A year on, AirPods Max owners give pricey headphones rare thumbs down


AirPods Max playing music on Spotify
AirPods Max owners grumble about the hefty price tag.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

A year after the debut of AirPods Max, an analysis of user reviews found that buyers like the over-the-ear headphones less than rival products. The main problem: price.

For comparison, the same study by consumer research company Revuze shows people who buy Apple’s basic AirPods seem much more satisfied. And user reviews of other Apple products are usually quite positive, too.

“It is off-brand and surprising to see how poorly the AirPods Max product was received over the course of the year since its release,” Revuze CEO Boaz Grinvald told Cult of Mac. 

AirPods Max cost too much

Revuze used artificial intelligence to analyze more than 12,000 consumer reviews of wireless headphones published on Amazon US and Amazon UK in Q3 2021. The company then compared user opinions about AirPods Max to those for other on-ear headphones that cost more than $75.

And Apple’s product didn’t do so well. “AirPods Max had a 57% sentiment score and a 3.92 average star rating,” noted a report by Revuze. The overall product average was a 59% score.

AirPods Max retail for $549, and users cited the high price as their primary pain point. The high-end headphones scored just a 38% approval in the Pricing and Value for Money category. The average for the category was 55%.

Buyers didn’t find Apple’s over-the-ears headphones particularly comfortable, either.

One year later, AirPods Max buyers say it isn’t worth the price. Revuze’s analysis shows that AirPods Max receive below-average reviews.
Revuze’s analysis shows that AirPods Max receive below-average reviews.
Chart: Revuze

But buyers generally rave about Apple

The bad reviews make AirPods Max a stand-out product for Apple. But not in a good way.

“Revuze’s data confirms that Apple products typically perform quite well among consumers, having the highest volume of opinions published online and the highest customer sentiment in their respective categories,” said Grinvald. “For example, the new MacBook Air 13.3-inch with the M1 chip ranks first place in the laptop category, and the 4th Generation 10.9-inch iPad Air is currently ranking first place in the tablet category.”

Revuze did the same analysis on publicly posted reviews of basic AirPods, and found that the in-ear models outperform the average of comparable products.

“Apple’s entry-level AirPods product remains the tried and true favorite, with a 64% consumer sentiment score (vs. 57% average for the wireless earphones category),” the company said. “Audio quality was the top strength of the entry-level AirPods, with an 81% consumer sentiment score (vs. 72% average for the category).“

Room for AirPods Max improvement

So, what does this mean for AirPods Max? Will Apple cut the price, like it did with the original HomePod? Or make design changes that make the headphones more comfortable (and maybe cheaper to manufacture)? At this point, nobody knows.

“It will be interesting to see if Apple will improve the product based on the negative consumer feedback, or if they will choose to focus on their more successful entry-level AirPods,”said Grinvald.

Currently, there’s no sign that Apple will replace AirPods Max with a new version anytime soon. So anyone thinking about picking up the current version might want to consider whether they would be happier with one of Apple’s in-ear versions. Or, at the very least, look for a good deal on AirPods Max.


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