Apple’s AirPods Max Are Cheaper Than Ever — for a Reason

If you’ve considered buying them, it’s a better time than ever, but there are many better options.

Courtesy Apple
The Apple AirPods Max. Courtesy Apple

Among secular holidays, Prime Day is one of the most important — or it is for the moment until the Federal Trade Commission brings an antitrust suit against Amazon for it.

Amazon’s dominance is not simply secured through convenience, but that if you list products on Amazon, you cannot charge less for them elsewhere on the internet, including your own web site. And so, rather than purchase directly from the company, the average consumer turns to the Prime-provided next-day convenience of Amazon, which takes a cut of the sales. It artificially elevates the price of items across the internet but also means that when Amazon formally declares “we are putting items on sale,” there is a massive incentive to follow through.

A detail of the Apple AirPods Max. Courtesy Apple

For companies like Apple, which rarely discounts its own products, the Amazon discount label can be a convenient way to hide some inconvenient stock issues. Namely, Apple will put hearty reductions on products that have been on the market too long right as they’re about to be replaced.

And so, we see the current reductions of their AirPods Max headphones, which are currently down to their lowest price ever of $400 from an MSRP of $550.

On one hand, this is a trap. The AirPods Max were released in 2020 and haven’t received a single update in the intervening four years, even as their competitors have continually improved. They even have new competitors like the Ace from Sonos.

The AirPods Max are the very last Apple product to use the old Lightning port rather than the superior USB-C standard. The issues at launch are still present, including their great weight, lack of a 3.5mm jack, and terrible leather-brassiere “Smart Case.” The added software features are so minor as to be not worth mentioning.

The Apple AirPods Max. Courtesy Apple

However, Apple is also unlikely to change most of these with a new version. The noise-canceling will doubtlessly improve with a firmware upgrade, there will be a change to USB-C, and a new color is likely, but otherwise, the new 2024 version will probably be identical to the current 2020 series. The “new” version will likely keep the exact same design, the same drivers, and the same daft case. For a $150 savings, that makes the current version a far better buy.

I still wouldn’t recommend them for most persons. The top headphones from Bose and Sonos are more comfortable, lighter, sound better, have actual travel cases, and in the case of the Bose, have better noise-canceling. I also would give a shout-out to the Master & Dynamics MW65, which are truly luxurious, feel more premium, and have a better soundstage, albeit for worse noise-cancelling.

The Apple AirPods Max in a Smart Case. Courtesy Apple

If you’re simply looking for a great pair of headphones for $400, the AirPods Max should only be in your consideration if you don’t mind the weight and you’re happy to sacrifice some of the benefits of competitors for the unbeatable convenience of having all your devices in the Apple ecosystem.

If you are, you’re in for what are still a pretty great pair of headphones, and now for a better price than ever before.


The New York Sun

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