AirPods Max review: The most comfortable and impressive-sounding headphones ever

Apple last week unveiled AirPods Max, innovative wireless headphones that bring the magic of AirPods to an over-ear design with high-fidelity sound. AirPods Max combine a custom acoustic design, H1 chips, and advanced software to power computational audio for a breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. AirPods Max come in five gorgeous colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink, and are available today, Tuesday, December 15th.

From the canopy to the cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide a comfortable fit and exceptional acoustic performance for each individual.
From the canopy to the cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide a comfortable fit and exceptional acoustic performance for each individual.

Patrick O’Rourke for Mobile Syrup:

First off, the AirPods Max build quality is beyond anything I’ve encountered before with over-ear headphones, including Sony’s WH-1000XM3, Beats’ Solo 3 headphones and several other over-ear sets from Bose and Sennheiser; they’re truly on another level.

Everything from the mesh canopy to the removable earcups and aluminum coverings feels decidedly premium. On the sound quality side of things, the Max feature crisp audio and a wide sound stage that excellently balances the highs and lows of various types of audio, including music, podcasts, television/movies and more… Apple’s AirPods Max are my favourite over-ear headphones that I’ve ever used — and given their price tag, they should be…

The knit mesh canopy running along the part of the AirPods Max’s band that actually touches your head is also a cut above anything I’ve experienced before with over-ear headphones. At times, it feels like the headphones aren’t even touching your head… The memory foam cushion earcups that can easily be removed and attached to the AirPods Max through magnets are very comfortable. Similar to the headband, it feels at times like I’m not wearing headphones at all. The cushions are also great at removing outside noise…

Where the AirPods Max truly shine is in the audio quality department. They are the best-sounding headphones I have ever encountered, surpassing even Sony’s WH-1000XM3s (I haven’t used the 1000XM4s but to my understanding, the sound quality is nearly identical to their predecessors), several of Bose’s higher-end headsets… The AirPods Max handle bass excellently, don’t distort audio at loud volumes and generally feature the widest sound stage I’ve ever encountered in a pair of headphones…

MacDailyNews Take: O’Rourke goes after the rather awful case pretty hard in the full review, but it deserves it. It’s not as bad as the Siri Remote because it’s just a case, not something intended to be used so intrinsically, but it’s nonetheless horrific that it even made it past initial prototyping, much less being shipped.


    1. My thoughts exactly – on sound and quality. Those others are “OK” and sound good but not even what I want to see in comparisons for the Apple models.
      I’ll hold off. I’m an audio ho and love audio gear, but I need to test these before buying for sure. And who knows, maybe I will…

    1. I’m such a sucker I bought two pairs. They are the most comfortable and nicest sounding headphones I have ever owned including 1500 dollar pairs of Breyer Dynamcs T5s. As usual critics who have not tried an item chime in on hw overpriced and awful it is. By the way, the case is rather cool. Remember when no one would spend 499.99 on a soap bar shaped iPhone? What.a joke the iPad was (like a tampon, remember). Apple Watch.., fail. You should take care before you enthusiastically march into the band of the illiterati.

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