AirPods Max: Worth your money?
The answer is “YES”. Why yes? Let’s find this out.
I feel — headphones with Active noise cancellation(ANC) is the best innovation in audio/sound engineering. This is something that can take you to any place or make you work with concentration at any physical location you maybe at, ignoring your environment.
Apple revolutionised headphone/bluetooth headphone industry by launching AirPods in year 2016. It again took noise cancellation to a next level in AirPods pro in 2019. Such a small headphone with a decent Noise cancellation.
In 2020, ANC was at a different level with the over the ear headphone- AirPods Max!
To understand AirPods Max better, I have divided it into 4 parts:
- Aesthetic & material used
- Technical specifications
- Software/connectivity/Feature/How does it sound?
- Value for money, no- Goodness
At the end, we’ll understand the Pros and Cons.
Aesthetic & material used
I would rate 4 out of 5 for the aesthetics of AirPods Max.
Aesthetics of a over the ear headphone can be understood from the below 5 points.
- Headphone case
- Speaker (and Ear cups) — Material and comfort
- Head band
- Button’s ergonomics
- Neck comfort
Headphone case- Smart Case
I would rate the this headphone case as 1 out of 5.
The case is of no use, other than putting these headphone in deep sleep to conserve the batteries. The material used is fine, specially soft microfibre inside — but there is no protection of the case from any rain/dust (This is not IP certified headphone).
The most fragile part — the headband, is totally exposed and there is no protection. One of the saddest and lousiest design by Apple by far. (One more coming on top of my mind — the charging of the Magic mouse).
Speaker (and Ear cups) — Material and comfort
I would rate as 4 out of 5 for the materials used and comfort of these AirPods Max.
So, there are two parts to this — one is the material and other is the comfort.
One can feel the plushness of these AirPods Max, when put on ears. The soft fabric of the ear cushions give you comfort and actual feel of luxury listening. While putting it on ear, you encounter your palms and fingers with the Aluminium covering of the cups unlike the plastics used in other over the ear headphones.
Audio leak in these is close to zero, but some sounds can be heard at 100% volume- given the passive listener is in a quiet environment. They are not at all like other plastic made over the ear headphones, where the sound leak is quite noticeable.
The above 2 things are great for someone who has spent so much on a headphone, this is the plushness of the material and comfort from them.(In low temperatures, the Aluminium cups will definitely make you little uncomfortable — though, not at all a deal breaker).
It is a well thought band for longer listening and would definitely rate it as 5 out of 5.
The headband is made of metal covered with soft material, which makes it very comfortable and sturdy. What goes around the head is a clean designed mesh, which doesn’t give pressure to top of head. It distributes the force across the area that it covers and definitely can be used for long time — without any much discomfort.
Talking about the adjusting mechanism of the AirPods according to your size of head is wholesomely satisfying. It’s a steel piston mechanism and it’s not digital(no predefined slots) rather it is Analog(can be adjusted anywhere in levels). This is the best thing in over the ear headphone. (Mesh is definitely elastic in nature and feels Fragile while holding it in hand. But counterintuitive — it is strong enough to last the wear and tear).
There are 2 buttons and 1 lightening port(Apple patent). I would rate button ergonomics as 5 out of 5.
The 2 buttons are perfectly placed and you can get used to it very easily. One is a clickable button with a satisfying feedback. This button is used for changing from Noise cancellation mode (All ambient noise is stopped) to Transparency mode (You can hear the ambient sounds).
The other button is a circular one, which Apple calls it — Digital crown. It is similar to the one used in Apple watches, but bigger in size in AirPods Max. It is also the most satisfying button, which is used for volume control and when you click it perform actions like- Picking calls, play/pause tracks, change tracks, etc. (When I am at home and using this for working on something- If someone in family calls me out, I cannot hear. They then poke me and I happily click these 2 buttons together at one time and I can hear everything clearly).
Not sure if this one is thought through, but would rate 2 out of 5.
Why? Well — till now, I couldn’t figure out a right position to keep it in hibernate when not using it. So, mostly all over the ear headphone are rested on the neck. AirPods like mostly other headphones is quite uncomfortable. This one is specially bad in winters- the cold Aluminium doesn’t make you feel plush in this use case.
Also, if you have adjusted headband according to your size- you cannot rest it in same size on your neck. So, this is not the right place to make them rest. If you are not using for a brief time even, put it in the world’s ugliest case. (Still I need to figure out — “How to travel with AirPods Max”).
These AirPods come in 5 colours:
- Space grey
- Sky blue
There are 9 microphones in total in these AirPods. 8 microphones for Active noise cancellation. 3 microphones for voice pickup (2 shared with Active noise cancellation and 1 additional microphone).
There are multiple sensors on these headphones for doing multiple tasks, like- detecting case, tracking head for spatial audio, etc..
These headphones run on the Apple’s H1 headphone chip, which is in each ear cup.
Talking about dimensions of the Apple AirPods, the width of AirPods is 168.6mm (6.64 inches), height is 187.3 mm (7.27 inches) and depth is 83.4 mm (3.28 inches).
It weighs 384.8 gram without the smart case. The weight of smart case is 134.5 grams.
You can listen for 20 hours of high-fidelity sound or movie playback with Spatial audio or talk time on one single charge of the AirPods max. 5 minutes of charge will give you around 1.5 hours of listening time.
These AirPods are charged via lightning connector. AirPods max has bluetooth 5.0 technology.
You can definitely connect these with your non-Apple devices as a simple bluetooth over the ear headphones, but many of the critical functionalities won’t work with those devices. So, it is advisable to use these with Apple devices only to get maximum potential out of these AirPods Max.
Software/connectivity/Feature/How does it sound?
I think Apple does this part in any of it’s device really well. The great hardware that Apple uses in any product is very well supported by the Software/UI of that product. In this I would give AirPods Max 4 out of 5.
AirPods overall are quite smart as they manage their upgradation of software/firmware themselves when kept on charging for a defined time. Nothing much to complain on this.
Also, I roam around my house(1700 Square feet) with these on my ears- it has quite a range. I can put the device at one end of my house and go to the other end, with no lapse in the sound. If you are in Apple ecosystem- you can enjoy this AirPods Max seamlessly changing between the devices. (Thanks to H1 chip)
Well, talking about the sound — it has the right amount of bass/mids/treble required by a normal person for audio consumption. There is clarity in the sound and I have personally not heard something which is this clear and balanced. I do have AirPods Pro as well, but these sound richer in every sense from those.
Listen to something with higher bass — and put to maximum volume and you can feel a soothing vibration in your ears, which is not at all annoying or hurting your ears (but should not listen for long and it might damage ears over time, if used liked this).
Talking more on the feature part of it, few that’s worth mentioning-
- Notification announcement
- Siri support
- Auto play/pause, when put and removed from ears
- Auto connected to different Apple devices seamlessly
- Better mic than AirPods Pro
- Dolby Atmos quality support
- Head tracking with compatible apps
Value for money, Goodness
These AirPods Max will cost you around $599. In India, these costs INR 59,990. Yes, an over the ear headphone is that costly(Bought Samsung Galaxy S21 5G, cheaper than these Max)
According to me or rather the way I see price of a tech product is not just at what price is it available and what would be the resale of that product after “x” period. These things can be of 10% weightage.
The real, 90% of the value of tech product is actually the goodness it brings? Let me explain exactly what I mean here by goodness.
I am not sure that is it just with me, or everyone else as well? Do you feel happy and excited when you buy a new gadget? Do you want to use it more and more? While doing this, do you get a new good habit? Do you crack something, which has been long time pending or procrastinated?
Well, for me it happens mostly with all gadgets and this time with AirPods Max- I developed habit of listening to game changing Podcasts(most procrastinated goal). Well, I would say that it is a good habit and it developed because of these AirPods Max.
M1 MacBook Pro- started my interest in iOS coding, iPad Pro Magic keyboard case- made me write more on Apple products in my leisure time.
So, from hereon- do measure a tech product with not just the value for money but for the goodness it brings!
These are definitely luxury headphones(this is actually a luxury listening as quoted by Marques Brownlee aka MKBHD) and meant for someone who can use them and enjoy without thinking on the cost incurred.
- Awesome build quality
- Great sound (high, mids and lows)
- Ear cups can be changed- Longevity
- Great Active Noise Cancellation
- Tough to travel with
- Tough to use while exercise/gym/running/jogging
Thanks for reading through, hope you liked this. Please ask your queries in the comment section- will definitely answer each one of you. For anything related to Apple, feel free to ask me.