The Pros and Cons of the Apple Airpods Max - Review & Video - Headset Advisor

Editor's Note: This blog was updated on 4/24/2023 to provide updated content, and images.


Apple released the Apple Airpods Max in December of 2020. Apple created this over-the-head, double ear headset for entertainment, and business communications.

The questions I’d like to pose in this blog are:

Are the Airpods Max comfortable enough to use all day?

Do the Airpods Max microphones give you sound quality that's professional sounding so you can use them on business Softphone or video calls?

How well do these headphones do to remove unwanted background noise?

In order to help answer the sound quality and noise reduction questions, we ran the Airpods Max through a few tests. These tests will show you how it sounds in a quiet room, a room with your typical office noise, and also against our signature blender test (watch the video to hear how the Airpods Max performed).

Man at a table with headset on with decible reader and blender visible

Specifications

  • 13.6oz
  • 9 microphones total - 8 for ANC, and 3 of the microphones used for voice pickup.
  • Noise control via Active Noise Cancellation and transparency mode
  • Active noise cancellation with spatial audio
  • Digital Crown dial for adjustments
  • Adaptive EQ
  • Spatial Audio, and dynamic drivers to provide immersive sound
  • 20 hours of talk, or listening time, and 5 minutes on the charger gives you 1.5 hours of listening time.
  • Bluetooth version 5.0
  • Brushed, solid metal construction
  • Mesh canopy for breathability and comfort 
  • Smart travel case
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Best Apple Airpods Max Alternative: View at Headset Advisor

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Reasons To Buy

  1. You love everything about Apple 
  2. Great for music and movies
  3. Flexible colorway options for more personalization
  4. High-end, high quality headset
  5. Siri commands
  6. Smart sensors 
  7. Ear cushions that create a sound seal for better hearing quality
  8. Unique design that doesn't look like the rest

Reasons To Avoid

  1. Microphone quality isn’t good enough for business calls
  2. Headset is heavy, and not comfortable for all day use
  3. Charge case isn't ideal - headband is the handle
  4. Steep price in comparison to other options in its class
  5. Battery life is less than many competing models
  6. Can’t use the headset when the battery is being charged

Airpods Max Microphone Quality Video & Review

Let’s check out these headphones from Apple, to learn more about them, and see how it sounds. 

Bluetooth 5.0

Though The Airpods Max uses Bluetooth version 5.0, which was released in 2016, it isn’t the latest version of Bluetooth though it is among the newest. Headsets are now coming out with Bluetooth version 5.3.

So what’s the difference between version 5.0 and 5.3? Here’s an article written by Subhan Zafar of ITechtics that helps to break this down.

Weight

Heavy comes to mind. In fact, at 13.6 ounces, this is the heaviest headset we’ve ever tested. Apple is the King of the hill in that regard here at Headset Advisor, though that’s probably not the kind of achievement most manufacturers shoot for. 

To help give you an idea how 13.6 ounces compares to other headsets in the industry, here’s how it compares to the French made Orosound Tilde Pro. which weighs 9.2 ounces.

What can we compare these weights to?

13.6 ounces is about the same weight as a can of soup 

9.2 ounces is about the same weight as 5 Pop-Tarts. 

Yes, there is a difference, and yes, the Apple Airpods Max are heavy. Having said that, are they uncomfortable? For short periods of time I’d say not.

However, if you want to wear the Airpods Max all day long for example, these will not be your best headset choice. Headset weight is a detail, and details matter. And if you need a headset for long term wearing, weight is something to keep in mind.

Talk/Listen time

The Apple Airpods Max gives you 20 hours of listening time. For most people, 20 hours should be an adequate amount of time for listening to music, watching videos or spending time on conversations.

For an expensive, premium branded headset, like the Airpods Max, 20 hours is on the low side of available battery life though. For example, the Orosound Tilde Pro gives you 28 hours, the Jabra Evolve2 85, 37 hours, and the Yealink BH72 provides up to 40 hours of battery life. As you can see, the Apple Airpods Max doesn’t provide nearly as much battery life as many of its competitors.

In spite of the fact that 20 hours of battery life is acceptable, one could question whether or not it’s acceptable given the rich price tag that comes with the Airpods Max. 

Wireless use only

Today, more and more headset brands are providing a feature where the wireless headset can be used even when plugged in for a battery recharge. This gives you more flexibility because you aren’t without the use of your headset when it’s plugged in for a recharge.

Unfortunately, the Apple Airpods Max can’t be used when the battery is being recharged. As modern day headsets go, this is a fundamental shortcoming for a headset that's considered to be a premium model.

To me, I see this as a competitive disadvantage of the Airpods Max. The $549.00 price places it among the most expensive headsets out there, and for that price, most people would expect to get all the latest features, including wired, and wireless use.

Wireless range

 

man with headset on walking into a parking lot  outside of an office

 

Though we couldn’t find any range estimates in the Apple literature, we did reach out to Apple directly in order to find out how much range the Airpods Max are designed to provide.

In our discussion, we learned that it should give about 131 feet (about 40 meters) of wireless range. We put that estimate to the test, which can be found in my video

When we tested it, we found that it gave about 85 feet before the signal broke up which made the conversation beyond that distance unusable.

Overall I’d say that the range on the Apple Airpods Max is decent. In fact, in my test, it provided a bit more range compared to most other models we’ve tested. Typically we find that Bluetooth headsets provide between 50 - 65 feet before the audio begins to fail. All in all  though, I’d say the Apple Airpods Max did a good job when it comes to wireless range.

Unique travel case

Image of the  Apple Airpods Max headset in travel case

The Apple Airpods Max comes with a travel case that’s uniquely designed, and differs from typical headset cases. Apple always strives to be different, and they certainly hit the mark on making a case unlike all others.

The case protects the ear cups, but keeps the headband exposed. It looks different, and it’s a design that does some getting used to. And when you place the headset into the case, it causes the headphones to go into a deep sleep state which Apple says helps to preserve battery life.

I’m a bit divided on how I feel about this unique travel case design. Visually, it looks a bit odd to me because once the headphones are placed into the case, the headband sort of looks like a handle.

I can’t imagine most people would travel with the headset and carry it that way. Instead, they’d place it in luggage which does leave the headband and fabric canopy exposed.

I’m not saying that this is a bad travel case, but because the design of it does take some getting used to. And, if you don’t park the headset in the case when it’s not in use, the battery will drain. Exposed headband, the design, and power consequences for not placing the headset in the case all lead me to wonder if I like the case at all. 

Quality materials throughout

As one might expect from an Apple product, there’s a generous amount of quality materials used in the Airpods Max. The headband, for example, is made of steel (which contributes to its chunky weight). This steel headband is beautifully wrapped in a mesh fabric material that not only gives it an elegant look, but the canopy across the top of the headband provides functionality with comfort being the focus. And to that end, I feel it hits the mark.

The ear cups are sturdy, and the height of the ear pieces can be independently adjusted through a quality feeling, telescoping mechanism. The earpads themselves are constructed of memory foam and nicely wrapped in a mesh fabric. Not only are these earpads comfortable, but they simply look nice too. At least as far as earpads go.

The Apple Airpods Max are expensive by headset standards. Still, in the area of fit, finish, and materials, it delivers. Wonderful attention to detail, and a sense of high tech merging with minimalism. The result is you get Class, elegance and sophistication all combined in an audio device designed for your work and play.

A theater for your ears

The Apple Airpods Max are a treat for your ears. It’s like taking the concert hall, or surround sound cinema and dropping them into your headphones. In my opinion, I think you'll be hard pressed to find another brand of headphones to rival these.

You get a great range of sound from the sharp highs, pleasing mid-ranges, and bumping bass. And movie watching using these headphones will make you feel immersed and even feel like you’re in the action. Awesome audio is a simple way of describing the sound, but without a doubt, that description doesn’t do it justice because it truly sounds that good.

Multiple microphones to manage the audio

Apple engineered three microphones for voice pickup, and a total of nine for other purposes such as Active Noise Cancellation and transparency mode. 

To see how well these microphones performed, we did some tests which can be seen in my video. We put the Apple Airpods Max through the paces which included putting it up against some office sounds such as people talking, office equipment noise etc, as well as our very noisy blender test.

Yes, people don’t typically use blenders in their workplace, but you have to admit that having a blender running full speed a few feet away can create a significant challenge for any headset. 

So how did the Apple Airpods Max do? 

Image of  the  Apple Airpods Max on a headset stand

Voice pickup

All in all, I’d say that they did pretty well to pick up my voice, not only in the office, but outside as well. There wasn’t any noticeable distortion or anything that would lead me to conclude it was of poor quality. I thought it sounded loud and clear enough, though not as good as a headset with a boom microphone. 

Removing background noise

As I mentioned, I ran this headset up against some noises, and I have to say this Airpods Max didn’t do a good job at removing any of the noise we exposed it to. That leaves me unimpressed when it comes to its ability to remove room noise. That’s something to keep in mind if you have your sights set on this headset, and if noise is something you deal with regularly. If noise is something you have to deal with, and if you want the best sound quality, my advice would be to explore other options.

Final Thoughts 

Do I like the Apple Airpods Max? For sure! They’re a well crafted, high quality product typical to anything that carries the Apple badge. Though heavy, it wears lighter than its actual weight, and the ear cups that encircle the ears are comfortable and allow for a great listening experience for entertainment or for calls. I like the look, quality feel and the fact that premium materials were used throughout. 

One of the things I’m not crazy about is the price tag. For an entertainment/business light headset, the $549.00 price is on the steep side. Though I’m pretty sure that Apple loyalists would no doubt be willing to pay that price or even more. 

I don’t think this is your solution if you need a headset for business applications such as for use with Softphones, or Zoom/Teams video meetings.

The weight of this headset would likely prove uncomfortable for extended use. 

Its inability to remove background noise simply makes it a poor choice for anyone who works in a typical office or home office where noise can be a problem. Most of us have to deal with some variation of sounds like people talking, equipment sounds, babies, dogs, doorbells and more.

Unfortunately, Apple appears to have overlooked the noise cancellation feature on this headset based on its performance shortcomings. Yes, the specifications show it’s a noise canceling device, but improvements are clearly needed.

On the other hand, if your need is mostly media with light business use, then the Airpods Max would be a good option for you to consider. It really comes down to your needs, and what noise you have in your work environment. And then of course there’s the matter of what your budget will allow because these headphones aren’t cheap.

That said, I like the Apple Airpods Max. There’s a lot to like about them. It has a unique look and uses some of the latest headset technology, and it’s an Apple product which is known, and popular. So if you have enough money in the budget, this is a headset worth checking out.

Have questions or need some help?

Headset Advisor has been helping customers with tailored headset solutions since 1994. So if you’re looking for a headset that’s compatible with your UC system, and you’re not sure which model is right for you, give us a call and one of our helpful Advisors will be happy to help. Here’s how you can reach us.

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And don’t forget to use Coupon Code BLOG when shopping out on our website.

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Here's another video that compares the Airpods Max to the Tilde Pro

NOTE: In this video, it states that the Tilde Pro requires a Bluetooth enabled computer for connection. The Tilde Pro now comes with a USB Adapter which makes that requirement no longer necessary.

Airpods maxAirpods max reviewApple airpods maxApple airpods max reviewApple headphones

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