39 'AirPods Max' stories
December 2020 - June 2021
AirPods Max are Apple’s new over-ear headphones with high-fidelity audio paired with tricks found on the AirPods lineup. As the company says, this product is “the ultimate personal listening experience.”
Table of contents
AirPods Max were introduced five years after the announcement of the first-generation AirPods. Back in the day, Apple said it needed “courage” to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone. Half a decade later, not only did the industry follow Apple’s pattern, but the company also created one of its most well-succeeded products.
The AirPods line is composed of the second-generation AirPods, the first-generation AirPods Pro, and now the first-generation AirPods Max. These headphones are quite different from the others since they are over-ear headphones, don’t have wireless charging, and come in five different colors.
The over-ear headphones were announced on December 8, 2020, and started being sold the following week, on December 15. It was the last product Apple announced in the 2010’s decade.
After more than three months since these AirPods Max were released, Apple still faces a short supply with shipment quotes from 2-3 weeks. In January, Tim Cook said it would be tough to get this headphone for a few more months.
AirPods Max Features and Specs
The AirPods Max are over-ear headphones that are different from most of the others. They use stainless steel and aluminum materials for the build, making them a bit heavier than some of their biggest competitors from Sony and Bose. They also use removable ear cups with mesh material.
Available in Silver, Space Gray, Sky Blue, Green, and Pink, these headphones have a Digital Crown for controlling the audio, a Lightning port, and a Smart Case to put them in low-power mode since they don’t have an on/off button.
These are the AirPods Max features:
- Apple H1 headphone chip
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency mode
- Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
- Nine microphones
- Gyroscope, accelerometer, optical sensor, position sensor, and case-detect sensor.
The AirPods Max have up to 20 hours of listening time on a single charge with Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency mode enabled. Five minutes of charge time provides around 1.5 hours of listening time.
After some users reported that headphone battery was draining even in the Smart Case, Apple released a firmware updated to fix it.
Compatibility with Apple products
The AirPods Max is compatible with the products listed below:
- iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone 6s, or newer;
- iPad mini (4th generation), iPad (5th generation), iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (1st generation), or newer;
- All Apple Watch models;
- Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K, or newer;
- iPod touch (7th generation) or newer;
- MacBook (Early 2012), MacBook Air (Mid 2012), MacBook Pro (Mid 2012), iMac (Late 2012), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (Late 2012), Mac Pro (Late 2013), or newer.
Apple Music and Lossless audio controversy
Apple promotes high-fidelity audio on the AirPods Max, although it doesn’t support Lossless quality even if wired with the Apple-exclusive Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable. As an Apple spokesperson told 9to5Mac “AirPods Max currently does not support digital audio formats in wired mode.”
To the Verge, Apple elaborated a little bit more about what happen when you try to listen to songs in a better quality on your wired AirPods Max:
Apple tells the Verge that when you play a 24-bit / 48 kHz Apple Music lossless track from an iPhone into the AirPods Max using both the cable and Lightning dongle, the audio is converted to analog and then re-digitized to 24-bit / 48 kHz. That re-digitization step is the reason that Apple can’t say you’re hearing pure lossless audio; it’s not an identical match to the source.”
Although it’s not an identical match to the source, that’s the only way to listen to an improved version of tracks using an Apple headphone.
AirPods Max users will be able to take advantage of Dolby Atmos technology, which is an immersive audio format that enables musicians to mix music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in space.
Apart from the Apple Music Lossless controversy, the company offers its Apple Digital Masters label, with the company’s AAC format over MP3 in most of the songs. But it’s not up to Apple since the artists must master the songs for the company’s platform.
Tips and tricks
How to power AirPods Max: put the AIrPods next to your iPhone, than tap Connect. You must be running iOS 14.3 or newer.
How to reset it: Press and hold the noise control button and the Digital Crown until you see the LED flash amber.
Using Audio Share feature: It’s possible to share one audio dream from an Apple device between two sets of AirPods, just move the second pair close to the device you’re using.
How to use Spatial Audio: Open the Control Center, tap and press the AirPods icon then select Spatial Audio. You can also test this feature in Settings > Bluetooth > then click the “I” icon, then click on the little demo to see how it works.
How to check battery life: Remove the AirPods from its case then put it near to the iPhone. You’ll get a pop-up notification showing how much charge is remaining. You can also add a battery widget on your device. Also, when there’s 20% battery life left, you’ll get a notification. The same will happen when it hits 10% and 5% battery life.
AirPods Max Pricing
The AirPods Max are available from Apple for $549. You can also buy new ear cups or lightening to 3.5 mm Audio Cable for the over-ear headphone:
- Ear Cushions: $69 (each)
- Lightning to 3.5 mm Audio Cable: $35
Apple doesn’t sell separately the Smart Case, and it does not say how much a replacement case costs.
Lower prices of the over-ear headphones may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.
AirPods Max Review
In our video review of the AirPods Max, we praised the noise-canceling and transparency modes feature:
These headphones are priced like headphones made for audiophiles, but they’re far from it. From my experience, these have best-in-class noise-canceling and transparency modes. But other than that, AirPods Max isn’t necessarily the best at anything specifically. But when you combine all of the features these headphones have to offer: from the amazing transparency mode to spatial audio, you’ve got a very compelling package for Apple users overall.
Rumors about AirPods Max 2
In a report by Bloomberg in May of 2021, Apple is planning new AirPods for 2021 and 2022 but not a second-generation AirPods Max yet.
Bloomberg says the company plans to launch new AirPods Max colors this year. A second-generation, although not rumored, would come in handy since it’s not possible to enjoy Lossless quality with current headphones.
For instance, if Apple brought a 3.5mm headphone jack to this headphone, users would be able to enjoy Lossless songs.