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AirPods Max is Apple’s version of the over-the-head earphones that used to dominate the market before truly wireless earbuds. Like most Apple products, the AirPods Max brings many features to the table, most notably spatial audio and head recognition, packed into a noise-canceling chassis with additional, software-driven noise-canceling properties.

There’s a lot to like. The AirPods Max have a slick, pearlescent aesthetic, neat headphone holders, and a quintessentially Apple vibe. As such, they’re pricey, retailing for anywhere between $400 and $500, depending on whether or not you get a discount.

With all that being said, it’s hard to imagine that one of the most simplistic features (at least, seemingly simplistic to consumer electronics customers), like head recognition, would just call it quits and put a lid on the day. Yet, here we are. The question is: How to fix it?

4 Potential Fixes to Airpods Max Not Detecting Head

1. Start with the Head Detection Feature

The first place to begin is right where the action happens, and that’s in the Settings menu for the head detection feature. If this is your first time using Apple AirPods Max, you may not have reached this point yet.

When the AirPods Max come out of the box for the first time, the head detection feature is supposed to be on by default.

However, nothing in the world is perfect, and maybe you turned it off or the person that put the finishing touches on the Max was asleep at the wheel.

  1. On your iOS device (the one connected to your AirPods Max) open the Settings Menu
  2. At the top of the screen, select your AirPods Max
  3. Locate Automatic Head Detection
  4. Toggle Automatic Head Detection on
  5. If it’s on already, toggle it off and toggle it back on

Toggling the feature off is worth a shot, since it serves as a pseudo-reset of sorts. If the Automatic Head Detection feature is off, you solved the problem.

2. Make Sure Your AirPods Max is Updated

Any device that interacts with other devices or connects to the internet has to receive periodic updates, at least assuming it’s a device with some built-in longevity—a device that’s not disposable.

The AirPods Max are not disposable unless you like dumping over $400 in the garbage can.

Like an iPhone or iPad, they require updating from time to time. As with the head detection feature, this is supposed to be an automated, background feature in which you shouldn’t need to interfere. However, that’s not always how things go.

If you’re having issues with your AirPods Max, and they won’t detect your head, it’s a good idea to check and make sure they’re updated.

  1. Make sure your AirPods Max are connected to your iOS device
  2. Open the Settings menu on your iOS device
  3. Select General
  4. Select About
  5. Select your AirPods Max
  6. If there’s an update available, it will show up here
  7. If your AirPods Max are updated to the latest firmware, then you won’t have any additional options

If you must update them, start the process and allow your AirPods to go through the motions, restarting itself and everything. Place them back in their case. Remove them again and place them on your head to see if the problem is solved.

3. Restart Your AirPods Max

Fortunately, this part is very simple, and you don’t even have to use your iOS device to restart your AirPods. If you look at your AirPods, you should see a digital crown and volume buttons.

To restart your AirPods properly, press the Digital Crown and the volume buttons simultaneously, holding them down until they restart on their own. You will see the LED lights on the AirPods flash yellow/amber.

The AirPods will turn back on by themselves. You don’t need to wait a few and turn them back on. When you conduct a physical restart of the AirPods, they go through the cycle of restarting on their own.

4. Condensation and Dirty Headphones

Apple AirPods Max don’t work very well regarding condensation or a build-up of dirt. Ensure you keep your AirPods clean and avoid having them in the same room as a shower or bath. Also, you shouldn’t wear them inside a sauna, at least not if you expect them to get wet.

Apple advises AirPods Max owners to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol, a 75% alcohol wipe, or Clorox disinfecting wipes to properly clean your Max headphones.

You should try to clean your AirPods Max at least once per week. It doesn’t take long, and they are much easier to clean than much smaller, truly wireless earbuds.

All you have to do is gently wipe the entire exterior of the AirPods. If you’re using a bottle of isopropyl, there’s no need to saturate the cloth you’re using to wipe the AirPods. Keeping the cloth slightly damp is more than enough.

Apple also advises users not to wipe the mesh area of the headphones and to avoid getting any of the isopropyl alcohol in the openings in the AirPods. After you’re done, go back over everything with a dry cloth and ensure no wet spots remain on the surface.

For a more thorough cleaning, you can remove the ear cups from the frame and wipe it down as well. Apple advises the use of liquid laundry detergent diluted with water.

However, unless your headphones are absolutely filthy, there’s no need to take things that far.

Also, don’t forget to wipe down the interior and exterior of the case, along with the headband. When the ear cups are off, accessing the headband and ensuring the entire thing is clean is easier.

Final Thoughts

That’s all there is to it. Unless your AirPods are defective, it shouldn’t take anything more than the above, four troubleshooting tips to keep the head detection feature of the headphones working.

Apple doesn’t typically manufacture garbage headphones, so the odds of them being defective out of the box are slim. If so, don’t hesitate to file a warranty claim or utilize AppleCare + to take care of it.