After many rumours, Apple today unveiled its own ‘over-ear’ noise-cancelling headphones. Rounding out several months of hardware announcements, the AirPods Max come with the premium design and a premium price tag.
Apple is the undisputed leader in the hearables market, with a 52% market share, according to GlobalData estimates. The AirPods Max will substantially tighten its grip on this rapidly growing market, which is forecast to be worth $50bn by 2021.
They feature high-fidelity audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio and magnetically attachable ear cushions.
Adaptive EQ tailors sound to the bespoke fit and seal created by the ear cushions. Inward-facing microphones measure what you’re hearing, then adjust the frequencies of your music to deliver a rich, consistent experience that faithfully reproduces every note.
To cancel unwanted external sound, AirPods Max use a total of six outward-facing microphones to detect noise in your environment, and two inward-facing microphones to measure what you’re hearing.
Beamforming microphones help isolate your voice on phone calls, so it’s heard clearly — even in windy situations.
Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking delivers a cinema‑like experience for movies and shows, with sound that surrounds you. They measure your ears acoustically, to provide the best quality sound. It’s therefore important to keep your ears in the best shape possible, something Auris Ear Care are used to helping with.
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.
Just like the current Airpods and Airpods Pro, you can share music to multiple devices to listen along to music with your friends. Also like the current Airpods, AirPods Max pause audio when you take them off.
Similar to the Apple Watch, AirPods Max feature a Digital Crown on one ear cup for precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri voice control. There’s also a noise control button for switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
The battery is rated at 20 hours of listening, movie watching or talk time with Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled. Charging is via the standard lighting adapter. There’s also a “smart case” for the AirPods Max (below) that automatically puts them into a low-power state.
Update 22nd January 2021
A nifty new feature has recently been discovered on the Airpods Max that might hint at future customisations.
A teardown by Chinese YouTube channel PreLook revealed that the AirPods Max headband can be removed simply by inserting a sim card ejector tool (the same as you’ll find in your iPhone box) into a tiny hole at the top of each headphone cup.
Watching the process in action (below), it definitely looks like the headband was designed to be swapped easily, suggesting customisation options rather like the Apple Watch straps.