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AirPods Max -This Audiophile thinks THEY’RE A STEAL!

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Yesterday, Apple as expected dropped new product announcements. Not just the very much expected Apple Fitness Plus, but also the fairly expected AirPods over ear headphones, now carrying the name AirPods Max. And there is a LOT of talk about these, so lets get into what happened.


Apple Fitness Plus
While this was announced way back at the Apple Watch and iPad event in September, Apple Fitness Plus is set to launch on December 14th bringing “studio style workouts to iPhone, iPad and AppleTV” with workout metrics provided by Apple Watch.

Apple Fitness+ launches with 10 workouts including High Intensity Interval Training, Strength Yoga, Dance, Core, Cycling, Treadmill Rowing and Mindful Cooldown.

I’ll be diving way deeper into Apple Fitness Plus as it’s going to be my main exercise, but finally we know when we can get started and of course, Apple Fitness Plus does complete the Apple One Premium, or premier, or, you know, really expensive tier in the 8 countries allowed to play with it.

AirPods Studio. I mean Max.

So Jon Prosser was right, and it wasn’t cryptic at all, it was the name of the AirPods. Also, Jon was back in the chat for our live coverage of the announcements yesterday which was also awesome, and I really appreciate him joining us in the chat.

So, first of all, sticker shock. These are NOT CHEAP. I agree. They’re not for everyone, and if the price shocks you, they’re probably not for you.

BUT, Daniel Doran who’s one of our regular viewers and helped out with some moderating in the chat is a self professed audiophile. And before we send help, he spoke to me about his expectations based on looking through what Apple is doing with AirPods Max

Daniel’s take is that these will be rivalling much more expensive headphones than the £549 price, specifically mentioning Grado Reference series monitors. The Grado RS1e comes with a high 3 figures price which you can increase by $170 if you want an XLR cable instead of a ⅜” jack.

Yes, that’s right, you can only have these wired, and they don’t have noise cancelling. Apparently you’d be looking around $3k for something with similar features and sound to the AirPods Max, assuming the custom drivers and other technology sounds as good as Daniel expects it to.

And, while I’m not going to list all the features, as you’re just as good at reading the website as I am, it does remind me of a couple of other fairly recent Apple Product launches. Pro Display XDR and M1 Macs, and both for similar reasons.

When the Pro Display XDR was released, everyone was shocked that it cost $5000, and that Apple had the audacity to charge another $1000 for the stand! Outrageous compared to the previous Cinema Display and thunderbolt displays, although both of those had been 1440p rather than 6k. But then they were suddenly being compared to $43,000 reference monitors from Sony for high end pro colour correction work in studios, with their incredibly high brightness. Were they 100% as good? No, but they were substantially better than anything else even close to the price.

And with M1, a handful of people like myself came away from the event thinking how mind-blowing this would be and that Apple had confirmed what we’d been speaking about for some time, while large parts of the internet *coughs* Linus were incredibly skeptical. Even many reviewers re-ran their benchmarks multiple times thinking they’d somehow only run half a test, because they couldn’t possibly be done this fast, yet the performance was almost exactly in line with what a few thought.

I think although Apple has of course done a good job of marketing this headphones, there will be a second wave of excitement when reviews come out and they’re compared to MUCH more expensive and very specialist equipment. These are not Beats in a shinier case, these are serious pieces of audio equipment and no press release or online presentation would have done them justice.

While the techie stuff like the magical spacial audio that fixes your soundscape to a device and tracks your head movement sounds amazing, and 20 hours of continuous battery life is pretty incredible, and the colours look great, that’s not what will sell these.

Nor will the list of features intended for them that had to be cut to get them out the door, or at least rumoured features. There’s no touch surfaces on the outside of the ear cups, but we have a Digital Crown like Apple Watch. There’s no replaceable headbands at least as far as we know, and they don’t detect which way around your headphones are to flip the audioscape. Instead they have L & R right there, in the fabric of the cups.
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