Apple AirPods Max launch

Apple’s 8th December 2020 “secret” launch has landed: it’s the AirPods Max (SGD 849), an active noise cancelling over-ear headphone that builds on the success of the AirPods and subsequently the AirPods Pro earbuds.

Image: Apple

Stainless steel and aluminium build

Its closest competitors cost considerably less – the Sony WH-1000XM4 (SGD 549), Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC (SGD 599), Jabra Elite 85H (SGD 428). However, this difference is amplified to about double, since they’ve subsequently been heavily discounted in the months since their launch.

Image: Apple

We’ll only know how it stacks up against its competitors when reviews hit the web, but from the get-go, the Apple AirPods Max features a stainless steel frame wrapped in a soft-touch material, along with a breathable knitted “canopy” headband mesh.

The arms of the AirPods Max telescope to extend smoothly, which means it will likely be stepless. Image: Apple

Each ear cup is made from anodised aluminium – we expect it to be similar to the exteriors of iPads and MacBooks.

Apple also boasts that the custom-designed textile used on the ear cushions provides “pillow-like softness”.

Similar to the Apple Watch, the right cup of the AirPods Max sports a button to toggle noise cancelling, along with a Digital Crown to control the volume, skip between tracks, answer calls and activate Siri. Image: Apple
The AirPods Max will be available in Space Grey, Silver, Green, Sky Blue and Pink. Image: Apple

“Computational Audio”

Like the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max sports active noise-cancelling tech. This uses an array of microphones – six on the Max – to detect noise in the environment and cancel it with “anti-noise” waves. There’s also inward-facing microphones to measure what you’re listening to further fine-tune the audio.

Apple doesn’t specify the diameter of the single dynamic driver in each channel, but they do state that it’s “Apple-designed”, and that it covers a wide frequency range with remarkable “texture and accuracy”. Each driver takes a page out of audiophile floor speakers, sporting dual-neodymium ring magnet motors, minimising distortion for clear playback.

Image: Apple

Onboard is a pair of H1 chips in each cup – similar to the AirPods Pro. 10 audio cores control the noise cancellation and adapts the audio for Adaptive EQ based on your unique fit and seal, while conveying Spatial Audio in movies and other compatible content.

Built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers track subtle movements by your head to provide a theatre-like experience in movies and TV programmes.

Other ecosystem features

The AirPods Max enjoys the other audio features we’ve seen before: On-head detection for auto-pause/play, Always-on Siri, Audio Sharing, one-tap setup and seamless switching between your Apple devices.

AirPods Max Smart Case

One of the forseeable downsides to the AirPods Max is bulkiness – just like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the cups of the Max aren’t able to fold inwards into a more compact bundle – a useful feature when travelling light.

The Smart Case of the AirPods Max. Image: Apple

The soft, slim Smart Case does automatically activate the ultra-low-power state of the AirPods Max to preserve its 20-hour battery. A 5-minute charge via Lightning connector delivers 1.5 hours of listening.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

5 thoughts on “Apple’s AirPods Max ANC Headphones Costs 2X As Its Competitors, Boasts “Computational Audio”

  1. It’s Looking solid but a bit overpriced, lets hope it justifies the cost.

  2. Pman

    Imagine if Dynaudio or someone put computational sound in their speakers, making their speakers play like”we decide they must play”

    I got my loathing for Apple already in the Ipod days, since then every step they have made have not been in a game changing direction for me.
    But people should of course spend their own money on what ever product or service they want to.

  3. Great post! Unfortunately, the headphones are overpriced. At Los Angeles Car Detailing, we’ve been using Sony noise-canceling headphones while we detail cars. If Apple doesn’t reduce the price, then we won’t ever make the switch to these headphones.

  4. CoreyBenton

    First they sell you phones without proper headphone jacks so they can sell you expensive dongles if you want to use better, traditional sounding headphones (Beats headphones are also wildly overrated making them a perfect Apple product.) Then they sell you their proprietary, silly looking Airpods with a 2-year-ish batter life…and people still keep lining up for whatever new, mediocre, over-priced product this company puts out. I do have an iPhone but was smart enough years ago to make that my limit of buying into the Apple ecosystem (aka “electronic prison”).

  5. Tomas

    Nice headphone with stainless steel frame, cool design, and noise features.

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