Are Apple Airpods Max Comfortable? (Solved!) Full review!

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Apple Airpods Max has been on the market for a while now, and I have noticed that people are really split in their opinion of the headphones. One of the things people are discussing is if the headphones are comfortable?

Many people like them, but as I understand, there are also a few things that might not be as great as they should?

It’s time for me to do a full review of the Apple Airpods Max to see what the fuss is all about.

READ MORE: Top 10 Best Bluetooth Headphones with Noise Cancelling (2021)

Apple Airpods Max

Apple Airpods Max

Amazing sound and noise cancelling, but high weight and premium price reduces the rating

Good Buy
Apple AirPods Max

Reasons to Buy

  • Great, rich, and engaging sound
  • Possibly the best noise-canceling on the market
  • High build quality
  • Easy to operate
  • Excellent ambient mode
  • Seamless switching between IOS devices

Things to Consider

  • High weight presents certain challenges with comfort
  • Poor call quality in noisy environments
  • Smart Case protects the headphones poorly
  • No equalizer
  • Slightly limited battery life compared to some competitors
  • Very expensive

Choose these if; you love Apple products and want one of the best noise-canceling out there, but are willing to compromise on price and comfort.”

ProPairing Score
Noise Cancelling10
Sound Quality9
Weight and Comfort7
Battery Life9

Sound Quality

In terms of sound, the AirPods Max is delivering an outstanding experience for a Bluetooth Headset. They do a good job in all frequencies with deep bass, accurate mid-range sounds, and clean high-frequencies.

AirPods Max has large bass resources, and they also produce bass of the slightly extra physical type that makes you almost feel like something is hammering on your eardrums.

Apple Airpods Max

I used the Billie Eilish song “Therefore I am” as an example. It has a heavy, deep bassline at the start, which AirPods Max handles with bravura.

You could perhaps imagine that the headphones could easily lose control of the bass here and that it would bleed out and into the midrange. But they do not.

AirPods Max plays with great pondus, but it’s still a tight and firm pondus that is easy to like.

AirPods Max also manages to produce both a fairly sharp and well-resolved treble with a lot of details, at the same time as it is so soft and nicely rounded that it never gets tiring to listen to.

At the same time, it is inevitable that, for example, the Shure Aonic 50 has a sharpness and rawness, especially in the treble, which the Apple headphones do not have. If I should withdraw something in the rating, it would probably be here.

A little more definition in the vocal area had brought the experience to a higher level. And in that sense, it’s a pity that you don’t get the opportunity to adjust the sound yourself with an equalizer.

One of the rumors that came out in advance of the launch was that there would be a built-in equalizer, but it doesn’t look to manifested itself in the final product.

Compared to its competitors

Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4, Apple and Sony have a somewhat similar approach to their sound. Both have a lot of bass and play with great commitment, but AirPods Max manages to go a notch deeper in the bass and has more air in the soundstage, making them even more enjoyable to listen to.

Both also play with more warmth and fullness than Shure Aonic 50. Still, the Shure Aonic have in return this insane sophistication at the top of the register, which many people will probably prefer. The goosebumps are probably closer to Shure than they are to Apple and Sony. Personally, I prefer all three over the Bose NCH 700, which seems a bit boring in my ears.

Other competitors are, of course, also Bang & Olufsen’s models, mainly H9 and H95. The H95 is perhaps a slight notch above the AirPods Max thanks to a slightly more well-defined treble, while the H9 and AirPods Max are about the same level acoustically.

Inside Apple Airpods Max

Bluetooth Codec

Apple’s headphones only support the AAC codec, which means that you can not get sound of higher quality than 256 bit/sec if you do not purchase a Lightning adapter (of course not included in the box).

For example, you can forget about HiFi or Masters quality from Tidal. At the same time, this is something more, and more of the competitors have fixed. Sony, for example, cut out the Aptx codec in its 1000XM4, but instead, you get Sony’s LDAC that offers up to 990 kbit/sec.

In other words: If you care about high definition sound, you should probably look around for something else.

Spatial audio

AirPods Max also supports so-called space sound or spatial audio, as does AirPods Pro. This requires a compatible iPhone or iPad and is, in practice, a mild form of surround sound where the sound also moves according to where the screen is located.

It should always sound like the dialogue is coming from the screen even if you are wearing headphones (requires 5.1, 7.1, or Atmos sound).

It works fine so far, and it is a bit of a fun gimmick, but it may not be a feature I would be thinking about as missing if it were not there. For example, it would have been significantly more useful if it existed for Apple TV.

Noise Canceling

Apple claims that AirPods Max has “industry-leading” noise cancellation, and based on my quick impression the first day, they might be right in that claim.

The electronics cancel out the sound very well across the entire frequency range. It is especially noticeable with the high sounds in airplanes that other brands like Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NCH 700 have trouble canceling out. But with the Airpods Max, these sounds disappear almost completely.

On the train, I also started to think that the noise cancellation was so intense that it almost appeared to be a bit overpowering. It was in a not-too-busy train, but that only underlined how powerful the combined passive and active noise reduction is on the AirPods Max. They insulate very well.

On the slightly more uneven sounds, such as the clatter of a keyboard or people standing nearby talking, Apple and Sony are about the same level, but Apple is thus better at muffling the steady, low-frequency noise.

In total, I would say that Sony and Bose are not far behind.

The design of the AirPods Max actually has a slightly annoying consequence that you may notice extra well on planes.

The way they are designed means that if you move the jaw, like when eating, the seal around your ear slips a little,  which means that sound flows in. This is, of course, affected by how your head is constructed, but it was a little annoying for me.

I must also mention that the noise canceling on AirPods Max tends to “slam” a bit if you walk with heavy steps. These are not the only headphones I have experienced it with, and it seems to happen mainly on metal headphones.

It’s not terribly annoying, but preferably I would like to see that it was not a topic at all.

If you want to run with the Apple headphones on your head, I would probably disable the noise cancellation, at least.

READ MORE: Top 10 Best Bluetooth Headphones with Noise Cancelling (2021)

Battery Life

The battery life is stated to last 20 hours on a single charge, with noise-canceling and so-called ambient mode activated.

When testing them at around 60% volume, it lasted almost the stated 20 hours.

20 hours is fine, but not as good as some of the competitors, where some extend up to almost 40 hours. In comparison, Sony WH-1000XM4 has 30 hours of battery life.

Design and Comfort


Regarding the comfort of the headphones, I have heard different opinions about them, and I was a little curious about how they feel. 

The first thing I have to mention is, of course, the weight. 385 grams are inevitably a pretty massive pair of headphones. Apple has tried to give the headphones a premium feel with aluminum and steel, which comes with a consequence.

Apple Airpods Max HeadbandA wide headband relieves the problem somewhat by distributing the weight over a larger area, and the ear pads are soft and good. But this is still a lot of weight to carry around the head – especially for long sessions.

Apple has made the band pretty tight from the box, but this will loosen up a little after using it for a while. If you are using glasses, it might feel a little too tight, at least from the start.

If I compare these with the Sony WH-1000XM4, I think the comfort is a notch below. The headphones from Sony weigh only two-thirds of what AirPods Max weighs, and that is noticeable.

Running is probably not optimal with AirPods Max either since they are big and heavy and can easily end up jumping around on your head.

They are also not waterproof, but that is not too common in such large headphones with noise-canceling.


For those who don’t like touch panels, these headphones will probably feel comfortable “analog”. Apple attached two buttons on the headphones; one scroll wheel, which also works as a button, and a separate button that controls the noise-canceling.

Apple Airpods Max buttons

The scroll wheel is used to adjust the volume (and you can even turn it whichever way you wish), while you can press the wheel once (play/pause), twice (song forward), or three times (song back) to execute simple commands. If you hold it down, you call up the voice assistant, and as with the other AirPods, you can also call up Siri only with the help of your voice.

The buttons generally work great, but it can be difficult to execute commands on the scroll wheel without adjusting the volume. It is a bit annoying, but at the same time, I’m not surprised when having knobs that perform several functions at once. Something AirPods Max does not have is an on/off button.

Other features

Smart Case

Apple Airpods Max case
Smart Case
Apple Airpods Max Hard case
Hard Case

And speaking of turning the headphones on and off, Apple delivers the headphones with a “smart case” that turns on the headphones as soon as you take them out of the case.

It should also be said that the case itself is not exactly the most expensive I’ve seen, and I would honestly have preferred a regular on-button and a completely normal case with a zipper.

You can get a hard case for your Airpods if you don’t like the one that it comes with. I got one to see how it looks, and it’s pretty standard and works great.

It’s not much padding in the smart case, and I feel the risk of damaging the headphones is larger in the smart case than in the hard case. It feels safer to bringing them with me or putting them in a backpack. You can check the price on Amazon here.

Ambient mode

I must highlight Apple’s ambient mode, which was very good on the AirPods Pro and is very good here. In many cases, “sound enhancement”, as Apple calls it, is almost like not wearing headphones at all and provides a very natural and nice experience. Compared to other headphones, these are probably the best I’ve tried.

At the same time, some sounds are highlighted more than necessary, and it’s not always able to determine how far away a sound comes from.  It feels as if you are wearing a hearing aid and hear things that are actually unnaturally far away.

But this will not take away that receiving a message, hear an advertisement or have a chat with the store staff works absolutely excellent.

However, Sony’s solution, where you have the option to temporarily activate ambient mode by holding your palm over one earpad, is even more convenient.

Call quality

The call quality has previously been very good with Apple’s AirPods, but here I’m actually a little disappointed. The microphone itself is very good, but it does not seem to have any noise attenuation, which means that the call quality in noisy environments is quite poor.

When moving along a fairly busy road, I experienced that the one I talked to did not hear any of what I said when the cars were passing by. All they heard was the noise from the car.

I have to say that I’m a bit surprised, but this is potentially something Apple can improve in future updates.

Multipoint Bluetooth

AirPods Max does not have multipoint Bluetooth in the traditional sense, but the H1 chip means that it can quickly switch between, for example, a Mac and an iPhone if it rings on the phone.

It works great, and it’s nice that all your iCloud devices pair with AirPods Max as soon as you connect them to one device.

But if the rest of your devices does not consist of Apple products, you will not get multipoint, which is a quite large shortage in headphones with a price tag over $500.

Final Verdict

Backside of Apple Airpods MaxApple’s headphones are good, and there’s no doubt about it. The active noise-canceling is particularly impressive, which seems to be a notch above what the competitors have been able to muster so far.

Apple is canceling even more frequencies, and they are doing so as efficiently as both Sony and Bose.

The sound is also great, very engaging, with a lot of bass and an airy soundstage that I think many people will like. The audiophile will probably still prefer a slightly sharper treble and perhaps not quite as much warmth and fullness.

My biggest disappointment is the weight and comfort. Apple has chosen steel and aluminum, which has given a weight of 385 grams – more than 50 percent higher than the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Apple has taken some steps to distribute the weight as best they can.

However, they still can’t completely convince me that these are headphones I would like to wear throughout an entire flight across the Atlantic (even a domestic flight can be tiring enough ) or through an entire day at the office, for that matter.

They are simply a little too heavy, squeeze a little too hard, and often end up annoying me a little.

Combine that with the premium price of $549 at the time of writing, and you will get a product for those particularly interested.

I think most people will get more for their bucks with a lighter, more comfortable, and cheaper pair from Sony, Bang & Olufsen, Shure, Bose, Jabra, or some of the others.

But if you don’t choose the Apple Airpods Max, you have to live with the fact that you might lose the best noise-canceling on the market.


Is Apple Airpod Max good for working out?

I would probably not use Airpods Max when working out. They are quite big and heavy and might jump around on your head when moving fast. They are also not water-resistant so keep them out of the rain.

Can you use Airpods Max while charging them?

Yes, you can still use the headphones while charging.

Do Airpods Max leak sound (sound bleed)?

The Apple Airpods Max is heavily muffled, but if you turn the volume high and you are in a quiet place, those around you may hear some sounds.

Can you use Airpods Max wired?

Apple has not included the appropriate cable you need to listen to any sound wired. The USB-C-to-Lightning cable that comes in the pack can only be used to charge your headphones. The only way to connect your Airpods Max with a wire is to buy Apple’s Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Cable.

Can you connect Airpods Max to PS5?

Playstation 5 does not support Bluetooth audio out of the box. If you want to use your Airpods Max with your PS5, you need to buy a Bluetooth adapter. This adapter can be connected to the USB port on the PS5, in your TV, or in the jack on the PS5 controller. You can check it out on Amazon here.

Can you use Airpods Max with pc?

Yes, you can either connect it directly if your pc supports Bluetooth or with a Bluetooth Adapter. Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 will support the Bluetooth AAC codec, which will give a better sound quality for pc users. Airpods Max supports AAC.

Can you change the earpads of Airpods Max?

Yes, you can replace the earpads. Apple sells replacements in various colors for a premium price of $69.

Good Buy
Apple AirPods Max

Reasons to Buy

  • Great, rich, and engaging sound
  • Possibly the best noise-canceling on the market
  • High build quality
  • Easy to operate
  • Excellent ambient mode
  • Seamless switching between IOS devices

Things to Consider

  • High weight presents certain challenges with comfort
  • Poor call quality in noisy environments
  • Smart Case protects the headphones poorly
  • No equalizer
  • Slightly limited battery life compared to some competitors
  • Very expensive

Espen is the Director of ProPairing


Espen is the Director of ProPairing and has written extensively about Bluetooth devices for years. He is a consumer product expert and has personally tested Bluetooth devices for the last decade.

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