The AirPods Max Are Annoyingly Incredible

I have been using a pair of Bose Quietcomfort 35 II headphones for years. They were with me on long flights to Europe and Japan, they quelled the noise on the stacks of trade show floors, and helped me stop my neighbor’s weed to work at home.

But there are a slew of new premium Bluetooth headphones with active noise-canceling on the market, and when Apple announced their $ 550 AirPods Max, I admit that I was contradicted. My Bose headphones were $ 350 when I received them, and it seemed to stand me up. Apple’s price tag, by comparison, is absolutely crappy.

Start with the obvious: There are other, cheaper Bluetooth over-ear headphones on the market with excellent active noise cancellation. Apple has two main competitors, Bose’s $ 400 700 and Sony’s $ 350 WH-1000XM4 (Sony, anytime you want to work on this utterly silly naming system, we’re waiting).

Both of those headphones can now be found for much less than their launch prices – Bose for $ 340 and Sony right now at most retailers for $ 280 – but Apple is obviously not competitively priced for its products, Because many people will pay for them. Facts are facts. Yet that price discrepancy is so widespread that it seems like AirPods Max should be twice as good.

For many people, AirPods Max’s design quirk is either a selling point or next to the point, so let’s move on to the most important part: audio. Apple totaled nine microphones (eight for the ANC and three for the voice pick, with two pulling charges for both) for a truly blissful audio experience, plus a 40mm dynamic driver in each ear cup and some software magic. Packed in

I really, really have zero complaints about how these things sound. There is no application and no manual controls to adjust the EQ to your personal taste, but I don’t care. They look absolutely fantastic.

The word that popped into my mind when I first slapped them was that sound sparkle (I believe when I tell you this, it annoys me from inside myself, but it really that’s true).

I’ve spent many hours this week listening to the same songs through the AirPods Max, Bose 700, and Sony WH-1000XM4 to see how they stack, and damn if AirPods Max do not sound the best.

They are more immortal than the competition. I’m not sure if this is software trickery with adaptive EQ or the way earrings apply to your head for a tight seal, but hearing “Maybe I’m surprised” by Wings made me feel like I was really in the studio. . Lick the piano from the left, from the drum to the right, and Paul McCartney’s voice floated around me. And I’m streaming Spotify tunes over Bluetooth here, not playing a wired audio file while wired.

It is unfortunate that AirPods Max’s spatial audio feature (also found in AirPods Pro) will almost never kick in, because I love it. The headphones are packed with sensors: an optical, position, case-detection and accelerometer in each earcup and a gyroscope on the left.

Active spatial audio, which you can do in the AirPods Max Bluetooth settings, essentially turns your headphones into a surround-sound system. Moving my head results in a dynamic experience – the direction of the sound remains constant as I watched the soul on my iPad at Disney +, even as I walked which rival headphones to watch the same movie Was more immersive than using.

The lead character, Joe Gardner, looks like he gets lost in a musical trance, like sitting in an actual dinner club instead of watching a movie. Unfortunately, this only works if the content you are viewing is recorded in 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby Atmos.

Not every app supports it and not every device. (Soul is in 5.1 on Disney +, and you’ll get even better effects from Atmos content, but it’s much harder to find. You can check the details of the film or see the show to see if it’s in 5.1. 7.1, Or atmos.)

After watching a blast in Apple TV + Originals for All Mankind at Dolby Atmos, it seemed that I was watching it in a movie theater through AirPods. It would be amazing to experiment with my Apple TV, but the Apple TV does not support spatial audio. In fact, I can only use it with my iPhone and iPad, and they aren’t for my favorite content delivery devices, so I probably won’t use this feature much — but it’s really amazing.

Active noise cancellation is also at the top. When I wasn’t able to test these headphones on an aircraft, I tested them by blasting the cabin noise video of an airplane on my Sonos Playbase, and the ANC was on par with Sony’s headphones (and better than Bose).

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