AirPods Max: 14 Tips for Mastering Apple’s Latest Wireless In-Ear Headphones

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

David Carnoy / CNET

Apple surprised us all and released by AirPods Max, the company ‘s first headset, as last announced in mid – December. The The $ 550 headphones aren’t just expensive, but they are also impressive. CNET editor David Carnoy he says they sound “like premium headphones, narrow bass, natural midtones, sharp sounds and a wide soundstage for closed headphones.”

From 20-hour battery life, active noise cancellation, dedicated transparency mode and super-fashionable surround sound Spatial audio, you can learn a lot about Apple’s latest headphones.

But that’s why we’re here. Below we will walk you through 14 different features, tips and tricks to help you make the most of your great headphones.

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AirPods Max Handbook: The New King of Noise Canceling


Bluetooth pairing with AirPods Max is really fast

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

A second or two later, you will see a warning on your phone asking if you want to connect to AirPods Max. Touch Connect and you are technically done. However, Apple has added a short guide that guides you through some of the basic controls, as well as the question of whether you want to enable Spatial Audio after playing a short demo content (more on that in a minute).

When your AirPods Max is paired, the headset will automatically work with the rest of your Apple devices that use your Apple ID. You will not have to repeat this procedure for each device.

If you are installing the headset on a Mac and not on an iPhone or iPad, you will need to follow the steps in the following tip.


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, AirPods Max are still Bluetooth headsets. This means you can connect them to other Bluetooth devices, such as a new Chromecast, Android phone, or Windows computer.

However, pairing with a non-Apple or Mac device requires some additional steps. Namely, you will have to put the headphones in pairing mode by holding down the noise control button until the indicator light starts flashing white. The button is located on the top of the right ear cup, while the indicator light is on the bottom of the same side.

When the headset is in pairing mode, open the Bluetooth settings on the device with which you want to pair it, select AirPods Max from a nearby device, and follow the instructions.

Learn controls

The AirPods Max lacks any touch controls, but relies on a digital crown, just like you’ll find on the Apple Watch, and a stand-alone noise control button. Both buttons are located on the top of the cup of the right ear and serve several purposes.

Let’s start with a digital crown that offers plenty of controls and functions.

  • Control the volume level by turning the crown in either direction.
  • Press once to play or pause.
  • Press the crown twice to skip forward.
  • Press three times to return.
  • Press and hold to activate Siri.

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

  • Press once to answer or end a call.
  • Press twice to reject the call.
  • During a call, answer the second incoming call with one press, and put the first call on hold.
  • When two calls are active, press twice to end the current call and switch to the second call.
  • Press and hold to reject another incoming call.
  • Press twice to stop listening through the headset and send the call to the phone.

A controversial case.

David Carnoy / CNET

Use your iPhone, iPad or Mac to control AirPods Max

If it’s easier for you to switch between active noise cancellation and transparency, or turn surround sound on and off using iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can do the same.

When AirPods Max is connected to an iPhone or iPad, swipe down from the top right corner of the screen to access the Control Center. Press and hold the volume slider, then adjust the settings as desired.

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

How to turn AirPods Max on or off

Short answer? You can not. AirPods Max are on your head and are actively used or are in some low power state to extend battery life.

When not in use, put the headphones in a smart case to put them to sleep instantly, effectively. If you forget to put them in a holster and simply place them on a table or desk, they will eventually get into that same condition, but it will take longer to get there.

Auto play and auto pause are still a thing

If you take off the headphones or just lift the ear mug off your head, everything you listen to will automatically pause. When you put the headphones back on, they should reconnect and start automatically playing what was last played.


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

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Siri is always available

If you’ve enabled “Hey, Siri” on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, your AirPods Max will follow their example. Whenever you wear headphones and need something like changing an album, sending a message, or making a call, use the wake-up phrase “Hey, Siri,” followed by your command or question.

Here you can adjust the AirPods Max settings

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

On this page you will find options to rename your AirPods, adjust the direction of rotation of the digital crown to adjust the volume, disable automatic switching, among other settings.

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

Test the surround sound

During the initial pairing process, you are given the opportunity to listen to the Spatial Audio demonstration and decide if you want to turn it on. The demonstration is short and shows in order the work that this function can do; which should create a surround sound-like environment inside your headphones, which adjusts in real time as you move your head.

But to really get a good idea of ​​what constitutes surround sound, I suggest you take a look at any content that supports Dolby Atmos 5.1 or 7.1 sound. Apple TV Plus subscribers can use the Tom Hanks Greyhound movie or if you have Disney Plus, any of the Mandalori episodes is a fantastic example.

While watching the show on your iPhone or iPad, turn your head to hear the sound moving around you. It’s a crazy experience, no doubt.

airpods-max-with-wire cable

That cable over there? It will cost you.

David Carnoy / CNET

How to see the battery level

Whenever AirPods Max is used, you can view the current battery charge level in the upper 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 the battery charge level.

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

Do you need a wired connection?

You can use AirPods Max as a wired headset, but you will need to purchase a separate cable. It’s a $ 35 Lightning-to-3.5mm cable that you can buy directly from Apple.


Mesh canopy.

David Carnoy / CNET

The ear cups are removed for cleaning

Each cup is magnetically attached to the headphones, which allows you to remove and clean it. Or if someone gets damaged without repair, you can buy replacements for $ 69 per pair.

Problems? Try a soft reset

If you have problems with AirPods Max, you can gently reset them – which is similar to restarting your computer – by holding down the noise control button and digital crown until the status light turns yellow.

How to reset AirPods to factory settings Max

If you are restoring AirPods Max, selling them, or otherwise resetting them to factory settings, you can do so by holding down the noise control button and digital crown until the indicator light turns yellow and then white.

After mastering AirPods Max, take care of it read our guide to Apple’s audio sharing a feature that allows you to share whatever you’re listening to with a friend without sharing headphones. If you’re annoyed by the new auto-switch feature in iOS 14, you can turn it off with a few touches. If you are looking for tips and tricks for iOS 14, we have a lot of them.