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AirPods Max

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AirPods Max are Apple’s new over-ear headphones with high-fidelity audio paired with tricks found on the AirPods lineup. As the company says, this product is “the ultimate personal listening experience.”


AirPods Max were introduced five years after the announcement of the first-generation AirPods. Back in the day, Apple said it needed “courage” to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone. Half a decade later, not only did the industry follow Apple’s pattern, but the company also created one of its most well-succeeded products.

The AirPods line is composed of the second-generation AirPods, the first-generation AirPods Pro, and now the first-generation AirPods Max. These headphones are quite different from the others since they are over-ear headphones, don’t have wireless charging, and come in five different colors.

The over-ear headphones were announced on December 8, 2020, and started being sold the following week, on December 15. It was the last product Apple announced in the 2010’s decade.

After more than three months since these AirPods Max were released, Apple still faces a short supply with shipment quotes from 2-3 weeks. In January, Tim Cook said it would be tough to get this headphone for a few more months.

AirPods Max Features and Specs

The AirPods Max are over-ear headphones that are different from most of the others. They use stainless steel and aluminum materials for the build, making them a bit heavier than some of their biggest competitors from Sony and Bose. They also use removable ear cups with mesh material.

Available in Silver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Green, and Pink, these headphones have a Digital Crown for controlling the audio, a Lightning port, and a Smart Case to put them in low-power mode since they don’t have an on/off button.

These are the AirPods Max features:

  • Apple H1 headphone chip
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Transparency mode
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
  • Nine microphones
  • Gyroscope, accelerometer, optical sensor, position sensor, and case-detect sensor.

The AirPods Max have up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge with Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency mode enabled. Five minutes of charge time provides around 1.5 hours of listening time.

After some users reported that headphone battery was draining even in the Smart Case, Apple released a firmware updated to fix it.

Compatibility with Apple products

The AirPods Max is compatible with the products listed below:

  • iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone 6s, or newer;
  • iPad mini (4th generation), iPad (5th generation), iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (1st generation), or newer;
  • All Apple Watch models;
  • Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K, or newer;
  • iPod touch (7th generation) or newer;
  • MacBook (Early 2012), MacBook Air (Mid 2012), MacBook Pro (Mid 2012), iMac (Late 2012), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (Late 2012), Mac Pro (Late 2013), or newer.

Apple Music and HiFi audio

Apple promotes high-fidelity audio on the AirPods Max, although it doesn’t have a HiFi tier subscription for Apple Music. Instead, Apple offers its Apple Digital Masters label, with the company’s AAC format over MP3 in most of the songs. But it’s not up to Apple since the artists must master the songs for the company’s platform.

To listen to “the high-fidelity audio” with no compression, the user must buy a separate Apple-exclusive Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable to listen on the iPhone, Mac, or other music devices. Learn more about Apple Music here.

Tips and tricks

AirPods Max headphones made in Vietnam

How to power AirPods Max: put the AIrPods next to your iPhone, than tap Connect. You must be running iOS 14.3 or newer.

How to reset it: Press and hold the noise control button and the Digital Crown until you see the LED flash amber.

Using Audio Share feature: It’s possible to share one audio dream from an Apple device between two sets of AirPods, just move the second pair close to the device you’re using.

How to use Spatial Audio: Open the Control Center, tap and press the AirPods icon then select Spatial Audio. You can also test this feature in Settings > Bluetooth > then click the “I” icon, then click on the little demo to see how it works.

How to check battery life: Remove the AirPods from its case then put it near to the iPhone. You’ll get a pop-up notification showing how much charge is remaining. You can also add a battery widget on your device. Also, when there’s 20% battery life left, you’ll get a notification. The same will happen when it hits 10% and 5% battery life.

AirPods Max Pricing

AirPods Max development took several years

The AirPods Max are available from Apple for $549. You can also buy new ear cups or lightening to 3.5 mm Audio Cable for the over-ear headphone:

  • Ear Cushions: $69 (each)
  • Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable: $35

Apple doesn’t sell separately the Smart Case, and it does not say how much a replacement case costs.

Lower prices of the over-ear headphones may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

AirPods Max Review

In our video review of the AirPods Max, we praised the noise-canceling and transparency modes feature:

These headphones are priced like headphones made for audiophiles, but they’re far from it. From my experience, these have best-in-class noise-canceling and transparency modes. But other than that, AirPods Max isn’t necessarily the best at anything specifically. But when you combine all of the features these headphones have to offer: from the amazing transparency mode to spatial audio, you’ve got a very compelling package for Apple users overall. 


Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the AirPods Max and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Hands-on: Unboxing and first look at standalone AirPods Max ear cushion sets

Earlier this week, Apple made standalone sets of AirPods Max ear cushions available for purchase. If you didn’t already know, AirPods Max ear cushions are magnetic, so they’re interchangeable both for repair and customization purposes. We got our hands on a set of green AirPods Max ear cushions, and here’s what they look like when you buy them on their own.

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AirPod Max details, charger, battery, more

Tim Cook says AirPods Max will be tough to get for a few more months, here’s where you can grab a pair right now

In an interview with Reuters earlier today, Tim Cook mentioned that AirPods Max are expected to be in very short supply over the coming months into Q2. They’ve been difficult to get since they were released in mid-December and currently won’t arrive until late February or early March if you tried to order them from Apple. Good news though! Some stores have availability right now.

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AirPods Max ear cushions now available to order separately for $69

When Apple announced AirPods Max back in December, they also quietly added individual magnetic ear cushion sets to the Apple Store. Well, there’s good news for AirPods Max owners who want to customize their headphones. You can now order cushions in all 5 colors and mix and match them. AirPods Max Ear Cushions are priced at $69 so they certainly aren’t cheap. But then again, if you bought a pair of $550 headphones you can probably also afford these.

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AirPods Max teardown reveals removable headband, iOS 14.4 hints at ‘headband type’ identifier

iFixit shared an initial look at its AirPods Max teardown last month, and now it has completed the intricate process. The final result has revealed some really interesting details about AirPods Max like the headband actually being user-removable which could hint at customization, how the electromechanical hinge hardware works, and that they are “actually fairly serviceable.” 9to5Mac has also uncovered that iOS devices can see the “headband type” that AirPods Max are using.

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AirPods Max battery drain reports surface, some saying they empty overnight

AirPods Max battery drain reports

There are growing reports of an AirPods Max battery drain problem on the Apple Support Forums, Reddit, and elsewhere. Some owners are reporting that their headphone battery is draining from 100% to 1% or 0% overnight, even when left inside the official Apple case designed to drop them quickly into ultra-low power mode.

Others are reporting drain not quite in the same league, but still dramatically higher than would be expected …

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Hands-on: WaterField’s AirPods Max Shield Case is a compelling alternative to Apple’s Smart Case

The controversial Smart Case for AirPods Max has arguably received more attention than the over-ear headphones themselves. The Smart Case has been criticized for not providing adequate protection for AirPods Max and for its awkward design. WaterField Designs is aiming to solve those problems with its new AirPods Max Shield. Read on for a closer look at the first third-party AirPods Max case.

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WaterField Designs launches the AirPods Max case that Apple should have shipped

AirPods Max Case

Much has been said about the case that Apple included with the AirPods Max. Outside of putting the headphones into ultra-low power mode, it doesn’t provide much protection. The lack of functionality is an opportunity for third-parties, though. Today, WaterField Designs is announcing a new AirPods Max case that will also put the headphones into low power mode.

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AirPods Max Unboxing & Review: The pinnacle of preposterous pricing

I’ve been using AirPods Max all week, and I’ve got a lot of thoughts. My biggest takeaway is that these headphones are overpriced. I like them a lot for various reasons, but they are 100% overpriced. The reasons you would buy this pair of headphones could be quite similar to the same reasons someone buys a $500+ pair of shoes — it’s just because you like what you like. And while $550 is a lot to command, the vast majority of consumers these headphones are being marketed to are absolutely going to enjoy these headphones. Here’s why.

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AirPods Max Smart Case makes little difference to battery life, says Apple

AirPods Max Smart Case

The AirPods Max Smart Case has almost received more attention than the headphones themselves. While Apple says that the design is with good reason, reviewers have almost universally hated it – made worse by the fact that it appeared necessary to fully switch off the headphones.

But an updated Apple support document reveals that, in fact, using the case makes very little difference to battery life …

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Apple design team talks AirPods Max creation, controversial Smart Case in new interview

In conjunction with this week’s release of AirPods Max, a trio of Apple executives sat down for an interview with Japanese design website Casa BRUTUS. In the interview, Evans Hankey, Apple’s VP of industrial design, Eugene Whang, industrial designer, and Bob Borchers, VP of product marketing, talked more in-depth about the new AirPods Max and the controversial Smart Case.

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PSA: How to switch off AirPods Max without Apple ‘bra’ case

How to switch off AirPods Max

While reviewers have generally been impressed by Apple’s AirPods Max over-ear headphones, there have been two consistent complaints: the terrible design of the ‘bra’ case, and the fact that there appears to be no way to switch off AirPods Max headphones unless you put them into the case that nobody wants to carry.

One YouTuber did some experimentation, to reveal good and bad news …

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