Why are noise-canceling headphones priced at $549 so expensive? Apple AirPods Max headset review

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Yes, even though everyone says that AirPods Max is really expensive! But the official website is still out of stock, and most of the friends who have booked are also waiting in line until March next year. So why is this thing called AirPods Max so expensive? How about wearing a weight of 385g? How does the sound quality compare to Sony WH-1000XM3 or SENNHEISER MOMENTUM 3? How about the noise reduction effect? Today we are unboxing of AirPods Max on the first day of the headset sale!

1. Unboxing details

Apple AirPods Max

The AirPods Max packaging box is very bulky, because the internal headphones are not folded. The AirPods Max photo on the box is the 1:1 size of the real headset. There are five colors of AirPods Max this time, and the one we unboxed is sky blue.

Apple AirPods Max

Opening the box, what you see is the AirPods Max body in the protective case. The protective sleeve is also attached with a layer of sulfuric acid paper to protect the protective sleeve.

Apple AirPods Max

There are only four products in the AirPods Max package: AirPods Max headset, smart headphone protective cover, Lightning to USB-C charging cable, and quick guide (this time there is no Apple sticker).

Apple AirPods Max

This is how AirPods Ma is stored in a smart headphone protective case. I believe you have seen it on the Internet. What can I say about this storage method, anyway, I am more accustomed to folding storage, a solution that uses more space. But Apple’s solution of putting the headphones directly into the protective case also has its own ideas.

For example, it is called “smart headphone protective cover” because there is a magnetic induction device in the protective cover. When AirPods Max is placed in the protective cover, it will automatically detect that the headphone is in the storage state, and the headphone will turn on the ultra-low energy consumption state , It saves a lot of power.

Apple AirPods Max

Since the outside of the two units of AirPods Max are made of anodized aluminum this time, in order to prevent the headphone storage from being scratched, the inside of the smart headphone protective cover is all made of flocking material to protect the headphone shell from being scratched to the greatest extent.

Apple AirPods Max

The head beam of AirPods Max uses a stainless steel frame to match the skin-like soft material. Compared with the traditional headphone head beam, the canopy in the middle of the stainless steel frame can increase the contact area with the head and reduce the pressure. The woven canopy can also make the heat dissipation effect better when worn.

One more thing here is that the woven canopy feels really thin. For example, it feels like the thinnest medical gauze.

Apple AirPods Max

In addition, the stainless steel frame of AirPods Max is still very tough. Even if the headphones are broken into this shape with force, there is no problem, and it can still be restored to the original shape.

Apple AirPods Max

Another new technology of AirPods Max is the link between the head beam and the headphone unit housing. Unlike most headphones on the market, Apple uses a telescopic rod+ball type kit to connect the head beam and earmuffs. The ball type kit ensures the convenience of multi-angle rotation of the earmuffs, and the telescopic rod allows the earmuffs to maintain a precise position at any telescopic position.

Apple AirPods Max

Demonstrate with animation. When we want to adjust the height of the head beam, simply pull the earmuffs down. The damping feel of the telescopic rod is very good, and there is no feeling of inability to pull and no loose feel. Moreover, the telescopic rod does not have a bayonet device, but it can ensure that the headset stops accurately at any position.

Apple AirPods Max

In addition, the earmuffs connected to the AirPods Max ball type kit use another idea. The earmuffs use a resilient design, which also allows the earmuffs to ensure a more compact fit with the ears.

On the upper part of the right earmuff of AirPods Max, there are only two physical control buttons of AirPods Max. One is the noise control button, and the other is the digital crown. The noise control button is used to switch between active noise reduction and transparency mode. The design of the digital crown is exactly the same as that of the Apple Watch. It is used to control volume, skip between tracks, answer phone calls, and activate Siri.

You may have discovered here that AirPods Max does not have a switch button. So in theory, putting AirPods Max in a smart protective case to turn on ultra-low power consumption is a bit similar to the off state of traditional headphones. In addition, I want to praise the noise control button, which is very useful.

Unlike AirPods Pro’s long-pressing headphone handle to turn on the transparency mode, AirPods Max’s tapping to switch the transparency mode is faster. Because when we want to turn on the transparency mode, it is often a state where we want to hear the ambient sound or the other party quickly, and the long press to turn on the transparency mode is generally 1-2 seconds slower than the physical button, and the noise control is actually used. The button really improves the experience of use.

Apple AirPods Max

AirPods Max earmuffs use the classic anodized aluminum process, but be careful not to contact with hard objects to avoid scratches on the earmuffs.

Apple AirPods Max

The effect of AirPods Max after unfolding.

Apple AirPods Max

AirPods Max uses a detachable ear pad design inside the earmuffs. Remove the ear pads to see the internal structure of the earmuffs. The outside is covered with a layer of metal structure, and the sound unit inside the earmuffs can even be seen through the metal structure.

Apple AirPods Max

After the separation of the earmuffs, it can be seen that a large number of woven materials are also used inside, and the edge of the earmuffs is a large circle of magnetic material for adsorption to the unit.

Apple AirPods Max

There is an L/R weave pattern inside the earmuffs to distinguish the left ear from the right ear.

Apple AirPods Max

The ear cushions are crafted with acoustically engineered memory foam, and it feels quite soft to the touch. However, more information is needed to understand how to meet the acoustic design.

2. Other colors

This time the AirPods Max officially launched a total of five colors: silver, space gray, sky blue, pink, and green. Coincidentally, these five colors are also consistent with the iPad Air 4 and iPhone 12 series released by Apple this year.

Apple AirPods Max

We also found all five AirPods Max colors and took a real shot. In order to allow everyone to distinguish the difference of each color more intuitively and accurately, we basically did not do much post-adjustment for this picture. The look and feel of the photo is almost similar to the real product of AirPods Max. Everyone can see, which color do you like more?

The effects of five different color headphones are also shot below:

Apple AirPods Max Pink

Pink

Apple AirPods Max Space Gray

Space Gray

Apple AirPods Max Green

Green

Apple AirPods Max Silver

Silver

Apple AirPods Max Sky Blue

Sky Blue

As we mentioned earlier, the five colors of AirPods Max this time echo the products released by Apple this year, so we have also found Apple products of the same color. You can see if there are any products you own. How does it work?

The green that many people are interested in is the effect of putting it together with the green of iPhone 12 and iPad Air4.

Apple AirPods Max

Regarding the five colors, I asked many people which one they like. Simple statistics are actually pink. So I found this year’s red iPhone 12 and rose gold iPad Air 4 together, and everyone can feel the power of girly colors.

3. Sound quality comparison between Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3

The above mentioned so many AirPods Max industrial design, appearance and even color matching, let’s get back on track and talk about the sound quality performance that most people care more about.

Apple AirPods Max

In order to compare the sound quality and noise reduction performance of AirPods Max, I borrowed two wireless noise reduction headphones from Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 from my colleagues. Because there is no WH-1000XM4, it is replaced by WH-1000XM3, which has similar sound quality and noise reduction. Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 is recognized by many as the strongest wireless noise reduction headphones.

Because of the urgency, I didn’t have time to borrow Bose’s noise-canceling headphones Bose 700. We will continue to compare when we have the opportunity.

From left to right: AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3

Before talking about the sound quality, we can briefly talk about the wearing experience of these three headphones.

Weight:

  • Apple AirPods Max: 384.8g
  • Sony WH-1000X M3: 255g
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3: 303g

In terms of weight, Apple has no suspense about “winning the championship.” With a weight of close to 400g, you can clearly feel that it is a lot heavier than the other two headphones. I believe this is also a very important reason why many people hesitate to buy AirPods Max——worry about uncomfortable wearing for a long time. However, because the canopy design on the head beam can reduce the pressure of some headphones ingeniously, there is no obvious feeling of overweight when actually wearing it. However, you can still feel that its weight is heavier than Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3. Sacrificing product weight for the sake of materials and workmanship, I believe that now only Apple dares to do so.

From left to right: AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3

In terms of appearance, AirPods Max actually looks quite compact because it is flatter. Sony’s WH-1000XM3 has thicker earmuffs, so it looks slightly bloated on both sides when worn on the head, while Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM Wireless 3 is more retro in design. In general, the three headphones have their own characteristics after being put on. The specific choice depends on your own daily collocation.

Apple AirPods Max

The first thing to declare is that I am not a fan in the strict sense, and my pursuit of sound quality is not as high as ease of use. So in terms of sound quality, I can only describe my intuitive feelings from personal hearing, not a strict test.

Let me start with the conclusion: from the sense of hearing, Apple AirPods Max ≈ Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3> Sony WH-1000XM3.

I listen to rock music, Hip-Hop and electronic music a lot on a daily basis. Compared with Sony WH-1000XM3, I can clearly feel the enhancement of bass in standard mode. Apple AirPods Max and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3 have relatively restrained bass adjustment. However, the instrumental level is clearer. On the other hand, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is a bit muddy due to the enhancement of the bass, which causes the mid and high frequencies to be suppressed by the low frequencies. In terms of human voice, the difference between the three headphones is minimal, and there is almost no difference.

In general, Apple AirPods Max did not give us a big surprise in terms of sound quality. Although the 40mm dynamic driver unit is used this time with a custom amplifier, the sound quality can compete with the current sound quality of MOMENTUM Wireless 3, but If the price factor is added, Apple AirPods Max should give us more surprises in terms of sound quality. But compared to the previous AirPods series, which paid little attention to sound quality, the sound quality of AirPods Max has improved greatly.

4. Performance of noise reduction effect

This time, the quality of Apple’s AirPods Max hardware is very obvious. The whole body uses nine microphones! Eight of them participate in the active noise reduction process, and one microphone is dedicated for voice calls. In addition, the two earmuffs of the headset are each equipped with an Apple H1 headset chip, and each chip has 10 audio cores. It is used for functions such as noise reduction and audio calculation.

This time, the system settings of AirPods Max are still adjusted in the device options in the Bluetooth menu. Compared with the system menu settings of AirPods Pro, AirPods Max has made some targeted adjustments. The first is the mode switch. AirPods Max supports a custom switch button to switch among the three modes. And also added a digital crown setting option for AirPods Max.

In the digital crown setting options, users can customize whether to increase the volume clockwise or counterclockwise when rotating the crown, which meets the needs of different users.

From left to right: AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3

In terms of noise reduction effect, personal feeling: Apple AirPods Max ≈ Sony WH-1000XM3> Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3

Whether it is to reduce street noise or background vocals and other noisy environments, the noise reduction level of Apple AirPods Max is comparable to the currently recognized Sony WH-1000XM3, which has a good effect, but because there is no comparison with the latest Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose 700 And so on, so we can’t say that AirPods Max is the best wireless noise-cancelling headset at present. We can only say that AirPods Max is basically the first echelon of noise-cancelling headsets.

5. Other

In the previous article, we mentioned comparing the wearing and appearance of Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3, which are actually the most commonly used devices for commuting. Another feature of wireless noise-cancelling headphones to talk about is its storage.

Apple AirPods Max

From left to right: Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3, AirPods Max

Taking these three headphones as an example, both Sony and Sennheiser have designed headphone storage protective cases/bags. Sony uses a hard material storage bag, while Sennheiser uses a relatively soft cloth bag. Apple’s plan is unexpected. But judging from the actual storage size, the space occupied by Apple is actually smaller than we thought. Actually comparing the size of the other two headphone storage bags, Apple AirPods Max is only a part wider on the left and right sides, in fact, the overall size is still acceptable.

Apple AirPods Max

As for the storage method, both Sony and Sennheiser have adopted a folding storage method. In contrast, Apple’s AirPods Max has almost no storage, and the official product name has also been revealed. This package is called a smart headset case. Rather than a headset storage bag. In terms of storage method alone, I personally prefer the folding method.

6. Experience summary

In general, Apple AirPods Max can be said to be the first-tier wireless noise-cancelling headset with noise reduction effect and sound quality on the market. But if these two factors are measured by the price of $549, obviously our requirements should be higher. But in fact, AirPods Max is a part of Apple’s system ecosystem, from the perspective of product software ease of use, multi-device collaboration, and even spatial audio, computational audio and other functions. These additional software features are actually in line with its current pricing strategy, not to mention the materials and workmanship.

As Apple’s first head-mounted noise reduction headphones, AirPods Max did not use the previously rumored “Studio” as the name. So it is still a continuation of Apple’s ecology, and as an easy-to-use portable audio device, I think it is enough to meet most people’s requirements for sound quality.

 

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