Apple's AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones list for $549, but in recent months their price has dropped to around $450 -- and sometimes even slightly less, depending on the color. While these premium full-size headphones may not be as popular as the AirPods and AirPods Pro earbuds, the Max is the latest example of a high-profile Apple product that creates its own cottage industry for dedicated accessories. There are plenty of AirPods Max add-ons, including traditional "shell" cases that replace the AirPods Max's controversial cover, charging stands and earcup and headband covers.
Here's a look at some of the best AirPods Max accessories available, most of which I've tested. I'll update this list as new accessories arrive.
Read more: Best noise-canceling headphones for 2022
Spigen Ultra Hybrid ProAmazon
Spigen's known for its affordable phone cases, but it also makes assorted other accessories, including the Ultra Hybrid Pro, a set of protective covers for the Max's earcups. They're a little pricey at $24, but if you just want some protection while still being able to show off the natural color of your AirPods Max's aluminum design, this is a good option.$24 at Amazon
Wired Apple cable
Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Audio cable (Update: Unavailable)David Carnoy/CNET
Apple doesn't include a cable for wired listening with the AirPods Max, which is pretty irritating because the fact is they do sound better in wired mode, and sometimes it's easier to plug into a device than pair with it wirelessly, particularly if you've got non-Apple devices that aren't on your iCloud account.
The easiest way to listen to high-res audio is to plug into a Mac or Windows PC and load up some FLAC files, which I did. Obviously, you can also listen to streaming services this way (and any other audio). The volume levels were plenty high on the MacBook Pro I was using and I did experience a subtle but noticeable bump up in audio quality going the wired route.
Also the cable does eliminate any latency, which might be a factor while gaming or with music production. Note that the AirPods Max still need battery power to deliver audio, even in wired mode; there's no "passive mode" available.
Apple's cable lists for $35, but you can often get it for $20 (currently unavailable on Amazon, but worth checking). It comes in black or white.$20 at Amazon
Swanky case with magnets
Waterfield Designs Max ShieldDavid Carnoy/CNET
When Apple released the AirPods Max, it got a lot of grief about the headphones' unusual protective covering, which drew its fair share of bra and purse comparisons and was criticized for not fully protecting the headphones. I wasn't as down on it as others, but I knew we'd soon see a bunch of third-party AirPods Max case options, and several have already arrived, including Waterfield Design's $89 Max Shield case.
Aside from its swanky design, what makes it different from all the $20 to $25 generic cases showing up on Amazon is that it has what Waterfield calls a Magnetic Butterfly that puts the AirPods Max in low-power mode just like the magnets on Apple's cover do. With other cases, you stick the AirPods Max (with their cover on) inside -- they don't have magnets.
The Max Shield is designed to house the AirPods Max either naked or wearing their cover, and has an inner pouch to store the included USB-C-to-Lightning charging cable or the optional Lightning-to-3.5mm audio cable for wired listening. There's also an exterior zippered pocket, as well as an exterior stretch mesh pocket for storing additional items. The Max Shield is available in eight color variations.$99 at Waterfield Designs
Best value case with magnets
Co2crea Hard Case with Sleep ModeAmazon
You can find several AirPods Max hard carrying cases on Amazon, but this is arguably the best value. This case has a plush interior, a slot for storing a power adapter and magnets to put the AirPods Max into their lower-power sleep state (hibernation mode). It comes in multiple color options with prices ranging from $33 to $37.$33 at Amazon
Seltureone AirPods Max Earcup ProtectorsAmazon
If you drop your AirPods Max headphones on the wrong surface, the aluminum earcups could get dinged up. That's where a silicone earcup protector could save the day. There are plenty of them available on Amazon in plenty of color options. The Seltureone model is currently rated most highly by users -- and it's priced around $10 -- so that's my current pick in this category. But that could change as new versions become available.$13 at Amazon
Toluohu Headband CushionAmazon
The AirPods Max mesh-infused headband is designed to be quite sturdy, but this headband cushion serves three purposes: It offers some increased protection for the mesh, adds some extra cushion for the crown of your head and customizes the look of the headphones.
It's available in a few color options and can be easily removed and washed.$9 at Amazon
Affordable case (without magnets)
Spigen Klasden caseAmazon
The Spigen Klasden is a relatively affordable hard case for the AirPods Max. Designed for use with the AirPods Max case, it's an extra layer of protection. it doesn't have built-in magnets to put the headphones to sleep; it does have an internal pouch for storing cables and an integrated handle.$27 at Amazon
Dual USB-C fast-charger
Spigen 40W Dual USB-C chargerDavid Carnoy/CNET
The AirPods Max include a USB-C-to-Lightning charging cable in the box, but no power adapter. Spigen's compact 40W Dual USB-C charger (it uses GaN technology, which helps reduce its size) can charge two devices at the same time and has plenty of juice for charging your headphones and iPhone at the same time -- or even an iPad. Each USB-C port delivers up to 30W if you're charging only one device or up to 20W if you're charging two devices simultaneously. That's why it's rated for 40W.$24 at Amazon
Read more: Best AirPods Pro accessoriesNow playing:Watch this: AirPods Max hands-on: New noise-canceling king9:06CNET Now
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