Yes I know, I know, I am about 6 months late in reviewing these headphones. Now to be honest, I have always been wanting to get the AirPods Max even before testing it out, because firstly, I loved the classic and yet minimalist design, and I love the color options available. And as usual, I fell in love with white color or Apple calls it the silver color variant.
So as months passed by I still held back my purchase, but when Apple announced that the AirPods Max will be supporting Dolby Music and Spatial Audio on Apple Music, I knew I had to get it, so here is my review.
So unboxing the AirPods Max was as sleek and clean as expected, where the box comes in white, with just the visuals of the AirPods Max in front.
Then at the back, you will find the visuals of the AirPods Max, together with the smart case as well.
Opening the box you will immediately find the headphones inside together with the smart case.
Underneath, there is the user guide and other manuals. Then below that, you will find the USB-C to Lightning cable.
Build Quality & Design
So my first impressions when I took the headphones out of the box was like, wow this is quite on the heavy side, which contrary to popular opinion, I actually liked the fact that it was heavy because the headphones just felt solid and in a lack of better word, luxury, and premium!
The build is exactly on a what you see is what you get basis, where the outer ear cups are made out of aluminum with a satin-like finish on it, with one of the most solid looking and feeling stainless steel headband frame, where even the telescopic arms of the headbands also felt very solid with no sort of notches when making the adjustments, where it will stay in place depending on how you adjust it, where just on top of the adjustments you will find is covered with high-quality PU.
Then the top part of the headphones had a nice knit mesh canopy, which at first I was wondering why Apple was using this material instead of typically putting foam on top like most headphones out right now.
And then I finally figured out why, well because of how the ear cups were on the “heavy” side, this mesh-like fabric kind of carried the weight when you put the headphones on, where it sort of also reduced the weight of the headphones when you actually put it on your head.
And speaking of the ear cups, the inner part is made out of a cushion with a nice memory foam inside instead of leather, which means that you won’t have corroding issues like the Audio Technica headphones or even many other headphones after years of use.
And what’s extra sweet is the fact that these ear cups are attached and can be removed magnetically, which meant that this is hands down the easiest ear pads to replace, where you can buy the ear cups separately, which I have bought extra ear pads in black, just for the sake of having an option of a two-tone like color.
And that little hole inside of the earcups is the proximity sensor, which is for the Automatic Head Detection, for when you take off the headphones it will automatically pause the track or movie and resumes back when you put them on, which you toggle this on or off in the Bluetooth Settings.
So I know what you guys are thinking, all these white? Does it turn yellow or does it get dirty easily, well for me, I have been using the headphones for close to a month and there were no signs of it getting dirty.
And I will link a video of another fellow tech reviewer who did a 6-Months review of the AirPods Max in the same exact color that I choose and there were no such issues at all, but allow me to come back to you all after I use it too, so subscribe to this channel if you haven’t done so.
Link to 6-Months Review by Mark Spurrell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00uzpEFL-wc
Now, while EVERYONE (me included) can go on and on about how premium the headphones are, but a lot of people would complain that they can’t say the same about the smart case.
Apparently, there were lots of people complaining about the design and how the case does not “protect” the headphones because of how exposed the headbands were, especially towards the top.
But hear me out, in my humble opinion, I personally understand why Apple did this because you will have to understand that this is called a smart case, and NOT a protective case. Yes there are other headphones that come with a shell clam kind of case but remember, those are for the sake of protecting the headphones and nothing else.
And Apple has designed this more of an added accessory and experience as when you put the headphones in the smart case, it will go into sleep mode where this allows the headphones to be on standby mode.
Now, why on standby mode instead of turning it off? Well, simple, in case you didn’t know that the AirPods Max can be found through the Find My app under your device just in case you lose it.
So I would rather not turn off my headphones and charge it if I wanted to, rather than knowing the fact that I can’t find my headphone if I ever lose it.
But if you are really out to protect the headphones from scuffs and scratches since you can’t fold the headphones, I found this cool headphones pouch that fits in the AirPods Max snuggly which I found on Amazon, which is still on the way.
Next, let’s move on to the control options.
So all of the controls for the AirPods Max are on the right ear cups, where there is a crown-like dial, which is like a super-sized version of the dial found in the Apple Watch.
So turning it clockwise or anti-clockwise will decrease or increase the volume and what’s nice is the fact that you can adjust the direction according to how you want it, from back to front or front to back in the Bluetooth Settings as well.
So this same dial if pressed once, it will pause or playback media. For phone calls, it answers or ends a call.
Pressing it twice goes to the next track, where for phone calls that will reject a call. Then pressing it three times goes to the previous track.
Next to the dial you will find the noise control button which can toggle between Noise Cancellation, turning it off and going into Transparency Mode. Then finally, pressing it and holding it calls out Siri.
So usually the pairing process for ANY accessory from Apple will be super simple and easy and quick, especially with the H1 Chip which accelerates the seamless pairing by just taking it out from the Smart Case, it will get your iPhone or iPad to immediately recognize the headphones.
Now for some strange reason if you would like to use the headphones with an Android device, you can by pressing and holding the multifunction button, and once the light indicator blinks you can find it in your Bluetooth settings.
So what works and what does not work on Android then?
Well, based on my test, the Noise cancellation works, the playback control works, but what won’t work is the Automatic Head Detection and the Voice Assistant feature.
So with this, I would say that you will surely get the best experience on an Apple device instead, especially with my personal favorite feature of being able to switch between devices like for example, when you are using your MacBook Pro or iMac, and then you get a phone call, it will immediately switch to your iPhone.
And then suddenly you want to play a video on the iPad and if you receive a phone call right after that, it will switch back to the iPhone once again since the H1 Chip works only the best with Apple devices.
Music Listening Options
Okie, so before going into the sound quality of the headphones, let’s take a quick look at the listening options that we currently have.
Now I am NOT going to talk about getting FLAC files downloaded into to your phone and all, since that is not what an average consumer would usually do, so the easiest way to get you into music listening is of course through music listening services.
Now I am only going to talk about the top 3 music services here in Malaysia in no particular order, which are Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify.
Out of all Spotify has just announced earlier this year about how they will be introducing Spotify HiFi that will be out later this year and no idea how much that will cost, but at this point of time the Premium membership, without lossless and without Dolby Audio is priced at RM14.90 per month for the individual membership.
Now I always was subscribed to Spotify but when Tidal was made known to me, I jumped straight into that but still holding on to my Spotify account “just in case”.
So Tidal HiFi on the other hand had lossless music and Dolby Audio and it was priced at RM29.80 per month.
And the reason I still stuck with Tidal was that although it was way more expensive than Spotify, the idea of having both lossless music and Dolby audio was something that I really appreciated.
Then when Apple Music, did a whole revamping of their app, with a way better interface, with a great curated playlist based on cities, including Kuala Lumpur, my attention was now shifted slowly… and when Apple announced that they were including lossless and Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos in their subscription, at the back of my mind I was like “Okie, great, but I am sure it’s going to be more expensive than Tidal” but NO, I was wrong!
Because, the price was the same price as it was for Apple Music, which is priced at RM14.90 for the individual membership and even a lower RM6.90 for the student membership! And mind you this RM6.90 is including all the high-quality music listening of lossless and Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos!
So naturally, that was the music service that I am currently on, and yes, I did FINALLY cancel my Tidal and Spotify subscription and I think you should too.
Now let’s talk about sound quality.
So I have taken the time to listen to all kinds of genres of music and yes it did sound really good. I just love how none of the music that I listened to had any “artificial flavoring” to the sound, if you get what I mean.
The sound quality on this 40-millimeter driver was very rich and fit every genre accordingly, where it felt like you could hear how the actual song was meant to be listened to.
I’d say the best part of the overall sound really comes from the mids to the highs, it really sounded really well pronounced, without clashing with other frequencies within the songs.
How about the bass response then? Well, I personally loved how the bass sounds, it sounded, tight…. compared with the likes of Sony for example, where the genre’s like Rock or Metal seems to drown because it always seems like brands like Sony tends to really boost the bass, where it will usually sound nice on your EDM and Pop but won’t really sound nice with Rock music and the opposite case was when it came to Bose headphones where it was great for Rock, Metal or Jazz but not as pleasing to hear for EDM and Pop in general.
And here is where I feel that the AirPods Max finally gives me the best quality sound not only for other genres of music but also specifically for Rock and Metal genre of music, where it really felt like each frequency was coming in on a separate pocket, to make sure that every piece of the instrument was properly heard and as a musician and a songwriter myself, that is something which I could REALLY appreciate.
Now all of these listening is with the equalization turned off which if you want you can select the EQ accordingly if you want to, which compared to to other headphones I have tested, these EQ adjustments that Apple gives is way much apparent because I did find that some headphone brands put the options for other EQ presets, and usually you won’t really hear the difference much.
But here is pro tip is that since this is an Apple device, go to Accessibility settings and head to Audio Visual and turn on Headphone Accommodations and choose Balanced Tone and the Slight boosted option, to get the best level of frequencies, especially on the highs and mids, where this adjustments are only available for the AirPods series and Beats as well.
And the earcups did not feel warm, even with our extremely humid weather and the reason could also be because there is that sort of space between your ears and the inner part of the ear cups.
Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos
So, speaking about “space”, let’s quickly dive into Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos.
Now before anything, be sure to have all the settings enabled, now this update will work from iOS 14.6 onwards.
Where you will need to go to Settings > Music > Dolby Atmos from Automatic To Always On.
And of course under the music settings, under Audio Quality, don’t forget to toggle on lossless audio as well while you are at it.
So to quickly give you a rundown on what Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos, is that essentially it is like Dolby Vision but from an audio perspective where the separation from vocals to individual instruments is like you are literally sitting down in front of the artist with these musicians around you.
And there are few recommended artists that I would recommend listening to with this Dolby Atmos like Norah Jones’s Shoot The Moon, Olivia Rodrigo’s Happier, Billie Eilish Bury A Friend and many more.
As for watching videos on Youtube and movies with Dynamic Head Tracking, Netflix was also great without any latency or delay of the audio-video performance.
And of course Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking is available on this AirPods Max on Apple TV, where in case you didn’t know it is a feature where the audio is following to where you move your head.
This experience is something that can’t be explained in words and it is an experience where you will need to try it in order to feel the experience.
As for phone calls, this is surely one of the clearest and loudest that I have heard in any headphones, there were no echoing issues and noise cancellation was also great when it comes to hearing the other person’s voice and that was the same when the other person was listening to me as well.
And also worth mentioning is the fact that when you receive a phone call while you have AirPods Max on, Siri will announce the name of the caller and Siri can also read your incoming messages as well.
So when it comes to noise cancellation, it is definitely one of the key strengths of the headphones where it does remove inconsistent noise like spoken voice, passing cars, wind noises and mostly towards the higher frequencies and just seamlessly toggling it on or off with the noise control button was also a huge plus for me since the button is quite tactile as well.
And of course, that button can also toggle the Transparency Mode where it will use all 8 of the 9 microphones for this to really amplify the overall sound, whereas with the upcoming iOS 15 update, it will amplify them even more for people who have mild hearing problems.
And honestly guys, no other headphones does better at this mode compared to how Apple did it with the AirPods Pro and now even better on the AirPods Max.
As for the battery life, using it everyday almost for a month gave me an average of 18 plus to 19 hours of battery, with maximum volume and the noise cancellation turned on.
And considering the fact that the headphones are never turned off, that to me is great battery life, and since we are most of the time at home anyways and not on the go as much, that for me was a really great amount of battery life.
While I do wish that the charging port is in USB-C instead of a Lightning cable, but what’s nice is that you can plug in the cable to charge while listening to the headphones, which is kind of neat.
And I found that if the battery goes to about 5 percent, a quick 10-minute plug in will get you close to 1 hour plus and that for me was a great plus.
So with this, should you get the AirPods Max? Let me start with the Yes.
Yes, if you want a really high quality build and with one of the most aesthetically designed headphones because this is something where images or videos online does not give it justice.
Yes, if you want a headphone which sounds extremely well for ALL types of genres instead of buying a headphone which caters towards a certain type of music.
Yes, if you want one of the best noise cancellation headphones out right now because of the quality of noise cancellation that the AirPods Max give.
Yes, if you are already within the Apple Ecosystem because you will just love the seamless switching between devices.
And No because, if you are looking to play lossless audio, why? The answer is plain and simple, ANY Bluetooth headphones cannot play lossless audio, plain and simple, so for those who complained about “oh, lossless cant play on the Apple devices”
So what needs to be understood is that Apple has created the AirPods Pro and the Airpod Max as convenient Bluetooth audio devices, if you want to really listen to lossless audio, I don’t even think you will be watching this video review because you would have already gotten yourself a DAC also known as a Digital Audio Convertor and an audiophile wired headphone to really take advantage of that, and it is nice that Apple Music gives the option of having lossless audio.
So if all of the yes-es mentioned above is something you want, then yes you should get it and I will leave links down below including some cool accessories that go along very well with the AirPods Max.
Alright, guys, that’s my in-depth review, although six months late, but I feel that I got my hands on it just the right time. Aside from that, thank you so much for reading. Hope this review is helpful in making your purchase decision, if it did a nice big thumbs up would be very much appreciated. My name is Adam Lobo and I will catch you guys in my next review!
Get the Apple AirPods Max at the link below:- https://amzn.to/3qrMd7l
Headphones pouch from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jgnAcb
AirPods Max review after 6-Months, by Mark Spurrell: https://youtu.be/00uzpEFL-wc
Recommended song playlist for Dolby Atmos & Spatial Audio: