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Earlier this week, Apple introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, and first impressions and unboxing videos have now surfaced from various media outlets and YouTube channels. Priced at $549, the AirPods Max launch December 15.

airpods-max-hands-on.jpg
A first real-life look at AirPods Max via CNET

AirPods Max feature a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that is said to provide "rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension." Each ear cup is equipped with Apple's H1 chip for "computational audio" to deliver the "highest quality listening experience possible," according to Apple.

While more time is needed for in-depth reviews, The Verge's Nilay Patel said AirPods Max sound "more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones":
Sound-wise, I've had fun listening to the AirPods Max for a few hours — they're crisp and bright, with a pleasingly wider soundstage than my Sony headphones, and no distortion at all, even at max volume. We'll have a full review of these soon, including tests of spatial audio and Apple's claim of Atmos surround sound support, so stay tuned for that. But for now, rest assured the AirPods Max sound more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones.
Apple says the AirPods Max feature a "breathable knit mesh" spanning the headband that distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure, but this might be more marketing speak than anything, as Patel said he "can't say it feels very much different than my Sony WH-1000XM2s, but it's possible I just have a very large head."

Patel says that it takes two hours to charge AirPods Max to their full, advertised 20-hour battery life using Apple's small 5W charger, with no option for fast charging, even if you use a Lightning to USB-C cable. That said, if you forget to charge the AirPods Max overnight, a five-minute charge provides enough juice for 1.5 hours of listening time.

CNET's David Carnoy believes the AirPods Max "raise the noise-canceling bar," edging out both Sony's WH-1000XM4 and Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, two of the most popular over-ear headphone models on the market:
On top of that, their noise canceling is arguably the best I've experienced, slightly edging out the noise canceling on both Sony's WH-1000XM4 and Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. (I haven't yet compared them closely to Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds, which offer the best noise-canceling for true-wireless earphones.) They don't completely silence the world around you, but I was out on the streets of New York, and they did a bang-up job of muffling noise -- I could barely hear the traffic around me. Finally, they work quite well as a headset for making calls and are particularly good at reducing wind noise.

Carnoy also said the AirPods Max have "impressive" build quality, although he noted that the headphones are quite heavy:
For heavy headphones they are comfortable, but not necessarily super comfy. It'd be nice if they were 20% lighter, but the way the headband is designed, with its mesh canopy, it takes a good amount of pressure off the top of your head. They might look and feel a little big for people with smaller heads, but they do seem to fit a good range of head types.
AirPods Max come with a carrying case called the "Smart Case," which puts the headphones in an ultra-low power state to preserve battery charge when not in use, according to Apple. The case has already become the butt of a joke on social media, and many of the first impressions shared so far agree that the case looks rather peculiar.

airpods-max-smart-case-hands-on.jpg
Smart Case for AirPods Max via CNET

CNBC's Todd Haselton found the AirPods Max to be "super comfortable" with extended use, and he also praised the precise volume control offered by the Digital Crown, a feature adapted from the Apple Watch:
I wore the AirPods Max for several hours Wednesday and they felt super comfortable. There's a breathable mesh band on the top that felt light on my head and didn't get sweaty or hot. I also love the ear cups, which are spacious and fit around my ears instead of sitting on them.

There are a lot of high-end touches, like aluminum cups and a steel frame, instead of plastic parts you might find in competing headsets. I also dig the Digital Crown that Apple brought over from the Apple Watch. It feels solid and turns easily to adjust the volume. A lot of competing high-end headphones use touch controls for volume, which isn't as accurate as a physical control.
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Article Link: AirPods Max Unboxing Videos: 'More Than Good Enough to Compete With Other High-End Headphones'
 
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MecPro

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MKHBD said they do not turn off unless you put them in the case.

That's a no, HUGE no for me.

Edit* Nilay says they go to sleep after a period of inactivity, but not sure that’s good enough. Still reading as many different sources as possible.
 
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Ds6778

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Yawn. The classic “early access review.”
Gee, I wonder if the “reviewers” are gonna be 100% unbiased. Hate to see them lose their good grace with Apple. Also, it’s gonna be just like the HomePod “early reviews,” where it gets compared to “more expensive” offerings, that way Apples product seems like a bargain. Rather than be compared to Sony and Bose, it’ll be compared to actual, high end, audiophile grade gear.
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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Yawn. The classic “early access review.”
Gee, I wonder if the “reviewers” are gonna be 100% unbiased. Hate to see them lose their good grace with Apple. Also, it’s gonna be just like the HomePod “early reviews,” where it gets compared to “more expensive” offerings, that way Apples product seems like a bargain. Rather than be compared to Sony and Bose, it’ll be compared to actual, high end, audiophile grade gear.

Actually MKBHD didn’t know what to compare them to. Everyone else seems to be comparing them to Sony and Bose, both of which are cheaper and have received good reviews. This is like the HomePod all over again. And you’re wrong about that. The HomePod was mostly compared to cheaper smart speakers from Google and Amazon, not high end speakers or theater systems. If Apple marketing was smart they’d be giving reviewers reference points to more expensive headphones so instead of reviewers wondering if they’re worth the premium they’d be saying wow they sound as good (or better) as [insert brand here] and they’re cheaper. Also why the heck is iJustine getting a review unit?!? She’s the last person I’d go to for advice on premium headphones. And neither MKBHD nor Nilay Patel had much good to say about the case so I doubt they will be dishonest when they do a more in-depth review of the sound quality.
 
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Zimmy68

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Jul 23, 2008
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MKHBD said they do not turn off unless you put them in the case.

That's a no, HUGE no for me.

Edit* Nilay says they go to sleep, but not sure that’s good enough. Still reading as many different sources as possible.
Another red flag from The Verge... No fast charging. Are you kidding me?
A standard feature of mid to high end wireless headphones is getting like an hour after charging for like 5 minutes.
Heck, even the AirPods Pro do that.
 
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LongWayHome

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Oct 18, 2020
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iJustine has reached a new level of cringe for me. Her "reviews" are nothing more than her trying to be cute for the camera and fawning over whatever product Apple has given her for free. The least she could do is act somewhat professional and not like a 12 year old girl trying to mug for the camera.
 
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MecPro

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For the price, I'd expect nothing less.

TBH he hasn’t even given it a full review and isn’t know for “high end” headphones so I’d wait a little longer.
 
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Johnny Steps

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When reviewers receive these products, do they get to keep them? Or do they pay a reduced price if they want to keep them?
 
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pers0n

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Mar 5, 2014
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Here we are..... Now that all the trolls did and will continue to do their thing. Watch these come close or blow away the sound of headphones that cost the same or even many times more.
When did troll mean those skeptical? I’m sure they are good, but not sure about $550 good or better worthy of an audiophiles approval?

the reviewers on YouTube aren’t that trustworthy, plus they aren’t the audiophiles that will do tons of testing, but honestly I dont care I’m not buying them anyway 😛
 
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anthonymoody

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Aug 8, 2002
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I watched the last video. No comment on the weight (these are about 50% heavier than the $349 competitors). Do any of the videos mention it?
 
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MecPro

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Mar 6, 2009
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Another red flag from The Verge... No fast charging. Are you kidding me?
A standard feature of mid to high end wireless headphones is getting like an hour after charging for like 5 minutes.
Heck, even the AirPods Pro do that.

Yeah, I caught that too. But then what is the “1.5 hours in 5 mins” claim?

May not be the best choice of words from The Verge.
 
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neuropsychguy

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Sep 29, 2008
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Another red flag from The Verge... No fast charging. Are you kidding me?
A standard feature of mid to high end wireless headphones is getting like an hour after charging for like 5 minutes.
Heck, even the AirPods Pro do that.
From Apple: "A quick 5‑minute charge deliver(s) 1.5 hours of listening."

"Testing conducted by Apple in November 2020 using preproduction AirPods Max and software paired with iPhone 12 Pro Max units and prerelease software. The playlist consisted of 358 unique audio tracks purchased from the iTunes Store (256-Kbps AAC encoding). Volume was set to 50%, Active Noise Cancellation on, and Spatial Audio on but not active. 5-Minute charge testing conducted with drained AirPods Max that were charged for 5 minutes, then audio playback was started until the AirPods Max stopped playback. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors."
 
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jonnyb098

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Nov 16, 2010
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When did troll mean those skeptical? I’m sure they are good, but not sure about $550 good or better worthy of an audiophiles approval?

the reviewers on YouTube aren’t that trustworthy, plus they aren’t the audiophiles that will do tons of testing, but honestly I dont care I’m not buying them anyway 😛
The homepod got a lot of audiophile approval when it launched. It was easily as good as similar sized high end speakers that cost 3-4x as much.

Don't trust me just go look it up.
 
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