The review is a very subjective genre. Especially when it comes to headphones. The reason is simple: everyone’s ears are different. Headphones are suitable for someone, for someone they will cause a whistle of vacuum in their ears, someone is more demanding on sound, and someone is less. If we talk about earbuds, then the tragus comes into play – the outer part of the auricle that holds the headphones.

Therefore, I will start this text very subjectively: I wanted myself AirPods. I wanted the kind of headphone integration that only they can provide. But neither the first nor the second suited me because of the design of my tragus. Only the left earphone came out of the AirPods Pro, and the sub fell out of the right ear.

I took a closer look at Beats, an Apple-owned company. But the BeatsX created a wild vacuum in my head and fit my ears so perfectly that they seemed to fall inside my head – not a pleasant experience. Then there were the Beats Solo3, but I couldn’t wear them at all – they squeezed my head terribly. They lasted for three minutes. You can also read Beats PowerBeats Pro Wireless Headphones Review: Sports.

As you can see, I had a lot of bad luck with Apple headphones. At the same time, during this time, I have found many good alternatives. But none of them have been so integrated into the Apple ecosystem I’m tied to. So I was really looking forward to AirPods Max. I have been waiting for the day I wrote about them for the first time. 

In general, I wanted them, waited, and hoped that they would be cool and I would wear them with pleasure. Moreover, these are full-size headphones! Their sound quality must be excellent!

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$549. When I wrote the news about the release of these headphones, my heart seemed to have been broken by the harsh reality.

For my needs as a musician, I would buy professional Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO, which I have been dreaming about for two years.

Well, to put it mildly, I was stunned by the price. Okay. Let me step away from my shock for a while and go directly to the review.

AirPods Max Review: Design and Equipment

This is Apple. Therefore, the box is top-end here. By the way, it is huge:

AirPods Max Review

The headphones are neat but in a case. In general, a cover is a separate subject for conversation. It is completely incomprehensible:

AirPods Max Review

It is made of good tactilely pleasant silicone:

AirPods Max Review

But it is so small that it is not clear what exactly it protects. Be careful when putting headphones in your bag. For example, I am afraid of the headband mesh of the headphones. And the connectors are not covered.

AirPods Max Review

But this case is the only way to “lull” the headphones. I understand why it is so strange: the headphones are cumbersome – almost 385 grams. And add to this weight a case – such a thing.

The headphones themselves look very nice. This is a new word in the industry – no one has a similar product.

AirPods Max Review

The earbuds themselves are made of good materials: the headband is made of stainless steel, and the cups are made of anodized aluminum.

AirPods Max Review

The ear cushions surround the ear very nicely. At the same time, I recommend just putting your ears into them – this way, there will be less pressure, and the sound will be much better.

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AirPods Max Review

The ear cushions’ material does not put pressure on the ear, and the fabric cover pleasantly touches the neck.

AirPods Max Review
The earpads are magnetically attached. 
They are easy to detach. 
I think soon Apple will start producing leather, velour, speckled, unexpected colors. 
All in all, the AirPods Max ear cushions are the new Apple Watch bands. 

In the box, in addition to headphones and a strange case, you will also find a Lightning cable – USB Type-C for charging.

AirPods Max Review

AirPods Max Review: Configuration and Management

If you have an iPhone or another Apple device, everything is simple: connect to the iPhone, and the headphones already know all the devices from your iCloud. For example, they can work right away with my old working Mac Pro.

Very convenient: the headphones quickly switch between devices, everything works clearly and clearly. Reconnecting to your iPhone back is even easier: unlock it, and the AirPods will automatically connect to it if they don’t play music or sound from other sources.

This surprises me most of all – I have not used Airpods before, so I am amazed at such a connection and smoothness.

Headphones are configured in the Bluetooth settings. For example, I was pleased that you can choose the direction of scrolling the Digital Crown – for some reason, I add or decrease the volume in the reverse direction.

The controls are simple: turn the Digital Crown – the volume is increased or decreased. A single press on the wheel stops / starts music playback or answers the call and ends it.

Two quick presses – the next track. Three is the previous one. No-touch panels !!! And this makes me very happy since the touch control does not always work well. For example, you turn up, turn up the volume, but it doesn’t work, you get angry. You slide your finger over the touch area – and the headphones deafen you because they finally realized that you turned up the volume.

At the same time, Digital Crown is the best solution for adding volume to music. The wheel pitch is minimal, so you are unlikely to encounter a situation where you are too loud or too quiet.

AirPods Max Review: Noise Cancellation

We need to check on the street, but the headphones have just arrived, we quickly filmed a video about them, and I write this text just as quickly. In our loud office environment, even passive noise cancellation works just fine. Therefore, the noise reduction had to be checked on a vacuum cleaner. It suppresses most of the vacuum cleaner’s noise well, leaving only what sounds in the upper part of the frequency spectrum.

But in silence, when the music is not playing, the noise reduction presses on the ears very hard. This is not the most pleasant experience.

AirPods Max Review: Sound

This is the first time I can say about headphones: they have an extensive frequency range. Really. Before that, it never even crossed my mind, but the bass is mighty. And not in the sense that there are many of them. There are more of them. Now I get the impression that everything below 60 Hz is clipped on all other headphones. And here, this sabbas focuses on itself and does it very well. And no suppression of other frequencies.

This feeling can be compared to listening to music in speakers: you are used to this format. You have a good 2.0 system that pleases you with sound. Or at least not annoying. And then you buy a subwoofer and set it up. Not so that he crushes and suppresses everything around, but so that he helps.

The situation is similar with AirPods Max: this is a 2.1 system. There is a great sub. But therein lies the problem: I hear what I shouldn’t have heard. It turned out that for some reason, many sound engineers do not use a high-pass filter, cutting off everything that should not sound from the bottom. And it seems very strange to me.

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You can also read Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 Review.

Okay, let’s go through the songs. My checklist:

Blood on Blood has a very punchy barrel. It usually shakes large dynamic drivers well – so that they literally push the sound to the head. And this is exactly what happens. Simultaneously, the bass guitar also shows itself well – it acquires a volume in the headphones that I have not heard in the more expensive Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95. You can read my review here- Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 headphone review.

However, the mix’s readability, the perception of the details of its specific elements, suffers. For example, a beat plays in the background before the drums start. It is rather ragged, and on some headphones, it is clearly noticeable – awkwardly cut pieces, with sharp intermittent reverb tails. This controversial point is very distracting and even annoying. And AirPods Max does not act out this jaggedness. You ignore her. And from the point of view of perception, it plays for the good: it seems that this particular mix was created specifically for AirPods Max.

Until the harp enters, this tool was added for the magic effect, and it doesn’t work. The harp sounds good, but this is not the kind of assessment that I would like to give to my favorite moment in one of my favorite songs.

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Let’s move on to pop music.

I love the way Cea’s vocals sound here, as well as the synthetic bass. It envelops pleasantly. But the drum snare (the main instrument of the setup) I would like to get more accentuated is too quiet.

Back to rock. I really liked the new Foo Fighters song from Medicine at Midnight, which will be released on February 5th. I’m really looking forward to it.

But AirPods Max does not suit this song: Dave’s voice in verse is hidden behind the drums, which is why it is almost inaudible. This isn’t good.

Soul. Even if it was made with imitation for the seventies, but quite a modern thing:

And this is where AirPods Max opens up to the fullest: the sound is not stifled, the mix does not sound overloaded, the bass is enough. Everything is very appropriate and good.

I found another track as if specially recorded for AirPods Max:

First of all, this effect is created by the bass. The headphones work it out very cool. Straight top.

There is another problem with the sound of AirPods Max: adaptive equalizer and neck muscles. You turn your head, your neck muscles tense, and the earbuds rise. At this point, the adaptive equalizer goes crazy, trying to compensate for the sound. As a result, a phaser effect occurs for a few seconds: lows are added in one ear, highs are added in the other. And you’re like, what’s going on ??? I hope that it will be fixed over time because even if it is subtle, it still attracts attention.

Attention is also drawn to the volume of the leak – the effect when everyone around you listens to the music you are listening to. I was sitting on the set of Vali’s video, he was listening to these headphones, and I was about five meters away and heard all the words that The Weeknd sang. This is very, very strange. On an airplane, you will most likely piss off all your fellow travelers.

Spatial audio

One of the main features of AirPods. It emulates the feeling you get when watching a movie in a movie theater. At least, a sound picture is created around you, as if played on a 5.1 or 7.1 system.

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It can only be verified with the video content in applications that support this feature—for example, Apple TV. However, finding supported content is difficult – it is not tagged in any way. But all of the content on Apple TV + fits exactly.

You can also read the Review Of AKG K361-BT Headphones.

And here’s another drawback: for some reason, spatial audio only works on an iPhone or iPad. Why can’t I appreciate this feature by tying headphones to Apple TV and watching movies from my MacBook? What is the reason?

Headset

The characteristic of the sound is as follows: as on an iPhone. At least, my interlocutor in the person of Arseny Diamagnetics assessed the difference between a smartphone and headphones as insignificant.

Another interlocutor of mine notes that the sound from the headphones sounds farther than from the iPhone. Well, that makes sense.

Conclusion: Should you buy AirPods Max?

I confess: I find it difficult to look at the AirPods Max and rate them. I can’t say that the sound somehow amazes me. But it’s like trying to find the difference between headphones for $100 and $550 – it’s tough. But what is really there: many will not hear the difference between the categories “20+” and “60+”. And the reason is not that some of the headphones are too good and some are too bad.

The price is formed from many parameters. The first is the materials. And there are no better headphones than AirPods. The main drawback in terms of materials is the non-replaceable headband mesh. Unfortunately, this is a problem with most headphones: the soft top cannot be replaced in any way.

Another parameter is additional chips. In AirPods Max’s case, this is active noise reduction, adaptive equalizer, and surround sound. Noise Cancellation (preliminary) does an excellent job, but Bose is still better. The adaptive equalizer is difficult to evaluate since it is not clear how it works and how headphones work without it. Spatial audio is not yet widespread.

$549. I understood that a huge difference in sound was not worth waiting for. And I didn’t get it. But in the subconscious, there was hope, which is very difficult to get rid of. Headphones sound good – this is the main indicator. For my taste, they sound better than Sony, the sound and noise reduction of which I do not like at all. If “spatial audio” were more widespread, it would be great in general – it would become one of the killer features.

Ordinary AirPods or “firmware” are not at all about sound. They are sold by convenience, quick integration between devices, the ability to take off the headphones while talking on the phone and immediately switch to the iPhone microphone.

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AirPods Max is heavy, although their weight on the head is almost imperceptible. They’re big. There is less convenience here than in compact models. Therefore, I do not yet understand what exactly will sell them. But it’s interesting how the market will react to such headphones’ appearance – after all, every Apple product causes a huge resonance. And “Max” was no exception.

AirPods Max

$549
8.9

Design

9.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Connectivity

8.8/10

Sound

9.2/10

Noise Cancellation

9.6/10

Price

7.7/10

Pros

  • Unbelievable audio performance
  • Fantastic user experience
  • Brilliant extra features for iOS
  • Great noise cancellation

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • No 3.5mm audio port
  • Limited features for Android
  • Ineffective carrying case

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