Apple AirPods Max release date

The Apple AirPods Max was announced on December 8 via a press release posted to the Apple newsroom – a surprisingly low key launch, considering how much hype has surrounded the first Apple over-ear headphones over the past couple of years, according to Techradar.

Though they'll be officially released on December 15, 2020, they're available to preorder now – that's if you can find them in stock, of course.

Video introducing Apple AirPods Max

According to the official Apple Store inventory updates, you probably won't be able to buy the new AirPods Max directly from Apple on December 15.

In fact, if you hesitated on Apple's peculiar-looking noise-canceling headphones, it's unlikely to arrive in 2020. AirPods Max restocks in the US will ship in 12 to 14 weeks, showing us an estimated delivery date of March 5 to March 19. That's a long wait.

In the UK, most AirPods Max colors show a delivery date of January 7 – the Sky Blue model is 12 to 14 weeks out, indicating it may be the most popular color option. In Australia, every version of the AirPods Max has been pushed back to 2021 except for Pink, which may arrive by December 23, according to the Apple Store estimate.

The AirPods Max is available to buy from other retailers though, including Best Buy in the US and Currys in the UK. You can check out AirPods Max stock below:

Custom Acoustic Design

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AirPods Max brings the magic of AirPods to an all-new wireless over-ear design with high-fidelity audio, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio, and more. Photo: Apple

From the canopy to the ear cushions, every part of AirPods Max is carefully crafted to provide exceptional acoustic performance for each user. The breathable knit mesh canopy, spanning the headband, is made to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure. The stainless steel headband frame provides strength, flexibility, and comfort for a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. Telescoping headband arms smoothly extend and stay in place to maintain the desired fit, according to

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The Digital Crown provides precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri. The noise control button easily switches between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode. Photo: Apple

Each ear cup attaches to the headband through a revolutionary mechanism that balances and distributes ear cup pressure and allows it to independently pivot and rotate to fit the unique contours of a user’s head. Each ear cushion uses acoustically engineered memory foam to create an effective seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. The Digital Crown, inspired by Apple Watch, offers precise volume control and the ability to play or pause audio, skip tracks, answer or end phone calls, and activate Siri.

Breakthrough Listening Experience

AirPods Max features a 40-mm Apple-designed dynamic driver that provides rich, deep bass, accurate mid-range, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension so every note can be heard. A unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor allows AirPods Max to maintain total harmonic distortion of less than 1 percent across the entire audible range, even at maximum volume.1 Equipped with an Apple-designed H1 chip in each ear cup, a custom acoustic design, and advanced software, AirPods Max uses computational audio to deliver the highest-quality listening experience possible. Utilizing each of the chips’ 10 audio cores — capable of 9 billion operations per second — computational audio powers a breakthrough listening experience that includes Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode, and spatial audio, added.

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AirPods Max custom acoustic design features a 40-mm dynamic driver and a unique dual neodymium ring magnet motor.

- Adaptive EQ: AirPods Max use Adaptive EQ to adjust the sound to the fit and seal of the ear cushions by measuring the sound signal delivered to a user and adjusting the low and mid-frequencies in real-time — bringing rich audio that captures every detail.

- Active Noise Cancellation: AirPods Max delivers immersive sound through Active Noise Cancellation so users can focus on what they are listening to. Each ear cup features three outward-facing microphones to detect environmental noise, while one microphone inside the ear cup monitors the sound reaching the listener’s ear. Using computational audio, noise cancellation continuously adapts to the headphone fit and movement in real-time.

- Transparency Mode: With AirPods Max, users can switch to Transparency mode to simultaneously listen to music while hearing the environment around them — ensuring everything, including a user’s own voice, sounds natural while the audio plays perfectly. Switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode can be done with a single press using the noise control button.

- Spatial Audio: AirPods Max use spatial audio with dynamic head tracking to place sounds virtually anywhere in space — delivering an immersive, theater-like experience for content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad, spatial audio tracks the motion of a user’s head as well as the device, compares the motion data, then remaps the sound field so it stays anchored to the device, even as the user’s head moves.

AirPods Max Battery Life & Charging

The quoted 20 hours of battery life is an “up to” amount and so the actual duration will vary depending on usage. For example, Apple calculates this top-end figure as relative to Active Noise Cancellation (or Transparency mode) having been enabled. In addition, the figure is based on the volume level set to 50-percent, and although Spatial Audio (one of the main selling points) was enabled, it wasn’t in use. Therefore, any adjustments to the volume, ANC, or Spatial Audio, is likely to impact exactly how long these headphones last, said Screenrant.

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Photo: Screenrant

When stored in the company's Smart Case, the headphones enter an ultra-low-power state. ULPS is a common technique used to preserve battery life and is similar in principle to a standby mode. While it won’t fully stop a battery from draining, it will help to ensure they last longer than if the headphones were not in the carry case. In terms of charging, Apple doesn’t specify exactly how long it takes to charge the headphones fully, but the company does explain that a quick five-minute charge will result in roughly 1.5 hours of playback.

Overall, with up to 20 hours of playback on offer, AirPods Max offers a decent level of daily battery life, but it is by no means the best, considering the Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones are rated to offer up to 30 hours with noise canceling on and up to 38 with NC turned off. Likewise, Jabra's Elite 85h are rated to offer up to 36 hours and that's with ANC enabled. Not to mention, both Sony and Jabra's headphones are significantly cheaper than Apple's new AirPods Max.

Apple AirPods Max price

The Apple AirPods Max costs $549 / £549 / AU$899 and is available to preorder from today.

That's far more expensive than many of the best over-ear headphones on the market, including our favorite cans, the Sony WH-1000XM4; anyone hoping for a budget-friendly price like the HomePod mini will be disappointed.

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A man wearing Apple's new AirPods Max while using an Apple laptop Photo: Business Insider

All may not be lost though – it was previously rumored that there would be two versions of the Apple over-ear headphones, with a cheaper, sports-friendly model also said to be hitting the shelves.

If the AirPods Max is the 'luxury variant' we've been hearing about over the past few months, Apple could feasibly launch a less expensive variant in the near future. A previous leak from Target's inventory put the price of what could be the cheaper model at $349 (about £280 / AU$530), which, while pricey, is a lot more palatable.

Either way, Apple's over-ear headphones are much more pricey than Apple's popular true wireless earbuds, with the most expensive of these – the AirPods Pro – coming in at $249 / £249 / AU$399.

The Magic of AirPods

AirPods Max joins the existing AirPods family in delivering unparalleled wireless audio, whether a customer is listening to music, making phone calls, enjoying TV shows and movies, playing games, or interacting with Siri. The magical setup experience customers love with today’s AirPods and AirPods Pro extends to AirPods Max with one-tap setup, followed by automatic pairing with all the devices signed in to a user’s iCloud account, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

AirPods Max automatically detects when they are on a user’s head using the optical and position sensors. Once in place, AirPods Max plays audio and can pause once removed or when the user simply lifts one ear cup. With AirPods Max, voice calls and Siri commands are crisp and clear due to beam-forming microphones that block out ambient noise and focus on the user’s voice.

Additional Features

- Automatic switching: allows users to seamlessly move sound between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. When playing music on Mac, users can easily take a call on iPhone and AirPods Max will automatically switch over.

- Audio Sharing: makes it possible to easily share an audio stream between two sets of AirPods on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV 4K. Simply bring AirPods Max near the device and connect with a single tap.3

- Siri capabilities: include the ability to play music, make phone calls, control the volume, get directions, and more. Siri can also read incoming messages as they arrive with Announce Messages with Siri.

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