Out of nowhere, Apple have just released their first set of full-size, over-ear headphones - the ‘Airpods Max’ - available right now! Shipping starts on the 15th December.
The Airpods Max are a new step for Apple, which has historically only made smaller earbuds like the Airpods. They have relied on the ‘Beats by Dre’ brand for larger on-ear and over-ear headphones, however an Apple-designed model has been long rumoured. Now it’s here, let’s take a look:
Let’s start with the bad news: the Airpods Max are expensive! You’re looking at £550 a pair, which is more than double what you’d pay for a comparative set of cans from Bose or Sony. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, given Apple’s wince-inducing pricing strategy, but it still hurts!
If you’re willing to take the plunge, you'll have a real treat waiting for you - these headphones look fantastic! They have a beautiful crisp design, with a stainless steel frame and telescoping arms to hold the aluminium cups. You get a choice of 5 colours: White, Black, Blue, Coral & Green. While the Airpods Max don’t redefine the headphone design the same way the Airpods did, but they are still a design statement - expect to see a lot of people wearing them in the months to come!
As beautifully designed as the Airpods Max are, the matching case is likely to be highly divisive. Unlike the round designs used in most headphones, the case for the Airpods Max looks a bit like a handbag… or a bra. The unusual design has already gathered a lot of attention - though maybe not of the kind Apple was hoping for!
So they look great, but how do they sound? The Airpods Max boast 40mm custom ‘Apple-designed’ dynamic drivers and a dual-neodymium ring that drastically reduces total harmonic distortion. What does that actually mean? It means that these headphones should sound amazing, and will allow you to hear every subtle nuance in your tunes, which otherwise might get lost in lesser headphones. They also have active noise cancelling, so nothing will distract you from your music!
Apple have gone one step further though. Each earcup has its own little chip inside - the H1 chip used in the newer range of Airpods. They’re used for the active noise cancelling, reduce latency (the lag between the headphones receiving the signal, and you hearing it) and power Apple’s ‘Adaptive EQ’ technology. This monitors the sound you’re hearing and subtly alters the frequencies, to ensure the best quality music is delivered to your ears!
Since they were only announced/released yesterday, we haven’t actually tried the Airpods Max, but Apple do have a good track record with audio gear. The Airpods and Airpods Pro - while expensive - sound fantastic. I’m actually using some right now as I write this. The sound quality is excellent, so I can only imagine larger versions will be even more impressive!
The H1 chip is also used to control the new ‘Spatial Audio’ function - this is a cool little feature which uses ‘dynamic head tracking’ to make it feel like you’re *inside* the audio. The headphones track your head movements, and shift the audio around a central point, so it feels like you’re listening to music in 3D! It’s a bit disconcerting when you first try it, but it really adds to the immersion!
Of course the headphones are wireless - Apple reckon you can get 20-hours of playtime before having to recharge the Airpods Max. That’s a reasonable battery life - good enough that you won’t be left wanting, though it pales in comparison to the 35 hours offered by Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones.
Finally the headphones are controlled using the same ‘Digital crown’ controls used with the Apple Watch. Apple claims this method is better than awkward touch controls - it certainly works well for the watch, but we’ll have to give it a hands on try to see how it performs in real life.
Pretty impressive stuff! Are you tempted by these new Apple headphones, or is the price a bit too dear? If you want alternative headphones, check out Kagoo for the Best Headphones on the market!