After a couple of days of testing the AirPods Max, I have to say I’m very impressed. I focused on music on day one, but I’ve been spending more time watching movies and listening to podcasts over the last two.
If you are an audiophile, reviews from other audio enthusiasts are going to tell you that the AirPods Max sound good, but aren’t worth the price. They will typically recommend less expensive competing products from Sony, Bose and Sennhauser and that’s fine. These products don’t process the sound on the fly, allowing discriminating listeners to tune the EQ to their liking. These other products may be a better value and a better fit if sound customization is your thing. That said, for great sound out of the box with no assembly required, it’s really hard to beat the Max.
One advantage of the AirPods Max for Apple fans is that, just like all other AirPods and H1 chip products, they are deeply rooted in the Apple ecosystem. That does carry some weight with someone like myself, who has an iPhone and a couple of iPads. It’s certainly not enough to justify a $550 price tag on its own, but it’s a plus.
Watching movies over the last two days, I have found another advantage. One of the most important features of the AirPods Max is Spatial Audio. I’ve enjoyed this fairly new feature since it was released for the AirPods Pro, but it wasn’t a game changer for me with the smaller buds. However, the AirPods Max really takes things to the next level. Watching movies that serve up Dolby Surround or Atmos via Spatial Audio makes a real impression, especially when combined with the Automatic Noise Cancellation.
Not every streaming service is compatible with Spatial Audio, but both Disney+ and Apple TV+ are today, so there has been plenty of good content to try out. It’s hard to beat an action movie for testing a feature like Spatial Audio and Disney obviously has no shortage of those.
I highly recommend the battle scene at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. The voices of the Jedi when Rey rises to fight come from all around in a way that feels like a theater experience inside a set of headphones. Thor: Ragnarok is another good one. The opening and closing battles with Zepplin’s Immigrant Song blasting are a lot of fun. The final battle in Avengers: Endgame is another good one that really shows off Spatial Audio. I’m sure there are many more great examples, but these are some of the highlights of my testing so far.
As much as I enjoyed listening to music with the AirPods Max, watching movies with them and my iPad Pro may be even better. If you haven’t been blown away by Spatial Audio yet, this set of headphones might bring you around on it.