Apple announced the release of their new over ear AirPods Max on the 8th of December 2020. Having purchased the headphones only yesterday, this review will include my initial impressions of the product, and a more in-depth review will follow in the weeks to come.
Apple price the AirPods Max at £549, offering five different colour variations which match the fourth generation iPad Air or iPhone 12 series. Back in December, I was shocked at the price of the AirPods Max and doubted I would ever buy them for that same reason. However, as I learned more about the features the AirPods Max offer, I realised how useful the device would be in my day-to-day life.
Due to personal mobility issues, I can’t use the standard AirPods or the AirPods Pro as they would easily fall out of my ears and possibly get lost. The over ear design of the AirPods Max was really appealing to me, as I love Apple and have never been able to use their headwear before.
It’s for this reason that I decided to accept Apple’s price point, as the Pros cost £249 (which are much smaller than the Max) and people still choose to buy them.
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What’s in the box?
After purchasing the AirPods Max, you will receive the headphones in a very controversial case which matches their colour, as well as a lightning adaptor for charging.
Initial view on the AirPods Max
The sound quality of the AirPods Max is excellent, the audio from apps I have tested such as Apple TV+ and Apple Music is extremely clear and crisp. The volume is expectedly much louder than the AirPods or AirPods Pro, meaning the Max is perfect for those who love to blast loud music directly into their ears (including myself).
The AirPods Max offers a spatial audio feature which Apple describes as “audio with dynamic head tracking”, providing “cinema-like sound that surrounds you from the film or video you’re watching, so that it seems as if the sound is coming from all around you.” This feature is also available with the AirPods Pro.
As well as this, the AirPods Max allows for audio sharing between other AirPod users, which can come in very handy when watching movies or listening to music with friends.
Possibly my favourite feature and the main reason I made this purchase was for the headphones noise cancelling ability. With a click of a button, the AirPods Max can entirely shut out the outside world while you listen to your favourite music or watch TV on an Apple device.
One element of the Airpods Max I still haven’t managed to figure out is the automatic device switching, which allows for audio to be switched between devices when, for example, a phone call is taken while watching a video on your MacBook. The MacBook is intended to pause the video and the audio is switched in your AirPods to your phone call.
It took me a while to set up the automatic device switching, and once set up I found that the feature does not work nearly as smoothly as I expected.
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Initial view on the AirPods Case
The most controversial feature of the new AirPods Max among reviewers is the Apple case. I’m split, as I can see the good and the bad in the accessory.
The case only offers support to the ear cups, and leaves the headband as well as part of the outer shell of the headphones on display. This is not very protective or useful for travelling. It could also be said that by using the headband of the headphones as a handle, Apple have offered very little support to protect the AirPods Max.
To add insult to injury, Apple don’t offer their own brand of travel case for this product, however these are available on sites like Amazon.
As well as this, the AirPods Max have no on/off switch, and the only way to put the headphones in sleep mode is by putting them in their case.
Nevertheless, I can see some good in the case, as it is a very sleek and minimal design which does not take up much room. However, I will be investing in a more protective case in the future.
My final judgement
Although Apple have made some shortcuts with their controversial case, the AirPods Max themselves are the best headphones I have ever used and totally worth the money. I am so glad Apple have finally made a headwear device that suits me, as the noise cancelling as well as the over ear design fit my daily needs perfectly.