Several reports of AirPods Max randomly dying and producing static sounds have been circulating online from 2020 until now.
Apple released the AirPods Max in December 2020, claiming to “bring the magic of the AirPods to an over-ear design.” However, almost three years later, reports of AirPods Max dying or not working the way they’re expected to flood the internet forums.
According to Reddit user, petercalmdown:
Another user, jordan-jay, states:
So, what’s the deal?
AirPods Max Condensation Issue
Several users report water accumulating inside the AirPods Max’ ear cups after extended use.
According to SpektrumKid, who had two pairs of AirPods Max die because of the issue:
”My first pair stopped working all together, but was exhibiting a lot of ‘short circuit’ issues, like ANC turning off and off at random, disconnections happening during a song, stopping and starting music randomly. Eventually the battery started having problems and saying that it was only 1 percent charged no matter what I did.
At that time I didn’t suspect it to be condensation built up, but from what I’ve been reading, it’s a widespread issue for heavy users (people who wear them for hours at a time).”
Condensation happens when the water vapor from the air turns liquid – sort of like a reverse evaporation.
Gordon Kelly, a contributor at Forbes, says that this is likely a cause of the design flaw of using aluminimium in the ear cups.
This is a phenomenon that can be comparable with the condensation that happens with aluminium windows.
According to DehumidifierReviewsHQ:
This insulation issue means that while internal warm temperatures will easily pass through, preventing overheating, the aluminium itself will remain cold. As a result, the humidity between your ear pads and the aluminium speaker casing rises, especially when worn for long periods as this blocks airflow, causing condensation.
Condensation in AirPods Max results in various issues. For example, Reddit user tokyonathaniel reported experiencing issues in the ANC button, Automatic Head Detection not working, disconnection issues, sound issues, and even power and reset issues.
And, while Apple has yet to release an official statement about the AirPods Max’s condensation issue, AppleCare Services list these reports as “Liquid Damage”.
Static Noise and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Issues
The AirPods Max’s ANC is the best in class, according to a review by 9to5Toys. But, some Max owners have pointed out a flaw in the feature.
Take audiophile Youtuber DankPods’ experience with the headphones two weeks after its release. In his video, “My AirPods Max’s died…”, he shows a recording of the moment his Max’s started producing static noises due to ANC issues. And despite all troubleshooting attempts, the sounds remained.
Understandably, this left the Australian Youtuber frustrated that his $500 headphones were no good after only two days of use.
But while DankPods’ video was released in 2020, similar recent accounts litter online forums like Reddit, with many directly linking the static sound to the AirPod Max’s noise cancellation and Transparency mode.
Battery Issues and Phantom Drain
Several users on Apple Community have also shared experiences of having their fully charged AirPods Max headphones drain down to 1% battery overnight, despite being stored in the Smart Case. And this isn’t helped by the fact that you can’t turn off the AirPods Max.
However, a MacRumors video entitled “There’s Something VERY Wrong With the AirPods Max Battery…” attempted to shed some light on this issue by claiming that a software glitch could be preventing the headphones from going into low power mode, thus causing them to drain.
So, What’s Apple Doing About the Issues?
Since the AirPods Max’s release, Apple has released six firmware updates for the headphones. According to an article by 9to5Mac, one of these versions (3C39) addresses the battery drain issue by improving idle battery usage.
Regarding the audio issues, Apple has posted a troubleshooting guide for fixing crackling or static sounds on the AirPods Pro. However, whether these methods also apply to the AirPods Max is unclear.
When all else fails, disgruntled users can turn to Apple Support for a replacement.
Despite these “solutions,” these issues still plague some AirPods Max users. In fact, you’ll find posts as recent as a few days before the publication of this article still lamenting battery and sound issues.
On a brighter note, the upcoming iOS 16 update could change all that. According to Twitter user @ShrimpApplePro, an iOS 16 beta user confirmed LC3 audio codec support for the AirPods Max in the new update. This not only means better audio quality but also lower power consumption.
However, whether this update will also fix the AirPods Max’s static and battery life issues remains to be seen. Hopefully, everything will be fixed in the next AirPods Max 2.
- Smith, L. (2020, December 10). Sorry, but Apple’s over-ear AirPods Max are actually good design. https://www.fastcompany.com/90584498/sorry-but-apples-over-ear-airpods-max-are-actually-good-design
- Altland, R. (2022, August 3). AirPods Max with best-in-class ANC fall to one of the year’s lowest price of $450 (Save $99). https://9to5toys.com/2022/08/03/airpods-max-summer-savings/
- DankPods. (2020, December 25). My Airpods Max’s died. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReuDIYYk3fk&t=740s
- Leiminer, A. (2021, January 23). What’s Apple not telling us about the AirPods Max!?. https://themaxstand.medium.com/whats-apple-not-telling-us-about-the-airpods-max-f82c2f5c6938
- MacRumors. (2021, January 21). There’s Something VERY Wrong With the AirPods Max Battery… [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb3bmde4Pew
- Miller, C. (2021, March 12). New AirPods Max firmware update fixes battery drain issues when in Smart Case. https://9to5mac.com/2021/03/12/airpods-max-battery-drain-issues-fixed/
- Wikipedia (2022, May 1). LC3 (codec). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LC3_(codec)
- Clover, J. (2022, May 20). Sony’s New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple’s AirPods Max. https://www.macrumors.com/2022/05/20/sony-1000xm5-vs-airpods-max/