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Hands-On With the AirPods Max

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Today is the official launch day for the AirPods Max, Apple's newest headphones in the AirPods family. AirPods Max are a little bit controversial because of the high price, so we picked up a pair to see what you're getting for that $549 price tag.


AirPods Max have aluminum ear cups that are cool to the touch with mesh padded ear cushions and a mesh headband. Design wise, the headphones look and feel premium when it comes to build quality. There's a Digital Crown on the top which is a nice physical control method, along with a button for controlling Active Noise Cancellation.

The buttons work well, but we missed the inclusion of a power button as there's no way to turn the headphones off. They go into standby mode when removed or an ultra low power mode right when put in the case, but otherwise there's no power control option.


Speaking of the case, it's not great. It looks weird and it doesn't offer much protection at all because it's made from a soft material. The case doesn't cover the headband, and there are openings at the bottom too, so it's not something you're going to want to toss in a bag with your $549 headphones inside.

The case also doesn't charge the headphones (there's a USB-C to Lightning cable included for that), and it's made from a smart cover-like material that may attract dust and dirt.


When it comes to comfort, the AirPods Max didn't cause pain even though they're very heavy, but we've only used them for a short period of time so far. In the amount of time we've had them, we've been impressed with the comfort level and the way the mesh band distributes weight on the head. The telescoping arms for adjusting fit are also a nice touch, and overall, everything feels premium.


By the way, the ear cushions are magnetic and pop off, so if you want to buy a second set for $69 when Apple starts selling them, you can mix and match colors. The headband isn't removable though, so the ear cushions are the only customization option.

AirPods Max have all of the same H1 features that other AirPods do, so expect quick pairing, easy device swapping, and long Bluetooth range. They have Adaptive EQ to adjust the sound to the fit on your head, and Active Noise Cancellation. We're going to go more in-depth on Active Noise Cancellation in a future video that compares the AirPods Max to other noise cancelling headphones, but so far, the noise cancellation is excellent.


In terms of sound quality, the AirPods Max sound amazingly crisp, even at high volume levels. Combined with the Active Noise Cancellation, it's an isolating experience that completely blocks out the outside world.

We haven't been able to test battery life, but Apple says the AirPods Max will last for up to 20 hours before needing a recharge. There's also a quick charge feature that gives you over an hour of battery life after five minutes.


AirPods Max now have a 12 to 14 week wait if you're ordering online for shipping, but you may be able to get them in an Apple retail location if you check each morning now that in store pickup is available.

Have you picked up AirPods Max? Are they worth the price? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Hands-On With the AirPods Max
 
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fumi2014

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2014
304
1,418
California
I wish Apple would drop the audiophile nonsense.

Headphones/Earphones that really concentrate on audio do not have Noise Cancelling Algorithms, Spatial Cinema (Lol) or Bluetooth. All these things hinder, taint and ultimately ruin the source input. They are conveniences where the trade-off is really crappy sound.

If you're fine with that, (and the conveniences out-weigh the audio quality) then this new Apple offering is probably about as good as the Sony XM3 or XM4 - once you stop drooling over the design and actual concentrate on the audio quality.

I have a pair of XM3s. They're okay for watching a film or maybe YouTube but I'm under no illusion that these are what I would choose for actually listening to music. For that, I'd go to the Shure SE846 or something similar.
 
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SSDGUY

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2009
705
840
I wish Apple would drop the audiophile nonsense.

Headphones that really concentrate on audio do not have Noise Cancelling Algorithms, Spatial Cinema (Lol) or Bluetooth. All these things hinder, taint and ultimately ruin the source input. They are conveniences where the trade-off is really crappy sound.

If you're fine with that, then this new Apple offering is probably about as good as the Sony XM3 or XM4 - once you stop drooling over the design and actual concentrate on the audio quality.

I have a pair of XM3s. They're okay for watching a film or maybe YouTube but I'm under no illusion that these are what I would choose for actually listening to music. For that, I'd go to the Shure SE846 or something similar.
Aside from the poorly designed cartoon case, for this kind of money they should have modeled every detail of the speaker response and created a flat tuning feature as an option, for a true audiophile experience, ie. minimal audio colorization added or reduced for critical listening. Then (with a better after-market case) they could be quite useful for both movies and gaming plus 2 channel listening or audio mixing.
 
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chicagofan00

macrumors regular
Apr 4, 2010
235
152
Picked one up in green today. They definitely have the premium quality feel and weight to them but aren’t heavy on the head. The sound is great as is the ANC capabilities. Can’t comment on call quality yet but hope to put that to good use tomorrow during some meetings. They came with about 70% battery life on them so we’ll see how they fair over the next day or so and then after a full charge. The case really is useless and I can’t seem to understand why they even bothered with it, should have had a better case for this price point.
 
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jaworskimatt

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2019
303
460
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bose would be the Android “cheap plastic” of headphones.
Bose QC35 are amazing and by all means a premium product, they beat the new Apple product in most departments, including cable/jack, case and price.

I'd think hard and long when choosing between the two. Bose does not have transparency mode nor auto-switching, and changing the paddings is rather cumbersome (they do get worn out once in a couple years). But the case is great, and audio jack does come in handy on airplanes (and yes, some of us still fly in 2020).
 
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bluedesert

macrumors newbie
Dec 15, 2020
1
9
Miami Beach
I wish Apple would drop the audiophile nonsense.

Headphones/Earphones that really concentrate on audio do not have Noise Cancelling Algorithms, Spatial Cinema (Lol) or Bluetooth. All these things hinder, taint and ultimately ruin the source input. They are conveniences where the trade-off is really crappy sound.

If you're fine with that, (and the conveniences out-weigh the audio quality) then this new Apple offering is probably about as good as the Sony XM3 or XM4 - once you stop drooling over the design and actual concentrate on the audio quality.

I have a pair of XM3s. They're okay for watching a film or maybe YouTube but I'm under no illusion that these are what I would choose for actually listening to music. For that, I'd go to the Shure SE846 or something similar.

Where did Apple say that this was for audiophiles? Talking about how good they sound is what any company would do but it doesn't mean they're aiming for audiophiles. Anybody who is actually into sound quality will know these are not in that category. These are just "premium" headphones like Bang and Olufsen but priced higher because they can.
 
Comment

OriginalClone

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2012
379
514
That case is just so comically awful. For the way this product is priced, it's insulting.
Could’ve, at the very least, included a hard case (with charging capabilities a bonus) and usb C charging. That said, why do some devices still use lighting and some usb C? Apple should’ve sorted that out already. They act like they think everything through but they obviously don’t.
 
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