AirPods Max Overview Updated September 6, 2022

AirPods Max

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55 'AirPods Max' stories

December 2020 - November 2022

AirPods max accessories

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

History

AirPods Max was 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 third-generation AirPods, 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.

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 has 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 the headphone battery was draining even in the Smart Case, Apple released a firmware update 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), Mac Studio (2022) or newer.

Apple Music and Lossless audio controversy

Apple promotes high-fidelity audio on the AirPods Max, although it doesn’t support Lossless quality even if wired with the Apple-exclusive Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable. As an Apple spokesperson told 9to5Mac “AirPods Max currently does not support digital audio formats in wired mode.”

To the Verge, Apple elaborated a little bit more about what happens when you try to listen to songs in better quality on your wired AirPods:

Apple tells the Verge that when you play a 24-bit / 48 kHz Apple Music lossless track from an iPhone into the AirPods Max using both the cable and Lightning dongle, the audio is converted to analog and then re-digitized to 24-bit / 48 kHz. That re-digitization step is the reason that Apple can’t say you’re hearing pure lossless audio; it’s not an identical match to the source.”

Although it’s not an identical match to the source, that’s the only way to listen to an improved version of tracks using an Apple headphone.

AirPods Max users can take advantage of Dolby Atmos technology, which is an immersive audio format that enables musicians to mix music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in space.

Apart from the Apple Music Lossless controversy, the company 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.

Learn more about Apple Music here.

Tips and tricks

AirPods Max headphones made in Vietnam

How to power on AirPods Max: put the AirPods next to your iPhone, then 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.

Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking: With iOS 15, listeners with AirPods Max can now get an even more immersive experience of Dolby Atmos music with Apple’s dynamic head tracking.

How to check battery life: Remove the AirPods from their case then put them near the iPhone. You’ll get a pop-up notification showing how much charge is remaining. You can also add a battery widget to 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 is 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 firmware update

How to reboot reset AirPods Max

AirPods Max currently is in version 4C165 of its firmware. This is the fourth firmware update to come to its users since March. In March of 2021, Apple released version 3C39 for AirPods Max users to address concerns related to battery life and battery drain. As we reported at the time, this update made a change to how long it takes for the headphones to enter the “ultra-low-power mode” when in the Smart Case. 

Apple is testing a new firmware for the AirPods Max. It will support the LC3 codec, which will help improve audio call quality, as you can learn more about it here.

How to update your AirPods Max firmware

Apple does not make it easy to manually update your AirPods to new firmware versions. Instead, the company says new firmware versions will install when the AirPods are connected via Bluetooth to your iPhone. 

To check your AirPods firmware version:

  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  • Navigate to the “Bluetooth” menu
  • Find your AirPods Max in the list of devices 
  • Tap the “i” next to them
  • Look at the “Firmware Version” number 

Again, the newest AirPods Max firmware version is 3E756. If this is what you see in the Settings app, then it means your headphone is fully updated. If not, the update should install when connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth. 

Related:

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. 

9to5Mac Zac Hall also reviewed the AirPods Max saying that these headphones “have become as important for music to me now as the iPod in the 2000s:”

“AirPods Max feel as important to me right now as the iPod did in the 2000s. AirPods Pro earbuds are my go-to solution in plenty of situations where wearing headphones wouldn’t be appropriate or possible, but AirPods Max raises the ceiling for me of how audio should sound. Factor in the Apple sauce to create a convenient user experience (wireless, solid connection, new features through software), and I’m totally sold these days.”

Deals

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.

AirPods Max’s Gucci Smart Case

AirPods Max Smart Case brought a lot of controversy regarding its design. Now, Gucci launched an option for AirPods users for almost $1,000.

Gucci says its “Ophidia” case for AirPods Max protects Apple’s headphones with vintage and contemporary design aspects. While the Apple-made AirPods Max Smart Case has no textures or branding whatsoever, the Gucci case makes it clear that you have super expensive headphones with a super expensive case.

The beige case is lined in neoprene and viscose, which Gucci says have “low environmental impact” – something important when it comes to matching an Apple product. There are brown leather details, a “Snap” button closure with a gold “GG” logo, and even an adjustable shoulder strap so you can carry your AirPods Max as if they were a small luxury handbag.

Lifestyle objects view the everyday through the Gucci lens. This case for AirPods Max brings vintage and contemporary together through its archive-inspired design elements. Playing with the contrast between past and present, the inside of the accessory is printed with ‘Hodiernum’—a Latin word that means ‘belonging to the present day.’ An adjustable shoulder strap adds a versatile note with multiple ways to wear.

You can read more about it here.

Rumors about AirPods Max 2

AirPods Max battery drain reports

In a report by Bloomberg in May of 2021, Apple is planning new AirPods for 2022 but not a second-generation AirPods Max yet.

In 2021, Bloomberg said the company planned to launch new AirPods Max colors, but it didn’t happen. Then, in May 2022, the journalist doubled down on new colors coming to the product in the near future with a possible price drop:

(…) also look out for an AirPods Max refresh with new colors (and, we hope, a price drop—$550 is absurd for those headphones).

A second-generation, although not rumored, would come in handy since it’s not possible to enjoy Lossless quality with current headphones.

For instance, if Apple brought a 3.5mm headphone jack to these headphones, users would be able to enjoy Lossless songs.

According to Patently Apple, the Cupertino company got another patent application from the US Patent & Trademark Office about processing gestures on a touch-sensitive surface. The publication says this is not the first time Apple has been granted a patent regarding touch controls on AirPods Max, as it has at least three other documents about this technology, but it could be an alternative for AirPods Max 2.

Touch controls could make it easier to jump songs, invoke Siri, turn the volume up or down, and more. As of now, having the Digital Crown is still a pretty clever and unique feature of Apple’s premium headphones.

Read more:

AirPods Max Stories November 21

Update November 21, 2022: I’m re-upping my review from August 2021 while AirPods Max are on sale for $450 on Amazon and Best Buy.

While I’m here, I’ll add that AirPods Max are still a great purchase in November 2022. They’re that good and the only rumored change has been new colors, but we no longer expect that to happen this year. I recommend AirPods Max at $549, and the price is even more palatable for $100 less.


AirPods Max weren’t an instant purchase for me when they showed up online last December, but I talked myself into giving them a shot when they showed up in stores a week later. Eight months later, I can’t stop recommending them to anyone who can stomach the $549 price tag (or find a deal).

My validation for the purchase was heavily weighted by my role as a writer and podcast host for 9to5Mac, yet it was my appreciation for music that convinced me to close my eyes and click the buy button.

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AirPods Max Stories November 14

With a successful AirPods line, it’s only natural for users to wonder when Apple will release a new generation of the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. Head below as we round up the latest rumors on when expecting a new version of each of these products…

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AirPods Max Stories October 11

AirPods launched back in 2016 with AirPods Pro arriving in 2019. If you have had first or second-gen AirPods or first-gen AirPods Pro for several years, the batteries are probably wearing out. Let’s look at a range of options for what to do with dying old AirPods including replacing, selling, and recycling.

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AirPods Max Stories September 25

AirPods Max launched almost two years ago. While these headphones have been praised for its finish, superb sound quality, and use in general, there were some complaints. For example, its case has faced a number of controversies because of its design; another example is that the AirPods Max doesn’t offer Lossless capabilities – even when wired.

A problematic Active Noise Canceling feature, on the other hand, wasn’t an issue its owners ever had… until recently.

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AirPods Max Stories July 5

AirPods Max 2 is far from being a reality, but rumors and patents can show the direction Apple could take in a new generation of its premium headphone. The company has just been granted a patent that shows what the AirPods Max case could look like in a new iteration.

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AirPods Max Stories June 30

Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office has published Apple’s patent application regarding an advanced ultrasonic touch sensor. According to Patently Apple, the patent will apply to the use of ultrasonic technology in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.

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AirPods Max Stories June 23

Apple recently made available new AirPods beta firmware alongside the first builds of iOS 16 and the other upcoming operating systems introduced during the WWDC 2022 keynote.

Now, a developer was able to confirm that the AirPods Max beta can support a higher quality Bluetooth codec, which will, at least, improve Apple’s premium headphones’ voice calls quality and could preview the nicest features coming to AirPods Pro 2.

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AirPods Max Stories May 8

AirPods Max was originally introduced in a handful of colors including space gray, silver, green, pink, and sky blue. Now, a new report indicates that we can expect an AirPods Max color refresh as soon as later this year, alongside a new version of AirPods Pro. Head below for the details.

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AirPods Max Stories April 17

Every now and then we have rumors about the second-generation AirPods Pro, but notice how little we know about an upcoming AirPods Max 2. Apart from new colors that were rumored for this generation – and never made the cut – there’s nothing else to say about the company’s premium headphones. Here’s why AirPods Max 2 existence depends on Apple launching an even better second-generation AirPods Pro.

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AirPods Max Stories February 21

While many AirPods Max users would never dare to take them outside their home, Apple’s premium AirPod option sure does make for comfortable travel headphones. Between being lightweight and including active noise cancellation, the AirPods Max headphones are always with me when traveling across the country. However, the lineup could use some changes to make them better.

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AirPods Max Stories February 15

If you don’t feel like spending $980 for a Gucci’s AirPods Max case, INTELLI just launched a more competitive Beats-like case for Apple’s premium headphone and that actually puts the product in the ultra-low-power mode.

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AirPods Max Stories February 6

Rumors about AirPods Max 2 are sparse, but a new patent granted to Apple could indicate where the company is going with a second-generation of its premium over-ear headphone.

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AirPods Max Stories January 31

AirPods Max were introduced in 2020 as the first wireless headphones under Apple’s brand, and while they offer great sound quality, some customers don’t like the controversial Smart Case. If you are one of them, you can now try a case made by the luxury Italian brand Gucci for just $980.

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AirPods Max Stories January 6

Popular accessory manufacturer Satechi is making an array of CES announcements today. For AirPods Max users, the company is out with a new 2-1 Headphone Stand that also features an integrated wireless charger. There’s also even an additional USB-C port, making it easy to charge AirPods Max (or any other product) as well.

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AirPods Max Stories December 20, 2021

AirPods Max are officially one year old. That means we’re probably getting close to the first revision, assuming Apple is planning to keep them around. There are lots of ways Apple could improve upon these excellent over-the-ear headphones. But, we wanted to think realistically. What might Apple actually do to upgrade AirPods Max?

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AirPods Max Stories December 9, 2021

Apple is rolling out a new firmware version for AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max today. The update pushes Apple’s truly wireless earbuds to version 4C165 as well as its premium headphone. Head below for details on how to update and how to check your firmware version. 

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AirPods Max Stories August 10, 2021

Apple has announced multiple new features for AirPods users with iOS 15, which includes Conversation Boost for AirPods Pro and true Find My support for the first time. While Apple mentioned that users will be able to locate lost AirPods with Precision Finding, iOS 15 will also link AirPods with your Apple ID to ensure that you can easily find them anywhere.

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AirPods Max Stories June 8, 2021

Apple is rolling out a new firmware update for AirPods Max users. The company does not provide many details on new AirPods Max firmware updates, but this new version brings the over-ear headphones to 3E756.

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AirPods Max Stories May 18, 2021

A day after the Apple Music Lossless Audio announcement, there’s still a great deal of confusion. A few things have become clear in the meantime, but other elements remain murky.

Apple spent most of its press release talking about Spatial Audio, and very little talking about Lossless Audio. That wasn’t a surprise: Anyone with the right kit will be able to hear the benefit of the former, while rather few will be able to hear the lossless difference

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AirPods Max Stories March 12, 2021

Earlier this week, Apple released a new firmware version for AirPods Max. While Apple does not provide any sort of release notes for new AirPods firmware updates, it appears that this update resolves an issue that caused the over-ear headphones to lose battery life quickly when in the Smart Case.

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AirPods Max Stories March 9, 2021

Apple is rolling out a new firmware update for AirPods Max users. The company does not provide many details on new AirPods Max firmware updates, but this new version brings the over-ear headphones to 3C39.

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AirPods Max Stories February 5, 2021

The popular accessory maker Pad & Quill is out with its latest offerings for Apple users. The company has unveiled a new “Little Brief” for AirPods Pro, as well as a full-size leather case for AirPods Max. Both are available for pre-order now, with orders shipping next month.

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AirPods Max Stories January 29, 2021

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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AirPods Max Stories January 27, 2021

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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