Design & Build Quality
Design-wise, Apple remains one if not the most influential company in the world. And the AirPods Max is here, to strengthen the brand position.
Available in five different colors – Grey, White, Pink, Green, and Blue – Apple’s headphone stands out from the crowd. Big, sleek, aluminum cups, filled with super comfy cushion, linked by the “canopy”: a steel frame, covered in silicon and breathable knit mesh.
Each cup is held by beautiful, glossy, telescoping arms, and if the AirPods Pro left me a bit underwhelmed, the Max, on the other hand, made a big impression on me. The headphone is heavy, dense, and feels supremely expensive, much more than some other gear I own, sometimes twice or thrice time more expensive.
There are just two controls on the AirPods Max, and no sensitive surface to hold like Sony or Bose. All you get is a digital crown and a button, both directly stolen from the Apple Watch. A dire design, but how so Apple-sque…
Available in five different colors – Grey, White, Pink, Green, and Blue – I ordered the blue version. And just so you know, delivery times are outstandingly long. I had to wait two months to get my headphone, and the delay was even longer for the green version. So bear that in mind, in case you want to get your own pair.
Build quality of the AirPods Max is exceptional, easily surpassing every headphone you could get in this price range.
Let me get it straight: I don’t find the AirPods Max expensive. Sure there are cheaper options, but I also have far pricier headphones, that do not look as robust or well-built as the Max.
Everywhere you touch feels premium, whether it’s the shells, the headband, or the pads. Apple is a massive company, with some of the best engineers in the world, and they want you to feel it. Everything feels right in place and all the Bluetooth headset I already own, feel like toys when you compare them to the AirPods Max, head to head.
If from afar, the headband seemed a bit clunky to me, that first impression disappeared as soon as I took the headphone out of the box. Yes, the mesh headband can, and will, tear if you intend to use the headphone intensely, but the whole “canopy” is still made of a solid stainless steel frame.
Each cup is attached on a swivel, tightly hold by a telescoping arm. And, like Apple advertises, those arms “smoothly extend and stay where you set them”. This may seem like a trivial argument, but you really have to feel how right it feels to slide them up and backward. Really.
Last but not least, there is the digital crown. A fancy scroll wheel, that allows you to turn the volume up or down, pause/play your track, or shift to the next/previous song. Next to it, you have the noise-canceling/transparency button. Both look a bit silly on the headphone as if they were added in a last-minute attempt to give some analog controls.
And yet, everything « clicks », both figuratively and literally. The sensation when you push the button feels strangely adequate, and the crown haptic feedback also gives a satisfying sensation each time you use it.
Finally, you have the microphones. They can be found all around the Max, some being used for noise-cancellation purposes, and the other to capture your voice when you’re on a call. They are unobtrusive and work amazingly well, better than the Pro, and way above any Bluetooth headphone, I tried recently… if you’ve got an iPhone.
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