08 December 2020 18:40
From the canopy to the ear cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide exceptional acoustic performance for each user. Each ear cushion uses acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. The Digital Crown, inspired by Apple Watch, offers precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri. Apple has announced its long anticipated first over-ear, noise-cancelling wireless headphones, AirPods Max, retailing at £549. The new headphones look to take the good bits of Apple's wireless earbuds, AirPods, and put them in larger Bluetooth headphones with high quality speakers and a very high price tag.
AirPods Max feature active noise-cancelling, Apple's spacial audio technology that simulates surround sound and a transparency mode similar to that of its AirPods Pro. But they also feature a "breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ" according to the firm. Greg Joswiak, Apple's marketing chief, said: "The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience." The headphones have a similar computational audio processing system to the firm's HomePod smart speaker, which tunes the music in real time, adapting to the shape of the wearers' face, hair and glasses and promising to produce consistently rich and detailed audio. The digital crown from the Apple Watch acts as a control for volume and playback. They have a fairly traditional shape with a mesh headband and fabric ear pads that are attached to the aluminium cups via magnets for easy replacement. The top of the right ear cup has a button for activating noise-cancelling as well as a digital crown jog-dial, similar to that on the Apple Watch, for controlling volume and playback.
The product wasn't released during any of the company's three product launch events since September, and in a break from Apple's usual product lines other than its iPhones, are available in a range of colours; silver, space grey, sky blue, pink, and green. The headphones will only work on Apple devices running the latest software, and are available for pre-order in the UK from today, before they begin shipping on Tuesday 15 December. Image: The AirPods Max come in a range of colours, unusually for Apple At £549 the AirPods Max cost more than three times Apple's normal AirPods at £159, and more than twice as much as the AirPods Pro at £249. For that extra buck, Apple says the wireless headphones feature a 40mm dynamic driver it designed in-house to cover a range of pitches, from deep bass to high-frequency sounds - powered by Apple's H1 chips that have 10 audio cores to modify the listening experience. These audio cores power what Apple calls "computational audio" helping to "block outside noise, adapt audio to the fit and seal of your ear cushions, and make movie scenes sound like they're happening all around you." According to Apple the headphones can provide up to 20 hours of audio and talk time on a single charge, with Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled.
But they are put into an entirely new form factor for Apple's audio products: headphones. They come in five different colours – space grey, silver, sky blue, green, and pink – and are available to pre-order today. As well as borrowing from the existing AirPods, the new headphones also take features from the Apple Watch. Apple also made a variety of claims about the hardware design of the new headphones. It said that it had created a "revolutionary mechanism" to attach the ear cups to the headband, and that those ear cushions themselves use "acoustically engineered memory foam" that allow them to create a seal around people's ears. Read our full mailing list consent terms here INDY/ LIFE Newsletter Be inspired with the latest lifestyle trends every week The Independent would like to keep you informed about offers, events and updates by email, please tick the box if you would like to be contacted With AirPods Max, we are bringing that magical AirPods experience to a stunning over-ear design with high-fidelity audio," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience." Like the other AirPods, the headphones are able to detect when they are on a person's head and turn themselves on accordingly. They also come with a "Smart Case", that switches them into a low-power state and helps preserve battery, Apple said. It turns out Apple has one more major hardware announcement before 2020 comes to a close: after many months of rumors, Apple today unveiled its own over-ear noise-canceling headphones. They're called the AirPods Max, and they come with the premium design that's expected from flagship Apple headphones. The AirPods Max come in five colors: space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. They feature what Apple calls a "custom acoustic design" with a 40mm driver system "that provides rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension so every note can be heard." Apple has brought over a number of features that first debuted in the AirPods line, like adaptive EQ, transparency mode, spatial audio, and audio sharing. There's even an element from the Apple Watch — the Digital Crown — that has made its way to these headphones. Apple says it "offers precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri." There's also a separate "noise control" button for switching between noise-canceling and transparency modes. None of that sounds particularly "revolutionary" when stacked up next to other high-end noise-canceling headphones, but the memory foam ear cushions should make for good comfort. The AirPods Max offer 20-hour battery life and charge over Apple's Lightning connector — not USB-C. (Apple has a sold-separately $35 Lightning to 3.5mm cable for wired listening.) If you're in a hurry, a five-minute charge gets you 90 minutes of playback time. The headphones automatically pause audio when removed from your ears and resume playback when you put them back on. There's also a "smart case" for the AirPods Max (below) that automatically puts them into a low-power state. Similar to approaches from Bose, Sony, and others, Apple's noise-cancellation system produces anti-noise to hush external sound by using six outward-facing microphones. Apple also claims the AirPods Max perform well for voice calls (even in windy conditions) with their built-in beamforming mics. By moving into the premium headphones space, Apple will directly compete with brands like Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, AKG, Bowers and Wilkins, and others that have years of experience and a long list of products between them. Apple is going higher than just about all of them on price, but the company is riding the momentum of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, which have dominated the true wireless earbuds market. Still, Apple has taken impressive advantage of the synergy between its hardware by introducing features like automatic device switching — the AirPods Max, AirPods, and select Beats products can switch between an iPhone, Mac, and iPad based on whichever one you're currently using — and, in the case of the AirPods Max and Pro, a capability called spatial audio that replicates an immersive surround sound experience when watching movies and TV shows on an iPhone or iPad. Apple's Beats brand also sells higher-end headphones, including the Solo Pro and Studio 3 Wireless, both of which feature active noise cancellation. Early December is an unusually late time of year for Apple to introduce new products.