A few weeks before Christmas Apple surprised us with AirPods Max. These are the first ever Apple-branded headphones and, somewhat unsurprisingly, they’re a whopping $899.
Even at this price, believe it or not, initial pre-orders sold out within the hour and they’re still difficult to get. I’ve had my hands on them for a few weeks now so it’s time to discuss whether they’re worth the exorbitant price tag.
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Straight out of the box these headphones look amazing. The sleek aluminium design is cold to the touch and they look unlike any headphones I’ve used before.
Included is a strange looking case that only protects the ear cups and when it’s in use it activates the headphone’s low power mode.
The AirPods also come with a Lightning to USB-C charging cable, so you’re locked into using an Apple-specific cable for charging. Otherwise, these are bluetooth wireless headphones but you also have the option to use them wired (i.e. in your device’s standard 3.5mm headphone port). However, you’ll need to purchase the cable additionally from Apple for a hefty $55.
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To control AirPods Max you use the digital crown, which is the scroll wheel, previously seen on the Apple Watch. You twist it to increase or decrease the headphone’s volume, press once to pause/play, twice to skip tracks and three times to go back, when playing music.
The only other button on the device is used to toggle between transparency mode or active noise cancellation. Both the noise cancellation and transparency mode is extremely impressive and could be some of the best I’ve heard, or not heard, on headphones.
When it comes to wearing AirPods Max, they’re quite comfortable. The ear cups are soft and the mesh head strap seems to evenly disperse their weight across your head.
In saying that, the headphones are fairly heavy, due to their aluminium and metal design. They’re double the weight of my current high quality headphones (Sony WH-1000XM4). If you have any issues with wearing heavy headphones, unfortunately, I would write these off immediately. Though for me, the weight wasn’t too noticeable and I got used to it.
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The sound quality of AirPods Max is quite impressive. I don’t think they are ‘$899 impressive’ but they do compete with the high-end headphones on the market that usually retail for around $500.
You can hear all the nuances in the music that cheap headphones miss and acoustic performances sound incredibly real. They also produce deep and balanced bass and the sound feels like it’s coming at you from multiple angles within the earcup.
Overall, I think these headphones look awesome and sound awesome but I don’t know if I could recommend them for the price. I love Apple and I’m not disappointed with the quality overall – they feel premium and are exactly what you expect from Apple – but these feel like designer brand headphones, as if Apple is encroaching on Gucci or Prada territory. I don’t think general consumers, or Apple fans, would be disappointed with this purchase if they made the leap but it’s important to know that it isn’t practical or necessary to spend this much on headphones. You can definitely buy high-end headphones with the same sound quality and even better features for $300-$500.
Elly Awesome is an Aussie tech and lifestyle vlogger | @ellyawwesome | YouTube