Table of contents
The AirPods Max are pretty decent headphones, except when brand new, they are too tight. At first, I thought it was just me, because my wife doesn't have this problem with her headphones, but a quick search online shows many others had the same issue.
Thankfully, the solution is very easy: stretch 'em
The bendy headband that holds the two ear pods is, as the name implies: bendy. My guess (and this really is a complete guess as I didn't research it) is that it's a metal bar or something inside, and thus since it is metal: it'll bend. It currently is bendy in a certain direction, but like anything in life: everything is bendable if you're brave enough.
Simply follow these steps:
- Take the AirPods Max out from their holding case.
- Hold each pod separately. If holding it is difficult: hold the headphones on-top of the table (or floor or otherwise hard object) as if pretending they could stand on their 'legs' (upside down U shape)
- Pull the pods apart: out and up (or if squishing it against a table: push down). Use moderate force.
- Do this until the headphones are close to (but not at) being 'flat'. I felt going fully 'flat' / straight was too risky for me emotionally, so I went 'near' straight. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. The longer, the better, though you do not need to force yourself because …
- Put on your head to test the fit. If they still do not fit: repeat from step 2.
- If they fit: congrats
Cause of tightness
Apple's design decision is an odd one, though apart from “that's just how it ended up”, there may be a few realistic reasons for it. Apple's decision comes is based on the market, designer's preferences (and availability of heads to test on), and them wanting to make something that could fit most people.
You're probably wondering about that last one: how do headphones that don't fit so many people because they are too tight and thus hurt make it a “good fit for most people”? If you're looking at it from an original fit perspective, you are correct.
Though, what happens if you make a headphone that is good for big-headed people? It'll be hard for the small heads to use the headphones. It is also tough to squish headphones together in a straight line. Thus, it is easier overall to make headphones 'wider' / less tight, and therefore it was made “for” being able to expand a bit.
Another potential reason is the designer's preferences. It might have been developed by people who generally have smaller heads, and thus they made a product that they themselves's would like. Or maybe that's what “the standard” head shaped testing equipment was.
And the best part of humans is that we are so diverse. Depending on where you are, the market is different for you. Though this ties a bit into the point above with head sizes … Is the market people with big or small heads? The answer is, it is whoever has money, and therefore we want to capture the 'whole' market. And therefore to the first point: it's easier to make something bigger, in this particular case, rather than smaller (tighter).
A fouth reason may be simply money. They decided to make one product template and use it for all. Why make more sizes when that won't improve yet, and very well might decrease it (or not increase it fast enough). Therefore: one headphone size that fits more people (with adjustments in needed) is a safer investment.