MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
54,201
16,020


Today is AirPods Max launch day in the United States and many other countries, and as orders begin arriving, first impressions of the headphones from customers are beginning to surface. We've already shared AirPods Max impressions from media outlets and YouTubers, and customer opinions provide additional perspective.

airpods-max-customer-photos.jpg
AirPods Max photos shared by MacRumors forum member Boardiesboi

MacRumors forum member Boardiesboi picked up a pair of AirPods Max from an Apple Store and said they are "premium quality" and "very well made," adding that the stainless steel and aluminum design is "miles ahead" of the plastic used in Bose's QuietComfort 35 II and Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones. They also found the AirPods Max to have better sound quality and active noise cancellation than those Bose and Sony options.

Boardiesboi finds the ear cups to be "light and airy," but said the AirPods Max are "much heavier" than Bose and Sony headphones. "I've been wearing them for 45 mins or so and I'm starting to notice the weight on the ears (not the top of the head)," they said. (Apple says the AirPods Max headband is designed to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure.)

Of course, not everyone is as impressed with the AirPods Max. MacRumors forum member Macaday said that while the AirPods Max have superior build quality and aesthetics, they weren't convinced they are better than Sony's WH-1000XM3 headphones:
Mine arrived a couple of hours ago and although it's too early to make a final call - on initial impressions I'm not sure I like them over my Sony XM3's. The sound signature is no doubt very pleasing to some but to me it lacks warmth and depth compared to the Sony's. The Sony's are also a lot comfier, you forget you're wearing them where as the AirPods Max really have a weighty presence that feels like pressure on your head and ears.

I'm a little shocked if I'm honest that the Sony's have a much more pleasing sound. The AirPods Max probably have a little more detail in the mids and highs but being able to EQ the Sony's means I can get a much more custom sound that suits me.

Max volume is also higher on the Sony's which helps with the quieter recordings. Both have no distortion at high volumes.

Build quality and looks go hands down to Apple, the crown to control the volume is brilliant but sound and comfort is surely the number one priority and that is where I'm afraid the Sony's win - so far.
MacRumors forum member LongWayHome ranked Bose's QuietComfort 35 II and Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones ahead of the AirPods Max in terms of comfort, noting that the AirPods Max are heavy:
I've owned these now for about an hour, and they sound fantastic and theh noise cancellation is excellent. One thing to keep in mind though, these things are heavy. I've been wearing them for an hour and I can definitely feel the weight of them. I hope this doesn't turn into something that I don't like wearing for extended times due to the weight, but I think most everyone will feel it when they wear them.
MacRumors forum member Moriarty emphasized that the AirPods Max ear cups are "deep and spacious," and they feel this deserves more attention:
The earcups are deep and spacious (at least as big as my QC25). My ears touched the insides of the XM4 so I returned them: I do not have this problem with the AirPods Max. I feel like this feature has not gotten half the attention that it deserves. So many wireless headphones have far too small earcups and I cannot stand it. No such problem here. This is partly why the headphones are so big. Most of the depth is taken up by the earcup and the driver, and all the electronics are around the edge. It’s very well thought out.
Several customers expressed appreciation for the physical controls on the AirPods Max, compared to touch controls on some other over-ear headphones. Like the Apple Watch, the AirPods Max have a Digital Crown for volume control, playback, phone calls, and Siri, as well as a noise control button for switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes, the latter of which lets a bit more outside sound in.

Like reviewers, many customers agree that the "Smart Case" carrying case included with the AirPods Max ranges from "useless" to "awful."

"It's almost like Apple's design team forgot about the case and they got one of the cleaners to design it on a piece of paper," quipped MacRumors forum member honglong1976. "The case is absolutely useless for travelling."

Priced at $549, the AirPods Max are available to order on Apple.com, but they currently have a lengthy 12-14 week delivery estimate. For more impressions, visit the AirPods subforum in the MacRumors forums. And if you're still waiting on your AirPods Max, track your order alongside other Apple fans in our pre-order discussion thread.

Article Link: AirPods Max Customer Impressions: Premium Design and Competitive Sound Quality, Can Feel Heavy on Ears and Smart Case is Useless
 
  • Like
Reactions: Boardiesboi

G5isAlive

macrumors 65816
Aug 28, 2003
1,383
2,139
I am not defending the case, agree 100% not great for traveling and I no doubt will be replacing it with a third party case made for travel. BUT. I took my Max off at one point and put it on the desk, and immediately got nervous about the aluminum cans getting scratched and instantly understood Apple's case. It was just designed for keeping the cans from being scratched during routine use. Nothing more, nothing less. Given how many people complain about their phones and watch scratching I see where Apple was coming from. I expect to be called a fan boy for not totally roasting Apple over it, but I am typing this while listening to a movie and just blown away by the soundstage, and so just don't care that much about the case. It will protect it enough sitting at home.
 
Comment

roncron

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2011
771
1,201
These look great, but the deal-breakers for me are the high price and the large size, makes them harder to travel with. I also strongly dislike that you have to put them back in the "smart case" in order to power them down, otherwise there will be battery drain as @thadoggfather and MKBHD said.

Maybe in a year or two, Apple will release a smaller, more portable, and less expensive version - the AirPods Max Mini?

Meantime, I'm super happy with my Sony XM4's. They don't have the H1 chip, but they sound fantastic, they're lightweight, and the earcups can be folded down so they take up fairly little room in my daypack.
 
Comment

MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
3,189
"The AirPods Max probably have a little more detail in the mids and highs but being able to EQ the Sony's means I can get a much more custom sound that suits me." It used to be that speakers and headphones were measured on accuracy, not "more pleasing to me". Anyone can adjust the headphones after the fact, I'll take accuracy any day, that is where Active EQ is awesome
 
Comment

MauiPa

macrumors 68020
Apr 18, 2018
2,260
3,189
I’m so sick of the price shock.

High quality headphones can cost well over $550. It’s all going to be down to the sound. People that buy high end headphones will judge their worth.
I looked - some headphones are $1500 going up to $3000. Personally, I do not need that, but apparently there are some that do, or they wouldn't be available
 
  • Like
Reactions: KeithBN
Comment

G5isAlive

macrumors 65816
Aug 28, 2003
1,383
2,139
My other comment, some will get, others won't care. I watch a lot of movies while on a plane, and the Max with its Spatial Audio just blows my MX4 away as if the MX4 wasn't even there. Apple does more with computational audio than anyone else I know, and if its something you like, you will love it on the Max. I know to some this is not a consideration, they don't care, they just want to listen to their hard rock with the base cranked. and that is fine. But for those of us that like to watch movies, all I can say is the sound experience from this $550 Max rivals the experience I get from my $2000 Sonos Surround System. It is crazy good and definitely has earned the Max's place in my travel bag. I just have to show some restraint and not use it with the TV in front of my wife.
 
Comment

RamGuy

macrumors 65816
Jun 7, 2011
1,119
1,351
Norway
I've been using my pair for a little while and it's too early to tell. But I find the comment "I'm a little shocked if I'm honest that the Sony's have a much more pleasing sound" rather funny but it just goes to show how personal audio and sound truly is.

The soundstage of the Apple AirPods Max is leaps beyond the Sony WH-1000XM4. They feel so wide and spacious and vocals have a true spark to them. The XM4 have a very V-shape sound profile. Meaning they are more upfront and "in-your-face" which emphasis bass. I find them to be rather muddy like most headphones with a v-shaped profile as it puts the lower frequencies more upfront which ends up sacrificing width, separation and clarity.

This has pretty much been confirmed and verified by rtings.com in their excellent and in-depth review of the XM4's.


The AirPods Max are very different from the XM4's. They try to be wide and spacious providing a great soundstage with crystal clear sounds that you can easily pinpoint. If you are one that prefers the sound to feel like they are coming from within your head and for the bass to be in focus you won't like the AirPods Max at all.

But like most high-end headphones it's all about making the audio feel like it's coming from all around you. This is why most high-end headphones tend to be open-back as it's much easier to achieve a very wide soundstage when the headphones are open-back. The AirPods Max are best closed-back ANC headphones I've ever heard in terms of bringing an extremely wide and spacious soundstage. If you are not one that enjoys or appreciate width in your audio and music then you are pretty much waisting your money with the AirPods Max.

V-shaped audio is much easier to achieve and you'll get a much better "in-your-head" kind of audio signature from way cheaper options.


I can't really comment on the ANC as of yet as I've been using mine inside and there isn't much noise here for me to really test the ANC.
 
Comment

Paul_a

macrumors newbie
Sep 1, 2020
26
177
I am hearing sounds (and indeed lyrics) that I didn't hear on my Sony-MX4s. Big nogging and they're a little tight, but feel comfortable enough. Noise canceling beats the MX4 for my money. Case isn't great, yeah. These are replacing my beats "sitting at the desk and working at my mac" headphones. Not disappointed at all.
 
Comment

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,921
2,300
I’d be in the market maybe for these if I didn’t have Beats Studio Wireless 3 which I think were a Black Friday Christmas gift at $90 off when I got them 2 years ago.

But these reviews by people who have the Sony, Bose, or both and are now spending $550 plus tax on these and likely will return them or then have 2-3 pairs seems ridiculous. Screams look at me.

These do seem pricey. But the talk is actually worse than the price. And if you have the disposable money to get them and have other brands, great. But we don’t need to hear from you.
 
Comment

Duel

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2011
125
216
More i read about early adopters and watching their videos the more i want to have them. These are typical Apple product launch. First people go crazy for the price and say they will sound bad and can’t beat others and so on. Now the more user experiences we get, they clearly are really great headphones. i also think they will sell really well and the design going to be iconic which going to be copied. i just wondering if almost only thing people complain about these is the price. Will Apple release those rumoured sport model with cheaper materials. Based on early data those would be instant hit. Or do Apple only play the premium game with these.
 
Comment

Baymowe335

Suspended
Oct 6, 2017
6,640
12,449
I've been using my pair for a little while and it's too early to tell. But I find the comment "I'm a little shocked if I'm honest that the Sony's have a much more pleasing sound" rather funny but it just goes to show how personal audio and sound truly is.

The soundstage of the Apple AirPods Max is leaps beyond the Sony WH-1000XM4. They feel so wide and spacious and vocals have a true spark to them. The XM4 have a very V-shape sound profile. Meaning they are more upfront and "in-your-face" which emphasis bass. I find them to be rather muddy like most headphones with a v-shaped profile as it puts the lower frequencies more upfront which ends up sacrificing width, separation and clarity.

This has pretty much been confirmed and verified by rtings.com in their excellent and in-depth review of the XM4's.


The AirPods Max are very different from the XM4's. They try to be wide and spacious providing a great soundstage with crystal clear sounds that you can easily pinpoint. If you are one that prefers the sound to feel like they are coming from within your head and for the bass to be in focus you won't like the AirPods Max at all.

But like most high-end headphones it's all about making the audio feel like it's coming from all around you. This is why most high-end headphones tend to be open-back as it's much easier to achieve a very wide soundstage when the headphones are open-back. The AirPods Max are best closed-back ANC headphones I've ever heard in terms of bringing an extremely wide and spacious soundstage. If you are not one that enjoys or appreciate width in your audio and music then you are pretty much waisting your money with the AirPods Max.

V-shaped audio is much easier to achieve and you'll get a much better "in-your-head" kind of audio signature from way cheaper options.


I can't really comment on the ANC as of yet as I've been using mine inside and there isn't much noise here for me to really test the ANC.
Again, many people can’t tell the difference between $10 wired earbuds and $500 over the ear cans.

These headphones are made for studio guys and audiophiles...and there are plenty.
 
Comment

odHbo

macrumors regular
Jun 5, 2007
144
184

Airpod Max price awkers should check this link.

The general public doesn’t know that Spacial Audio has been out for almost 10 years now but it still cost thousands of dollars. Apple introduced this at a easily consumable level for $550.

The tech is truly marvelous.

But also, the GP and Media needs to understand that they don’t have to buy or be the target audience for everything Apple makes.
 
Comment

G5isAlive

macrumors 65816
Aug 28, 2003
1,383
2,139
And.. while I am saying what caught me by surprise (in a good way) with the Max... not sure if it's having two H1 chips, or refined software, or what, but the Max is much much much better at switching audio automatically than even my AirPod Pro's. I find with my Pro's I frequently have to manually change which device I want to use on them. Not too surprising, at my desk I have my MacBook Pro 16 in front, my iPad to one side, and my iPhone right there as well. But I always thought Apple underdelivered on that experience. For me, switching is hit or miss with the AirPod Pro's. Not with the Max, it is uncanny fast switching with me as I switch devices. Watching a movie and pick up the phone to call my wife. It switches. Jump to my computer and start playing music. It switches. Open my iPad to play a game, it switches. I haven't had to manually change which device to link with once. Blows me away, this is the seamless experience Apple promised. Finally.
 
Comment

AnthonyHarris

Cancelled
Jun 4, 2009
510
580
Cambridge, England
These look great, but the deal-breakers for me are the high price and the large size, makes them harder to travel with. I also strongly dislike that you have to put them back in the "smart case" in order to power them down, otherwise there will be battery drain as @thadoggfather and MKBHD said.

Maybe in a year or two, Apple will release a smaller, more portable, and less expensive version - the AirPods Max Mini?

Meantime, I'm super happy with my Sony XM4's. They don't have the H1 chip, but they sound fantastic, they're lightweight, and the earcups can be folded down so they take up fairly little room in my daypack.
You‘ve the right point of view on this.

The AirPods Max were not designed to be light or portable, clearly, and you have a product that you‘re satisfied with.

I do wonder if Apple will extend their over ear lineup to cater to the lower end market, since they already produce Beats, which are a cheap, sorry, ’more affordable’ variant.
 
Comment

JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
1,454
1,399
CANADA!
I’m so sick of the price shock.

High quality headphones can cost well over $550. It’s all going to be down to the sound. People that buy high end headphones will judge their worth.
Ya but those are a different product segment. Wired and often used with an amp and I'm sure sound a lot better. It's a big jump when the best in the wireless noise cancelling segment is around half the price and more comfortable. I'm sure Apple will sell a load of them but wouldn't be surprised from this article if less die hard apple people return them based on comfort and overall value.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.