AirPods Max customer impressions: premium design and competitive sound quality, can feel heavy on the ears and smart case is useless

Today is the launch day of AirPods Max in the United States and many other countries, and as orders come in, first impressions of customers’ headphones are starting to surface. We’ve already shared AirPods Max impressions from media outlets and YouTubers, and the opinions of customers provide additional perspective.

airpods max customer photos

AirPods Max photos shared by MacRumors forum member Boardiesboi

Boardiesboi, a member of the MacRumors forum, picked up a pair of AirPods Max from an Apple Store and said they are “premium quality” and “very well made,” adding that the stainless steel and aluminum design is “miles ahead” of it. the plastic used in Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II and Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones. They also found that the AirPods Max had better sound quality and active noise cancellation than those Bose and Sony options.

Boardiesboi thinks the earcups are “light and airy,” but says the AirPods Max is “much heavier” than Bose and Sony headphones. “I’ve been wearing them for about 45 minutes and I’m starting to notice the weight on the ears (not the top of the head),” they said. (Apple says the AirPods Max headband is designed to distribute weight and reduce pressure on the head.)

Of course, not everyone is that impressed with the AirPods Max. MacRumors forum member Macaday said that while the AirPods Max have superior build quality and aesthetics, they weren’t convinced they are better than Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones:

Mine arrived a few hours ago and while it’s too early to make a final call, on first impressions I’m not sure if I like them over my Sony XM3s. The sound signature is undoubtedly very pleasing to some, but for me it lacks warmth and depth compared to Sony’s. The Sony’s are also a lot more comfortable, you forget you’re wearing them where the AirPods Max has a really heavy presence that feels like pressure on your head and ears.

I’m a bit shocked to be honest that the Sony’s have a much nicer sound. The AirPods Max probably have a bit more detail in the mids and highs, but if I can get Sony’s EQ, I can get a much more custom sound that suits me.

The maximum volume is also higher on the Sony’s, which helps with the quieter recordings. Both have no distortion at high volumes.

Build quality and looks go to Apple hands down, the crown for volume control is brilliant, but sound and comfort are definitely number one priority and that’s what I’m afraid Sony is winning so far.

MacRumors forum member LongWayHome put the QuietComfort 35 II and Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones ahead of the AirPods Max in terms of comfort, noting that the AirPods Max are heavy:

I’ve owned these for about an hour now and they sound fantastic and the noise cancellation is excellent. One thing to keep in mind though, these things are tough. I’ve been wearing them for an hour now and I can feel the weight for sure. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be something I don’t like to wear for long periods due to the weight, but I think almost everyone will feel it when they wear them.

MacRumors forum member Moriarty stressed that the AirPods Max earcups are “deep and roomy,” and they think this deserves more attention:

The ear cups are deep and spacious (at least the size of my QC25). My ears touched the inside of the XM4 so I sent them back: I don’t have this problem with the AirPods Max. I feel like this position hasn’t gotten half the attention it deserves. So many wireless headphones have ear cups that are way too small and I can’t stand them. No problem here. This is partly why the headphones are so big. Most of the depth is taken up by the ear cup and driver, and all the electronics are around the rim. It is very well thought out.

Several customers expressed their appreciation for the physical controls of the AirPods Max, compared to the touch controls on some other over-ear headphones. Like the Apple Watch, the AirPods Max have a Digital Crown for volume control, playback, phone calls and Siri, as well as a sound control button to toggle between Active Noise Canceling and Transparency modes, the latter of which lets sound in a bit more outward.

Like reviewers, many customers agree that the “Smart Case” carrying case that comes with the AirPods Max ranges from “useless” to “terrible”.

“It’s almost as if Apple’s design team forgot about the case and had one of the cleaners design it on a piece of paper,” joked MacRumors forum member honglong1976. “The suitcase is absolutely useless for traveling.”

The AirPods Max costs $ 549 and can be ordered from, but they currently have a long delivery time of 12-14 weeks. For more impressions, visit the AirPods sub-forum on the MacRumors forums. And if you’re still waiting for your AirPods Max, follow your order along with other Apple fans in our pre-order discussion thread.