Expertly Tested and Reviewed: The Top Over-Ear Headphones

Apple AirPods Max tech specs: Weight: 13.6 oz (384.4 g) | Battery life: 20 hours | Bluetooth: Yes (5.0) | Multipoint: No, but connects to multiple Apple devices

Who these are for: The Apple AirPods Max are the best headphones for Apple fanatics. If your tablet, smartphone, TV, and every gadget in between are made by Apple, these are for you. Their seamless integration with Apple devices makes them easy to use, but their hardware and software limitations might frustrate non-Apple users.

If you are deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem and you want to keep it that way, you’ll want the AirPods Max. The sound quality is great, and Apple’s Transparency Mode is easily the best out of all the headphones on this list. The AirPods Max noise-canceling is superior to Sony’s XM5 over-ears and follows closely behind Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra.

Their interesting design is widely recognizable, and I see many people use these headphones as both a fashion statement and a status symbol. However, in terms of functionality, the AirPods Max are not the best you’ll find — unless you have mostly Apple devices.

To start, AirPods Max don’t have any native EQ settings, and their almost five-year-old Apple H1 chip leaves them without the up-to-date software settings found in the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), like Conversation Awareness and Adaptive Sound Control.

You can seamlessly pair the AirPods Max to more than two devices, something Apple holds above other headphones with two-device multipoint connectivity. Still, seamless pairing won’t work with AirPods Max unless they’re connecting to other Apple devices. Should you connect AirPods Max to an Android or Windows device, you won’t get Spatial Audio, wear detection, or access a virtual assistant.

Hardware-wise, AirPods Max don’t have a headphone jack or a USB-C port for wired listening. You’ll get the superior AAC codec when paired via Bluetooth to Apple devices and the standard SBC codec when paired with non-Apple devices. The lack of audio ports also means you’ll have to keep them charged up, especially if you’re likely to run down their short 20-hour battery life.

Review: Apple AirPods Max