Apple AirPods Pro Max Review: This is the sound of luxury drowning out the wail of your credit card

Let me get this out of the way before we get to the serious stuff. For some reason, I refer to the Apple AirPods Max as the Apple AirPods Pro Max from time to time, before correcting myself. For some reason, Apple AirPods Pro Max just roll off the tongue better than Apple AirPods Max, and there’s something distinctly “Pro” about them. Still, we’ve got that out of the way now, we’re moving on. It’s not at all surprising that Apple created the AirPods Max. the continued success of the two generations of AirPods wireless earbuds, followed by the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds, meant it only made sense to take the next step. Headphones, full-featured headphones, complete with noise cancellation and the larger feature set that defined the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds in particular.

The AirPods Max cost Rs 59,900 and are available in five colors: space gray, silver, green, sky blue and pink, all in a two-tone finish. The thing is, the Apple AirPods Max are priced significantly higher than most popular noise canceling headphones. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless costs around Rs 34,990, while the Sony WH-1000XM4 has a sticker price of Rs 29,990 and Bose has the Noise Canceling Headphones 700, which will set you back at Rs 34,500 or so. Mind you, we point to the regular noise canceling headphones, but there are certainly some that are also comparable to the Apple AirPods Max. There is the Dali IO-6 which costs around Rs 40,000 while you can also have the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H9i for around Rs 45,000 while you have the Master & Dynamic MW65 which costs around Rs 90,000 and the Bowers & Wilkins P9 which costs around Rs 90,000. Rs 75,000. Apple isn’t the first to make really expensive headphones, and they certainly won’t be the last.

The magic of the Apple AirPods Max begins after you deal with the perceived price shock. The AirPods Max is a mix of stainless steel, anodized aluminum and breathable knitted mesh, complete with exquisite craftsmanship. They are heavy, mind you, and you will need some time to get used to how they fit over your ears and around your head. Due to the use of metal, the AirPods Max weigh no less than 384 grams. In comparison, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless, which also uses a mix of metal and leather in its composition, tips the scales at 304 grams. That, in my opinion, makes the AirPods Max great for many listening environments, including home, office, and travel. But you may not like the weight as much when you are running, on the treadmill or cycling.

Please note, the weight of the AirPods Max is around your ears and not on the head. It’s the ear cups, with the meta housing, where most of the mass is. You might not want to rock your head too much when wearing these, at least at first, until you get used to the double center of gravity.

The ear cups have memory foam that should settle to the contours of your ear within a few weeks of regular use of the AirPods Max. I’m testing these here in peak winter, so hard to say how they’ll be in summer in terms of ventilation, comfort and sweat, but must say the ears don’t feel boxed in and there’s no urge to take them out to get your ears to breathe after a while. The arm extensions allow you to set the ideal height so that the headband fits comfortably around the head and the ear cups have the ability to tilt and swivel so that they don’t press inwards on your head. When I wore these for the first few times, there was definitely an added feeling that these fit the ears better and completely without pressing on any specific part of the ear, nor are they uncomfortable at all when worn for long periods of time. worn by time.

These ear pads are also user replaceable. Soon you will be able to order these from the Apple India online store and a set will cost Rs 6,500. Not a bad deal at all, as we’ve seen many headphones sacrificed to the altar of damaged or worn ear pads after extended use – the replacements are either not readily available or it’s just too much trouble to run to a service center.

Inspired by the Apple Watch, the AirPods Max have integrated digital crown-like controls for finer volume changes, as well as the ability to play and pause music, skip tracks, and handle phone calls. You can configure the direction of rotation from your iPhone. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned any other physical buttons on the AirPods Max, and that includes the power button. That’s because there isn’t one. You may be a little perplexed, but you only have one option, and that is to rely on the technology to keep the batteries charged and not discharged when you’re not using the headphones.

The way the AirPods Max works without a power button is that they turn on when you put them on your head. The same set of sensors also pauses media playback when you remove it, perhaps to do some work or talk to someone.

And what if you don’t listen to music and have stored the AirPods Max safely? No user intervention is required to disable it. Even leave your AirPods Max stationary and not in use for 5 minutes and they will go into a power saving mode to save battery. And from then on it’s all just a matter of time. Leave your AirPods Max unused for 72 hours and they will enter an ultra-low power mode that disables Bluetooth and Find My functionality. And this without the Smart Case.

If you happen to be using the Smart Case, putting the AirPods Max in the case will immediately put them into power-saving mode. And after 18 hours in the Smart Case, they switch to ultra-low power mode. In my usage scenario, I left the AirPods Max overnight without the Smart Case and with the Smart Case, and the battery consumption was very similar and very minuscule – never more than 1% of the battery charge percentage I’ve left with.

Talking about the Smart Case. Let’s say it’s a very unique design. And it would also do its job very well with the battery management on the AirPods Max. However, it will take a very long time for them to grow on you, in terms of appearance. Second, they don’t really protect your headphones like you’d expect from a case. It’s not a fully sealed case, even for the ear cups it’s supposed to protect, meaning something in your bag could easily poke inside and scratch the ear cups. In a way, it’s up to you to keep these AirPods Max safe while traveling or storing – keep sharp objects away. The good thing is that you can plug in the AirPods Max for charging even when they are in the Smart Case.

The AirPods Max has the H1 chip, the same as the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds. This H1 chip has 10 audio cores and can perform as many as 9 billion computational calculations per second. So it’s no surprise that the feature set is largely the same, as the H1 chip manages all of these features. The Apple AirPods Max offer high-fidelity audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode, and spatial audio. In each ear are 40mm audio drivers designed by Apple. The unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor for each audio driver should do its part to further reduce any distortion. For example, the AirPods Max joins the HomePod Mini, where Apple has placed extreme emphasis on the power of computational audio.

Spatial audio was introduced on the AirPods Pro with iOS 14 update for iPhones, allowing users to experience 5.1 channel, 7.1 channel and Dolby Audio – it also follows the user’s head movement to reorder the audio channels delivery, so that the experience remains constant. This is something you will enjoy on the Apple TV shows, for example. How much of this effect you enjoy also depends on the content and quality of the input. You can set this up when you pair the AirPods Max with your iPhone or iPad for the first time. You can turn it off, but why would you? The AirPods Max will also be compatible with Audio Sharing between two sets of AirPods when paired with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV 4K. There’s also seamless switching between iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers for music playback and calls.

It takes a while before you listen to the AirPods Max to understand that they are a joy to listen to. It’s just one of those rare well-balanced headphones that don’t suit the bass-heavy crowd, nor lean to the other side in an effort to sound louder. There are a whopping 9 microphones on the AirPods Max, and each of them constantly understands the fit and seal of the headphones against your ears. These are very neutral sounding headphones, which means the AirPods Max are in a good position to give back what users who buy premium headphones would want: refined sound, a wide soundstage and no need to manually adjust audio settings. to fit. At no point do the AirPods Max sound heavy bass or the higher frequencies sound sharp. This isn’t a warm sound signature like the Bose headphones, nor is it the punchy sound like the newer line of Sony cans (bass is one of the reasons the Sony WH-XM headphones are very popular). If so, this is a lot like Sennheiser’s neutral sound, which is inviting and refined.

In terms of noise cancellation, the AirPods Max do a very good job of what Sony has done with the WH-1000XM4, which we believe is the best noise cancellation in headphones at around Rs 30,000. If the AirPods Max might even do better, but in keeping with the times and my health, I haven’t stepped into really noisy locations to test these.

It’s a bit baffling that the AirPods Max doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is only the Lightning connector, so you need an adapter if you want to connect it on an airplane, for example. The Lightning to 3.5mm Jack Adapter costs Rs 900. Second, there is also no cable in the box, which means you’ll also need to order an audio cable if you want to connect the AirPods Max for wired audio. At this price point, that’s just a little confusing.

The AirPods Max could also herald a serious upgrade for Apple Music at some point. Apple still doesn’t offer a lossless audio option or a subscription tier for higher quality music. With an even greater focus now on audio and the AirPods Max as the latest in Apple’s audio hardware line, perhaps now is the time to offer the High-Res audio option on Apple Music.

The last word: you may not be able to afford them, but you know you want them

Contrary to the unconsidered initial reactions, the Apple AirPods Max are not exactly the first headphones to cost this much. And they certainly won’t be the last. And the AirPods Max do what they’re supposed to do well. The sound quality is refined and refined. The battery life is robust, and the battery smart features work seamlessly (and without errors so far). Plus, adding all the goodness of noise cancellation, spatial audio, and seamless switching if you have multiple Apple devices in your daily workflow just makes everything very convenient.

That said, they cost a lot more than some of the very capable headphones we’ve already talked about, and that’s something that’s constantly lurking in the back of your mind. But again, nothing matches the AirPods Max in terms of style and sheer luxury. And for someone who spends a lot of money for it, they wouldn’t want to compromise on the style aspect. It’s brilliant, then, that it’s really good with audio too.

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