The best AirPods to buy in 2023: Expert tested and reviewed


AirPods Max features: Type: Over-ear | Chip: H1 | Battery life: 20 hours | Water-resistant: Yes

The AirPods Max are the most premium headphones Apple sells, and even do a few specific things better than the AirPods Pro 2, which have more advanced technology thanks to Apple’s H2 chip. When it comes to immersive sound and blocking out the world, the AirPods Max offer a glorious experience at a premium price of $550 — although you can find sales and discounts to knock off a big chunk of that price.

The noise cancellation for the AirPods Max is the best I’ve experienced. For example, I used it on a very loud and very long flight where I was seated just over one of the engines with a constant roar, and putting on the AirPods Max brought almost complete silence and a welcome bit of peace. Equally strong is the transparency mode, where the the eight microphones in the AirPods Max make it sound like you’re not wearing a pair of over-the-ear headphones at all. The quality of these two modes are better than any other traditional headphones I’ve used and are the main reason to buy the AirPods Max — along with the fact that they can pair with all your Apple devices and automatically switch between all of them when you’re using them. 

Okay, one other main reason to buy the AirPods Max: comfort. I’ve never been able to wear most over-the-ear headphones for more than about 30 minutes because they are uncomfortable on my ears and make the sides of my head very sweaty. I’ve been able to wear the AirPods Max for several hours in a row on long flights because the ear cushions are comfortable and ventilate well. 

The audio quality in the AirPods Max is very solid, but it’s generally about the same as other $250-$350 wireless over-the-ear headphones. At some point, there’s only so much quality you can get over Bluetooth. 

The other cool bit of intelligence that Apple builds into the AirPods Max is that it senses when you put the headphones on and take them off, and automatically starts and stops the track you’re playing.

If you have multiple Apple devices, truly love audio or immersing yourself in your favorite music or movie, and/or are a frequent traveler, then you’re likely to really love the experience of the AirPods Max. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably also need a separate pair of earbuds for walking outside, working out, and wearing under a warm cap in cold weather. 

Read the review: AirPods Max review


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