AirPods Max previews: great sound, good build, disappointing case

AirPods Max previews are now out on various website and YouTube channels and initial impressions say that it definitely has good sound quality, premium build quality, fit comfortably for most people, and have great noise cancellation. At the same time, most previews have echoed the same thoughts on the case that Apple ships with these headphones – it’s not good.

These are not detailed reviews, but they give a good enough idea as to whether you should throw some money at the screen to buy AirPods Max for yourself.

AirPods Max Previews

AirPods Max previews praise sound quality, active noise cancellation, comfortable fit, and build quality

Nilay Patel from The Verge posted his initial impressions and you could be mistaken that you might be reading a full review. He went into considerable detail, without providing a full answer as to whether these headphones are worth the price tag. Nilay agreed that the sound quality is good, even at maximum volume, considering the headphones comparable to high-end headphones.

I’ve had fun listening to the AirPods Max for a few hours — they’re crisp and bright, with a pleasingly wider soundstage than my Sony headphones, and no distortion at all, even at max volume. We’ll have a full review of these soon, including tests of spatial audio and Apple’s claim of Atmos surround sound support, so stay tuned for that. But for now, rest assured the AirPods Max sound more than good enough to compete with other high-end headphones.

David Carnoy from CNET mentioned that once you used the AirPods Max, you find yourself justifying the high price tag, that maybe they are worth the money. They are better than some cheaper alternatives and have a better fit for most head types, but the difference might not be enough for most customers.

I spent some time comparing these to Sony’s WH-1000XM4 and Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which aren’t cheap but cost a lot less than the AirPods Max. As I said, the AirPods Max offer better sound and noise canceling. They’re just more articulate headphones than both the Sony and Bose, with more refined, richer sound. It’s not a huge difference, but they do perform better overall.

Todd Haselton of CNBC also had good things to say about the sound quality and active noise cancellation but found them too big to carry around when not at home, as they don’t fold, unlike the Sony XM4s and other headphones.

They sound really good to me. I’ll revisit more in my full review, but I also don’t know that I could stand here right now and pinpoint exactly how much better they sound than a pair of Bose or Sony headphones. The noise cancellation is pretty solid: I didn’t hear people talking in the room next to me while I was working. I’m not sure how they’ll compare on an airplane to Bose yet, though. And I won’t be flying any time soon for obvious reasons.

MKBHD spoke a lot about the price tag, for a YouTuber who uses really expensive equipment to shoot videos. He ended his video by talking about how the AirPods Max might be better compared to $1,000 premium headphones, rather than cheaper Sony XM4 headphones, which are a lot better value for money, but not when it comes to sound quality and active noise cancellation. Of course, it goes without saying that Sony also ships a better case with XM4s than what Apple will ship with AirPods Max.

iJustine had nothing critical to say about the headphones except that she loved the comfortable fit and the sound quality. She also used the 3.5mm to Lightning cable and talked about how Transparency and Active Noise Cancellation still worked. So if you wondered if these features will still work when the headphones are plugged into a headphone jack, here’s your answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkoWCX8sQf4

All early impressions mentioned that despite the weight of the AirPods Max, they are still extremely comfortable to wear and easily adjust to various head types thanks to the steel headband. They also praised the use of material such as the soft fabric on the headband, and aluminum on the outside of the ear cups, which makes them look and feel more premium than any other headphones in the price range. The physical controls were also a praiseworthy inclusion, as they work better and more reliably than finicky touch controls on other over-head headphones.

No matter what the early AirPods Max previews say, shipping times for the headphones have already moved to 2-3 months away in most countries which means that most customers have already decided to make their purchases. Apple seems to have targeted an upper range of premium audio quality that Sony’s slightly cheaper over-ear headphones do not match. If it is audiophiles that Apple is targeted, well, it seems like most of them have already jumped onboard the AirPods Max bandwagon.

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