Apple’s AirPods Max
Apple says AirPods Max were designed to offer high-fidelity audio, active noise cancellation, comfort, and quality. They feature spatial audio (with head tracking), so sounds can appear to be coming from all around you as you watch movies and shows. They also have a transparency mode that lets you listen in on the outside world with the touch of a button. They’re designed to be extremely comfortable to wear, even during long sessions.
The canopy, or the top part of the AirPods Max that rests on your head, is made of a knit mesh material that Apple says distributes the weight evenly to ease the pressure you might feel while wearing other headphones. The frame is stainless steel, and the cups are anodized aluminum, with memory foam pads that feel comfortable around your ears while also blocking out sound.
On top of one of the cups, you’ll find the controls. There’s a button to change the listening mode, and there’s an Apple Watch-like digital crown (or knob) that lets you control the volume, skip tracks, answer the phone, and activate Siri.
To power the active noise cancellation feature, AirPods Max have six external microphones that listen for the noise around you. Then they deploy an equal-but-opposite “anti-noise” inside the earcups that effectively nullifies the sounds of the outside world.
AirPods Max can detect when you take them off your head, and they’ll pause whatever music or podcast you’re listening to. When you store them in the Smart Case they come with, they automatically enter an ultra-low-power mode to conserve battery life. Speaking of battery life, Apple says AirPods Max last 20 hours between charges.
And like other AirPod models, they’re easy to pair with any other Apple products you have. They have a one-tap setup mode that automatically pops up when you place your AirPods Max near your iPhone or iPad for the first time. They also offer seamless switching as you go from your iPhone to iPad to MacBook.
They also have two internal microphones to monitor the sound you’re hearing, and additional microphones to capture your voice for phone calls.
Of course, all those features and all that Apple-style design come at a cost. AirPods Max definitely cost more than many other wireless headphones on the market. But then again, audiophiles know you can spend a lot more on headphones than this.
Chris Reed is a commerce editor and deals expert at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed.