The release of the new AirPods Max over-ear headphones has made headlines and it’s probably going to make huge sales as well because since Apple had been able to successful snap up the TWS wireless earbuds market with its AirPods devices, it might find its way around with enthusiasts this time around even though it’s entering a market that’s already competitive considering the likes of Beats, Sony and Bose.
While Huawei also made it’s own version called the Freebuds Studio, on papers, the later seems better despite the AirPods Max costing a lot of money with a price tag of US$549 (approximately NG₦ 207,485 / SAR 8,251) which is much more expensive than your typical mid-range smartphone from brands like Xiaomi or Oppo.
The initial batch of the AirPods Max already gone on presale on Dec. 8th and shipping starts next Tuesday Dec. 15th and it comes in multiple color options which includes Blue, Pink, Green something which I think Apple failed to do with its big-hit AirPods Pro leading to mass cloning of the device into different colors.
Meanwhile the resales pricing of the AirPods Max is in excess of US$850 on some resellers sites such as eBay and StockX which makes some wonder whether Apple even reduced the pricing but what can I say.
The silver color seems to be the most common among others and the design is really unique because of course its an Apple product and the company is always about the innovative designs. Battery-wise, it come packed up with a long lasting battery life out of the box which is one thing that’ll attract people towards it despite its pricing.
Speaking of the unboxing experience, there isn’t anything over the top here and in fact the audio experience isn’t so great either which makes me want to try out the Huawei Freebuds Studio which seems to be the rip-off but with better specifications such as longer battery life and a smart ANC. The audio quality is what might determine which I’d say win.
Speaking of the active noise cancellation feature, the AirPods Max is of course great at it. The ear cups are solid and since your entire ear falls within them, it’s very easy to oust ambient and environmental noise out of the way such as a brief experimentation in a busy area saw the noise reduced significantly which is fascinating.
But with that said, the other noticeable thing about this TWS headphone is the weight which is quite heavy at 285 grams (13.6 ounces) and in comparison with popular headphones such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 which weighs around 254-grams and then the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 only weighs around 249 grams.
Speaking of the build quality, it’s very sturdy and impressive in every ways possible which is a good thing and the fact that the company utilize a lot of metallic materials, this gives the device a firm and premium feel when held but then this are parts of the contributing factors to the heaviness of the device.
The foam of each individual ear-cup is really comfortable although for a limited period of time considering the heaviness of the device which might start to weigh in on you as time gets by. The device comes with a big 40mm custom drivers which allows for its audio output to be okay for some reason.
They have a fabric covering, which makes them more breathable than your typical leather or faux leather earpads. As a result, your ears steam up less in warmer environments. Apparently, you’ll be able to replace those ear pads for $69 and the AirPods Max’s battery should be replaceable too, although you’ll have to have Apple do it.
Then there is the headband with a mesh canopy which is designed to reduce pressure on the head making it a good fit for whatever type of head until it gets to smaller ones which can somehow feel too big in some cases though not entirely for everyone.
Then the controls of the headphone are also well implemented and comes with two buttons even though this at first is a turn off to me considering the difficulty of clicking on buttons but another interesting thing is the implementation of the digital crown the same found on the Apple Watch which can be used to control volume and click to pause music, answer or end calls and double click to advance tracks.
In terms of smoothness, it’s pretty fast and eases out every time when used and in cold weather, you don’t have to worry about touch controls that don’t always work, though the aluminum on the ear cups does feel quite cold to the touch. Apple doesn’t list any water-resistance rating, but they survived just fine after I wore them in a snow shower for two minutes.
In order to achieve the active noise cancellation feature, it is equipped with a total of 9 microphones two of which are inside the ear cups to assess how its being worn while the 9th is a beam-foaming mic dedicated to picking voice with two other microphones during voice call.
Also it’s equipped with sensors that allows it to detect whether its being worn or not and when you pull it off your head, it automatically pause the audio and then play when you put it back on. This isn’t the first device to have this feature though as many TWS earbuds even affordable ones such as the Bluedio T-Elf 2 has this feature.
Apple says the AirPods Max have optical sensors, position sensors, case-detect sensors and accelerometers in each ear cup, and a gyroscope in the left ear cup.
It also sports the high-profile Apple’s H1 chip which allows for easy pairing using iOS devices and always-on Siri so as to enable users to use their voices in issuing voice commands without physically touching any button.
As for Android users, it can be paired with the other operating system but with the exclusion of some features such as the Apple’s spatial-audio virtual surround feature with head tracking and always-on Siri.
Battery life is rated at 20 hours with noise canceling on, which is pretty good, though not superb. And you get 90 minutes of playback from a 10-minute charge via the Lightning port. I kind of wish it charged via USB-C, but that’s a small gripe.