AirPods Max Unboxing Videos: ‘More Than Good Enough to Compete With Other High-End Headphones’

Earlier this week, Apple introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, and first impressions and unboxing videos have now surfaced from various media outlets and YouTube channels. Priced at $549, the AirPods Max launch December 15.

airpods max hands on

airpods max hands on

A first real-life look at AirPods Max via CNET

AirPods Max feature a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that is said to provide “rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension.” Each ear cup is equipped with Apple’s H1 chip for “computational audio” to deliver the “highest quality listening experience possible,” according to Apple.

While more time is needed for in-depth reviews, The Verge‘s Nilay Patel said AirPods Max sound “more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones”:

Sound-wise, I’ve had fun listening to the AirPods Max for a few hours — they’re crisp and bright, with a pleasingly wider soundstage than my Sony headphones, and no distortion at all, even at max volume. We’ll have a full review of these soon, including tests of spatial audio and Apple’s claim of Atmos surround sound support, so stay tuned for that. But for now, rest assured the AirPods Max sound more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones.

Apple says the AirPods Max feature a “breathable knit mesh” spanning the headband that distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure, but this might be more marketing speak than anything, as Patel said he “can’t say it feels very much different than my Sony WH-1000XM2s, but it’s possible I just have a very large head.”

Patel says that it takes two hours to charge AirPods Max to their full, advertised 20-hour battery life using Apple’s small 5W charger, with no option for fast charging, even if you use a Lightning to USB-C cable. That said, if you forget to charge the AirPods Max overnight, a five-minute charge provides enough juice for 1.5 hours of listening time.

CNET‘s David Carnoy believes the AirPods Max “raise the noise-canceling bar,” edging out both Sony’s WH-1000XM4 and Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, two of the most popular over-ear headphone models on the market:

On top of that, their noise canceling is arguably the best I’ve experienced, slightly edging out the noise canceling on both Sony’s WH-1000XM4 and Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. (I haven’t yet compared them closely to Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds, which offer the best noise-canceling for true-wireless earphones.) They don’t completely silence the world around you, but I was out on the streets of New York, and they did a bang-up job of muffling noise — I could barely hear the traffic around me. Finally, they work quite well as a headset for making calls and are particularly good at reducing wind noise.

Carnoy also said the AirPods Max have “impressive” build quality, although he noted that the headphones are quite heavy:

For heavy headphones they are comfortable, but not necessarily super comfy. It’d be nice if they were 20% lighter, but the way the headband is designed, with its mesh canopy, it takes a good amount of pressure off the top of your head. They might look and feel a little big for people with smaller heads, but they do seem to fit a good range of head types.

AirPods Max come with a carrying case called the “Smart Case,” which puts the headphones in an ultra-low power state to preserve battery charge when not in use, according to Apple. The case has already become the butt of a joke on social media, and many of the first impressions shared so far agree that the case looks rather peculiar.

airpods max smart case hands on

airpods max smart case hands on

Smart Case for AirPods Max via CNET

CNBC‘s Todd Haselton found the AirPods Max to be “super comfortable” with extended use, and he also praised the precise volume control offered by the Digital Crown, a feature adapted from the Apple Watch:

I wore the AirPods Max for several hours Wednesday and they felt super comfortable. There’s a breathable mesh band on the top that felt light on my head and didn’t get sweaty or hot. I also love the ear cups, which are spacious and fit around my ears instead of sitting on them.

There are a lot of high-end touches, like aluminum cups and a steel frame, instead of plastic parts you might find in competing headsets. I also dig the Digital Crown that Apple brought over from the Apple Watch. It feels solid and turns easily to adjust the volume. A lot of competing high-end headphones use touch controls for volume, which isn’t as accurate as a physical control.

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