AirPods Max Hands On Roundup: First Impressions of Apple’s Overly Expensive Headphones

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 10 Dec 2020

AirPods Max Top Features

Apple introduced its AirPods Max earlier this week, and the first impressions and unboxing videos from some selected media outlets and YouTubers are out now.

Going through all the first impressions, it looks like Apple is on point with the sound and build quality of the headphones. While the headphones offer top-notch materials, features and sound quality, most of the reviewers are still ‘confused’ on what to compare these headphones with (since no premium headphones cost this much). Here’s what they have to say.

AirPods Max Hands-On Roundup

The Verge

airpods max the verge

Nilay Patel, Editor-in-Chief at The Verge, believes these AirPods have a “pleasingly good” sound as compared to his Sony’s headphones.

Sound-wise, I’ve had fun listening to the AirPods Max for a few hours — they’re crisp and bright, with a pleasingly wider soundstage than my Sony headphones, and no distortion at all, even at max volume. We’ll have a full review of these soon, including tests of spatial audio and Apple’s claim of Atmos surround sound support, so stay tuned for that. But for now, rest assured the AirPods Max sound more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones.

Talking about the design of these headphones, Nilay wrote:

Design-wise, the AirPods Max are an interesting blend of classic only-Apple design flourishes and odd incongruities. The headband is stainless steel covered in white rubbery material, with a “breathable mesh knit canopy” across the top; Apple says this distributes the weight of the headphones more evenly across your head. (I can’t say it feels very much different than my Sony WH-1000XM2s, but it’s possible I just have a very large head.) The headband connects to the earcups with adjustable stainless-steel extensions culminating in a pleasantly spring-loaded hinge, all of which is nicer than any other premium headphones I’ve used.


AirPods Max CNET

David, over at CNET, got his unit yesterday only and after spending some hours with it, here’s what he had to say:

I got a silver unit yesterday and have put in several hours using them. While demand has outpaced the limited supply of AirPods Max in the wild, I’m still going to try to answer whether they’re really worth their high price — and yes, for most folks, it is high.

The first thing you notice when you open their box is that their build quality is like nothing that’s out there in the $300-$400 range. And when you first hear them, well, they do sound impressive, like high-end headphones, with tight bass, natural mids, crisp highs and a wide soundstage — for a closed-back headphone anyway.

The controls are really well implemented. There are only two buttons, both on the right earcup. The front button allows you to toggle between noise canceling and a transparency mode that lets sound in and makes you feel like you’re not wearing headphones. It sounds natural, similar to the transparency mode on the AirPods Pro. The second button is a bigger version of the digital crown that’s on the Apple Watch. You use that to control volume and click it to pause your music, answer and end calls, and double-click to advance tracks. It’s smooth and responsive and in cold weather, you don’t have to worry about touch controls that don’t always work, though the aluminum on the ear cups does feel quite cold to the touch.


AirPods Max CNBC


I wore the AirPods Max for several hours Wednesday and they felt super comfortable. There’s a breathable mesh band on the top that felt light on my head and didn’t get sweaty or hot. I also love the ear cups, which are spacious and fit around my ears instead of sitting on them.

The AirPods Max are just as easy as other AirPods to set up. That’s important, since it’s one of the reasons the AirPods are so successful.

I like that it’s easy to switch between an iPhone, Mac or iPad, too. But, they don’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll need to buy an adapter and a cord if you want to use them with non-Bluetooth devices.

The AirPods Max don’t have that convenience. They’re still big enough that you’ll need a bag to carry them around. But they’re perfect at home right now when I’m mostly sitting at my computer most of the day.

Video Hands-On

Some YouTubers — namely Marques Brownlee, iJustine, and UrAvgConsumer — got some hands-on with the device. Check out their videos down below.

What’s Your Take?

What do you think about the new AirPods? Do you think Apple will be able to justify the hefty price tag they’ve on the device? Are you going to buy them, or wait for the reviews to come out? Or have you already bought them? Do let us know in the comment section below!