Apple has announced AirPods Max, the tech giant’s first ever over-ear headphones. The cordless devices will retail for $549 and become available starting Tuesday, December 15th.
The history of headphone technology begins with over-the-ear models, but starting with The Walkman in 1979, earbuds began to overtake them in popularity. It’s a trend that Apple helped along in 2001, when their first generation of earbuds shipped along with the original iPod. Their wireless AirPods launched five years later. As demand for a wider variety of listening options has increased, different people place varied values on discretion, comfort, and audio fidelity. The AirPods Max are the result of Apple bowing to demand for a high-end listening experience.
Similar to the AirPods Pro ($249), the new Max models come with “Adaptive EQ,” which subtly adjusts the sound based on the shape of your ear and the fit of the cushions. They also offer “Active Noise Cancellation,” for a more immersive experience; “Transparency mode,” which makes it easier to hear the world around you; and “spatial audio,” which tracks your head movement and customizes the sonic output so that content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos retains the intended sound map regardless of device and headphone orientation.
Some of these features may impact battery life, though it’s still expected to deliver about 20 hours of audio on a single charge. The headphones also come with a Smart Case, which “puts AirPods Max in an ultralow power state that helps to preserve battery charge when not in use.”
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement that,
“AirPods are the most popular headphones in the world, beloved for their effortless setup, incredible sound quality, and iconic design. With AirPods Max, we are bringing that magical AirPods experience to a stunning over-ear design with high-fidelity audio. The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience.”
The AirPods Max are available in space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. They’re out December 15th, and pre-orders are available through the Apple website. In October, Apple announced the iPhone 12 line, including Mini and Pro models.