The US media have started to receive AirPods Max, Apple’s new wireless headset. Here is a summary of their first impressions.
It was Apple’s One More Thing for this already busy 2020 year: the AirPods Max, a noise-canceling wireless headset presented without fanfare through a simple press release and made available on the brand’s website immediately afterwards. Those who had their bank card at this time have already been able to buy it, the others will have to wait for a delivery which will not arrive before January 8 at best, if not within 12 to 14 weeks to believe the Apple brand online store.
Regardless, the US media have already received their AirPods Max and posted their first impressions of Apple’s first headset. We read the different feedbacks in order to summarize their opinion after a day of testing.
A “cold” design, but premium
Impossible not to recognize AirPods Max at first glance. A little retro air brought up to date that does not leave you indifferent. But the first term that comes up often is ” cold[au toucher]“. Unlike many headsets available on the market today, the AirPods Max’s ear cups are not plastic, but anodized aluminum. Yet at first glance, ” you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s plastic ” precise The Verge.
For Cnet however, ” the build quality is in no way comparable to what is in the $ 300- $ 400 segment ”, A good point for a helmet marketed at 550 dollars (629 euros). TechCrunch goes so far as to say that if we only judged the manufacture, it should even be more expensive still.
This material at feeling plus premium does not come without its drawbacks: it weighs 386 grams on the scale. This is 54% heavier than the 250 grams of a Sony WH-1000xM4, today the benchmark in the consumer headset market. To prevent it from weighing too much on the skull, Apple has developed a hoop made of steel rods covered with a mesh fabric, ventilated and allowing the helmet to be properly balanced on the head.
However, this does not seem to convince all testers. The Verge doesn’t really feel the difference with a WH-1000xM2, while Cnetwould like it to be ” 20% lighter », Judging him« comfortable, but not necessarily SUPER comfortable ». TechCrunchgoes even further: ” if you don’t like heavy headphones, don’t buy the AirPod Max “. It has the merit of being direct.
Apple experience requires, everything is very neat. The temple slide system is also “very satisfactory, because it offers great resistance According to MKBHD who much prefers this to the typical clicking noise of plastic. ForTechCrunch , it’s a “wow factor ».
Comfort nevertheless remains a primordial criterion, satisfying most of the testers here. On this point, it is the atria that are appreciated. Their mesh fabric is comfortable and does not keep too hot, a fault often criticized with helmets which quickly become a stifling furnace in a heatwave.
Even smarter: the attachment system. The interior of the ear cups magnetically attaches to the rest of the helmet for quick and easy change when needed. The pair of pads costs 79 euros in Apple Store, but this system justifies the price. OfThe Vergeat MKBHD everyone appreciates that they can easily be removed when needed, but stay firmly in place the rest of the time.
What’s more, each headset has a proximity sensor to pause your music when you remove the headset. Convenient: Most helmets have only integrated it into one pad.
A practical crown
The interface of the AirPods Max is also minimalist. Apart from the orifices dedicated to the microphones, there is a button to manage noise reduction and a crown similar to that of the Apple Watch (but larger) to manage the volume, the change of tracks or Siri. “It’s fluid and responsive” according toCnet.
MKBHD specifies that he would have preferred these buttons to be on the underside of the helmet, and not on the top in order to make them more accessible, but he nevertheless concludes that it is “better than most touch controls“. It is also possible to reverse the direction of the controls for the crown on iOS 14.3 to adapt to your preferences.
A … strange shell
Let’s avoid the bad jokes about the carrying case that came with the AirPods Max to take a look at what it offers: a very strange protection on the most solid part of the helmet only – the metal ear cups – and a magnetic system allowing to put the headset on standby when it is stored. This is a problem in use. Without a cover, it is impossible to turn off the AirPods Max.
The hull is also open in some places. If we can understand that this allows a cable to pass to recharge the headphones, it also allows dust to pass and therefore does not perfectly protect the holes of the 7 microphones (6 for noise reduction, 1 for the voice of the ‘user).The Vergegoes so far as to say that it is the most “cheap»That Apple never did.
If the shell does not add much weight and bulk to the helmet, its use is therefore quite breathtaking, especially as the AirPods Max does not fold up on itself, even though its ear cups are adjustable in order to adapt to all face shapes.
The optional jack
Another point noted in all the grips is the absence of a jack on the AirPods Max. While this is not a huge problem on a daily basis, since it is intended to be used wirelessly, it could prove problematic in some cases, such as on an airplane to connect to the infotainment system.
For this, it will therefore be necessary to buy a dedicated cable at 39 euros. We are therefore at 629 euros of headphones, 79 euros of spare pads and 39 euros of cable for a total of 747 euros. Outch. It’s 62 euros less than an iPhone 12 mini only (yes, the comparison is irrelevant, but it has the merit of putting the price in perspective for a headset that will be essentially paired with an iPhone ).
A wide and pleasant soundstage
The most important of course remains to be defined: sound quality and noise reduction. Unfortunately, on a grip, the opinions are for the moment very brief, but nevertheless seem unanimous: it is one of the best helmets that we can find today.
Cnetclaims to have spent a lot of time comparing the AirPods Max to the Sony WH-1000xM4 and Bose Headphones 700, and claims that Apple’s headphones “provides better sound and noise reduction […] more refined and richer“. This sound “impressive” according toTechCrunchdo not come to play “in the same category as Beats (brand belonging to Apple), with “a more nuanced sound, delivered sharply across the spectrum ».
However, we will have to wait for more complete tests to find out if the AirPods Max really lives up to expectations and if the software technologies integrated by Apple (spatial audio, automatic equalization, etc.) are all the more impressive in headphone format as they are on AirPods Pro.
See you in a few days to find out if the AirPods Max is worth its 630 euros.