The AirPods Max claim they have something extra to offer, especially for those who like excellent full-range audio quality and an “over-the-ear” experience. We dig a little deeper with two Apple options for listening to music: AirPods vs. AirPods Max.
You will be interested in:
Apple has come a long way since it first included its traditional round earbuds with the original iPod in 2001. Since then, the AirPods brand has begun to dominate the wireless music experience. For listening on the go and something that fits easily in your pocket, Apple’s AirPods have established themselves as a solid choice.
Let’s start by talking about the elephant in the room: the price of the AirPods Max. If you want to buy a pair of high-tech on-ear headphones from Apple, you’ll have to shell out $ 550. If you’re going to use the AirPods Max with non-Bluetooth audio devices, you’ll also spend an additional $ 35 to get Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm audio cable.
In comparison, you can buy the AirPods 3 from Apple, with its more advanced feature set including spatial audio support, for $ 179, or save some money with the $ 129 AirPods 2, which come with a wireless charging case and other benefits.
It is not difficult to see the significant price difference between the two options and we believe that price alone will determine the purchasing decisions of many users. If you’re looking for the best return on your investment, we’ll stick with the well-established AirPods, especially the latest smart updates the AirPods 3 have received.
Apple AirPods feature a slim white design paired with a small white charging case. They can’t fit different users’ ears when it comes to fitting, and while Apple tried to create a one-size-fits-all solution, some people have reported problems with headphones remaining in their ears.
We recommend going to a Local Apple Store, if possible, to try out a pair of AirPods and get a better idea of their fit. However, for those who happen to have perfect AirPods-sized ears, the experience can be quite enjoyable – you may even forget you’re wearing them.
Note that the AirPods 3 have a slightly different shape than the second generation with a shorter stem and a more rounded shape, but still skip the silicone tips that the AirPods Pro use and instead opt for the same more general internal design.
AirPods Max are over-the-ear headphones, and as such, users will have less trouble finding a suitable fit or feel. When it comes to design, we don’t think Apple could have come up with a more minimal concept.
Each earbud is a soft, rounded shell made of anodized aluminum and paired with a custom-designed mesh-wrapped padding; These can be exchanged when the need arises.
Connecting the two ear muffs and spanning the top of the head is what Apple calls the canopy, a headband made of breathable woven mesh that helps redistribute weight and reduce pressure on the head.
When it comes to color, the AirPods Max certainly has the rhythm of the AirPods with five options, including space gray, silver, green, sky blue, and pink. While AirPods Max are heavier than AirPods and may not be suitable for use during exercise or other strenuous activities, AirPods Max show a level of design and comfortable padding that are hard to ignore.
Winner: AirPods Max
Controls and battery life
Controlling the AirPods relies heavily on Siri, with many requests requiring you to say “Hey Siri” before issuing a command, such as forwarding to the next song, controlling the volume, or pausing your content.
You can also double-tap the stems of your AirPods to trigger specific actions – the AirPods 3 received a significant update for this, with force sensor control along with double and triple tap options, making them more versatile and similar to the ones. AirPods Pro.
However, even by pressing three times, not all of these features can be enabled at once and must be selected within the Settings app. Also, there is no way to control the volume of your content directly through AirPods, you will need to use your iPhone or Apple Watch.
The AirPods Max have two control buttons on the top of the right ear cup: a singular button and a digital crown, which is similar to the one found on the Apple Watch, but it is bigger.
You can use the control to adjust the volume level of the AirPods Max, skip between tracks, answer phone calls and activate Siri. The singular button can switch between Apple’s active noise cancellation and transparency mode quickly, blocking out the surroundings or zooming in when needed.
If you plan on a long jam session, the AirPods 3 offer up to 30 hours of listening time when paired with their respective charging case, but each of the AirPods has only six hours of charge (less if you use spatial audio).
You can charge your headphones with three hours of listening time in just 15 minutes. On the other hand, the AirPods Max will allow you to spend 20 hours of listening time without recharging. Apple even notes that five minutes of charging will give you up to 90 minutes of listening when needed.
The one feature of the battery that we don’t love about the AirPods Max is that they need to be placed in Apple’s custom-designed case for them to turn off. That’s right, there is no actual power button on the headphones. They use magnets to detect when they were inserted into the case. Otherwise, when it comes to battery life, AirPod Max takes the cake.
Winner: AirPods Max
Let’s start by noting that sound quality is subjective based on one’s listening preferences, so there may be more than a little room for discussion. However, we think Apple’s AirPods provide a pleasant listening experience for most scenarios, and the AirPods 3 enhancements are easy to see.
That said, the AirPods lack the punchy bass that many listeners look for in consumer headphones. The AirPods are best considered on their merits as a magically connected pair of ultra-portable headphones rather than a fantastic listening experience.
AirPods Max offer similar benefits, like spatial audio, but are designed to take full advantage of them. They were made to a higher level of quality – that extra money had to have gone somewhere.
AirPods Max feature custom dynamic drivers and dual neodymium ring magnet motors that help minimize harmonic distortion. Additionally, Adaptive EQ helps fine-tune the sound using two inward-facing microphones that measure the fit and seal of the ear pads on your head, adjusting the sound accordingly.
Overall, AirPods Max offer lows, mids, and highs that are a pleasure to listen to, whether you’re in your favorite chair at home or taking a flight across the country.
Winner: AirPods Max
AirPods don’t offer much more than the built-in Apple H1 chip when it comes to features, allowing for fast and stable connections between Apple devices, a feature that’s pretty brilliant and we don’t want to downplay it.
With the firmware update and iOS 14, the second-generation AirPods now also benefit from Apple’s auto-switch feature, allowing you to seamlessly switch between multiple connected devices.
Built-in microphones allow you to take a call or summon Siri with a command or touch, but more advanced features like noise cancellation are missing from this model. The AirPods 3 take these features even further, adding dynamic head tracking, Adaptive EQ, and additional touch control options.
AirPods Max come with the H1 chip, spatial audio support for Dolby Atmos files, and Adaptive EQ. All of these features also came with the AirPods 3, but if you have an older version of the AirPods, you won’t be able to access them. As we noted, the AirPods Max are simply better designed to take advantage of these audio features than the AirPods line.
One significant difference is that the AirPods Max also provide active noise cancellation to silence the world around you and transparency mode to allow outside sound to enter so you can be aware of your surroundings.
One of our favorite features on AirPods Max is head detection, which automatically pauses or resumes playing your music when you remove or place AirPods Max on your head. Even the AirPods 3 don’t come with noise cancellation, so this is a significant improvement.
Finally, we will note that the AirPods Max are not waterproof at all, and you may not want to use them in the rain or other conditions where they can get wet. The AirPods 3, on the other hand, come with IPX4 water resistance, making them a top choice for jogging or general outdoor use.
Winner: AirPods Max
When comparing AirPods and AirPods Max, the latter is the clear winner with its high-quality design, focused on audio and additional computational features. However, it is worth considering that the audiences for these two devices are quite different.
While AirPods are best suited as a fast mobile wireless solution, it’s best to leave AirPods Max in the studio or in your bag until you’ve taken a seat and want to experience the best possible audio.
Winner: AirPods Max