- With a powerful Apple‑designed H1 chip in each cup, custom acoustic design, and advanced software, AirPods Max use computational audio to create a breakthrough listening experience.
- By tapping into each chip’s 10 audio cores, computational audio helps block outside noise, adapts audio to the fit and seal of your ear cushions, and makes movie scenes sound like they’re happening all around you.
- Using built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers, AirPods Max and your iPhone or iPad track the subtle motion of your head, anchoring sounds to your device.
Apple AirPods Max Review. Apple will release its “AirPods Max” wireless headphones with active noise cancellation functionality. I would like to report on my experience by focusing on four main points, focusing on the capabilities of this unit, which is also Apple’s first headphone.
Apple AirPods Max Review: A design that makes use of material textures. Comfortable to wear
AirPods Max is premium class headphones with a selling price of USD 597 before tax. I think a lot of people are concerned about whether the actual texture and sound engine and the quality of the noise canceling function are worth the price.
First of all, I want to pay attention to the texture and design of the main body. The AirPods Max uses oxide-coated aluminum for their sealed earplugs. It looks a lot like the texture of the MacBook or iPad case or Apple Watch in an aluminum case. Matte painted ear cups give off a faint glow when exposed to light.
These days, many headphones have multiple buttons and a touch sensor in the earcups, so I don’t think there are any headphones with a smooth finish. I was surprised that the Apple logo was not visible on the chassis.
All remote control operations of the device that will be the playback device, such as a paired iPhone / iPad, are performed with the Digital Crown located on the earplugs on the right side of the main unit and the noise control button.
The volume of the Digital Crown can be raised and lowered, and clicking is the operation of playing music and answering calls. When you turn the Digital Crown while wearing the headphones, a mechanical sound like turning the crown is reproduced. No tactile feedback at your fingertips, so I think it’s reproduced by software. When you press the noise control button, noise cancellation on / off and external sound capture is activated quickly. If you press and hold it, the LED on the main unit will flash and you will enter Bluetooth pairing mode. I thought it was a simple and familiar operating feeling.
The headband material is shiny stainless steel. If you adjust the arm length according to your head size, it will stop at the specified position. The sliding motion is not too hard and smooth.
When worn on the head, the earpads attach gently around the ears. Since the pillow is made of soft memory foam material, I don’t tire easily even though I wear the headphones for a long time while wearing glasses.
There is a spring in the joint between the earlobe and arm, and when you wear headphones, you feel moderate lateral pressure. In my opinion, AirPods Max is just right. Even though the ANC function is not activated, the ear tips provide a feeling of passive sound isolation.
Since the main body uses a lot of metal, its mass is 384.8 g, which is slightly heavier than average among premium wireless headphones if you look at the specifications alone. However, when I put it on, the net knitted canopy (headband) gently wraps around the top of my head, so I don’t feel any heavyweight. However, the feeling of wearing headphones will definitely vary from person to person, so we recommend that you try it in a store before buying it.
Apple AirPods Max Review comes with its own Smart Case. The silicone case is designed to cover only the body of the headphones, so you can carry it in a bag with the headband open. You may feel a little uncomfortable, but since this is a strong metal-framed headband, you don’t have to worry about breaking it easily. If you’re worried about dropping it, it’s a good idea to carry it in a soft container large enough to wrap and protect it.
If I want to order one Smart Case, I also want to have a pocket to hold the Lightning cable for charging. I think it looks even prettier if the Apple logo is attached to the lid by embossing.
A sound that accentuates the characteristics of the sound source
Next, I would like to pay attention to music playback capabilities. Pairing with an iPhone / iPad is similar to the AirPods series wireless earphones, and when you hold your AirPods Max close with the power turned on, an automatic pairing animation starts on the iPhone screen, and setup is completed with a single touch. I paired my iPhone 12 Pro Max and listened to music on Apple Music.
This is a well-balanced sound that brings out the characteristics of the sound source properly and is not overly colored. The vocals have a tense voice and a very clear sense of localization. High resolution and carefully drawn outlines of sound. You can see the vocal breath and the feel of the vibrato.
Jazz pianos clearly draw a wide dynamic range from the soft touch of the keyboard to the resounding powerful bass. High notes are very smooth and subtle. The remaining voice was plump.
Wood basses and drums have a supple, toned core. The rhythm of the snare and hi-hat drums is grainy and light. The performance of a large jazz band, a large classical orchestra that makes you feel the heat, is very audible.
Neodymium magnets with a dual ring configuration are placed on a dynamic driver with a diameter of 40 mm, and a specially designed amplifier drives them with great force. These Apple-designed acoustics are at the heart of making a generous sound. Even if you play the music at a loud volume, the music won’t be damaged, and vice versa, listening at a low volume will produce even the smoothest sound.
The “Apple H1” chip, which can be said to be the brains of this unit, is equipped with one chip on each side, and while precisely controlling the driver, it produces the best sound. Aggressive rock, EDM, and jazz tunes can be reproduced smoothly even though the original has some rough edges, which may be unique to the AirPods Max. The iOS / iPadOS native “Music” app also has a function that lets you use an equalizer to make your favorite sound match the music you want to play, so I wanted to use it well.
Strong noise canceling effect. “Hear-through” audio is clear too
I am also very concerned about the performance of the active noise cancellation function. I checked its capabilities together with the external sound capture (hear-through) function.
The AirPods Max has a total of 8 microphones on the outside/inside of the ear cups, and 10 audio cores on the Apple H1 chip, one on each side, while performing 9 billion operations per second. Eliminate unnecessary environmental noise with a unique algorithm.
The effect is very strong. Eliminates low-pitched noise such as car road noise and ventilation fan noise in a balanced and equal manner, including human speech and high-pitched mechanical noise.
Noise cancellation function can be switched on/off quickly from the noise control button and iOS/iPad OS from the control center. Even when the function is activated, the pressure in the ear is reduced and the balance of music playback is not lost. Also, there is no sound blurring when switching to hear-through / off.
Right now, I don’t have the opportunity to fly outside to prevent the spread of the virus infection, but I believe this will erase the loud noises on the plane. Passive sound insulation performance due to the closed casing and ear tips with less sound leakage is also high, so I think the total noise cancellation performance is expected to be higher than the AirPods Pro wireless earphones.
The function of capturing the external sound is also very good. You can listen to the music you are listening to in a mixed state without blurring it while clearly capturing the ambient sound. It’s like listening to sound with headphones off and wireless speakers close to your ears.
If you use noise-canceling headphones when traveling outdoors, you won’t notice the approaching cars and bikes and the sounds you should hear. In order to enjoy music safely without causing inconvenience to people, I would like to activate the hear-through function when using the AirPods Max outdoors.
Or even when listening to music during remote work or when you want to pay attention to the surrounding sound while listening to the video conference audio, this unit’s clear and clear external sound capture function shows its true value. This seems like a good buy because of the high-quality headphones that are active in the business world too.
The immense power of Spatial Audio
When combined with an iPhone/iPad with iOS 14.3 / iPadOS 14.3 or later installed AirPods Max, you can enjoy a unique immersive surround experience from Apple that is called “spatial audio”.
Spatial audio also needs to be supported by the application. Currently, in my country, Apple originals that can be watched using the “Apple TV+” app, or audio recorded in 7.1ch / 5.1ch surround sound other than Dolby Atmos, can be purchased or rented from the iTunes Store and spatial audio. You can enjoy playback.
Spatial audio uses the gyroscope and accelerometer built into the AirPods Max and iPhone/iPad to detect real-time head and device movements. It includes a function called “dynamic head tracking” which correctly positions the sound image of the content in the desired position while tracking the direction towards the user’s head and body. While paying attention to the effect, I hooked up the AirPods Max to the iPad Air and watched the movie “Greyhound” released on Apple TV+.
In the second half of the story, in the scene of the offshore confrontation between the Greyhound destroyer and the U-board, it is amazing as if missiles and torpedoes are flying from all directions. In the climactic scene where an airplane drops a mine from the sky and sinks a U-boat, the waves soaring from the bombardment are immersed in the force of hitting the sea surface and the reality of the sound effects at the altitude. The high-resolution sound of the AirPods Max conveys a sense of the tension of the whisper lines the actors speak.
With the headphones on, if you turn right from the direction of hearing the voice, you can hear the actor’s voice from your left ear. Likewise, the sound effect of the bullets flying around is still localized even when the face is rotated. It’s like stepping into a greyhound and sharing the urgency of the battlefield with sailors.
Also, pay attention to the movies and animations offered on the iTunes Store. If you look at the details of the store’s work and the “language” information includes Dolby Atmos and 7.1ch / 5.1ch audio, you can enjoy spatial audio and dynamic head tracking. Even works that you have seen over and over again can make completely new discoveries when you experience them with spatial audio. AirPods Pro is also an audio device that supports spatial audio, but I think that the AirPods Max headphones are better at the power and immersive-ness of the sound. I think it’s worth buying just because AirPods Max is currently the only headphone for spatial audio.
Apple AirPods Max Review: You have to be convinced by the charm when you touch the real thing
The AirPods Max is arguably the most recommended wireless headphones for iPhone / iPad and Mac users, given the compatibility of the devices, they are bundled with. As a wireless headphone with a Bluetooth connection, you can enjoy it by connecting it to your Android smartphone or Windows PC.
We would like to recommend them as headphones for music lovers as well as movie lovers who can easily enjoy an immersive surround experience in combination with an iPhone / iPad. The author is also satisfied with the fit, so I would like to use them as headphones for video conferencing for future homework.
These headphones also have a noise-canceling function. If you’re not satisfied with the noise-canceling headphones/earphones you’re currently using, give AirPods Max a try. The more you touch the power of this unit from various angles, the more you will understand that this unit is a product with a unique value that distinguishes it from other headphones.
Regarding battery life, it’s hard to say for sure as it’s only been a few days since I started working on it, but in reality, the endurance supporting up to about 20 hours of continuous playback while using ANC, listen-through, and continuous spatial audio is heavy. However, if you continue to use it intermittently, it equates to you not having to recharge it for several days.
In unexpected situations, you can use fast charging, which allows you to enjoy listening for about 1.5 hours in 5 minutes, so even if you notice that the battery is running low before you leave the house if you start charging hastily and You are on a one-way destination. Looks like there’s no need to worry about running out of battery. You’ll be grateful that the same Lightning cable as the iPhone can be used to charge, which reduces the amount of baggage on aircraft.
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