I’ve had the AirPods Max for over a year, and I’ve been using the Airports Pro two since releasing at the end of September. In this video, I will give you my experience using them both quite regularly and give you some food for thought when making a purchasing decision.
When choosing between the AirPods Max and the AirPods Pro 2, the main question you’ll have to ask yourself is, what exactly are you looking for? What is your primary use case going to be? What kind of situations and environments will you have headphones on the most?
Do you commute a lot? Are you looking for headphones to run with, or are you just looking for headphones you have on when you’re working or studying at your desk? Are you planning to get both but need to know what one to get? All these questions and scenarios will lead to different decisions in the end as both headphones are very other in their own right and cover specific niches of usage.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now and start with the fundamentals first. Regarding sound quality, both headphones perform excellently for Bluetooth headphones. For reference, I’m using the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro and driving them with the Motu M2. These are references for mixing and mastering. I’ve swept out the stock earpads for Kony earpads to tame the treble a bit.
Since it’s a brick and highly harsh, out of the box, this way, it leans more towards a semi-consumer high-fi experience and less towards a sterile studio mixing scientific experiment. Compared to the DT 1990, the Max and Pro 2 lack a bit in the mids and the highest.
I prefer the muddier mids and highs on rock and metal tracks with hip-hop and rap since they can get harsh on the DT 1990 for pop and dance and techno. I also prefer the sound from the AirPods since they have a warmer, heavier, and more emphasized best response. When comparing the Max to the Pro 2, the Max slightly outperforms the Pro 2 in nearly every aspect due to the larger drivers.
The Max is just that tiny bit cleaner in the mids and the highs and a bit rounder and warmer in the lows. The way I describe the Max is that they sound more effortless. I think Apple has over-tuned the base on the Pro 2 a tiny bit, and as a result, that sounds a bit artificial and forced. But understand that all this is pretty subjective and very taste dependent.
At the end of the day, some people really like how the beats sound with all the crazy bass, and some really like the Sony XM5 sound, which is also a bit heavier. At the best part, in general, the apple sound is more toward the mids and the highs with a tamer bass response.
Since I listened to more classic rock and jazz and less electronic and pop, both AirPods Max and Pro 2 fit my preferences. To conclude on the sound quality, both sound great, but the Max has a slight advantage. Regarding noise canceling, the Max and the Pro 2 are comparable, and the Pro 2 has a slight advantage because of the adaptive transparency amount. The Pro 2 comes with the new Edge 2 chips, which the Max doesn’t.
It is worth noting that when you compare them in a controlled environment, such as your office without sirens and car honks, the Max does isolate the sound a tiny bit better by the nature of the way they are constructed. Instead of plugging something into the ear and exposing the rest of the ear, the Max covers the whole thing.
All things are considered a tie since they have advantages and disadvantages depending on different environments.
When it comes to battery life, the Max blows the Pro 2 out of the water. We are talking continuous playback on a single charge. While the Pro 2 manage to go for five and a half, maybe six hours, the Max reaches 20 hours of continuous playback with the case.
However, the Pro 2 can stretch the active listening time towards the 30-hour mark. Remember that your battery usage may vary depending on whether you have special audio or head-tracked movement or listening, whatever is enabled. Here I consider it a win for the Pro 2 since I can remember the last time I listened to music for more than three or four hours at a time.
It would be different if I were on a trans-Atlantic flight, but I don’t fly across the ocean that often. So Pro 2 gets the point here.
The quality on both headphones is not that good, if I’m being completely honest. But if I had to pick one, the Max is slightly less horrendous than the Pro 2.
The point goes to Max here regarding the controls. They are better on the Max than on the Pro 2, especially when it comes to the volume adjustment. On the Max, you get a crown to spin around with, but on the Pro 2, you will have to swipe around your ear awkwardly.
The other controls are also more effortless on the Max. Instead of having to hold to change the noise processing on the Pro 2, on the Max, you have to tap a button playing, stopping, skipping or rewinding. Sounds are comparable between the two.
All in all, the Max has a slight edge in this regard. Then we have the vanity aspect. If you are in the mood to flex on some peasants, I suggest you go with the Max. At this point, we can all agree that everyone in their dock knows that the metal headphones made by Apple are absurdly expensive.
Whereas with a probe, you not only can tell if they are gen one or gen two, you can’t even know if they are wearing Apple headphones in the first place or just some white headphones from another brand. If you consider everything in this comparison and still cannot decide which headphones to get, then I would get the Max.
Let’s talk about the specific use cases for each of the headphones starting with the Max. From my experience, these are not headphones you would want to wear when you are out and about. They’re too heavy for that. The case also doesn’t protect the headphones well during transport.
You can get yourself a third-party case on Amazon, but from what I’ve seen, you end up with a gigantic setup that you have to fit into your back somehow. There’s a reason why Apple designed the case the way it did. It will get too big if you design it any better, so they just put a piece of flimsy plastic on it.
If you look at the QC35, it folds, making it somewhat manageable in a case. It only gets a little small, and you can carry it anywhere. Apart from this, the Max is also not water resistant, making it unsuitable for the gym due to the sweat and the occasional rain or snow you might encounter outside when commuting.
The Max is a pair of headphones you would probably only want to use at home or the office. And in this regard, they are sufficiently comfortable. I usually take them off for a break after about 90 minutes. They get a bit hot around the ears in the summer, but in winter they’re all perfect for colder months.
In contrast, the Pro 2 are IPX4 rated, which makes them resistant to water splashes from any direction. This sufficiently protects them against almost all the moisture you would ever be subject to in the gym and outdoors. And this also makes it perfect for nearly any activity you can think of, except for swimming.
You can commute, run, hike, or do indoor cycling in them. The lack of weight also makes them barely noticeable in your ears. The only catchier is that some people’s ears seem to reject these, regardless of which tip size they use, and to those people, I can only say that it is not meant to be.
To conclude this section, I suggest you consider what situations you’ll wear these headphones the most and add a point or two to the irrespective.
Finally, there is the price difference. Currently, the Max costs almost double what the Pro 2 cost. The Max are not worth double the price.
You have to trust me on this, but you do get more color options, so if that’s important to you, feel free to add 1 point back to the Max. In conclusion, you can consider getting the Max if you are first looking for the best audio quality in Bluetooth headphones, debatable with the Sony. Second, plan to use them in front of the desk, at home, or e at work.
Third, you like the design; fourth, you don’t mind the price. But if you are looking for a good pair of headphones, planning on using them for commute, sports, or other outdoor activities, can live with excellent but not perfect audio, and are more price-conscious, then you should get the Pro 2.
That’s it. I hope this comparison of AirPods Max VS. AirPods Pro 2 helped and gave you a few things to consider.
Thank you for reading.