So much for staking your holiday gift list on this fall’s Apple Event. This morning, the tech playboy pulled a fast one just in time for the holiday frenzy: Apple AirPods Max headphones come to market December 15, 2020. You can preorder a pair from Apple now for a mean $549.
Well, the entire aesthetic. Apple’s new AirPods Max aren’t really pods at all: they’re over-ear headphones. That’s right — they’re cans. And they come in five colorways: space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. Just when tech minimalism seemed here to stay.
The headband, or “canopy” (it’s a headband, you guys), features an airy knit mesh around a stainless-steel frame. This combination should optimize the diffusion of weight and pressure across the wearer’s temples and crown. Apple also included old-school telescoping headband arms for custom fitting.
The swivel-action earcups feature memory foam for optimal aural immersion and comfort. Atop one of the earcups, you’ll find the power button, light indicator, Lightning port, and Digital Crown dial. The Crown gives users control over volume, playback, call handling, and Siri.
What Sounds Good
Apple states that the over-ear format manifests a “custom acoustic design.” Their 40-mm dynamic driver is a monster for the wireless headphone class, and the over-ear design improves upon the AirPod Pro’s delivery of Dolby-recorded content. Here are the AirPods’ sound specs in a nutshell:
- 40-mm dynamic driver
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- Adaptive EQ with H1 chip technology
- Transparency Mode
- Audio sharing + switching
- Spatial audio (compatible with Dolby 5.1, 7.1, and Atmos content)
Buyer beware: these Apple over-ear headphones do not support wireless charging.
Then there’s the issue of charging on-the-go: the Apple AirPods Max boast 20 hours of play and talk time on a single charge, which is standard for today’s market. But most wireless earbuds and phones today come with a portable charging case. Not so with the AirPods Max; Apple does provide a ‘Smart Case,’ but it merely places the headphones in an ultra-low power mode to preserve battery life.
Last on the list of speculative drawbacks? These tin cans are heavy boys. Weighing in at 13.6 ounces — yah, nearly a pound — makes them significantly heavier than other over-ear headphones available.
The Apple AirPods Max Wrap-Up
Apart from appearance and some admittedly major acoustic upgrades, there is very little that separates the technology of these Apple noise-canceling headphones from that of the AirPods Pro — or from that of far more affordable competitors like Bose and Sony.
But, for those Apple purists, laissez-faire audiophiles, and hyped new yuppies-turned-Apple-converts, we get it. If you’re looking for a severely impressive sonic experience and really want that seamless cross-device integration, it seems like Apple, once again, has hit its mark.