About the Apple AirPods Max
The big Apples: meet the first AirPods to fit over the ears
The big Apples: meet the first AirPods to fit over the ears
The Apple AirPods Max serve up real-time noise cancellation to remove distractions.
Just when I thought I had the current headphone scene figured out — and right after I made my picks of the Best Bluetooth headphones for 2021 — Apple hit us with their latest "one more thing." The AirPods Max are the first over-ear noise-canceling headphones to carry the company's name. And the design and experience are all Apple.
These super-premium headphones play music and podcasts wirelessly via Bluetooth. They're packed with high-performance drivers and sound technologies to deliver a top-shelf audio presentation. And they're loaded with convenience features like real-time adaptive noise cancellation.
Steady, high-quality connection to your Apple gear
You can use the AirPods Max with any Bluetooth-enabled device. But like the true wireless AirPods, these over-ears are designed to excel with Apple devices. They feature two of the company's cutting-edge H1 wireless chips — one in each earcup — so pairing up with your iPhone is quick and easy.
From there, you're automatically paired to other devices on your iCloud® account (like your Apple Watch®, iMac®, or iPad®). You get up to 20 hours of listening with noise cancellation on a full battery charge.
Sharp looks, solid feel, and flexible fit
True to the company's reputation, these are some of the best-put-together wireless headphones I've ever seen. Much has been said about their unique look, yet a close examination reveals that every design choice was well-considered. Including the acoustic properties of the ear pads! I haven't had a chance to try these headphones yet, but I'm really intrigued by the "canopy-style" headband.
As striking as they look from a distance, the design of the AirPods Max holds up to close examination.
Apple uses high-grade materials like aluminum and stainless steel, so these headphones tip the scales at 13.6 ounces. That's considerably more than other popular noise-cancelers (like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose QC 35s). But as we learned in our deep-dive on headphone comfort last year, the overall weight is less of a factor than how well that weight is distributed.
Apple designed the flexible knit-mesh headband to relieve pressure and comfortably fit a large range of head sizes. Soft ear pads lined in a breathable mesh material help cushion the sensitive areas around your ear. I've seen the fit described as snug and very secure — meaning the headphones shouldn't slide around when you're on the move.
Smart, real-time noise canceling technology
Like most Apple products, there's plenty of substance to go with the sizzle. Case in point — the highly effective noise-canceling technology. These headphones use an array of eight multi-directional mics to capture external sounds, then adjust the level of noise cancellation. The H1 chip's state-of-the-art processing can reduce latency to such a miniscule amount that noise is basically canceled out as it happens.
And if you're in a situation where you need to be aware of your surroundings, simply press dedicated noise cancellation button on the earcup. A sensor will switch on "Transparency" mode so you can instantly hear important ambient noise or voices. The built-in mics will pick up external sounds.
Personalized sound powered by Apple's H1 wireless chip
I've spoken to engineers from other companies who marveled at the capabilities of the H1 chip inside the AirPods Pro. Just think what Apple can do with two! Especially when working in concert with their made-from-scratch high-end drivers. Apple custom-built the 40mm drivers to deliver detailed, low-distortion sound across a wide-frequency range.
Each H1 chip features ten audio cores that control every aspect of the sound experience. Apple's Adaptive EQ helps customize the sound for your specific ears, and can even detect if you're wearing glasses, to adjust the sound accordingly. As much as we love all the cool convenience features, it's the sound that always grabs our attention here at Crutchfield — so I'm anxious to give these a spin!
Close-up of the machined aluminum earcups with on-ear controls.
3D movie sound for your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV
Speaking of spin, the AirPods Max also have a built-in gyroscope that can track the movement of your head. It helps these headphones serve up "spatial audio" for certain shows, movies, and music, emulating the sound of a Dolby Atmos home theater setup in a room. And as you nod or turn your head, the sound field stays fixed and centered.
That makes for an immersive TV watching experience on an iPad, iPhone, or a big screen connected to Apple TV 4K. And it also adds an extra dimension to your tunes when listening to Dolby Atmos Music tracks. The Apple Music streaming service has thousands of songs mixed Atmos, and the Atmos version plays automatically when you're wearing AirPods.
Use on-ear controls — or call on Siri®, hands-free
Next to the noise-cancellation button, you'll find a larger version of the Digital Crown, made famous by the Apple Watch. You can press and turn this multipurpose dial to control music, volume, Siri, and more. Three of the built-in microphones are used for picking up your voice for clear calls and Siri commands.
To make voice commands even easier, complete a one-time setup through a connected device (like your iPhone) and activate Siri hands-free. Now you can skip the button and just say "Hey Siri" — then follow it up with a command or request.
- closed-back, over-the-ear headphones with active noise cancellation
- built-in Bluetooth® 5.0 for wireless music listening and phone calls
- AAC decoding provides high-quality music streaming from compatible devices
- features two H1 chips for seamless, reliable wireless connection with iPhone and other Apple devices
- active noise cancellation adjusts to the level of external sound
- uses 8 built-in mics positioned in different positions to capture and analyze noise
- Transparency mode lets in external sounds without removing headphones
Design and build:
- flexible mesh-covered headband with stainless steel sliders
- designed to properly disperse weight for secure, comfortable fit
- spacious aluminum earcups
- removable memory foam ear pads covered in soft, breathable mesh fabric
- multi-use Digital Crown dial for control over music, volume, and Siri
- dedicated button for noise cancellation and transparency mode
- custom-built 40mm drivers tuned for clear, well-rounded sound
- built-in circuitry helps optimize sound for your listening environment
- spatial audio feature emulates the sound of a home theater system in a room
- sound field stays fixed and centered as you move your head
- requires iPhone or iPad (works with movies, shows, and video in supported apps)
H1 wireless chip details:
- easy, one-tap pairing with iPhone simultaneously syncs up your iPad, iMac, and Apple Watch
- requires iCloud account and iOS 14.3, macOS 11.1, watchOS 7.2, or tvOS 14.3
- 10 audio cores help optimize sound and lower latency
- clear, detailed sound for music, calls, and other audio
- helps sync wireless audio and video on compatible devices
- real-time processing for adaptive noise cancellation
General info and specs:
- three voice pickup microphones for calls and Siri control
- optical sensors automatically stop music when headphones are removed
- built-in rechargeable batteries offer up to 20 hours of listening with noise cancellation
- Lightning® charging cable included
- Apple Lightning to 3.5mm listening cable sold separately
- slim case
- weight: 13.6 ounces
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # MGYL3AM/A
What's in the box:
- Over-ear wireless headphones (Sky Blue)
- Smart Case
- 41" Lightning to USB-C cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Safety and Handling
- Regulatory Compliance Information
- Warranty Summary
Apple AirPods Max reviews
Thanks for submitting your review
More details on the Apple AirPods Max
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.283" x 4.079"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||Yes|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||Not Given|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The Apple AirPods Max over-ear headphones are designed to work with iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Macs. They're also compatible with Android phones and tablets, and most other Bluetooth-enabled devices, some with limited features. These wireless headphones feature Active Noise Cancellation with a Transparency Mode, Adaptive EQ, and Bluetooth 5.0. AirPods Max weight 13.6 ounces and come with a Lightning to USB-C cable and a Smart Case.
Construction: The AirPods Max headphones are made for durability and comfort. They have a stainless steel frame and anodized aluminum ear cups. The headband features a knit mesh canopy to distribute the weight of the headphones and reduce the pressure on the top of the head. The frame is wrapped in a soft-touch rubber material. The soft memory foam ear cushions create a soundproof seal to enhance the sound, while the custom-designed mesh material keeps the ear cups soft and cool around your ears. Because every head is different, the telescoping arms extend and the ear cups swivel to maintain the acoustic seal and assure a comfortable fit.
Siri: Apple's personal voice assistant, Siri, is always on and ready to help. With a simple "Hey Siri!" you can check the weather, start music playback, add to your calendar, text a friend, and more. When configured, Siri can read your incoming messages when they arrive, and you can tell Siri to respond totally hands-free.
Microphones: The headphones have a total of nine built-in microphones, some external and some internal. Eight microphones are used for Active Noise Cancellation. Three microphones (two of them shared with ANC) are used for voice pickup. These beam-forming microphones isolate your voice and reject external noise to make your phone calls crisp and clear, even when it's windy.
Compatibility: The Apple AirPods Max are compatible with most recent Apple devices. Some features, such as Audio Sharing, are not compatible with all models. Your devices should have the latest version of Apple software for that device. The headphones are compatible with the following:
- iPhone Models: iPhone 12 (incl. mini, Pro, Pro Max), iPhone 11 (incl. Pro, Pro Max), iPhone X (incl. Xs, Max, Xr), iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 6s/6s Plus, and iPhone SE (1st/2nd gen).
- iPad Models: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th gen). iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd gen), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch, iPad (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th gen), iPad Air (2, 3rd/4th gen), and iPad mini (4, 5th gen).
- iPod touch: 7th generation
- Apple Watch Models: Apple Watch Series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and SE.
- Apple TV Models: HD and 4K
- Mac Models:
- MacBook: Retina 12-inch (Early 2015-2017)
- MacBook Air: 11-inch (Mid 2012-Early 2015); 13-inch (Mid 2012-2017); Retina 13-inch (2018-2020); M1 (2020)
- MacBook Pro: Retina 13-inch (Late 2012-Early 2015); Retina 15-inch (Mid 2012-Mid 2015); 13-inch (Mid 2012-2020); 15-inch (Mid 2012-2019); 13-inch (2020-two ports); 13-inch (2020-four ports); 13-inch M1 (2020); 16-inch (2019); Late 2013-2019; 2017
- iMac: 21.5-inch (Late 2012-2017); 27-inch (Late 2012-Late 2013); Retina 4K 21.5-inch (Late 2015-2019); Retina 5K 27-inch (Late 2014-2020)
- Mac mini: Late 2012-Late 2018; M1 (2020)
Built-in Sensors: The performance of the headphones is enhanced by multiple built-in sensors. Each ear cup is equipped with optical sensors and position sensors that determine when the headphones are on your head and when they are taken off. AirPods Max pause the audio when you take them off, and resume playback when you put them back on. Each ear cup has a sensor to detect when the headphones are in the Smart Case. When in the case, the headphones enter an ultra-low power mode to preserve the battery charge. An accelerometer in each ear cup and a gyroscope in the left ear cup help to track the subtle movements of your head. This anchors the sound to the paired device for the Spatial Audio feature for watching TV, movies, and videos on a compatible device.
Easy Setup: Getting started with the AirPods Max headphones is extremely simple. When you remove the headphones from the box or Smart Case, internal sensors power up the headphones and the search begins for the nearest Apple iPhone or iPad. When within range, the AirPods Max are recognized by your device, allowing you to pair them with a single tap of your screen. You can also share streaming audio between two sets of AirPods on most versions of the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV. The pairing will automatically and seamlessly move between your iPod, iPad, or Mac when needed. For example, if you are listening to music on your Mac and you receive a call on your iPhone, the AirPods Max will automatically switch to your iPhone so you can take the call. This feature requires an iCloud account, and your Apple device will need to have the latest version of macOS, iOS, iPad OS, watchOS, or tvOS.
Digital Crown: On the top of the right ear cup is the Digital Crown, a multi-function control that lets you adjust volume, skip between tracks, answer phone calls, and activate Siri. The Digital Crown rotates to let you precisely adjust the volume. One press pauses and plays your music, and answers an incoming call. Skipping forward to the next track requires a double press, while three presses lets you skip back. The Digital Crown will activate Siri when the button is pressed and held.
Active Noise Cancellation: The AirPods Max over-ear headphones are equipped with industry-leading Active Noise Cancellation. Eight microphones inside and outside the ear cups pick up external and internal noise, while ANC circuitry applies an equal-but-opposite audio signal to cancel the unwanted noise. The result is an immersive sound experience without distraction. Active Noise Cancellation has a dedicated button for switching between ANC, Transparency Mode, and Off.
Transparency Mode: When you want to be more aware of your surroundings, you can engage the Transparency mode, which lets ambient sound in for a more natural feel. Instead of cancelling external sounds, Transparency mode lets you hear people talking to you, oncoming traffic, or important public address announcements. You can switch between Transparency and ANC by pressing the dedicated ANC button on the right ear cup.
Adaptive EQ: The AirPods Max use the inward-facing microphones to measure the sound inside the ear cup in order to deliver the best sound quality possible. When the acoustic seal isn't optimal, the lower frequencies suffer, so the Adaptive EQ feature adjusts the frequencies to compensate.
Apple-designed Driver: The headphones feature a new Apple-designed dynamic driver with a wide frequency range to provide a rich, detailed sound. The drivers are powered by dual neodymium ring magnets, similar to high-end speakers, with low-distortion across the frequency range. Every note is clear with deep, rich bass, and detailed mids and highs, even at high levels.
Spatial Audio: When watching movies, TV, and video on supported apps on your iPhone or iPad, you can enjoy a theater-like experience with sounds that surround you. Built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers dynamically track your head movements to anchor the sounds to your device.
Apple H1 Headphone Chip: The H1 headphone chip inside the Apple AirPods Max was introduced in 2019 with the AirPods2. The chip supports Bluetooth 5.0, and provides a stable wireless connection to your devices, with fast connection to your devices, longer battery life, improved latency, and fewer dropouts.
Power Requirements: Apple AirPods Max has a built-in rechargeable battery. The battery is charged via the included Lightning to USB-C cable. Apple's legendary H1 headphone chip makes the headphones more stable and efficient. The AirPods Max provide up to 20 hours of listening on a single charge with Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode enabled. The headphones also provide up to 20 hours of talk time on a single charge, or up to 20 hours of movie playback on a single charge with spacial audio on. No required charging time is provided, however, 5 minutes of charge time gives you around 1.5 hours of listening time. When AirPods Max is stored in the provided Smart Case, the headphones enter an ultra-low power state to preserve battery charge. The charge status of the AirPods Max is available on the screen of the connected Apple device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac).