Currently, it’s possible to remove the headband of the AirPods Max with a standard SIM card ejector tool; you can see how by clicking here). However, a newly granted Apple patent (number 11,252,492) hints that future versions of the headphones will have earpieces that can be more easily removed.
About the patent
In the patent filing, the company notes that headphones have now been in use for over 100 years, but the design of the mechanical frames used to hold the earpieces against the ears of a user have remained somewhat static. For this reason, some over-head headphones are difficult to easily transport without the use of a bulky case or by wearing them conspicuously about the neck when not in use.
Conventional interconnects between the earpieces and band often use a yoke that surrounds the periphery of each earpiece, which adds to the overall bulk of each earpiece. What’s more, headphones users are required to manually verify that the correct earpieces are aligned with the ears of a user any time the user wishes to use the headphones. Apple says that “improvements to the aforementioned deficiencies are desirable.” One of those improvements would be easily removable earpieces for changing out color ways.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent with the technical details: “This disclosure includes several different features suitable for use in circumaural and supra-aural headphones designs. Designs that include earpad assemblies that improve acoustic isolation are discussed. User convenience features that include automatically detecting the orientation of the headphones on a user’s head are also discussed. Various power-saving features, design features, sensor configurations and user comfort features are also discussed.”