Apple has long been rumored to be working on its own-branded over-ear headphones, despite having released a few devices under the Beats brand since its acquisition in 2014. Today, the company finally made those rumors come true with the AirPods Max.
The AirPods Max feature a custom acoustic design, which is "carefully crafted to provide exceptional acoustic performance for each user". The headband is made of steel, and it uses telescopic headband arms to adjust the fit. Apple says the ear cushions use special memory foam to seal off external sounds, in addition to offering active noise cancellation to help with immersion. Apple also included a digital crown, borrowed from the Apple Watch, to control music playback and volume, with the ability to play, pause, skip tracks, or summon Siri.
Inside each earcup, there's a 40mm audio driver designed by Apple, which the company should provide a great experience across every range of sound. It uses a dual neodymium ring magnet motor to minimize harmonic distortion to less than one percent, even if you set the volume to the max.
There are also 10 audio cores inside the headphones, which can process nine billion operations per second, enabling an array of computation audio features. These include an adaptive equalizer, which measures the sound delivered to the user and makes adjustments in real-time, active noise cancellation to block out external noise using three external microphones, transparency mode, and spatial audio with support for 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos surround sound. The headphones also use a gyroscope and accelerometer to determine the user's movements and adjust the sound based on it.
Like other AirPods, the AirPods Max come with Apple's H1 chip, meaning they can be set up easily with other Apple devices, and switch automatically between them if you happen to have more than one. They can also pause playback automatically when you take them off or even if you lift one of the earcups.
In terms of battery, the AirPods Max can last up to 20 hours on a charge playing high-fidelity audio with ANC and spatial audio enabled. They also come in a Smart Case, which automatically puts the headphones in an "ultralow" power state to preserve battery when not in use.
Now, for the fun part. The AirPods Max are available to order today and will begin shipping next week, on December 15. You'll have to pay a whopping $549 for the privilege of owning a pair. They come in Space Gray, Green, Silver, Sky Blue, and Pink color options.