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AirPods Max Are Here

Apple announced the newest member of the AirPods family this morning: the over-the-ear AirPods Max.

Or, AirPods Maxes? ¯\(ツ)/¯ Pluralization is hard.

Anywhooo… There are two things the people are saying: They’re great, and they’re too expensive. $549 for headphones is way more than I would ever spend, that’s for sure. But for a fashion item that’s also a supposedly high-end audio device, I can see some people justifying the price. Just not me. I don’t think they’re too expensive”, I think they’re too expensive for me1.


It seems like an odd time to release these. With the pandemic raging in most of the world, nobody’s really traveling. They’re way too big and expensive for Zoom calls, they’re not good workout headphones 2, and it’s not like people are running out to buy $550 stocking stuffers for the holidays.

Quick Takeaways

  • They are more expensive than I expected. I was expecting $350-400, not $550.
  • There is unsurprisingly no headphone jack. If you want to plug these high-end audiophile headphones into your buttery warm turntable, you’ll need a $35 adapter cable. I’m wondering if a $10 Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter would work with a standard audio cable?
  • Speaking of cable, these charge over Lightning. Not surprised.
  • No mention of water resistance, so don’t work out in these.
  • Apple actually took a break from their never-ending quest to remove buttons. The headphones are controlled by a Watch-like Digital Crown. Genuinely curious to see how this works in practice. Seems like a good idea.
  • Dual H1 chips. computational Audio is a thing, and the H1 is designed for it. There’s a little 10-core iOS chip in each ear cup. That’s both amazing and totally over-kill. H1 enables Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, and more. The AirPods Pro do all of this very well, so it should be pretty rad in these.
  • I do like the design. The way the telescoping arm that sticks out of the headband looks like the bottom of AirPods is pretty sweet.
  • Also, colors! why can’t I get AirPods (or Macs, or iPhones, or whatever) in so many colors?

The Many Colors of AirPods Max, apple.comThe Many Colors of AirPods Max,

Final Thoughts

These look fine, but they are not for me. I think my AirPods Pro sound just fine, and I’ve never liked over-the-ear headphones. They make my ears sweat and they are generally too big to carry around. I’ll pass, and most of you probably should to. If you have $550 burning a hole in your music budget, go buy 5 HomePod minis instead.

  1. Here’s an Amazon search for high-end headphones. A quick scroll shows tons of $1500+ headphones, so these seem reasonable by comparison.↩︎

  2. And Fitness+ launches next week!↩︎

🗓️ December 8, 2020 🏷️ Apple 🏷️ AirPods
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