When Apple quietly unveiled the over-ear AirPods Max Headphones in November, the public’s attention naturally turned to the price: $550.
For consumers used to premium headphones and earbuds rarely costing more than $300 or $400, this came as a bit of a shock. Even compared to other Apple products, which can be more expensive than other competing products, the price was relatively high.
This whole situation arguably arose from Apple being almost too good at what it does. While its products are expensive, there are few companies who could sell the iPhone 12 or M1 MacBook Air at a price as low as Apple does. So when Apple rolls out a premium product that is actually priced like a premium product, you end up with a response like this.
wtf is Apple doing? No pair of headphones is worth that much. Apple is turning technology into a luxury product.
— Brian Jackson (@brianjjackson) December 8, 2020
The peanut gallery was, of course, very off the mark on this and the AirPods Max quickly sold out after they released. Unsurprisingly, they continue to be a hot item for retailers.
Those familiar with the world of high-end audio gear, and Apple’s forays into it, know this isn’t unprecedented. Headphones from luxury and audiophile brands such as Bang & Olufsen, Audeze or Focal can easily cost thousands of dollars. And previous Apple audio products, such as the HomePod, haven’t all been priced for the mainstream.
But as expected, the AirPods Max ended up being as good as advertised. And when you consider everything they bring to the table, you more than get your money’s worth from these.
With that in mind, here are 5 reasons why you should not be scared away by the AirPods Max price tag.
Reason #1: The Audio Quality of the AirPods Max is Nearly Unmatched By Other Top Wireless Headphones
Generally speaking, Apple has a pretty good track record with audio products, and its speakers and headphones are always good for the money. But take one look at the reviews from the likes of the AirPods Max headphones from The Verge, Wired and Cnet, and you will find more than a few mentions about them sounding better than any comparable pair of cans.
So what do reviewers love? They’re particularly enamored with the sparkling detail of the high-end sounds, the wide soundstage and the tightness of the bass, preferring the sound over other well-reviewed headphones, such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 that we called the best ever.
Reason #2: The AirPods Max Design Oozes Quality
Design is admittedly a subjective thing.
For nostalgic types, the design of the Marshall Monitor II noise-cancelling headphones can’t be beat. For others, the bold colors of Beats headphones are what make their design so great.
But if there was ever a pair of headphones that came close to pleasing the aesthetic sensibilities of everyone without coming off as bland and sterile, it might be the AirPods Max, which combine high-end materials such as stainless steel, with a touch of playfulness.
The lines and overall form of the AirPods Max call to mind the old Koss headphones of the ‘60s and ‘70s, giving them a little retro flair. But cutting-edge manufacturing techniques incorporate aluminum, magnets, stainless steel acoustic mesh and silicone in order to streamline the design for the minimalists and modernists out there. Finally, for those who don’t want to live in a black and white world, the tonal pastel color schemes offer up a fun look without attracting too much attention.
Reason #3: AirPods Max Are So Comfortable, You’ll Want to Wear These For Hours On End
When we talk about design of the AirPods Max, it’s not just the looks. Those premium materials go hand in hand with careful engineering to give these a premium feel, as evidenced by the memory foam ear cups and easily adjustable stainless steel arms on the headband. This is crucial when it comes to comfort. As reviewers have noted, the AirPods Max are so comfortable that you can wear them for hours on end without issue.
This isn’t always the case for headphones. Some can be too heavy, some don’t stay securely on your head, and others clamp down too hard over your ears. When you can find a good pair of headphones with none of these issues, they’re worth the extra cost.
Reason #4: AirPods Max Have Special Features You Won’t Find In Other Headphones
If you’ve ever used a pair of the AirPods Pro earbuds, then you know that the H1 chip that’s built inside gives them the ability to function seamlessly with your other Apple products. This includes quickly auto-pairing with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, auto-pausing when you remove your earbuds and automatically switching the connection between devices based on proximity or activity. It should come as no surprise that the AirPods Max also support all of these features.
The real killer feature, however, is spatial audio. If you have the right content loaded up on your Apple device (Netflix, games, etc) you will not only get 3D audio akin to Dolby Atmos, but the headphones can track the position of your head in relation to what you’re looking at and dynamically move the audio around you in realtime.
Other headphones may have their own special features, but there are very few headphones on the market that support head tracking. And the ones that do are mostly gaming headsets.
Reason #5: The Noise Cancelling Is Really That Good
Apple already proved with the AirPods Pro that its noise-cancelling technology is up to snuff with the likes of Bose and Sony. And with the AirPods Max, they’re able to unleash the full potential of that technology in a pair of over-ear headphones.
While the best noise-cancelling headphones all have different types of noises they cancel better than others, WhatHiFi’s review mentions that the AirPods Max excel at cancelling out voices, which makes these a great pair of headphones to use while working in a room full of chatty people.
The Verdict: Yes, You Should Buy These (If You Can Afford Them)
And so to wrap this up, the AirPods Max aren’t merely another good pair of headphones. As many have attested to, these are a great pair of headphones. And if money is not a consideration, they’re definitely the best wireless headphones of the moment.
So if performance is what you’re looking for above all else when it comes to your audio gear, the AirPods Max should be the cans you look at first.