Apple announces AirPods Max with ANC and Spatial Audio

Apple's first attempt at over-the-ear (ANC) headphones!

by: - Last updated on: March 29th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Apple’s first attempt at headphones brings a custom (over-the-ear) design along with active noise cancelation technology (ANC).
  • The headphones have a crown (similar to Apple Watch) to help control volume levels, play/pause tracks, etc. And, they also have a dedicated button to switch between ANC and transparency mode.
  • AirPods Max employ 40mm Apple-designed dynamic driver to drive sound and feature Apple’s H1 chip to handle all the processing and computational audio.
  • Apple promises up to 20 hours of playback on the headphones with ANC and spatial audio enabled.

Apple’s hardware announcements for the year are not over yet, as the Cupertino giant has just unveiled its over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max. Rumored to be in the works for several months now, Apple’s first attempt at headphones brings a custom (over-the-ear) design along with active noise cancelation technology (ANC) — which appears to be their USP. Let’s take a closer look at the specifications and details of the AirPods Max.

Apple AirPods Max

To start with, Apple says that the AirPods Max feature a stainless steel headband frame to offer strength, flexibility, and comfort that can fit different head shapes and sizes. And that they have a “breathable knit mesh canopy”, which spans across the headband to distribute the weight evenly and reduce pressure on the head. The headphones employ what Apple calls “telescoping headband arms” to maintain the fit. Furthermore, the company says that the earcups on the headphones attach to the headband using a “revolutionary” mechanism to balance and distribute ear cap pressure evenly. These earcups are made with memory foam, which manages to create a seal to deliver immersive sound, as per the company. Besides, there is a crown (similar to Apple Watch) to help control volume levels, play/pause tracks, etc. And, the earcups also feature a dedicated button to switch between ANC and transparency mode.

AirPods Max design

At its core, the AirPods Max include a 40mm Apple-designed dynamic driver to drive the sound. It uses Apple’s H1 chip (on each earcup) to help with all the processing and computational audio — including Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. To deploy ANC, each earcup on the headphones features three outward-facing microphones to detect environmental noise and one microphone (on the inside of the earcups) to monitor the sound reaching the listeners’ ears. Finally, with the help of computational audio (and the relevant environment noise data), the ANC adapts and works accordingly in real time.

In addition to ANC, another marquee feature of the AirPods Max is spatial audio. The feature relies on dynamic head tracking to place sound virtually everywhere in a space and give you a sense of surround sound [works with content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos]. To enable this feature, the headphones have a gyroscope and an accelerometer inside them, which helps in tracking the motion of users’ heads (along with their device) to map the sound field accordingly.

Apple AirPods Max drivers

Besides, the headphones come with support for wear-detection, which automatically pauses/plays playback when you take off/put on the headphones. According to Apple, the AirPods Max offer up to 20 hours of playback with ANC and spatial audio enabled.

AirPods Max Smart Case

The headphones come in a Smart Case, which puts the headphones in the ultralow power state to preserve the battery. As for color options, the AirPods Max come in five hues: space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink.

AirPods Max: Pricing and Availability

The AirPods Max is priced at $549. It will be available for pre-order starting today and will begin shipping from December 15. As for India pricing, the headphones carry a price tag of Rs 59,990.

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