Apple introduces AirPods Max, premium over-ear headphones

Apple today announced AirPods Max, innovative wireless headphones that bring the magic of AirPods to an over-ear design with high-fidelity sound. AirPods Max combine a custom acoustic design, H1 chips, and advanced software to power computational audio for a breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. AirPods Max come in five gorgeous colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink, and are available to order starting today, with availability beginning Tuesday, December 15.

AirPods Max bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new wireless over-ear design with high-fidelity audio, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio, and more.
AirPods Max bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new wireless over-ear design with high-fidelity audio, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio, and more.

“AirPods are the most popular headphones in the world, beloved for their effortless setup, incredible sound quality, and iconic design. With AirPods Max, we are bringing that magical AirPods experience to a stunning over-ear design with high-fidelity audio,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in a statement. “The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience.”

AirPods Max feature a breathable knit mesh canopy, distributing weight to reduce on-head pressure. AirPods Max come in space gray, silver, green, sky blue, and pink.
AirPods Max feature a breathable knit mesh canopy, distributing weight to reduce on-head pressure. AirPods Max come in space gray, silver, green, sky blue, and pink.

From the canopy to the ear cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide exceptional acoustic performance for each user. The breathable knit mesh canopy, spanning the headband, is made to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure. The stainless steel headband frame provides strength, flexibility, and comfort for a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. Telescoping headband arms smoothly extend and stay in place to maintain the desired fit.

Each ear cup attaches to the headband through a revolutionary mechanism that balances and distributes ear cup pressure, and allows it to independently pivot and rotate to fit the unique contours of a user’s head. Each ear cushion uses acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. The Digital Crown, inspired by Apple Watch, offers precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri.

The Digital Crown provides precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri. The noise control button easily switches between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
The Digital Crown provides precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri. The noise control button easily switches between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
AirPods Max ear cushions use acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal for immersive sound, and an Apple-designed knit textile wraps each ear cushion for added comfort.
AirPods Max ear cushions use acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal for immersive sound, and an Apple-designed knit textile wraps each ear cushion for added comfort.
From the canopy to the cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide a comfortable fit and exceptional acoustic performance for each individual.
From the canopy to the cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide a comfortable fit and exceptional acoustic performance for each individual.

AirPods Max feature a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that provides rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension so every note can be heard. A unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor allows AirPods Max to maintain total harmonic distortion of less than 1 percent across the entire audible range, even at maximum volume.1 Equipped with an Apple-designed H1 chip in each ear cup, a custom acoustic design, and advanced software, AirPods Max use computational audio to deliver the highest quality listening experience possible. Utilizing each of the chips’ 10 audio cores — capable of 9 billion operations per second — computational audio powers a breakthrough listening experience that includes Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio.

AirPods Max custom acoustic design features a 40-mm dynamic driver and a unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor.
AirPods Max custom acoustic design features a 40-mm dynamic driver and a unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor.

• Adaptive EQ: AirPods Max use Adaptive EQ to adjust the sound to the fit and seal of the ear cushions by measuring the sound signal delivered to a user and adjusting the low and mid-frequencies in real time — bringing rich audio that captures every detail.

• Active Noise Cancellation: AirPods Max deliver immersive sound through Active Noise Cancellation so users can focus on what they are listening to. Each ear cup features three outward-facing microphones to detect environmental noise, while one microphone inside the ear cup monitors the sound reaching the listener’s ear. Using computational audio, noise cancellation continuously adapts to the headphone fit and movement in real time.

• Transparency Mode: With AirPods Max, users can switch to Transparency mode to simultaneously listen to music while hearing the environment around them — ensuring everything, including a user’s own voice, sounds natural while audio plays perfectly. Switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode can be done with a single press using the noise control button.

• Spatial Audio: AirPods Max use spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theaterlike experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad, spatial audio tracks the motion of a user’s head as well as the device, compares the motion data, then remaps the sound field so it stays anchored to the device, even as the user’s head moves.

AirPods Max join the existing AirPods family in delivering unparalleled wireless audio, whether a customer is listening to music, making phone calls, enjoying TV shows and movies, playing games, or interacting with Siri. The magical setup experience customers love with today’s AirPods and AirPods Pro extends to AirPods Max with one-tap setup, followed by automatic pairing with all the devices signed in to a user’s iCloud account, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

AirPods Max automatically detect when they are on a user’s head using the optical and position sensors. Once in place, AirPods Max play audio and can pause once removed or when the user simply lifts one ear cup. With AirPods Max, voice calls and Siri commands are crisp and clear due to beam-forming microphones that block out ambient noise and focus on the user’s voice.

AirPods Max feature the magical one-tap setup experience that customers love with AirPods.
AirPods Max feature the magical one-tap setup experience that customers love with AirPods.

AirPods Max feature great battery life with up to 20 hours of high-fidelity audio, talk time, or movie playback with Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled.

AirPods Max come with a soft, slim Smart Case that puts AirPods Max in an ultralow power state that helps to preserve battery charge when not in use.

When stored in the soft, slim Smart Case, AirPods Max enter an ultralow power state that preserves charge.
When stored in the soft, slim Smart Case, AirPods Max enter an ultralow power state that preserves charge.

Additional Features:

• Automatic switching allows users to seamlessly move sound between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. When playing music on Mac, users can easily take a call on iPhone and AirPods Max will automatically switch over.

• Audio Sharing makes it possible to easily share an audio stream between two sets of AirPods on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV 4K. Simply bring AirPods Max near the device and connect with a single tap.

• Siri capabilities include the ability to play music, make phone calls, control the volume, get directions, and more. Siri can also read incoming messages as they arrive with Announce Messages with Siri.

Pricing and Availability

• AirPods Max are available to order starting today for $549 (US) from apple.com and in the Apple Store app in the US and more than 25 other countries and regions. AirPods Max will begin shipping on Tuesday, December 15.

• AirPods Max require Apple devices running iOS 14.3 or later, iPadOS 14.3 or later, macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, watchOS 7.2 or later, or tvOS 14.3 or later.

• AirPods start at $159 (US) and AirPods Pro are available for $249 (US).

• Customers can add personal engraving to AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, and AirPods for free on apple.com and in the Apple Store app.

• Customers are able to find the same great shopping and support services at apple.com/shop, in the Apple Store app, and at Apple Store locations. Customers can get shopping help from Apple Specialists, choose monthly financing options, get special carrier offers for iPhone, trade in eligible devices, and get Support services and no-contact delivery or Apple Store pickup options. Customers are encouraged to check apple.com/retail for more information on the health and safety measures in place, and the services available, at their local store.

• Pickup options include in-store, curbside, or Express storefront, and vary by store. Same-day delivery may also be available. Customers can check apple.com/retail for services available at their local store.

• With Apple Card, customers in the US get 3 percent Daily Cash back when they buy directly from Apple and have the option to choose Apple Card Monthly Installments so they can pay over time, interest-free.

MacDailyNews Take: Wow, these AirPods Max looks great and we bet these headphones will some of, if not the, most comfortable over-ear headphones ever made! These gorgeous new premium headphones will sell like crazy. Bravo, Apple!

62 Comments

  1. Pricing is high, but it makes sense in the usual Apple way. On one hand, Apple will sell a lot more regular AirPods and AirPods Pro (to a bigger audience), because they’ll now seem more affordable in comparison. But on the other hand, Apple will sell plenty of AirPods Max to people who already have the small AirPods. These new ones are so much “bigger” in every possible way, worth the high cost for those target customers.

    1. For me, there is an associated held concern with AirPod pros that these will solve. I’ve used normal AirPods for years without issue. The AirPods Pro’s seal my ear canal so much that after hours and hours of use, they become very itchy. So then I end up using Q-Tips daily, and excessive wax removal has cause me to get several outer ear infections. I was literally lamenting the lack of over ear headphone with AirPod functionality just last night. So, for me, these were an instant buy. (And no, I won’t listen through Beats headphones. I find they color the music to a degree I find unsatisfactory).

  2. I basically promised one to my daughter then I saw they’re $550. Yikes! I’m waiting to hear back by text if she’s interested. Then the hard work of going with the flow or carefully backtracking.

  3. DOA….. I Can get a couple of pair of finely tuned studio headphones for less… Your just not going to $550 worth of sound wirelessly….FYI…charger and audio cable NOT INCLUDED!!?? Really?

      1. Studio headphones are very good, but like monitor speakers they are designed to be neutral to give you the best sound before you modify the sound settings.

        These headphones if they are any good should give the best sound before you apply EQ to the sound output. In short you should hear the mixers F up’s right away.

        1. “Studio headphones” and “monitors” exist across a wide range of qualities, from terrible to great, cheap, to expensive.

          But generally, my experience is that most studio headphones in professional studios aren’t terribly hi-fi. They’re designed to provide isolation so you can hear your mix while you record, and prevent audio bleed from infecting your track, but I would bet these new Apple headphones sound a lot better than the typical studio-grade headphones.

      2. Very balanced EQ. No boosting of frequencies so that you know what you are engineering. Agreed, these a consumer headphone. Don’t need all the audiophiles jumping in saying how much the need these to listen to MP3 files on Apple Music.

    1. “Would love to get a pair but as far as I can tell there is no analog input which means they really aren’t audiophile grade.”

      That might be one of those things that used to be true, but isn’t anymore.

      1. No, it’s still true. Bluetooth has come a long way but it still doesn’t offer the range of uncompressed music.

        Where it WOULD hold true is if the headphones themselves didn’t offer that range or dynamics. In that case there would be no need for the hi-res files, but then again, they wouldn’t be true audiophile.

  4. Well, Apple appears to have lost touch with reality..

    Last I checked thanks to perpetual media bombardment about a virus with about a 99% on average survival rate for most people, where everyone is going to die as a “case” with no real perspective on that ether… Dem Govs tossing people into lockdowns for no good reason other than to save them from a virus while destroying their real lives with job loss and depression, Apple comes out with spectacularly over-priced headphones..

  5. Hmm. They totally had me except it doesn’t fold and doesn’t have an input jack. So, not for travellers?

    Perhaps at the moment that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but my Sony noise cancelling headphones live in my carry on. I’m a well-off Apple ecosystem guy, but I’m not sure how big the market is for noise cancelling headphones you don’t take on an airplane.

    1. My thoughts exactly. I have Bose noise cancelling headphones for air travel. Works well for eliminating the aircraft noise. Wirelessly connects to my Mac or iPhone automatically but can also connect to the seat entertainment system with a wire.
      I wonder if it is possible to connect by wire using a special lightning cable with a phone jack connector or adapter?
      Cost is also a factor – $600 is a lot for a headset. I paid about 350 for the Bose and that was a stretch for me. Folding as well since headphones can get easily damaged when stuffing in a carryon bag.
      I might instead go for the AirPod Pro. Same noise cancelling and less pressure on the ear when trying to sleep on a plane.

      1. Re: “I wonder if it is possible to connect by wire using a special lightning cable with a phone jack connector or adapter?”

        That’s one of the (phone jack) accessories Apple offer you when you check out.

        1. Had Bose headphones that folded lasted one plane trip. These new headphones won’t fall into the street never to be found again. Good design cost money the PC/Android world is available to all who want cheap.

          My iPod Hi Fi still works great cost 300 dollars over 12 years ago. Like a Dyson or a Crate and Barrel kitchen table built to last.

            1. +1 minus the name calling but yeah Dyson plastic crap works just barely long enough to keep you coming back for more. I don’t mind Apple stuff being planned obsolescence but AI chips and cameras get better every few years. A $500 vacuum cleaner with a replaceable Li-ion battery should be built to last through 3-5 battery lifetimes, not one

      1. You can, but without folding, and in that “protective” case, they will likely get broken. And without a jack, you can’t plug them into an in-flight system (admittedly using that less and less, but still do on overseas and perhaps half my domestic flights).

  6. “Over ear”? It does not look like it. It rather looks like ON the ear, you know, where it puts continuous pressure ON the earlobes which means the lobes begin to irritate after a time. Real over the ear head phones do not touch the lobes.
    Someone is likely thinking to sue over false advertising.

  7. Reminds me of other products that no longer exist in the ecosystem. All short (relatively) lived because while they were cool, they weren’t appealing to enough consumers. Harder to name than you think…

  8. There’s a little adapter I bought at the brick and mortar Apple store about 18 months ago that plugs into the 3.5mm airplane jacks and lets you listen to airline entertainment using your AirPods or these. If I recall correctly it seems like it was around $49.

  9. So, these are HomePods for the head. I’m sure they’ll sound amazing! While the price is clearly high, I think when people hear them, they’ll be gobsmacked. For some reason, if the price fell to $449, and they sound as good as I think they will, I’ll buy em. Over $500 seems too high, but under seems acceptable for amazing.

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