Apple AirPods Max: Get to Know The Most Anticipated Bluetooth Headphones of 2020
Spacious and well-balanced sound, elegant design, great controls.
No integrated 3.5mm port, very expensive.
Features AirPods Max earphones:
- Type: Over-Ear.
- Weight: 384 grams.
- Battery life: 20 hours (active noise cancellation).
- Microphones: 9.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0.
Apple AirPods Max have been the most anticipated headphones on the market for the majority of the year. After years of rumors, they are finally here. They are the company's first Over-Ear headphones, and they look amazing. They offer high-definition audio, adaptive equalization, active noise cancellation and spatial audio.
The sound quality is really great, and they have a unique design. That said, they are significantly more expensive than the best competing models, and do not come with a 3.5 mm audio port. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the new Apple AirPods Max.
AirPods Max Design
The AirPods Max have a minimalist and sleek design, which is typical of Apple. The body features clean lines, and is available in several attractive colors: sky blue, space gray, silver, green and pink. All colors look sober, yet have a unique futuristic look.
The build quality is excellent. The skeleton of the headband is made of stainless steel, and has telescopic arms that adjust perfectly to any user. The cups have cushions made of viscoelastic foam and feel very soft to the touch. They are one of the most comfortable over-ear headphones we have tested, and you can wear them for hours without any discomfort. They are tough, but feel lightweight.
The upper part of the headband features a mesh fabric designed to better distribute weight and reduce pressure on the head. According to Apple, the AirPods Max feature a mechanism in the headband that balances and distributes the pressure of each cup. In addition, they can be rotated independently to adjust to different head shapes.
The cup controls are also minimalistic. They integrate the digital crown of the Apple Watch, although it's larger and easier to use. With this potentiometer, you can precisely manage the volume, change songs, play or pause, answer calls and activate Siri.
To adjust the volume, you only need to move the wheel on the right cup. By pressing it once you can play/pause, answer and end calls. To fast forward or rewind a song, you must press it two and three times.
We loved this control. It allows you to adjust the volume in a very precise way, much better than with buttons. It's also easier to use than the touch controls that come with the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bose 700 headphones.
On the right cup of the AirPods Max, we find a button that allows you to switch between active noise cancellation and transparency modes. The latter lets some ambient noise through and is very useful when you are in airports or stations, for example. In this cup we also find the Apple Lighting charging port.
Lightning port and Smart Case
Unfortunately, it doesn't integrate a 3.5 mm audio connection, but this is to be expected with all Apple products. If you want to connect the AirPods Max wired, you will need to purchase a Lightning/3.5mm cable sold separately by the company. They are very expensive headphones, and we find it unjustifiable that they do not include the cable in the package.
That said, the Apple headphones come with a novelty case called the Smart Case. It's made of a rubber-like material that wraps around the cups of the AirPods Max, and leaves the headband exposed. The case looks like a tote bag, and closes magnetically. It also leaves the Lightning port free so you can charge your headphones. The most striking thing about the smart Case is that it puts the headphones into an ultra-low power consumption mode.
AirPods Max Audio Quality
The best thing about the AirPods Max headphones is the sound they deliver. We were pleasantly surprised with the detail and purity of the audio. The bass comes on warm and powerful, but is kept in check, and doesn't overshadow the other layers. The instruments stand out for their clarity. Likewise, the vocals present sublime details that allow you to enjoy all the emotionality of the artists.
The sound spatiality is also remarkable for a closed-type over-ear headset. They let all instruments breathe and shine separately. The imagery, detail and fidelity to the rhythms are superb. The AirPods Max headphones integrate 40 mm dynamic drivers that, according to the company, produce total harmonic distortion of less than 1%. They do not distort, and the audio remains clear at any volume level.
They offer great high-definition audio, although HiFi file support is limited to the Apple Digital Masters format, available from Apple Music. This is another significant drawback, especially considering the high price of the AirPods Max. However, it offers revolutionary functions for audio.
Adaptive equalization and spatial audio
Like the AirPods Pro, the Max integrate the Apple H1 chip in each cup. In addition, the chips offer ten audio cores for enhanced active noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive equalization and spatial audio.
Adaptive equalization optimizes the sound according to the setting created by the ear cushions. AirPods Max integrate inward-facing microphones. These mics analyze the sound you are enjoying, and automatically adjust all frequencies to give you the clearest audio possible. This is an amazing feature, and it works flawlessly.
On the other hand, the Spatial Audio feature, previously launched with the AirPods Pro, gives you surround sound ideal for watching movies in Dolby Atmos 5.1 and 7.1 formats. It uses built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers, to detect your head movements and fix the sound in a kind of virtual sphere. This means that if an airplane appears in the movie, you will hear the sound from above. Spatial audio sets the AirPods Max headphones apart from the competition, as no other model works with object-based surround audio formats.
Active noise cancellation
The noise cancellation the Apple AirPods Max offer is very robust. Each cup integrates three microphones that point outward to detect ambient noise. They also have an additional one that points inward, to pick up the sound that reaches your ears.
Apple claims that the AirPods Max use computational audio to continuously adapt noise cancellation based on fit and movement. We tested them near a construction site and noticed a bit of noise, but nothing that ruins the music experience.
The transparency mode is also very useful. To access it, you only need to press the noise cancellation button on the right cup, to allow some ambient noise to pass through. This also allows you to have a conversation without turning off the music.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the AirPods Max headphones work with Bluetooth 5.0. Synchronization is very fast, and the wireless range is incredibly wide. You can use them with Android devices, but you will miss out on the H1 chip's special features, such as spatial audio or Automatic Switching.
These headphones are designed to be used with Apple products, and you will need devices with the following operating systems: IOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, macOS Big Sur 11.1, watchOS7.2, tvOs 14.3 or later.
The Automatic Switching feature allows you to easily switch sync between iPhones, iPdas or Macs to play music or answer calls. It also allows you to share audio between two AirPods from any Apple device. This is ideal for enjoying your favorite songs with a friend.
Of course, AirPods Max headphones also work with Siri. You can use voice commands to play music, make calls, adjust volume, get directions, read messages, and take advantage of all the other features of Apple's AI.
Apple claims the AirPods Max battery yields up to 20 hours of continuous playback with noise cancellation active. This capacity is great, although the best Bluetooth headsets can last up to 30 hours. That said, autonomy is maintained when listening to high-definition audio or listening to any movie. Active noise cancellation wastes quite a bit of battery life, so turning off the technology is sure to give you even better performance.
After testing the new Apple AirPods Max headphones, we can rest assured that they offer amazing audio. The sound profile is very well balanced and the spatiality is remarkable. All the notes come on with sublime detail and good separation. Noise cancellation is also very effective, and the transparency mode works perfectly.
The downside: they are very expensive. They cost significantly more than Sony headphones, Bose and Sennheiser headphones. That said, they are perfect if you are an Apple user. Interested? Find the best price on Amazon.
We also recommend you check out our review of the new Beats Fit Pro, Beats Studio Buds and AirPods 3.
|Technical Specifications||AirPods Max|
|Colors||Sky blue, special gray, silver, pink, green|
|Chip||Apple H1 in each cup|
|Dimensions||168 x 187 x 83 mm|
|Battery life||20 hours (active noise cancellation|