As you might imagine, the new AirPods Max are aiming for a luxurious feel. This is with both the price tag of $550 and with quality materials including stainless steel bands and aluminum cups.
Double the price of QC35, at least $200 more than the XM4, that is a tough ask. Apple's design, and perhaps some ecosystem-specific features, has to be what you are looking for to invest in AirPods Max, surely.
The headband with its netted middle part is a completely propriety design that is said to distribute the pressure evenly, and there are no touch controls, which is likely a good thing. However, the placement of the controls is a little odd at the top of the cup.
Speaking of the controls, there's a Digital Crown and a separate ANC button, and no 3.5 mm headphone jack for wired connection. The only cable you have is a USB-C to Lightning cable for charging the headphones.
The earcups are designed for easy cushion replacement that are attached with magnets. However, the Apple replacement cushions cost a whopping $70 per pair.
In terms of audio we're looking at Apple's own 40 mm drivers that should provide a listening experience worthy of the high price, although that remains to be seen since we haven't had the change to listen to them yet.
Unsurprisingly the H1 tech from AirPods Pro has been integrated in these as well.
The ANC is created using the eight microphones around the headphones. Six of these, three on the outer shell of each cup, monitor the ambient sound and the two left are listening to what you hear inside the cups.
The headphones come with a very weird looking case that Apple calls Smart Case. The headphones don't fold so you just twist the cups to fit them inside the pouch which closes with a magnet. This magnet also automatically shuts off the headphones.
However, not only is the case ugly, it might be the most inconvenient headphones case ever. It simply seems they wanted to make the headphones look like a purse when you are carrying them no matter what.
It doesn't protect the headphones from dust or dirt since there are holes everywhere, the soft headband is not covered at all, in fact you are supposed to carry the headphones using it, and – worst of all – the headphones don't turn off unless you insert them in the case. Although, there is a sensor that turns the playback off when you take them off.
This brings us to battery life, which Apple promises to be 20 hours. One can only assume that this is with always placing the headphones in their case.
AirPods Max are available for pre-order now in five familiar color options for $550. Sales start officially on December 15.
Written by: Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Dec 2020 11:35