Apple AirPods Max Hefty Sound, Hefty Price

Apple releasing the AirPods Max wasn’t really a surprise. It was sort of expected, considering how much the regular AirPods dominated the wireless earbuds market, and how much money they make for Apple. Do you know what’s surprising? The $550 price tag.

Apple AirPods Max Design and Comfort

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Apple has designed a set of headphones that look fantastic and are made of premium materials. But Apple doesn’t always succeed where ergonomics is concerned. Luckily, the AirPods Max are both great-looking and pretty comfy to use.

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Apple’s new headphones look just plain better than the other one you’ve used. Credit the seamless matte finish of the aluminum closed-back earpieces, the stainless steel rods in the band, the fine mesh of the earpads, and the “canopy” headband—everything work together to create a sleek and streamlined look that puts almost all the other headphones to shame, even those that cost a lot more.

Apple AirPods Max Sound Quality and Noise Canceling

AirPods Max is incredibly well built and made, but that doesn’t mean much if they don’t sound fantastic. Luckily, it’s a delight for your ears. Audio reproduction stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest Bluetooth wireless headphones available.

AirPods Max’s audio profile is not studio-grade. You should not assume a flat-frequency response curve. Apple tuned the AirPods Max to raise bass and mid-high frequencies a little, something most listeners would hopefully find very satisfying. The bass kicks where needed and it’s clean with no distortion, but it doesn’t have the sheer throttle of Sony’s XM4s or any of the Beats headphones, for example.

The AirPods Max has 40mm drivers and pumps out an absolute, airy sound, with a focus on crisp mids and highs rather than overbearing bass. But the fact that there’s no way to adjust audio EQ levels like most headphones is yet another “very Apple move.”

Active noise cancelation is very good—the AirPods Max has nine microphones, eight of which are used for capturing, analyzing, and then digitally suppressing sound. You will drown the chatter around me right away by clicking a button.

As for battery life, a single charge will last you around 20 hours. But another “very Apple move” is the fact that you really need a Lightning cable to charge it. That essentially means you have no way of plugging the headphones into a computer or airplane entertainment system unless you buy Apple’s official Lightning-to-3.5mm cable. No third-party cable will work.

Should You Buy It?

You’re certainly getting value for the high price. Materials and quality construction put all consumer headsets to shame. If you want to “flex” your financial success with a pair of high-quality headphones that everybody immediately knows and recognizes the high price, AirPods Max is for you.

That said, the AirPods Max would make sense for certain people who can immediately find a purpose they’re “worth it.” The comfort and feel are top-notch, they sound fantastic, the noise cancelation is right there with the best, and they provide exclusive features like spatial audio that you just can’t get anywhere else. At least, not exactly like this. So it’s worth breaking down some of the reasons why AirPods Max could be worth buying if you’ve got the cash.

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