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Dbsr87

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 9, 2017
39
27
Question for those who have used both of these:

How does the sound quality compare? Are the AirPods Max significantly better when it comes to sound quality?
 

Beau10

macrumors 65816
Apr 6, 2008
1,014
451
Downtown San Diego
My AirPod Maxs blows my AirPod Pros out of the water in my opinion. For the most part though, it is kind of comparing apples and oranges when trying to compare an in ear pair of head phones to an over the ear pair.

That's not necessarily a given in headphone audio - there are in fact in-ear monitors at the super top end that favorably compete with the best headphones... customs in the $3,000+ area. It's a different experience for sure, just like over ear headphones are different from speakers, but the fidelity, frequency response, etc, are there.

That said, I agree, there is a decent chasm between these and the Pros, I consider these in a higher tier, similar to how the Pros are in a higher tier than the regular Airpods. I've been into headphone audio for a couple decades now, have had the Pros for a year, on the 3rd day w/ the Max's.
 
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Infinitewisdom

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2012
644
386
That's not necessarily a given in headphone audio - there are in fact in-ear monitors at the super top end that favorably compete with the best headphones... customs in the $3,000+ area. It's a different experience for sure, just like over ear headphones are different from speakers, but the fidelity, frequency response, etc, are there.

That said, I agree, there is a decent chasm between these and the Pros, I consider these in a higher tier, similar to how the Pros are in a higher tier than the regular Airpods. I've been into headphone audio for a couple decades now, have had the Pros for a year, on the 3rd day w/ the Max's.

Well said. Easily better than the Pros in my opinion. Actively avoiding the Pros now when my Maxes are around. I will probably now only use the Pros when I'm out and about.
 

LEDOLPH

macrumors newbie
Dec 16, 2020
22
32
Europe
Yup - Max’s sound vastly better, but you won’t be going for a run in them or slipping them into a jeans pocket (hopefully), so there’s still plenty of use cases for the Pros - they are still great multi-use all rounders.
 

Infinitewisdom

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2012
644
386
Is it worth the extra $200-250 more though?

Like the guy above you just said, it depends on your use case. If you're looking for something for around the house, yes, they're worth the extra $200-250. If you need something for on the go, then no. They're different enough that if you can swing it, you should just get both.
 
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Ralfi

macrumors 68040
Dec 22, 2016
3,914
2,541
Australia
I wonder if the Pro v2 will catchup to the Max in audio quality. Their portability & minimalist form factor will always place future Pros on my radar.
 

LEDOLPH

macrumors newbie
Dec 16, 2020
22
32
Europe
So... I am lucky enough to have both and I have no doubt the Pros will continue to be be my regulars. They are the most convenient headphones i have ever owned - they sound great for the size and can be put in in seconds when taking a call and are always with you. The Max’s are pricey and just not meant to be every day beaters - rain damage, theft , size etc. But indoors (or when we can travel long distance again!) IF you have Apple gear - (you’re just wastiing their full potential and your money if you are outside the Apple ecosystem) there are no other headphones that do ALL the things they do this well : the switching between devices, the bonkers NR, the sound quality on music, calls and surround sound movies - I put on “Into the Spiderverse” in Spatial Audio yesterday and they sounded phenomenal - If / when an Apple TV gets this feature it will be a real selling point. They are still expensive and the bra case is inadequate and they should have come with a cable to 3.5mm jack, but no regrets.
 
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tivoboy

macrumors 68040
May 15, 2005
3,472
432
I wonder if the Pro v2 will catchup to the Max in audio quality. Their portability & minimalist form factor will always place future Pros on my radar.
i think the pros audio quality will certainly always improve, but the in ear small driver type of airpods are never really going to catch up with an over the ear "can" type for sound quality with larger drivers and better frequency response. For what the pros ARE, they are really pretty great but the Max are really off the chart in the luxury listening category.
 
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Steelhead1957

macrumors newbie
Nov 25, 2018
24
23
Orlando
Well, been using them the last two days. Not too heavy at all IMHO. Sound is great (much better than AirPod Pro IMO), the handshake between my devices is good. Not amazing. Just a nice add to my Apple stuff. My wife however, LOVES them. She is embracing the ability to watch videos and listen to music on her computer to then answering the iPhone. I know, not new but it is to her it is and the styling is perfect to her.
 

ouimetnick

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2008
3,422
5,584
Beverly, Massachusetts
As some folks have mentioned, you can't really compare in ear headphones to large over ear headphones. It's like comparing a smart car to a truck. Yes both has gasoline engines, but totally different class of vehicles. The AirPods Pro are quite good, and seem to offer more bass than my old dual armature Apple In Ear Headphones ($80) I'm sure more expensive in ear monitors sound even better than the AirPods Pro Max, but I'd also speculate that some very expensive precision over ear monitors sound even better. You can only get so much bass from a small driver. No replacement for displacement.
 
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Meever

macrumors 6502a
Jun 30, 2009
641
30
Very diffierent experience.

I’m a little a partial to the bass on the APP. In every other metric I enjoy the APM more.
 
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f1vespeed

macrumors newbie
Apr 14, 2008
17
6
I own both, APP and APM. Less difference than I hoped, especially given a $550 price for a semi-disposable gadget with sealed in batteries that will eventually degrade and need replacements.

I compared them using iOS's multiple headphone support, rapidly swapping between the two listening to Apple Music across many genres of music (radiohead, oscar peterson, andy shauf, max richter, jamie xx, the list goes on) .

The sound signature is almost identical, with the exception of much stronger (sometimes annoyingly sibilant for me) treble on the APMs than the APPs and a little more bass at the very low end.

That's not to say there isn't a difference. Over-ear headphones provide more tactile sensation on your skin and allow sound to enter naturally rather than being piped into your ear canals. The APMs do sound more lively as a result, in a variety of ways.

The APPs on the other hand get remarkably close, and you can barely even tell you're wearing them. Getting the APMs made me appreciate the APPs even more for the stunning masterpieces they are.
 

dapa0s

macrumors 6502
Jan 2, 2019
413
764
They sound very, very similar, for me there is definitely not enough difference for the price.

Or, as the poster above noted, the APP are just that great.
 
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haralds

macrumors 68000
Jan 3, 2014
1,991
738
Silicon Valley, CA
I like them both depending on the environment and circumstance. I would consider the sound balanced in both.
Intense music listening and getting isolated is for the Max - waiting at the car dealer or some time in the future, in a plane. But for other listening, I like the Pros. Podcasts, meditation, etc. I even still use my AirPods 2nd gen when I do not want to feel isolated. Zoom meetings come to mind.
I have Momentum 2 and Denon cans on my high-end audio system. The Momentum sound good, but are less comfortable. Still have to do more AB on the Denons.
 
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UBS28

macrumors 68020
Oct 2, 2012
2,497
1,823
They sound quite similar. The AirPods Max sounds like a headphone version of the AirPods Pro basically.

If you can have only 1, I would go for the AirPods Pro as it is much more usable.
 

EntropyQ3

macrumors 6502
Mar 20, 2009
480
470
I own both, APP and APM. Less difference than I hoped, especially given a $550 price for a semi-disposable gadget with sealed in batteries that will eventually degrade and need replacements.

I compared them using iOS's multiple headphone support, rapidly swapping between the two listening to Apple Music across many genres of music (radiohead, oscar peterson, andy shauf, max richter, jamie xx, the list goes on) .

The sound signature is almost identical, with the exception of much stronger (sometimes annoyingly sibilant for me) treble on the APMs than the APPs and a little more bass at the very low end.

That's not to say there isn't a difference. Over-ear headphones provide more tactile sensation on your skin and allow sound to enter naturally rather than being piped into your ear canals. The APMs do sound more lively as a result, in a variety of ways.

The APPs on the other hand get remarkably close, and you can barely even tell you're wearing them. Getting the APMs made me appreciate the APPs even more for the stunning masterpieces they are.
This matches my experience as well. The APPs simulate my outer ear sound colouration quite well, they are obviously much smaller and lighter and suitable to a lot more use cases.
Both headphones offer quite smooth full spectrum audio, where it’s a matter of personal preference if you think the sub-bass lift of the APM is appropriate (I think it is, since headphones can’t give the physical part of low bass). Both have quite low levels of distortion.

I find the APMs much more convenient at home, no fiddling with achieving good fit to the ear canal, and they don’t stimulate ear wax production. Their noise cancellation is also better which is a boon when travelling. Plus, I really like green, even though I know they’ll look grimy before too long. 😀

Sonically I have a preference for the APMs but both are clearly very competent. The practical differences between them are vastly greater than the tonal ones particularly in this day and age of high quality digital EQ.
IMHO, and on my head of course.
Having both, I don’t need to choose. If I could just have one (which is bizarre, I have at least ten pairs of quality headphones. Which admittedly is even weirder) I would let my main use cases dictate the choice. Where I live the APPs are a third the price, so if you can afford the APMs, adding the APPs for portability is a good option. If the price of the APMs is painful, then staying with the APPs is an excellent option.

At the end of the day other people cannot say how these will compare sonically on (in for APPs) your head. You have to try yourself.
 

UKapple73

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2014
523
429
I have both and yes the max are better. Most of the difference is just from the fact they are over the ear headphones, and so have a much wider soundstage, and more bass due to bigger drivers. Also the max sound much better for movies etc thanks to those 2 points.
I would also say the computation going into the max is much better as it’s got all those microphones monitoring the sound a thousand times a second or whatever
 
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