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Apple AirPods Max: A Premium Sound Experience


Headphones

Apple AirPods Max Introduction:


The premium materials used in the AirPods Max contribute to their slightly heavier weight compared to other wireless headphone alternatives. Weighing 385g, they are 135g heavier than the Sony XM5. However, thanks to the clever weight distribution design, wearing them feels effortless, without any uncomfortable pressure points. We've been using the AirPods Max for nearly two years, enjoying long listening sessions without experiencing any discomfort or fatigue.


Apple made a conscious decision not to incorporate touch controls into the AirPods Max design. Instead, they offer two physical controls on the top of the right ear cup. A simple button allows you to switch between noise-canceling modes, while a dial, inspired by the digital crown of the Apple Watch, provides an intuitive solution for adjusting volume. Although the dial can be accidentally bumped while adjusting the headphones, its low resistance may result in significant volume changes.


However, when intentionally using the crown, it becomes a tactile delight. Twist it to control the volume, click to play/pause, double-click to skip forward, and triple-click to skip back. Holding down the crown activates Siri. Additionally, the AirPods Max is always ready to respond to the "Hey Siri" command, offering a convenient hands-free experience.


In conclusion, the Apple AirPods Max delivers a premium audio experience that exceeds expectations. With exceptional sound quality, impeccable craftsmanship, and a comfortable fit, these headphones showcase Apple's commitment to excellence in the world of audio.


Pros:

  1. Superb sound and noise cancellation: Immerse yourself in exceptional audio quality and enjoy an immersive sound experience. The AirPods Max delivers remarkable sound and effectively cancels out unwanted noise.

  2. Cinematic spatial audio: Elevate your audio experience with amazing spatial sound that transports you to another dimension. It's like having a personal cinema for your ears.

  3. Exceptional craftsmanship: The build quality of the Apple AirPods Max is unparalleled. The materials and construction reflect meticulous attention to detail and ensure long-lasting durability.

  4. Comfort: While the design may not appeal to everyone, there's no denying the comfort of the AirPods Max. The anodized aluminum ear cups, connected by a stainless-steel headband, boast precision engineering. Memory foam cushions delicately envelop even the largest ears, creating a gentle seal that effectively blocks out ambient noise.








Unveiling the Apple AirPods Max: A Unique Perspective


One aspect that sets the Apple AirPods Max apart is their distinct case, which has humorously been compared to a bra or a gun holster. However, despite its unconventional appearance, it fails to fulfill the fundamental purpose of a typical case: protecting the headphones from bumps, scratches, and dirt. This case leaves the headband and the tops and bottoms of the cups exposed, providing only minimal protection. It's akin to placing the headphones naked in your bag, leaving them susceptible to damage.


APPLE AIRPODS MAX TECH SPECS

Type: Over-ear wireless

Bluetooth: 5.0

Codec support: AAC, SBC

ANC: Yes

Battery life: 20 hours

Weight: 385g

Finishes: x5 (space grey, pink, green, silver, sky blue)


Apple AirPods Max: Ultimate Sound Experience


Let's start with the most crucial aspect: the sound quality of the Apple AirPods Max is exceptional. It's important to note that we initially tested these headphones during the pandemic, so we couldn't do our usual on-flight or on-bus testing. However, we conducted thorough tests using speakers and willing volunteers to get a good sense of how the AirPods Max would perform in different scenarios.


While the Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM5 are slightly better at blocking constant noises like engine sounds, the AirPods Max also excels in minimizing external distractions, including chit-chat, which is more challenging. In short, these headphones do an outstanding job of keeping external noise at bay and ensuring a focused listening experience.


If you prefer to stay aware of your surroundings, the AirPods Max offers a Transparency mode that processes external sounds and lets them pass through to your ears. Although this mode is typically more useful for in-ear headphones during outdoor activities, it works well when you need it. The only downside is that some of the processed noise in Transparency mode may feel slightly artificial.


It's worth mentioning that the AirPods Max sounds best when both noise-canceling and Transparency modes are turned off. There's a subtle difference, but when these features are deactivated, you'll experience a more dynamic and punchy sound with slightly enhanced treble. Although noise-canceling is still highly recommended, whenever you have the chance to switch it off (which is quite often due to the effective physical noise isolation), you'll hear the AirPods Max at its absolute best.



Outstanding Audio Experience


As we dive into serious listening sessions, the AirPods Max reveals their extraordinary capabilities. Starting with SBTRKT's debut album, we're instantly captivated by the incredibly clear and spacious sound. The AirPods Max offers a level of clarity and energy that surpasses even the Sony headphones, making the listening experience more engaging and authentic. These headphones feel like a significant leap forward in terms of audio sophistication and build quality. When we played "Trials Of The Past," the AirPods Max delivered an additional layer of sizzle and attack that is simply irresistible, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the track.


Switching to the Tidal Master recording of "The Road" by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis from the film of the same name, the AirPods Max's delivery is nothing short of stunning. These headphones capture the beautiful nuances in the timing and pressure of each piano note, reflecting the live nature of the recording. The notes feel both organic and precise, with subtle degradation at the end of each note and a definite, distinct end when the strings' vibrations cease. Every note sounds full and solid, bringing a tangible physicality to the recording that is often missed by lesser headphones. The AirPods Max adds an extra texture that amplifies the emotional impact of the music.


The Sony headphones also perform well with this track, but the AirPods Max offers an even crisper, more precise, and spacious sound. The increased precision creates a more engaging listening experience, and the added openness and instrument separation adds a captivating atmosphere. It's like sitting in the room with the musicians as they play around you—a truly transportive experience.


Challenging Musical Repertoire


When faced with a demanding musical challenge like Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," the AirPods Max once again proves their superiority. The spaciousness of their soundstage, blending substance and airiness, plays a significant role in creating an immersive experience. The dynamic ability of these headphones ensures the low-level, menacing chants are thrillingly juxtaposed with the massive crescendos.


The AirPods Max's precision is showcased in the treble range, where poor recordings may reveal their flaws. However, in this case, the treble is superb, with the triangle at the end sparkling brilliantly. The entire presentation is meticulously organized, making it easy to make sense of even the busiest moments in the track. The AirPods Max never get overwhelmed, and the presentation remains crystal clear.


For a more aggressive and intense experience, we turned to "Kenai" by 36 Crazyfists, and once again, the AirPods Max delivered a thrilling performance with their fast-paced and impactful delivery. These headphones are driven and in-your-face, perfectly matching the energy and intensity of the track. While the Sony headphones offer a smoother sound, they lack the same level of cleanliness and crispness, which detracts from the overall experience.

While the AirPods Max undoubtedly justifies their price in terms of sound quality, it's worth noting that other premium offerings from B&W, Focal, and Mark Levinson also compete favorably against Apple's headphones. In fact, these four models rank in sound quality according to their price, with the Px8 offering even more precision and clarity. We recommend choosing the best pair you can afford to ensure an exceptional audio experience.


Apple AirPods Max: Amazing Movie Sound


Switching from music to movies, the AirPods Max comes with a unique advantage: spatial audio. This feature provides a virtual surround sound experience, whether you're watching content in 5.1, 7.1, or even Dolby Atmos. What sets the AirPods Max apart is the built-in head tracking, which ensures that the sound remains relative to the screen, even if you move your head or the device you're using, be it an iPhone or iPad.

The overall effect is truly superb. The sound presentation feels open, spacious, and incredibly convincing, and the head tracking is remarkably smooth and accurate, adding to the immersive experience. When we watched the opening of "Gravity," the AirPods Max recreated the scene brilliantly. The placement of voices coming through the radio felt precisely positioned, with excellent weight and impact in the thumps against the satellite and the deep bass notes of the soundtrack. The clarity and dynamics were exceptional as the scene transitioned from peaceful to threatening and ultimately catastrophic. It's easy to forget you're wearing headphones, thanks to the expansive sound delivery—it's a truly cinematic experience.

Verdict

(Unsurprisingly, you'll need an iPhone or iPad to fully unleash the potential of the AirPods Max. Although they can work with non-Apple devices using standard Bluetooth 5.0, you'll miss out on many unique features. Therefore, we assume that only avid Apple users will consider purchasing a pair of AirPods Max. Frankly, it's surprising that someone who isn't already deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem would read this far into our review.

Assuming you're an enthusiastic Apple user, the AirPods Max is undeniably among the best wireless headphones on the market. Their authenticity, detail, crispness, and spaciousness elevate them far beyond previous "premium" noise-canceling headphones, making comparisons somewhat redundant. Instead, it's more fitting to consider them alongside proper hi-fi products.

While the AirPods Max are no longer the only contenders in this premium class of wireless headphones (and they're not even the most expensive anymore), their price tag is still considerable. However, when it comes to sound quality, there's no doubt they're worth every penny.



SCORES
  • Sound 5

  • Comfort 5

  • Build 5


Apple AirPods Max Review: The Ultimate Wireless Headphones Unveiled Looking for top-tier wireless headphones that provide unparalleled audio quality and noise-canceling prowess? Look no further than the Apple AirPods Max. Priced at £549 / $549, these over-ear headphones take your listening experience to new heights. Now, let's dive into the details and discover what sets them apart.


Exquisite Craftsmanship and Supreme Comfort From the moment you grasp the Apple AirPods Max, their exceptional craftsmanship becomes evident. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones, the AirPods Max exudes opulence with their meticulously crafted, single-piece anodized aluminum ear cups and stainless-steel headband. The memory foam cushions ensure a snug and comfortable fit, effectively blocking out any external distractions. Despite weighing slightly more at 385g compared to alternatives like the Sony XM5, these headphones distribute the weight expertly, making them feel featherlight during long listening sessions.


Intuitive Controls at Your Fingertips While touch controls may be missed by some, Apple has opted for physical controls on the AirPods Max. The right cup houses a button for seamlessly switching between noise-canceling modes and a dial inspired by the Apple Watch's digital crown. This crown allows for effortless volume adjustments and playback control, though its low resistance makes accidental nudges a possibility. Additionally, a long press on the crown activates Siri, while the headphones also respond to the "Hey Siri" command.


A Case That Turns Heads The AirPods Max comes with a distinctive case that has sparked amusing comparisons to a bra or a gun holster. However, it's important to note that this case falls short in terms of comprehensive protection, leaving the headband and cup tops/bottoms exposed. If you frequently take your headphones on the go, investing in a third-party case is highly recommended. Rumors suggest that a new case design might accompany the highly anticipated AirPods Max 2.


Impressive Technology and Ingenious Engineering Apple has ingeniously integrated its H1 chips into each earcup of the AirPods Max. These chips analyze input from eight strategically placed microphones inside and around the headphones. Through active processing, they expertly cancel out external noise and optimize the sound based on the fit and seal around your ears. The AirPods Max's acoustic engineering incorporates a proprietary 40mm driver equipped with a dual neodymium ring magnet motor, ensuring minimal harmonic distortion across the entire audible spectrum.


Unrivaled Sound Quality When it comes to sound quality, the AirPods Max truly shines. Their noise-canceling performance is top-notch, effectively silencing the outside world. While the Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM5 may have a slight edge in blocking continuous noise, Apple's headphones outshine them in handling conversations and providing an immersive experience. In Transparency mode, external sounds are intelligently processed and transmitted to your ears, although this feature may find more utility with in-ear headphones for outdoor activities.


For the ultimate audio experience, it is recommended to utilize the AirPods Max without noise-canceling or Transparency mode enabled. With these features switched off, the headphones deliver a clear and expansive sound. SBTRKT's debut album beautifully showcases the AirPods Max's clarity, energy, and precision, offering a substantial sonic upgrade. The Tidal Master recording of The Road by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis mesmerizes with its impeccable delivery, striking a perfect balance between organic and precise notes. Even with more demanding tracks like Carl Orff's Carmina Burana or Kenai by 36 Crazyfists, the AirPods Max maintains their spatial and dynamic prowess, presenting a well-structured auditory experience.

Immerse Yourself in the World of Movies Movie enthusiasts are in for a treat with the AirPods Max and their exceptional spatial audio feature. This remarkable capability creates a virtual surround sound experience that elevates your cinematic immersion.









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