Can You Use AirPods Max Wired? (2023 Complete Guide)

If you’re a fan of the AirPods Max and are looking to use them with a wired connection, then the good news is that you can. However, there are a few things you’ll need to know.

Since the Airpods Max doesn’t come with a cable, you’ll first need to purchase Apple’s lightning to 3.5 mm audio cable, which is currently priced at $35.

Connecting them via a wired connection is quite straightforward. Simply insert the lightning end of the cable into the AirPods Max’s lightning port, and plug the other end into the audio jack of your source device, and you should be good to go.

Now, if you’re using a device that doesn’t feature an audio jack, be it an iPhone or a Samsung device, you’ll need an adapter. Depending on the device you own, you’ll either need a lightning to 3.5mm adapter or a USB-c to 3.5mm adapter. Simply plug the adapter into your phone’s port and the headphone’s audio cable into the adapter’s 3.5mm audio jack, and it should be connected.

Before using your AirPods Max with a wired connection, there are a few important things you should be aware of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

What You Need to Know About Using the AirPods Max With a Wired Connection

The type of audio cable used for the AirPods Max is critical for its functionality. If you want to use your AirPods Max wired, you’ll need to use Apple’s official AirPods Max cable. This is because the AirPods Max requires a bi-directional cable that outputs audio in the following manner: device > 3.5mm > Lightning > headphones. Unfortunately, most third-party cables output audio in the following manner: device > Lightning > 3.5mm > headphone connection, which will result in the wired connection not working. The Belkin cable, a third-party cable sold by Apple, is an example of such a cable and won’t work for this purpose.

What to do if AirPods Max isn’t Working with a Wired Connection

It’s not uncommon to experience issues when using AirPods Max in wired mode. Thankfully there are several simple fixes for the issue.

1. Ensure you are using an Official Apple Cable.

The first thing you’ll need to check is whether you’re using an official apple cable. As mentioned above, the AirPods Max requires a bi-directional audio cable, and unfortunately, most cords are not bidirectional.

2. Forget Your AirPods Max from the device’s Bluetooth List

If you are using an official Apple cable with your device but are still experiencing issues with a wired connection, then the first thing you’ll want to do is “forget” your AirPods Max from your source device’s Bluetooth list. You’ll also want to do this with other previously connected devices, such as your iPad, another phone…etc.

To do this, navigate to your Settings, select Bluetooth, click on your Airpods Max, and select “forget”.

Next,  restart your AirPods Max by pressing and holding the noise control button and the Digital Crown until the LED flashes amber.

3. Reset your AirPods Max 

The next step involves resetting your AirPods Max. This will restore your device back to its factory settings. Here’s how to do it:

Press and hold both the noise control button and Digital Crown simultaneously (hold for around 15 seconds) until the led flashes amber and then white.

Reconnect the aux cable and plug it into your device and check the audio.

Does AirPods Max Sound Better Wired?

While we would love to give a clear yes and no answer, the answer is a bit more complicated.

Let’s start with lossless audio. A wireless connection can’t play lossless audio, period. The AirPods Max has a Max sample rate of 44.1 and a bit depth of 16-bit audio with a wireless connection.

However, with a wired connection, although it cannot play lossless audio, the sound transfer is slightly greater. Allowing you to listen to lossless audio at 48Khz, 24-bit audio.

While this is the case, it’s important to note that the difference is minuscule, and the overall result of a wired connection when listening to lossless tracks would be slightly crisper highs and a slightly thicker base. However, most users may not even be able to tell the difference.

Additionally, if you are using an iPhone or a device without a headphone jack to listen to your tracks, as mentioned above, you’ll need a lightning-to-headphone jack adapter. Apple has its own adapter, which supports up to 24-bit/48 KHz lossless. However, you may notice a slight improvement in sound quality when using a DAC with a lightning connector instead.

Now when it comes to Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, this is only possible via a Bluetooth connection, and while the slightly improved sound transfer from a wired connection can be appreciated by some audiophiles, not everyone can distinguish the difference in sound quality. In my opinion, more people may be impressed by the immersive experience provided by Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, which are only capable through a Bluetooth connection.

Does the AirPods Max Mic Work with a Wired Connection?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, the AirPods Max cable is a “two stripe” cable, which is a stereo cable intended to transfer speaker audio, and thus you will not be able to utilize the AirPods Max microphone when using it with a wired connection.

Can you activate Noise cancelation in wired mode?

While Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio only work with a Bluetooth connection, Active Noise Cancelation is the exception and works with both a Bluetooth and a wired connection.

Does AirPods Max Drain Battery with A Wired Connection?

Yes, AirPods Max does consume battery power when connected with a wired connection.

Are AirPods Max Good for Gaming with a Wired Connection?

We tested the AirPods Max with a wired connection on both the PS5 and the Xbox. Overall, the sound experience was great. The Active Noise Cancelation feature still works with a wired connection. The digital crown also works for turning the volume up and down. The only downside to this, however, is that the microphone simply won’t work in wired mode, but overall our listening experience was definitely a positive one.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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