Apple Announces AirPods Max Over-Ear Headphones With Noise Cancellation, Priced at $549
Apple today introduced new wireless over-ear headphones called AirPods Max, with key features including high-fidelity audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, and spatial audio. Priced at $549, the headphones can be ordered starting today on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning December 15.
AirPods Max come in five colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. Apple says the headphones feature a "breathable knit mesh" spanning the headband that distributes weight to reduce on-head pressure.
Apple says the ear cups have acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal, and the telescoping stainless steel headband arms smoothly extend and then stay in place to maintain the desired fit on your head.
AirPods Max feature a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that is said to provide "rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension." Each ear cup is equipped with Apple's H1 chip for "computational audio" to deliver the "highest quality listening experience possible," according to Apple.
Similar to the Apple Watch, AirPods Max feature a Digital Crown on one ear cup for precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri voice control. There's also a noise control button for switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode, which lets some outside sound in so you can interact naturally with your surroundings.
AirPods Max feature up to 20 hours of battery life with Active Noise Cancellation and spatial audio enabled — fine print reveals that Apple had volume set to 50% during its testing. Apple says a five-minute charge delivers 1.5 hours of listening time.
As with other AirPods models, AirPods Max have one-tap setup and automatic pairing with all the devices signed in to a user's iCloud account, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. AirPods Max have built-in optical and position sensors that automatically detect when the headphones are on someone's head. Once in place, AirPods Max play audio and can pause once removed, or when the user lifts one ear cup.
Apple's announcement provides more details on audio features:
- 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.
For phone calls and Siri commands, beam-forming microphones help to block out ambient noise and focus on the user's voice.
AirPods Max come with a carrying case called the "Smart Case" and a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box. Apple says the Smart Case puts the AirPods Max in an ultra-low power state that helps to preserve battery charge when not in use.
AirPods Max are launching in the United States and more than 25 other countries and regions, with shipments set to begin arriving to customers on Tuesday, December 15. AirPods Max can be ordered on Apple.com starting today.