mark, the AirPods Max holds steady, meaning it’s more effective at canceling the lowest frequency noises. While the Sony headset is great, the AirPods Max is just slightly better.

A plot showing the excellent active noise canceling performance of the Bose Noise canceling headphones 700.

When you compare the AirPods Max to the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, you’ll see more of the same. While the Bose headphones do a decent job between 100 and 1000Hz, they fall a bit short when it comes to sounds below 100Hz. The AirPods Max will block much more sound in this crucial range, which is something to keep in mind if you want to block outside noise.

You can get a full comparison from our Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 article.

How does the Apple AirPods Max sound?

In short, you buy the AirPods Max for the sound quality . For wireless headphones, this is great.

Man wearing the Apple AirPods Max and adjusting volume via the digital crown.

The AirPods Max sounds really good and has a clear, pleasing sound profile that will appeal to most listeners. The frequency response follows our own headphone preference curve for the most part, with notably reduced emphasis in the upper midrange and little extra kick in the very low-frequency sub-bass region.

You likely won’t use this as a pair of studio headphones , but the extra volume in the low end makes these a little friendlier to most genres of music. You can really hear this in the song Sunday Vibes by Masego. At around the 0:40 mark, the sub-bass kicks in and it’s strong enough to feel a slight vibration in the ear cups on moderate volume but not so strong that it masks the saxophone throughout.

There’s also a slight dip in the mids, but the vocals are still plenty clear. The vocals of Longing For Your Love by Ady Suleiman remained present throughout the song even as more and more instruments began coming in. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the mix of the particular track. Still, I don’t notice any problems when listening.

Typically, I expect to hear some harshness at higher volumes, but the highs never become overwhelming or unpleasant. I don’t see many people taking issue with how the AirPods Max sounds for that reason. This isn’t bass-heavy, but the bass sounds good. The midrange comes across as nice and clear. The highs aren’t piercingly loud, and you probably won’t want to mess with any EQ apps and settings.

Can you use the AirPods Max wired?

Error message on a Windows computer when trying to plug in the AirPods Max with a USB-C cable.

The AirPods Max lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack (like the Apple Beats Solo Pro ), but you can still use them wired. To do so, you need to buy the Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable from Apple, which currently sells for $35. You’ll need another adaptor to get the audio out of your iOS device. This means taking the digital output from your device, converting it to analog, and then back to digital again in an awkward chain of pricey adaptors. There is no way to drive the AirPods Max with an all-digital wired connection. Given the overall quality of the headphones, this might be the biggest facepalm for those interested in preserving quality for high-resolution audio playback.

If you do happen to have a device that has a USB-C port, like a newer computer or even an iPad Pro, you can’t use the included cable for audio passthrough. When I plug this into my Windows laptop, I get the error message pictured above.

You won’t get the maximum benefit of lossless audio with the Apple AirPods Max. However, you can get pretty close if you use the lightning dongle with a cable into the headphones.

In this scenario, you’re converting a digital signal into an analog one and then back into a digital signal … which then gets re-converted back into an analog one inside the headphones to send to the speaker drivers. You’ll probably not notice any hit to audio quality. Still, there’s always the risk that additional conversion stages in the audio path might introduce some distortion, noise, or loss of detail.

If you’re listening over Bluetooth, you’re not getting lossless audio. Even though Apple’s AAC implementation is excellent, the limitations of the wireless tech mean that you’re listening to an intelligently data-compressed signal when you use Bluetooth. While Apple Music features like spatial audio will work, lossless is not something you’ll need to worry about, so consider dropping the quality settings to save on energy and data if you’re listening to your AirPods Max wirelessly.

Now that the European Union has mandated the use of the USB-C connector in applicable electronic devices, the AirPods Max, iPhone, iPad, and other devices with a Lightning connector now have a shelf life. After December 28, 2024 , the Lightning connector will be absent from Apple’s iPhone and, presumably, headphones. In order to maintain the Max as a member of its lineup in Europe, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a reboot happen before that date.

Does the AirPods Max have a good microphone?

Here’s where things get especially sticky. You may have seen a few videos on YouTube referencing our 2018 deep-dive into Bluetooth audio quality , which mentions how some devices tend to make weird choices with their processing. This is very apparent with the AirPods Max.

Though playback audio quality is pretty good no matter what source you use, for whatever reason, the same can’t be said about the microphone. It’s not always predictable which device will sound bad, but it’s easy to know which devices will work best with the AirPods Max: Apple devices. Below, we’ve highlighted some extreme examples. It should be stressed here that sound quality loss is dependent almost entirely upon your device’s handling of wireless communication.

The microphone quality is not great if you have the wrong device, but it’s not always clear which devices the “wrong” ones will be. That’s because it’s not entirely the headphones’ fault—it’s just that some devices have different defaults and settings when it handle data from the AirPods Max itself. For best results, always use a flagship Android or Apple device.

Apple AirPods Max microphone demo (ideal):

Apple airpods max microphone demo (office):, apple airpods max microphone demo (street):, apple airpods max microphone demo (wind):, how does the microphone sound to you, is the airpods max worth it.

The Apple AirPods Max and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) together on a wooden slab.

Whether or not you should spend around $549 on a pair of headphones is your call. Objectively, however, the AirPods Max is a spectacular pair of headphones. I appreciate that smart features like auto-pause, and the transparency mode are super practical. It also sounds great, is well-built, and has solid battery life. However, this doesn’t exist in a vacuum , and to get the most out of it, you need to commit to the Apple ecosystem.

The AirPods Max is the best noise canceling headset out right now, but it’s not the easiest to use or even the most comfortable. The lack of a headphone jack is frustrating, and the “smart” case … isn’t. If none of that bothers you, you’ll love the AirPods Max. If you’re not sure this is for you, it probably isn’t. To answer the question we started with, yes, the AirPods Max is overpriced—it’s also a great pair of headphones.

Apple AirPods Max

What should you get instead of the AirPods Max?

Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones laying flat on wooden table.

For the price of one pair of Apple AirPods Max, you can get a pair of truly great-sounding open-back headphones that will make your audiophile friends jealous. Similarly, you can get either the Sony WH-1000XM5 or the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and still have the cash to spare. You can find the Sony WH-1000XM5 for $387 at Amazon and the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 for $259 at Amazon .

Listeners who want the best noise canceling around but don’t want to pay up for the AirPods Max may want to just get the Bose QuietComfort 45 . This headset also has issues like a loud treble response and the inability to listen without ANC or transparency mode enabled, but these may be non-issues for the right buyer. The QC 45 compares well against the AirPods Max and against the Sony WH-1000XM4 . You can find the Bose QuietComfort 45 for $279 at Amazon . Really, though, we still recommend the years-old Bose QuietComfort 35 II for its affordable price, great ANC, and accurate sound profile, and you can get it for $374 at Amazon .

While the AirPods Max is a different form factor from the AirPods Pro, if you’re looking for headphones that perfectly integrate with iOS, you might be stuck between the two. If this is the case, check out our Apple AirPods Max vs Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) comparison to learn more.

Frequently asked questions about the Apple AirPods Max

A chart showing that the active noise canceling performance of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is very good

If you compare the AirPods Max to the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise canceling graph, you’ll see that the AirPods Max outperforms Sony’s ANC in this crucial part of the frequency range. Where the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise reduction slopes off below the 150Hz mark, the AirPods Max holds steady, meaning they are more effective at canceling the lowest frequency noises. While the Sony headset is great, the AirPods Max is just slightly better.

With the tvOS 15 operating system, Apple’s streaming box added spatial audio support for the AirPods Max, as well as easy switching to AirPods Max for private listening. Spatial audio support means the AirPods Max (and AirPods Pro) now support three-dimensional sound. It also supports dynamic head tracking, so if you move your head, the audio will adjust accordingly for a more realistic experience—turn away from the screen, and it’ll still sound like it’s coming from the TV.

There sure are! In fact, there are better-sounding headphones at less  than the list price of Apple AirPods Max. We have a whole  article on it.

If you have a bit of time, we recommend you check out our full list of the  best AirPods Max alternatives . Our top recommendation for most people is the  Sony WH-1000XM5 : this headset is feature-packed and sounds great by default.

For one, it’s Apple, and most products under the brand name are overpriced. Still, they are a great pair of headphones with premium features that work well with iOS. But there are far better bang-for-your-buck options out there.

Like most wireless headphones, the AirPods Max should last between 3-5 years. The lithium-ion battery tends to be the first thing that goes bad.

Yes. Apple provides a battery service for the AirPods Max, although it comes with a service fee. However, if you have AppleCare+ and the battery holds less than 80% of its original capacity, you might be eligible for a battery replacement at no additional cost

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AirPods Max review: Two years later the headphones hold up

Tyler Hayes's Avatar

AirPods Max

travel with airpods max

It's still not easy to stomach the product's $549 retail price. Unsurprisingly, Apple hasn't blinked or changed that eye-popping figure — but fortunately, they're on sale often .

But, despite the cost, we were impressed with the sound quality, controls, and fit of the AirPods Max on their debut. Those things continue to hold true today.

Based on anecdotal evidence like pregame footage of sports stars across all leagues, AirPods Max have never been more popular. Even two years after their debut.

Looking back on initial AirPods Max concerns

When the AirPods Max were first released most reviews largely agreed that performance was excellent. The product's design was less agreed upon, but still few critics had many objections at the time.

The biggest concerns over AirPods Max were more about how the product would hold up over time. People wondered whether the unique mesh headband would stretch out or easily get damaged while traveling.

AirPods Max earcup

We haven't seen widespread reports about the mesh canopy or soft-touch silicone-like material deteriorating. And in our own experience, all parts of the Apple headphones have held up exceptionally well.

After two years of spinning and clicking, our digital crown and ANC button both remain fully intact and as responsive as ever.

Even in 2020, the Lightning port felt controversial on these expensive headphones. Two years later and it feels like the biggest liability of the product. It might be for Apple, too.

The EU is mandating that all new products that ship in the 2024 Christmas season — but after the expected debut of the iPhone 16 — have USB-C as a device connector. The rule doesn't apply to older products, but we're not sure that we see a future where the only hold-out is the AirPods Max.

Apple has started moving its accessories to USB-C like the Siri Remote . We don't think it will be too long before a significant portion of your Apple gear, including iPhone 15 , could sport the connector.

If AirPods Max go into 2024 without an update it could be a headache device forcing you to still carry a Lightning cable.


The AirPods Max have avoided major controversy since 2020. We're not sure what to make of the hard-to-pin-down and scattered reports of condensation, but we haven't experienced it.

The one thing that has emerged is the strength of the active noise-canceling performance. Even after people confirmed it has changed over time it hasn't caused a significant uproar. We haven't noticed any difference over time.

Mostly, it seems to really frustrate people that it's mysteriously changing ever-so-slightly without any direct communication from Apple about it.

AirPods Max versus other headphones

Since the introduction of AirPods Max, several companies have released new premium headphones.

Sony released its WH-1000XM5 headphones which are impressive because of their light weight, soft and plush ear cups, excellent audio quality, ANC performance, and other advanced features.

Bose has leaned on its 700 headphones and punted on its revised QuietComfort 45 headphones by mostly leaving them alone and only adding a USB-C port.

Bowers & Wilkins released Px7 S2 and Px8 headphone options which both sound stellar and are each extremely comfortable, but neither have the strongest ANC performance.

Despite the strong competition from well-regarded brands, Apple's headphones remain a viable consideration for consumers. The Apple ecosystem integration is probably the most compelling part.

Being able to instantly move AirPods Max around between an Apple TV box, iPad, iPhone , or Mac is certainly a leg up over needing to pair them to each device. Plus, they sound fantastic and the controls are easy to use.

That said, we would be hesitant about purchasing first-generation AirPods Max at the full, retail price in 2023. Consider waiting until a store puts them on sale or you can find an open-box option.

The competition will provide better value options and there's a chance AirPods Max 2 could be on the horizon.

AirPods Max 2 wishlist

Even if the AirPods Max still hold up well after two years, there are still plenty of tweaks we're hoping for in a second version.

Lightning connector on AirPods Max

The most obvious upgrade is switching the Lightning port for a USB-C one. We fully expect AirPods Max 2 to include this more universal port for charging. We find it hard to believe Apple would move the Siri Remote to USB-C without also moving all its other accessories to the port over time.

We also fully expect technical improvements like an H2 chip and Adaptive Transparency. We wouldn't mind some minimal amount of water resistance or a U1 chip for the Find My network like the AirPods Pro 2 have.

We hope the AirPods Max Smart Case gets a substantial update. The case is too flimsy and doesn't protect half of the product. It could use a serious rethinking.

Looking back at Apple's track record of stubbornly sticking with compromised designs — hello Magic Mouse charging port and Apple Pencil cap — it's not a guarantee that we see a new Smart Case.

AirPods Max in their Smart Case

We would love Apple to sell other options for padded ear cups. It could produce leather ones at an additional cost for people who prefer a different material to the current woven mesh ones.

The ear cups are held on with magnets and are easy enough to pop off and put back on. It seems like an easy way to expand revenue and, surprisingly, we haven't seen many third parties dip into this market.

We do like the metal frame of the AirPods Max, but if Apple could find a way to lighten the weight, even slightly, it could make a big difference for a lot of people who find the headphones too heavy.

Apple Music offers lossless audio streaming for no additional cost and yet, none of the company's wireless audio products supports listening to songs at that fidelity. We think headphones costing over $500 should be able to stream songs in lossless quality.

It's nice that Apple debuted the headphones with colors, but we wouldn't mind seeing those color options refreshed too.

Overall, there's nothing major Apple needs to do for AirPods Max 2 — some premium additions to keep it competitive.

Frankly, AirPods Pro 2 are the biggest threat to the Max. For less than half the price, the Pro earbuds are packed with features and performance. They're a solid value.

AirPods Max Pros

  • Despite any tweaks, ANC performance remains great
  • Easy connection with other Apple products
  • Excellent battery life

AirPods Max Cons

  • Smart Case hasn't aged well
  • A bit heavy to travel with
  • No Adaptive Transparency

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

While the 4-star rating was appropriate in 2020, the AirPods Max don't hold quite as much shine as they once did in comparison to other headphones options — even the newest AirPods Pro 2 give them a run for their money.

Apple's product is still valid at the high end, but until a new model is released, the competition keeps becoming more tempting over time.

Where to buy AirPods Max

AirPods Max can be purchased at full price from Apple, but as of this publication, they are on sale for $449 on Amazon , that's $100 off. There are also numerous discounts available in AppleInsider's Price Guide .

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AirPods Max

Airpods max 2 should fully embrace wireless.

Avatar for Zac Hall

AirPods Max are incredible headphones. No music release is complete without a focused listening session with AirPods Max . And sure, AirPods Pro 2 demonstrate what technology AirPods Max 2 can adopt, but Apple’s over-ear headphones are still in a class of their own. The thing I most hope to someday see in the first revision is with charging, and it’s not just USB-C.

Wireless as the charging standard

I really hope Apple finds a way to add wireless charging to AirPods Max 2. Whether it’s Lightning or USB-C for wired charging, I’d much prefer a form of wireless charging.

It could be something as sleek as a dedicated wireless charging stand that’s sold separately for even more of a premium. I could see something integrated like a travel case. Or it could be something as unsophisticated as sticking a MagSafe puck on the side. I just want AirPods Max that I never need to plug in to charge.

Wireless charging is great. I use a Belkin 3-in-1 to charge my iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro.

travel with airpods max

When the iPhone moved from Lightning to USB-C, I didn’t even need to change my bedside charger because I just use wireless. I’m also perfectly content with my AirPods Pro 2 with Lightning despite Apple releasing a USB-C version for the same reason.

Maintaining chargers through a port change is an occasional perk. The convenience of wireless changing is an everyday appreciation for me. My favorite iPad charging solution was a Logitech accessory that worked with the pre-2018 design. AirPods Max are already expensive, but they’re worth it to me. I would be more than happy to pay a little more for a plug-free charger if possible.

  • Review: AirPods Max are as important for music to me now as the iPod was
  • Apple’s most expensive AirPods miss out on Adaptive Audio, ‘Siri’ command, more
  • USB-C versions of AirPods and AirPods Max might not be available until next year

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Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.

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Five Ways You Can Charge AirPods Pro

Apple's latest AirPods Pro 2 sport the same uniquely Apple design but with more improved and more powerful features under the hood, including better noise canceling, adaptive Transparency, Touch volume controls, and a built-in speaker for the case to help you locate it with Find My .

airpods pro 2

1. Apple Watch Charger

apple watch charger airpods pro

2. MagSafe Charger

magsafe airpods

3. Qi-Certified Charging Mat

qi chargers 1

4. iPhone 15 USB-C Port

Now that the iPhone 15 models have a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, it is possible to use an ‌‌iPhone 15‌‌ to charge your AirPods.

iPhone 15 USB C Port Event Still

Apple highlighted the new functionality in its iPhone 15 Pro announcement and it makes sense because USB-C Macs can be used for charging the AirPods and Apple Watch, but it is novel because we aren't accustomed to charging accessories with an ‌‌iPhone‌‌.

If your AirPods or Apple Watch run out of battery while you don't have access to a charger, it is convenient to be able to use the ‌‌iPhone‌‌'s battery for a little extra juice rather than carrying around a battery pack.

5. Lightning Cable

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airpods pro

AirPods Max Technical Specifications

Airpods Max Silver

  • Apple-designed dynamic driver
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking 1
  • Adaptive EQ
  • Optical sensor (each ear cup)
  • Position sensor (each ear cup)
  • Case-detect sensor (each ear cup)
  • Accelerometer (each ear cup)
  • Gyroscope (left ear cup)

Nine microphones total:

  • Eight microphones for Active Noise Cancellation
  • Three microphones for voice pickup (two shared with Active Noise Cancellation and one additional microphone)

Apple H1 headphone chip (each ear cup)

Digital Crown

  • Turn for volume control
  • Press once to play or pause media
  • Press once to answer a call or mute or unmute
  • Press twice to end a call
  • Press twice to skip forward
  • Press three times to skip back
  • Press and hold for Siri

Noise control button

  • Press to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode
  • Say “Hey Siri” to do things like play a song, make a call, or get directions

AirPods Max, including cushions

travel with airpods max

6.64 inches (168.6 mm)

travel with airpods max

3.28 inches (83.4 mm)

7.37 inches (187.3 mm)

  • Weight: 13.6 ounces (384.8 grams)

travel with airpods max

  • Weight: 4.74 ounces (134.5 grams)

AirPods Max

  • Up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge with Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency mode enabled 3
  • Up to 20 hours of movie playback on a single charge with Spatial Audio on 4
  • Up to 20 hours of talk time on a single charge 5
  • 5 minutes of charge time provides around 1.5 hours of listening time 6

AirPods Max with Smart Case

  • Storage in the Smart Case preserves battery charge in ultra-low-power state
  • Charging via Lightning connector

Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology

  • Lightning to USB-C Cable
  • Documentation

Accessibility features help people with disabilities get the most out of their new AirPods Max.

Features include:

  • Live Listen audio
  • Headphone levels
  • Headphone Accommodations
  • iPhone and iPod touch models with the latest version of iOS
  • iPad models with the latest version of iPadOS
  • Apple Watch models with the latest version of watchOS
  • Mac models with the latest version of macOS
  • Apple TV models with the latest version of tvOS

iPhone Models

  • iPhone 15 Plus
  • iPhone 15 Pro
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone X S  Max
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 Plus 9
  • iPhone 6s 9
  • iPhone 6s Plus 9
  • iPhone SE (3rd generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPhone SE (1st generation) 9

Apple Watch Models 9

  • Apple Watch Ultra 2
  • Apple Watch Ultra
  • Apple Watch Series 9
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)
  • Apple Watch SE (1st generation)
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Apple Watch Series 2
  • Apple Watch Series 1

Apple TV Models

  • Apple TV 4K
  • Apple TV HD 9

iPad Models

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation) 9
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch 9
  • iPad (10th generation)
  • iPad (9th generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2 9
  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4 9

Mac Models 9

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015–2017)
  • MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2012–Early 2015)
  • MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012–2017)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018–2020)
  • MacBook Air 13-inch (M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Air 13-inch (M2, 2022)
  • MacBook Air 15-inch (M2, 2023)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012–Early 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012–Mid 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012–2020)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012–2019)
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020, two ports)
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020, four ports)
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)
  • MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1 Pro or M1 Max, 2021)
  • MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2 Pro or M2 Max, 2023)
  • MacBook Pro 16-inch (M1 Pro or M1 Max, 2021)
  • MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2 Pro or M2 Max, 2023)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  • iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012–2017)
  • iMac (27-inch, Late 2012–Late 2013)
  • iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2015–2019)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014–2020)
  • iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012–Late 2018)
  • Mac mini (M1, 2020)
  • Mac mini (M2 or M2 Pro, 2023)
  • Mac Studio (M1 Max or M1 Ultra, 2022)
  • Mac Studio (M2 Max or M2 Ultra, 2023)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013–2019)
  • Mac Pro (M2 Ultra, 2023)

iPod Models

  • iPod touch (7th generation)

travel with airpods max

AirPods Max and the Environment

Apple takes a complete product life cycle approach to determining our environmental impact. Learn more

AirPods Max are designed with the following features to reduce environmental impact:

  • Brominated flame retardant–free
  • Beryllium-free
  • Mercury-free

Which AirPods are right for you?

Airpods 2nd generation.

Adaptive Audio feature unavailable

Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode unavailable

Conversation Awareness feature unavailable

Spatial audio unavailable

Sweat and water resistance unavailable

Lightning Charging Case

AirPods 3rd generation

travel with airpods max

Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking ◊◊

Sweat and water resistant ◊◊◊

Lightning Charging Case or MagSafe Charging Case ΔΔ

AirPods Pro 2nd generation (USB-C)

Adaptive Audio ◊

Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode

Conversation Awareness ◊

Dust, sweat, and water resistant Δ

MagSafe Charging Case (USB‑C) with speaker and lanyard loop ΔΔ

Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode

Compare all AirPods models

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ProCase Hard Case for New AirPods Max, Travel Carrying Headphone Case with Silicone Earpad Cover & Mesh Pocket, AirPods Max Protective Portable Storage Bag -Black

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ProCase Hard Case for New AirPods Max, Travel Carrying Headphone Case with Silicone Earpad Cover & Mesh Pocket, AirPods Max Protective Portable Storage Bag -Black

travel with airpods max

Purchase options and add-ons

About this item.

  • 🌟【Compatibility】Designed for New Apple AirPods Max 2020; Dimensions 9.05*8.66*1.96 inches (23*22*5 cm). NOTE: Case Only! Headphone and other accessories are not included
  • 🌟【Triple protection】Hard EVA exterior and soft lining interior with shockproof bubble padding, offer double protection against drops, spills and scratches; Also comes with a pair of smooth silicone covers for the ear cups, 100% all-round protection
  • 🌟【Quality two-way zipper】Smooth and sturdy zipper, assure a safe and easy closure as well as wide open
  • 🌟【Extra mesh pocket】Internal mesh pocket with large space, convenient for cable, charger, adapter and other accessories
  • 🌟【Durable hand strap】Compact and handy to carry around, easily fits in bag, backpack, carry-on or luggage; Simple and stylish, ideal gift for yourself, families, lovers, or friends

There is a newer model of this item:

ProCase Hard Carrying Smart Case for New AirPods Max, Headphone Travel Case with Sleep Mode Cover & Mesh Pocket, AirPods Max Protective Portable Shell Storage Bag -Black

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ProCase Hard Case for New AirPods Max, Travel Carrying Headphone Case with Silicone Earpad Cover & Mesh Pocket, AirPods Max P

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If your AirPods won’t charge

If you can't charge your AirPods, learn what to do.

Check your connections

If you have AirPods or AirPods Pro, make sure that the Lightning to USB cable is firmly plugged into the charging case and USB power adapter. Then make sure that the power adapter is correctly plugged into a power outlet.

If you're using a Qi-compatible charger with your AirPods or AirPods Pro, make sure that the cable is firmly plugged into the charger and that the other end is correctly plugged into a power outlet.

If you have AirPods Max, make sure that the USB-C to Lightning cable is firmly plugged into the USB power adapter. Then make sure that the power adapter is correctly plugged into a power outlet.

Charge your AirPods

If you have AirPods or AirPods Pro, place your AirPods in the charging case and close the lid. Charge your AirPods and case for at least 15 minutes using the cable that came with your AirPods.

If you have AirPods Max, charge them for at least 5 minutes using the cable that came with them. When you're not using your AirPods Max, keep them in the Smart Case to put them into an ultra-low power mode to preserve battery charge.

If you have the Wireless Charging Case for your AirPods or AirPods Pro and you're using a Qi-compatible charger, place the case with the status light facing up. The status light should turn on for several seconds, then turn off while continuing to charge. If the light doesn't turn on, reposition the case. If your case still isn't charging, try charging with the cable that came with your case.

AirPods and charging cases

Check the charge status

If you have AirPods or AirPods Pro, open the case lid with your AirPods inside and hold your case close to your iOS device. If you have AirPods Max, open the Smart Case and hold your case close to your iOS device. You should see a charging icon next to the battery icon under your AirPods.

If you still can’t charge your AirPods, contact Apple Support .

AirPods Max charge status

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The Best Early Amazon Black Friday Deals on Apple AirPods: Get AirPods for As Low As $99 Right Now

AirPods Pro 2

Shop the best early Black Friday AirPods deals available now and score savings on the latest Apple AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and more.

Apple sales are rare, but Amazon is currently rolling out  early Black Friday deals on AirPods. Highlights from  Amazon's deals  include major AirPods deals to save on Apple’s entire lineup of popular audio gear. You can find discounts on some of the latest AirPods models, including $99 off the premium noise-cancelling  AirPods Max . 

The impressive sound quality and portable design of AirPods makes it hard to leave the house without them. From a $99 pair of second-generation AirPods to the popular AirPods Pro 2 at their all-time low price, we've found all the best early Amazon Black Friday deals on AirPods that you won't want to miss. 

The Best Early Black Friday AirPods Deals 

Apple’s newest AirPods Pro 2 are marked down to their best price ever. You can grab a pair of wireless earbuds for $190, matching the best price we've seen since Prime Day . Twice as powerful as that of the first-gen model, Apple's most advanced pair of earbuds to date feature personalized spatial audio with dynamic head tracking for immersive sound.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

This 2023 refresh of the classic AirPods Pro earbuds brings better battery life and high-quality sound that audiophiles will love. Give them their new favorite pair of earbuds and they'll be bopping along to the music in no time. 

$249   $190

Equipped with Apple's brand-new H2 processor, the  AirPods Pro 2 feature improved noise-canceling capabilities for dramatically less noise on your commute, or when you want to focus. AirPods Pro 2 have a battery life of up to 6 hours of listening time with Active Noise Cancellation enabled, which is 33% more than the first generation earbuds.

Now is the perfect time to finally snag the  AirPods Max  as they are marked down to a dollar more than their lowest price this year. Designed with memory foam ear cushions, the noise-cancelling headphones not only offer high quality sound, but also high-quality comfort. You can save $99 on all five colors of the AirPods Max. 

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max

Apple's best headphones may be pricey, but they're well worth the entry fee. With a knit mesh headband and impossibly comfortable earcups, they're perfect for longtime wear and booming bass with high treble. 

$549   $480

You can also get a new pair of second-gen  AirPods  for less than $100. They're lightweight and easy to use, making the earbuds a popular choice for morning commutes and working from home. If you're looking for gym earbuds, we recommend the sweat and water-resistant 3rd generation AirPods, which are also on sale at Amazon.

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)

Apple's earbuds boast up to three hours on a single charge, and are the perfect companion to your iPhone. They're also one of the best pairs around for enjoying your favorite bops and other media at an affordable price. 

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)

The shorter stem of Apple's 3rd generation AirPods can make it easier for anyone with medium to larger ears to wear them comfortably. This generation also has a more accurate skin sensor to detect when they're in your ear, so they'll seamlessly stop playing music whenever you pop them out. 

$169   $150

For more savings, check out our  2023 Black Friday sales guide  to the best deals on tech,  holiday gifts , fashion, beauty and more.

Get the scoop on the latest deals!


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When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

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The best early Black Friday 2023 AirPods deals


Apple's AirPods are one of the hottest products in the headphone space -- and for good reason. The earbuds offer long-lasting battery life, noise cancellation, portability, and immediate Apple ecosystem integration. Given their popularity, they're a hot commodity during the holiday shopping season-- they're probably on one of your loved one's wish lists already. But deals and discounts on Apple's AirPods don't come easy. Luckily there are a few hot deals right now, like $60 off the second generation AirPods, the lowest price the product has seen yet. 

Also:  The best early Black Friday deals  

Whether you're getting a jump start on holiday shopping early or need to replace your dying pair of earbuds with a new pair of AirPods ASAP, there are some select deals you can take advantage of right now on sites like Amazon , Walmart , and Best Buy . Closer to Cyber Week, more deals will surely be added by retailers and hopefully cut down the price of some of these products. ZDNET rounded up the best early AirPods Black Friday deals you can buy right now so you can ditch the long lines and madness of Cyber Week later. 

The best early Black Friday 2023 AirPod deals

  • AirPods with charging case (2nd generation) : Deal for $69 (save $60)
  • AirPods Pro (2nd generation) : Deal for $199 (save $50)
  • AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with USB-C case : Deal for $200 (save $50)
  • AirPods Max : Deal for $480 (save $70)
  • AirPods (3rd generation) : Deal for $160 (save $9)

AirPods with charging case (2nd generation)


  • Current price: $69
  • Original price: $129

If you're looking for a cheaper pair of earbuds that seamlessly connect to your iPhone, you can't go wrong with the second-generation AirPods with the standard lightning charging case. They may not come with as many compelling features as the newer models, but they offer 24 hours of battery life so you can listen, literally, all day long without ever having to consider recharging. 

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with USB-C case


  • Current price: $200
  • Original price: $250

In case you missed it, the newest iPhone 15 lineup includes a USB-C charger instead of Apple's signature Lightning port. That means the newest AirPods are following suit. If you want the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with the USB-C MagSafe charging case instead of the Lightning case, it's $50 off at Amazon right now. 

AirPods Pro (2nd generation)


This AirPods Pro model emphasizes a quick, easy, and secure fit by including not just small, medium, and large ear tips but also extra small ear tips as well, so everyone, no matter their ear size, can keep these earbuds in their ears. Apple improved upon its active noise cancellation, spatial sound quality, charging case, battery life, and adaptive transparency mode. As Christina Darby wrote in her review of the product, "The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are a fitting encore to the originals, delivering improved audio quality, a solid upgrade to charging performance, and a big upgrade to the case."  

Also: AirPods Pro (2nd generation) review

AirPods Max Headphones


  • Current price: $480
  • Original price: $550

If you're steering clear of earbuds and would rather opt for an over-ear headphone instead, there's no better option for you than the AirPods Max. They don't simply deliver robust sound -- they've also become a statement fashion piece of their own. Best Buy offers the headphones for $70 less than the original price. With 20 hours of battery life and impressive active noise cancellation, you're getting a great pair of headphones perfect for deep work and focus with enough of a charge to last you through a workday or two at a $70 discount. 

Review: AirPods Max: Stunning sound and performance mean I'm keeping the $550 headphones

AirPods (3rd generation)


  • Current price: $160
  • Original price: $169

With up to 30 hours of battery life within the charging case and six hours of listening time with one charge, you get a supercharged battery for all-day listening with these AirPods. The third-generation AirPods offer sweat and water protection, so you can take these out on rainy runs and never worry about interruption or damage. Apple includes spatial audio into these earbuds to make your music move with you as you listen, plus you can watch or listen to select songs and movies with Dolby Atmos technology. 

More early AirPod Black Friday deals 


Refurbished AirPods (3rd generation) for $130 (save $40)


Refurbished AirPods Max for $370 (save $130)

When is black friday 2023.

Black Friday is on Nov. 24 this year, and many of your favorite retailers, like Amazon , Best Buy , and Walmart , are slicing their prices on products during the day of deals. While Black Friday technically takes place on Nov. 24, many big retailers run deals throughout the month.  Also: The best early Black Friday deals  

What is the best early AirPod Black Friday deal right now?

The best AirPod Black Friday deal you can buy right now is the AirPods (2nd generation). It's currently $69 on Walmart, the lowest price you can get AirPods for to date. 

How did we choose these early Black Friday AirPods deals?

ZDNET only writes about deals we want to buy -- devices and products we desire, need, or would recommend. Our experts looked for deals that were at least 20% off (or are hardly ever on sale), using established price comparison tools and trackers to determine whether the deal is actually on sale and how frequently it drops. 

We also looked over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the deals we're recommending. Our recommendations may also be based on our own testing -- in addition to extensive research and comparison shopping. The goal is to deliver the most accurate advice to help you shop smarter. 

What are the best early Black Friday deals right now?

ZDNET's experts have been searching for early Black Friday deals across sites like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Newegg, and more. Here are the top deals by category we've found so far.

  • Best early Black Friday deals
  • Best early Black Friday deals under $30
  • Best Black Friday deals under $100
  • Best early Black Friday phone deals
  • Best early Black Friday laptop deals
  • Best early Black Friday tablet deals
  • Best early Black Friday TV deals
  • Best early Black Friday smartwatch deals
  • Best early Black Friday headphones deals
  • Best early Black Friday monitor deals
  • Best early Black Friday robot vacuum deals
  • Best early Black Friday VPN deals
  • Best early Black Friday Amazon deals
  • Best early Black Friday Apple deals
  • Best early Black Friday Samsung deals
  • Best early Black Friday Best Buy deals
  • Best early Black Friday Dell deals
  • Best early Black Friday HP deals
  • Best early Black Friday Verizon deals
  • Best early Black Friday Newegg deals
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Top holiday deals


The 16 best early Black Friday 2023 headphones deals


Buy AirPods for an all-time-low price of $69 right now


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Best Black Friday AirPods Deals: Get Apple’s earbuds for $59

John Alexander

Black Friday is right around the corner and even big name products like Apple’s AirPods are on sale. Airpods, which are consistently among the best earbuds , are perfect for the iPhone wielder due to their ease of integration within the Apple ecosystem and cool features that can’t be experienced anywhere else.  So, if you’re an iPhone and/or Mac user, keep reading. We expect these to be some of the most exciting Black Friday deals for you. Though you may possibly be equally interested in the iPhone 15 case deals we’ve also recently uncovered.

Best AirPods Black Friday Deals

Best refurbished airpods black friday deals.

We’ve broken up these deals into new and refurbished categories. This is because we know that if you’re getting something at a gift, you probably want to get a brand new product. However, we strongly encourage you to try a refurbished product if you’re buying for yourself. The reasons are plentiful, with refurbished goods being good for your wallet and the environment, as well as having the deepest cutting deals. Refurbished goods from reliable brands (these deals come from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon) all have high quality bars to pass before being sold, so you may as well try them.

Scouring high and low, here is what we’re finding in terms of AirPods. Whether we’re seeing the relatively new AirPods 3 or the, in tech terms, “ancient” original AirPods Pro , we are seeing good deals roll out at this time. These deals are perfect to shop for both yourself and others, as gifts.

  • Apple AirPods 2 —
  • Apple AirPods 3 —
  • Apple AirPods Pro 2 —
  • Apple AirPods Max —

It may be a less popular way to get AirPods, but the deals that come with refurbished items are hard to pass over. Remember that the companies providing the best refurbished items usually also give them intensely good return policies and have set quality standards in place. While it takes a special person to receive refurbished goods as thoughtful gifts, these deals are perfect to shop for yourself. Check for yourself and see what you like:

  • AirPods (Original) —

Editors' Recommendations

  • Best Buy Black Friday deals: 12 best offers you can shop now
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  • All the best 65-inch TV Black Friday deals you can shop now
  • The best Sony TV Black Friday deals on 4K TVs, 8K TVs, and OLED TVs

John Alexander

You may or may not be aware, but out of all the different types of TV technologies QLED vs OLED panels are totally different. QLED stands for Quantum Light-Emitting Diode which means it uses millions of nanoparticles or Quantum Dots to supercharge its color, delivering a vibrant, gorgeous picture. You can read our quantum dot explainer to learn how it all works in more detail. The bigger dilemma, at least right now, is that QLED panels tend to be very expensive, unless you can grab them at a hefty discount. You'll want to listen up, though, because at this very moment there are a ton of early Black Friday deals to shop. Many of those deals even offer eye-popping discounts on QLED TVs from some of the biggest brands on the market like Samsung, TCL, Vizio, and more. We've rounded up all the best, and it can't hurt to take a look. Since it's discount season, make sure to compare these prices with OLED TV Black Friday deals as well. The best QLED TV Black Friday deal

We tend to go with a more affordable option when picking out the "best" deals, and this pick is no exception, but don't let that fool you. TCL has made an excellent TV with a lot of great features, like the superior 4K quality resolution, mini-LED technology with uncompromising contrast and brightness, and hands-free voice controls accessible via Google Assistant. But it all hearkens back to that price, and man is that price juicy. Don't sleep on this one.

If you don't already know, OLED and QLED panels are totally different, with OLED including millions of individually lit pixels. That allows them to be more vibrant than other panel technologies, but also during dark scenes, you get true blacks because the lights are actually turned off, rather than just dimmed. Unfortunately, OLED panels are expensive, unless you can find some excellent deals. Don't turn away just yet, though, because there are a ton of early Black Friday deals to shop right now -- across many retailers -- and some even included some great discounts on OLED TVs. In fact, we've rounded up all of the best OLED TV Black Friday deals we could find, including one stand out that pretty much everyone should consider. If an OLED display is just too far out of your price range, you should also check out QLED TV Black Friday deals. The best OLED TV Black Friday deal

One of the best OLED TV deals available during these early Black Friday sales is over at Best Buy. It's the LG 48-inch Class A2 OLED 4K smart webOS TV for $550, normally $1,300, which means you're saving a whopping $750. Not only is that an incredible deal on an OLED technology TV, but also one from LG, which are usually much more expensive. It features the LG a7 gen5 AI processor for 4K upscaling, dynamic tone mapping, and LG's exclusive filmmaker mode that uses Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to provide a truly immersive and cinematic experience.

Black Friday deals are all about TV sales. Super cheap TVs are synonymous with the shopping holiday. Thankfully Black Friday deals are starting earlier and earlier each year, so there are some options you can shop right now. Check out our absolute favorite TV deal, a solid option from Vizio, then keep reading for a list of some other great TVs under $300 right now. If you buy the TV before Black Friday, you can watch the Thanksgiving football games on your new TV. The Best Black Friday TV deal under $300

Our favorite cheap TV in the early Black Friday TV deals is this 50-inch Vizio V-Series on sale for $248, down $71 from its regular price of $319. A quality 4K TV from a brand like Vizio for under $250 is nothing to snub your nose at. Let's dig into some of its specs.

CBS News

3 top AirPods deals of Black Friday 2023

Posted: November 13, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023

Apple AirPods are some of the most popular earbuds out there. With beautifully sleek aesthetics, excellent audio quality and simple setup, they fit in seamlessly with other Apple devices . They even offer top-notch  noise-canceling . They're one of the most sought-after earbuds you can buy for a reason, after all. Plus, they pair perfectly for that brand new Apple Watch you've had your eye on. 

Black Friday 2023 is one of the best times to pick up a pair of your own, whether you're into the more minimalistic original AirPods, or you're looking to splurge with the AirPods Max. There are some excellent AirPods Black Friday sales going on right now that can help you shave some serious cash off the pair you're looking to buy, and you're going to want to jump on them before they're sold out. 

One of our favorites you can shop now is a deal on AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), which are just $200 at Amazon . That's $50 off their normal price. If Amazon happens to sell out, they're also available at Walmart . 

Want another model or looking for some different options? We've amassed some of the best Black Friday AirPods deals on the market that are up for grabs right now. Dive in and get your discount on. 

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), 20% off

The sleek and subtle Apple AirPods Pro 2 are a fantastic option for any listener, especially anyone who appreciates a lengthy battery life. You get a whopping 30 hours of listening time with these, thanks to their included charging case. 

As far as what they can offer over the original AirPods Pro? Their upgraded wireless chip for starters, as well as improved active noise cancellation. They're an overall upgrade from the previous model in every way, and right now you can scoop them up for a great price. 

This Black Friday AirPods deal is similar to the ones we typically tend to see on this model, but that's nothing to sneeze at. The AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) earbuds usually cost $249, but for right now you can get them at Amazon or Walmart for just $200.

Apple AirPods (3rd Gen), 5% off

If you don't need anything particularly fancy, but still want a new pair of AirPods, you can get a Black Friday 2023 AirPods deal that won't break the bank, but will help you stay on the up and up in terms of new Apple tech. 

The third generation of the original Apple AirPods come with a suite of new features. That includes 3D spatial audio support as well as dynamic head tracking. The listening time on offer has been improved too, serving up at least 30 hours with the included MagSafe charging case. 

This Apple AirPod Black Friday deal undercuts the typical $160 price tag we typically see this generation going for by $5. This price isn't as close to the $140 price we saw last Black Friday in 2022, but if you've been waiting for a good time to grab a pair, now is a great time to do it while you can still save some cash. 

Apple AirPods Max (3rd Gen), 13% off

Looking to splurge with a new AirPods Black Friday deal?The AirPods Max are an excellent choice. They're certainly the best of Apple's entire lineup, and status symbols, to say the least. 

Hardly understated, the Apple AirPods Max are all about big, booming sound, cushioned earcups, active noise-cancelation technology, and a special transparency mode so you can hear what you need to when you need to. All that, and they still manage to pack in 15 hours of listening, and they even come in a variety of different colors. 

The AirPods Max usually go for $549, but they're on sale for $480 right now at Amazon. That's a discount of 13%, and a savings of $69. That's the best price we've seen the AirPods Max going for right now, so it's a good time to go ahead and get yours now. This Black Friday deal price applies to all colorways of the AirPods Max. 

What is the newest AirPods model?

The newest AirPods model is the Apple iPods Pro (2nd Generation). According to our tech experts, the "Pro" version is much more powerful (and also more expensive) than previous models. 

The AirPods (2nd Generation) have been replaced by the AirPods (3rd Generation), which is why AirPods (2nd Generation) are being offered at such deep discounts. 

Find them now at Walmart for just $69.

How long do AirPods usually last?

The general consensus among Apple AirPod users is that the device has an approximately three-year lifespan. Of course, this can change depending on how you care for them. If they encounter any damage, that time could be even less. We recommend keeping your AirPods clean, dry, and safely stored in their charging case when not in use.

Related content from CBS Essentials 

  • Walmart's Black Friday 2023 sale includes must-see Xbox Series X and Series S bundle deals
  • These top PS5 deals of Black Friday 2023 are live today
  • Best Nintendo Switch deals ahead of Black Friday
  • The best PS5 gaming headsets and headphones that'll keep your head in the game
  • The best PS5 games you can pre-order right now, according to our Sony PlayStation gaming experts

5 top AirPods deals of Black Friday 2023

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How to connect AirPods Max to Windows 10

Here is all you need to know about connecting your AirPods Max to Windows 10!

travel with airpods max

Apple's much vaunted AirPods Max are undoubtedly an appealing choice when it comes to owners of Apple products. But is the same also true for people who aren't as closely wedded to the Apple ecosystem? Can we connect AirPods Max to our Windows 10 device, and enjoy the benefits of the top quality audio they provide?

Well, we'll be answering that question in this guide. Everything you need to know about connecting AirPods Max and Windows 10 is right here. So without further ado, here is what you need to know.

Are they actually compatible with Windows 10?

We already know that AirPods Max work seamlessly with Apple products. But Apple have also made sure that they are compatible with other, non-Apple devices. According to Apple the H1 audio processors in these earphones mean that noise cancellation and transparency mode are both available on Windows devices. There are some features, such as spatial audio, which will only work on Apple hardware, but the key takeaway here is that, yes, you can use these headphones with your Windows 10 device.

So now we know what we can use these headphones for, how exactly do we get them connected? Here's what you need to do.

How to connect AirPods Max with Windows 10

  • On your non-Apple device, make sure you have Bluetooth enabled (depending on what you are using, you may need to connect a Bluetooth dongle to your device)
  • On your AirPods Max, press and hold the noise control button until the status light flashes white. This indicates that your headphones are in pairing mode.
  • When your Max earphones appear in the list of available devices, select them to pair them.
  • Your Windows 10 device and your AirPods should now be connected.

Read More: How to use PS Move controllers on Windows 10

For more articles like this, take a look at our Apple , How To , and PC Gaming pages.


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    Apple's AirPods Max headphones deliver excellent audio performance, top-notch noise cancellation, and a bevy of useful features in an absolutely gorgeous design for a bit too much money.

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    The AirPods Max doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so if you want to use anything other than a Bluetooth-enabled device, you're out of luck unless you ante up for a $35 Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable from Apple. If your chosen device doesn't have a headphone jack (like Apple's own iPhones), you need another $9 USD dongle.

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