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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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 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.