Some users who shelled out the premium price for Apple's New AirPods Max are running into issues with condensation behind the ear pads, near the driver.
Users on Twitter and Reddit reported the issues initially with many other users saying they were having the same issues. Of the reports, the owners said the condensation was occurring during seemingly normal use, with the exception being that many users reported long wear times in gold rooms.
Notably, the AirPods Max are one of the few over-ear headphones that keep a metal design, something other makers have avoided for weight and wearability reasons. However, from a design and comfort perspective, Apple appears to have pulled off the metal with their sleep premium headphones.
However, because metal has different thermal properties than plastic, this means that the headphones will ultimately get much colder or hotter in a given environment. In the case of the reported problems, the cause may be the headphones becoming very cold with the air in the rooms around them, with warm moist air coming from the user's head. This temperature differential would ultimately cause condensation along the boundary where the two different temperatures of air meet.
The most notable and well-documented report was Donald Filimon on Twitter, who provided several pictures of the issue.
So, uhh... my AirPods Max form condensation after extended use. They’ve never been used in any humid environment. The water gets inside the drivers and has caused ear detection problems. I’ve been wearing them inside sitting at a desk mainly, nothing crazy. Super concerning issue pic.twitter.com/0pWicvxLv9— Donald Filimon (@donaldfilimon) December 27, 2020
Apple's headphones do have a unique feature for over-ear headphones – the fact that the earpads are easily removable. It's theoretically possible that many over-ear headphones have the same condensation issues, but users simply aren't able to see them due to the pads being fixed in place. However, due to the aforementioned metal construction, from an engineering perspective, it seems likely that this might be a uniquely AirPods Max problem.
Apple has yet to respond to the reports, but users speculate that the condensation is unlikely to damage the headphones, rather it's just a nuisance. So, word of warning to sweaty ear headphone buyers, you might want to consider another pair of headphones.