Apple has launched its premium, over-the-ear headphones called the AirPods Max, with active noise cancellation. The price for the headphones is at $549/€600-620/£549 and it will get you Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), Adaptive EQ and high-fidelity special audio. All of this is backed by Apple’s H1 chip for a premium wireless Bluetooth 5.0 audio experience. There is still a physical port on the headphones – a lightning one meant for charging the battery, which is good for up to 20 hours on a single charge with either spatial audio or ANC enabled.
There is a good mix of physical controls and advanced sensors. A Digital Crown, inspired by the Apple Watch design, offers precise volume controls, as well as the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri. These are activated by single, double and triple taps or press and hold, which makes for one overloaded key.
There is also a dedicated Noise control button which cab switch between ANC and Transparency mode. The latter is meant to amplify the environment sound. Apple has also equipped the AirPods Max with optical and position sensors that can be used for wear detection among other things. Simply lifting one ear cup from your ears pauses audio. Plus, the AirPods Max also have plenty of data on the user’s head position, which is what Apple leverages for its Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ features.
The AirPods Max come with a total of nine microphones – six are used exclusively for the active noise cancellation and one for voice pickup with two more serving double duty. Adaptive EQ adjusts the sound in real time to the seal on the earcup, the audio source and the ambient noise conditions.
Spatial Audio offers an immersive theater-like experience by virtually and dynamically placing sound sources in space. This is meant to work with content recorded in 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos formats and uses the gyroscope and accelerometer inside the AirPods Max, as well as a compatible iPhone or iPad as an audio source.
To get the full experience from the AirPods Max, one needs to use them with an existing Apple device ecosystem. Officially, they require iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, MacOS Big Sur 11.1, watchOS 7.2, tvOS 14.3 or later.
Apple has provided a slim Smart Case in the box for carrying the AirPods Max. Putting the headphones inside the case automatically triggers an ultralow power state. The colour options include space gray, silver, sky blue, green and pink. Orders can be placed starting December 9 and the first orders will ship out on December 15. In India, they are priced at Rs. 59,900.