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New Apple AirPods Max achieve Beauty sans Noise for a Price

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Bose and Sony have a new competitor in the Noise Cancelling over-the-ear category

In 2020, Apple has released and announced new products and features at an unprecedented rate. In a continuation of that trend, today they added the AirPods Max which feature: “wireless over-ear design with high-fidelity audio, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio, and more” according to the official press release. 

As of the day before the announcements the leaks began to be confirmed and speculation of other products faded, as it was clear that December 8th would be the launch announcement for AirPods Max.

Availability begins on December 15th (shipping) and the price is an admittedly hefty $549 (US). 

A big year winds down with many new product details still to be revealed

Although some outlets speculated that other products, or news about upcoming releases would be forthcoming, for that it appears we will still have to wait. The December 15th availability to ship date coincides with last-minute shipping deadlines for Christmas this year which for services such as USPS Priority mail in December 16th.

For that reason it is unlikely that other news, not including unofficial leaks, would will be added. 

With only a single button to adjust the noise cancelling and a Digital Crown (with a nod to the one found on Apple Watch) that controls volume and playback, there is a minimal beauty to the design, which is no surprise considering the price and that these are from Apple. 

There are an assortment of carefully curated colors, and special attention has clearly been paid to the fashion value and aesthetics. At first blush there is even a kind of retro throw-back vibe, as to to envision a 60s socialite boarding PanAm and ready to settle in to the first class cabin.

AirPods Max require Apple devices running iOS 14.3 or later, iPadOS 14.3 or later, macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, watchOS 7.2 or later, or tvOS 14.3 or later.

Though typically Sleek and doubtlessly Luxurious, some questionable issues have been identified 

The new headphones, the first over-the-ear model by Apple (other than Beats) weigh 13.6 ounces (384 grams), which sounds acceptable, but  compared to other over-ear noise cancelling headphones on the market, it is at the higher end of the range.

Next question: what if you want to use with a cable, rather than wirelessly via bluetooth? On a plane there if seldom, if ever, any way to use with a film via bluetooth, for that reason an input jack or other way to connect with a standard airline connector would be useful. Naturally a third-party adaptor is possible but that not an elegant solution. For example Sony, Bose, and others have solutions for this, but AirPods Max would require a work-around.

If your battery charge is depleted, an alternate way to still at least listen to music is something that may be useful. Of course, the noise cancelling system would require power so this is not something that would be idea anyway, but for those “emergency” situations where you want to use your AirPods Max as basic headphones in a pinch, that would also be a reason to wish for the alternate cabled option. 

If all this sounds a bit nit-picky, that’s what happens with a beautiful and expensive product and lots of scribes out searching for pros and cons to discuss.


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