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Home / Tips and Tricks / AirPods Max: 14 Tips to Master Apple’s Latest Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

AirPods Max: 14 Tips to Master Apple’s Latest Wireless Over-Ear Headphones



airpods-max-8

Apple’s AirPods Max are expensive, but oh so beautiful.

David Carnoy / CNET

Apple surprised us all and released the AirPods Max, the company’s first over-ear headphones, as a final announcement in mid-December. The $ 550 headphones aren’t just expensive, but they are also downright impressive. CNET editor David Carnoy says they sound “like high-end headphones, with tight bass, natural mids, crisp highs and a wide soundstage for closed-back headphones.”

20 hours of battery life, active noise cancellation, a special transparency mode and a super chic surround sound mode called Spatial audiothere is a lot to learn about Apple’s latest headphones.

But that’s what we’re here for. Below we’ll walk you through 14 different features, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your shiny headphones.


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Bluetooth pairing with AirPods Max is very fast

Seriously, pairing the AirPods Max is an extremely easy process. You need your iPhone or iPad and the headphones. Remove the headphones from the smart case and unlock your device.

A second or two later, you’ll see a warning on your phone asking if you want to connect to the AirPods Max. Crane Connecting and you’re technically ready. However, Apple has included a quick tutorial that walks you through some basic operations and also asks if you want to enable Spatial Audio after playing a short demo (more on that in a minute).

Once your AirPods Max is paired, the headphones will automatically work with the rest of your Apple devices that use your Apple ID. You do not need to repeat this process for every device.

If you’re setting up your headphones with a Mac and not an iPhone or iPad, you should follow the steps in our next tip.

airpods-max buttons

The AirPods Max has only two buttons, neither of which is a power button, and no touch controls.

David Carnoy / CNET

Connect AirPods Max to a Mac or non-Apple device

At its core, the AirPods Max are still Bluetooth headphones. That means you can connect them to other Bluetooth devices, such as the new Chromecast, an Android phone or Windows PC.

However, pairing with a non-Apple device or a Mac requires a few additional steps. You have to put the headphones in pairing mode by pressing and holding the noise control button until the indicator light starts flashing white. The button is located on the top of the right earcup, while the indicator light is on the bottom of the same side.

With the headphones in pairing mode, open the Bluetooth settings on the device you want to pair them with, select AirPods Max on nearby devices and follow the instructions.

Learn the controls

The AirPods Max don’t have touch controls and instead rely on a digital crown, just like what you’ll find on an Apple Watch, and a standalone sound control button. Both buttons are located on top of the right ear cup and have multiple functions.

Let’s start with the digital crown, which offers tons of controls and functions.

  • Adjust the volume level by turning the crown in either direction.
  • Press once to play or pause.
  • Press the crown twice to jump forward.
  • Press three times to go back.
  • Press and hold to activate Siri.

The digital crown is also how you answer or end a phone call.

  • Press once to answer or end a call.
  • Double click to decline a call.
  • During a call, press once to answer a second incoming call and put the first call on hold.
  • With two active calls, press twice to end the current call and switch to the other call.
  • Press and hold to decline a second incoming call.
  • Press twice to stop listening on your headphones and send the call to your phone.
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The controversial case.

David Carnoy / CNET

Use your iPhone, iPad or Mac to control AirPods Max

If you find it easier to switch between active noise cancellation and transparency mode, or turn spatial audio on and off with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can do that too.

While your AirPods Max is connected to an iPhone or iPad, swipe down from the top right corner of your screen to open the Control Center. Long press the volume slider and adjust your settings to your liking.

On a Mac, click the AirPods Max icon in the menu bar, then select the mode you want to use. Spatial audio is currently not possible on the Mac.

Turn AirPods Max on or off

The short answer? You can’t. The AirPods Max are either on your head and in active use, or in some form of energy saver to extend the battery.

When you’re not using the headphones, place the headphones in the smart case to put them to sleep effectively immediately. If you forget to put them in the sleeve and just place them on a desk or table, they’ll end up in the same condition, but take longer to get there.

Auto-play and auto-pause are still a thing

If you take off the headphones or just lift an ear cup off your head, everything you’re listening to is automatically interrupted. When you put the headphones back on, they should reconnect and automatically start playing what was last played.

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There are plenty of settings you can change, you just need to know where to look.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Siri is always available

If you have “Hey Siri” enabled on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, your AirPods Max will follow suit. If you’re wearing your headphones and need to do something like change albums, send a message, or make a call, use the wake-up phrase “Hey Siri” followed by your command or question.

Here you can adjust the AirPods Max settings

There is a settings page for your AirPods Max, but unlike the Apple Watch, which has its own dedicated app, it is buried in your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings page. In particular, you should go to Settings > Bluetooth > Tap the “i” next to your AirPods Max.

On this page you will find options to change the name of your AirPods, adjust the direction you turn the digital crown to adjust the volume, turn off automatic switching.

I highly recommend that you go through this page and familiarize yourself with what you can and cannot control.

Test spatial audio

During the initial pairing process, you were given the opportunity to listen to a Spatial Audio demo and decide whether to enable it. The demo is short and shows what the function can do; that is to create a surround sound-like environment in your headphones that adjusts in real time as you move your head.

But to really get a good idea of ​​what spatial audio does, I recommend looking at content that supports Dolby Atmos 5.1 or 7.1 audio. Apple TV Plus subscribers can use Tom Hanks’s movie Greyhound or, if you have Disney Plus, all episodes of The Mandalorian are fantastic examples.

While watching a show on your iPhone or iPad, turn your head to hear the sound moving around you. No doubt it is a crazy experience.

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That cable there? It costs you.

David Carnoy / CNET

How to view the battery level

When the AirPods Max is in use, you can check the current battery level by checking the top right corner of your iPhone or iPad screen. If you’re using them with a Mac, you can click the AirPods Max icon in the menu bar to see your battery level.

Another option to check the battery health is to use the battery widget on your iPhone or iPad, or place your AirPods Max next to your iPhone or iPad and wait for a battery life warning to appear.

Need a wired connection?

You use the AirPods Max as wired headphones, but you have to purchase a separate cable. It’s a $ 35 Lightning to 3.5mm cable you can buy direct from Apple.

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The mesh awning.

David Carnoy / CNET

The ear cups come off for cleaning

Each ear cup is magnetically attached to the headphones for removal and cleaning. Or if one gets damaged beyond repair, you can buy replacements for $ 69 a pair.

Do you have problems? Try a soft reset

If you’re having issues with the AirPods Max, you can soft reset it – which is similar to restarting your computer – by pressing and holding the sound control button and digital crown until the status light turns amber.

How to reset the AirPods Max to factory settings

If you are returning, selling, or otherwise needing to factory reset the AirPods Max, you can do so by pressing and holding the sound control button and digital crown until the indicator light turns amber and then white.

After controlling your AirPods Max read our guide to Apple audio sharing feature that lets you share everything you listen to with a friend without sharing earplugs. If you are annoyed by the new auto-switching feature in iOS 14, you can turn it off with a few taps. If you are looking for tips and tricks for iOS 14, we have had enough too.


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