Not sure whether to buy Apple’s new high-fidelity headphones or just stick to your wireless earbuds? Read DottoTech’s AirPods Max review.
AirPods Max Review and User Guide
I’d like to preface this review-slash-demo today by saying that I’m not exactly what you’d call an audiophile.
You DO know me as a tech guy, though, so this close look at Apple’s AirPods Max will focus on the technical and functional aspects of the company’s new wireless headphone set.
Basically, by the end of this review, the question we want to be able to answer is: Is it worth buying this Bluetooth set, or should you just stick to your AirPods Pro or whichever earbuds or headphones you’re currently using?
Well, there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s jump right in!
AirPods Max Price: How Much Did It Cost?
Right off the bat, let me just say: The AirPods Max set isn’t cheap. I paid $800 (Canadian dollars) for this; suffice to say that if I weren’t able to justify the purchase by making this review, my wife would have been very, very upset!
Now, I’ve been using my AirPods Pros as my default daily earbuds for about a year now. They’re handy, but I’m not particularly attached to them. While they did integrate very well with Apple’s ecosystem, my ears didn’t feel so good after using them so often. (In fact, my original AirPods, which I had already given away, fit much better in my ears.) Honestly, that’s what made it easier for me to take the plunge and buy the AirPods Max.
There’s no getting around it: There most certainly are cheaper options out there if you just want something you can use for everyday listening. But since this is an Apple product, you’re paying a premium for design excellence (or so we hope).
The question now is: Does it hold up to previous releases? Fortunately, the design alone merits a resounding “yes.”
AirPods Max Design and Integration
In a word, I’d say that the design is spectacular. With metal ear cups, it’s relatively heavier than other Bluetooth wireless headphones. Despite that fact, it’s not uncomfortable to wear at all.
And when you take a look at the overall design, you’ll see some really incredible finishing touches, such as a neat mesh on the headband that acts as a suspension system of sorts. With this, the headphones fit much more comfortably at the top of your head. It basically fulfills the same function as padding would. Also, it feels quite durable!
The ear cups are built with extremely comfortable memory foam inside, and they clip in and out with ease. I imagine that this makes cleaning AirPods Max headphones quite easy; even better, if you wear these out, you can easily replace them.
The elongated design also adds to the overall comfortability of the experience. I’d think that even a Vulcan would have no trouble wearing this. Which is a relief, because long editing sessions with ill-fitting headphones can lead to very sweaty ears, which is always an unpleasant experience. (Though if you’re wondering, “Are these AirPods waterproof?” Well, they’re not.) Plus, the design itself is really very appealing. It's infinitely adjustable, using a machine slider here for the head.
So the design holds up. But what about the rest?
How to Use AirPods Max: The Controls
There are only two controls on this headphone set, making it very simple to operate. Unlike in previous versions where you had to learn how to do different taps or different pinches in order to advance tracks or invoke Siri or move from mode to mode, you have just a crown here (very reminiscent of Apple's watch) that you can press down to advance songs, answer the phone, and turn the volume up or down with ease.
Meanwhile, the other button just toggles between transparency mode, which allows you to have the outside world’s sounds come through the earpieces, or noise cancellation mode, which of course muffles out everything and isolates you.
AirPods Max Storage: A Curious Case
The curious part of the design is Apple's very strange carrying case, which has been widely ridiculed online, justifiably so. It’s not particularly appealing, and it doesn’t even offer that much protection. Apple’s decision to go with their lightning port technology (as opposed to the newer interface they use in their other products) is also a weird choice.
AirPods Max Technology
The technology that's built into these is, in a word, amazing.
Of the nine microphones built into this set, only one is for voice, while the remaining eight are for active noise cancellation; essentially, for listening to the sounds around you, determining whether or not you’re wearing glasses, and other functions necessary to maintain high audio fidelity. That’s why it works so well.
AirPods Max Sound Quality
Here, Apple has included some special technology leveraging off of those built-in processors that they call spatial audio, which is supposed to replicate a kind of a surround sound system within your headphones.
Basically, as stereo headphones, they're brilliant. The spatial audio system can move the sound around in the environment, just within the earpieces themselves. This creates a more convincing audio experience overall.
However, only audio, film, or television programs that are encoded with the spatial audio will be replicated with such fidelity. You have to turn it on in settings.
Pairing AirPods Max With Your Devices
As far as integrating in the overall Apple environment, it’s very easy to transfer the AirPods Max from device to device. I use it regularly on three devices with very little trouble.
As you open the lid of the case and then take the headphones out, you'll see that your devices will give you the option to immediately Connect, as soon as they recognize that the Max is close by.
Now, here’s a little something I wasn’t expecting: it also pairs with Bluetooth-enabled television sets easily! Considering how much you’re paying for this, that’s certainly a nice surprise, especially for those of us who enjoy watching our sports shows and whatnots in peace.
Servicing AirPods Max
If you are going to invest this much money in a set of headphones phones, they better be serviceable, right?
Like many of the other Apple ecosystem tools, it's not going to be user-upgradeable. You won’t be able to open them up with a screwdriver. So when they require service (such as when the batteries require replacing), you’ll need to take them to an Apple Authorized Service Center.
Oh, and for reference: Here’s a teardown video where they take them apart to show you how you get inside.
But What About Productivity?
Also, these headphones have definitely helped me become more productive. I love having music in my ears as I work; with the comfortable fit of this AirPod Max headphone, it delivers a far better experience than my AirPods Pro set ever did.
In summary: Ignoring the fact that they're ridiculously expensive, these are fantastic, and I will most certainly be using these often. If you’re a fan of Apple’s products or working within an Apple ecosystem, picking these up certainly isn’t a bad idea.
You can watch the rest of the review here.
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That’s it for now. Have fun storming the castle!
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