Apple AirPods Max – £549 over ear headphones

Whenever Apple enters a space, it isn’t necessarily the first, but when it does enter it changes it for the better. Think iPod, iPhone, iPad, AirPods – all items that we didn’t know we couldn’t live without until they were presented to us.

Now, Apple has joined the over ear headphone space. Much like it had done with the Airpods and the AirPods Pro, it looked at the current market and wanted to see how it could be done better. The AirPods Max “brings the magic of AirPods to an over-ear design with high-fidelity sound.” It does have some hard hitters to compete with though, the Sony WH-1000XM4s and the Bose 700 series, both of which are cheaper by some margin.

As with all Apple products, these over ear headphones are brilliantly executed – with fantastic textures like the telescopic metal headband arms that effortlessly glide to size. The tem has used the digital crown from the Apple Watch to be used as a volume knob with the functionality to play, pause or skip songs as well as answer calls and activate Siri. There is just one button on the entire device which is used for the noise cancelling allowing a wearer to pick between active noise cancelling and Transparency mode. The latter allows you to listen to the environment around you whilst simultaneously listening to music.

Each earcup has a 40mm Apple-designed dynamic driver providing strong base, treble and mids whilst the dual neodymium ring magnet motor allows the AirPods Max to maintain total harmonic distortion of less than 1 percent across the entire audible range. Fitted with Apple’s proprietary H1 chip using computational audio to deliver the highest quality listening experience.

Now, the features on the AirPods Max aren’t anything groundbreaking, other brands have had most if not all the features for a few years but what Apple does have is spatial audio – with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in a space — delivering an immersive, theatre-like experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos.

The AirPods Max have a battery life of 20 hours with noise cancellation enabled and will go into an extreme low-power saving mode when placed in its smart case. The question remains, that if the case is lost, do the headphones just sap battery?

The AirPods Max are available in five colours – Space Grey, Silver, Sky Blue, Green and Pink at the cost of £549.


Sony WH-1000XM4 – MUST HAVE

That headline might look like a typo, but I guarantee that these are the new gold standard for wireless headphones. The 4th generation of over-ear Sony wireless noise-cancelling headphones is finally here.

Carrying on from the third generation, the XM4s are more intelligent, able to adjust ambient sound automatically based on your preferences and location. As we know, the XM3s have been the ones to beat for comfort, noise cancelling, sound quality and clarity when using the microphone.

One thing that will be noticeable is the ability to connect to two devices at once, meaning when a call comes in, the headphones know which device is ringing and connect to the right one automatically. You can also switch your headphones to either of the two devices at a single tap.

Battery life is up to 30 hours of use with noise cancellation or 38 hours without and you can fast charge them to give five hours of use with only 10 minutes of charge.

Some other interesting features – ‘Speak to Chat’ allows the headphones to recognise your voice and pauses the music whilst letting in ambient sound so that you can order your coffee or have a short conversation without taking your headphones off. But if you do choose to remove them for whatever reason, the XM4s will know that they have been taken off the head and will automatically stop the music and resume playing when you put them on again.

The headphones are already available to order, priced at £350 in the UK and available in either black or silver.