Mark Llobrera

Airpods Max

Apple Airpods Max in Green.
Image © Apple

Apple announced their over-ear, noise-canceling Airpods Max1 headphones yesterday. It feels like these have been rumored for the last two-odd years, contributing enough uncertainty that I held off buying any of the currently-available noise-canceling options out there. If I were still commuting into the office I’d be interested in trying out a pair. As it is, though, I’m at home—with access to five different pairs of on-ear/over-ear headphones2. Most days I use a Grado RS2e, unless I’m going to be talking a lot during a video call.

I like that Apple went with physical controls (the digital crown) instead of touch controls. Touch controls are fiddly; it’s nice to get tactile feedback (especially when it’s cold and gloves are involved).

Lots of folks are going to complain about the price, and like many Apple products they are expensive ($550 USD), especially when you can get Sony’s 1000XM4 for about half that. Apple is clearly going after the luxury tier occupied by models like Master & Dynamic’s MW65 ($500) and Bang & Olufsen’s H95 ($800). If you spend as much of your day with headphones on I’d argue they fall solidly into the category of a tool, which might change your feelings about the price. So the pricing doesn’t bother me so much as the timing—it’s not the greatest look to be announcing these in a moment when a global pandemic has people struggling to pay for food and housing3.

  1. Presumably they can name future versions Airpods Pro Max, or Airpods Sport Max, just for confusion. ↩︎

  2. None of them wireless, though, a fact my youngest recently pointed out. ↩︎

  3. This short tweet sequence is about Zoom, but could easily apply here. ↩︎