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Apple's $549 AirPods Max Headphones Offer Big Sound and Bugs: Review

Apple’s first foray into over-ear noise-cancelling headphones delivers a premium design and superior sound, but the price and occasional bugs pose issues.

Apple’s AirPods Max headphones

Apple’s AirPods Max headphones

Mark Gurman/Bloomberg

The AirPods Max headphones sound terrific. For almost the price of an iPhone 11, anything less would be a major letdown. 

Apple Inc.’s entry into the rapidly expanding category of over-ear noise-cancelling headphones was inevitable, and the end result lives up to the company’s usual high standards. Tested in the U.S. and Japan, across a wide variety of music genres, use cases and connected devices, the AirPods Max showed themselves a tier above the typical $300 pair of headphones in this class. But they didn’t quite justify their $549 price due to some bugs and imperfections.