I own a pair of Apple’s AirPod Pros & Max headphones and I have just ordered the updated AirPod Pro 2 earbuds because the feedback from users has been so incredibly favourable. Plus, I’ve got the added benefit of having the perfect person in mind to pass on my still near perfect gen.1 AirPod Pros too !
My biggest annoyance with some industry commentators, who really should know better, is their constant criticism that the AirPod Max were/are somehow too expensive. Such rhetoric continues to perpetuate this myth about how headphones should be something that is super low cost, regardless of quality. The fact is that headphones are one area where most ppl have a completely unrealistic and impoverished attitude, when it comes to price.
Basically we all understand quality costs more; don’t we? And I doubt there’d be many of us out there complaining about a Hifi system delivering fantastic audio quality including Dolby Atmos & Spatial Audio if it cost only $500US would we (the exact features in the AirPod Max). The trouble is we’ve got used to headphones being throw away & being of ultra cheap sound quality, Apple itself helped create this idea with its cheap earbuds it gave away with every phone, tablet and computer for years and years. Industry caught on and suddenly all you could see is the thousands of alternate no-brands copies of corded earbuds. But then things started to change, we began migrating to wireless and now noise cancellation headphones but the trouble is we took this same low budget outlook with us.
The quality of headphone we were been given was increasing hugely from the days of throw away corded earbuds but not our understanding of cost and our appreciation of the additional value we were being given. Try it for yourself, go plug in one of those old $20 corded earbuds to your iPhone and compare it’s sound quality to your AirPod Pros or Max - it’s like Night and Day, the difference, isn’t it?
The truth is Apple’s hardware designers first attempt at the AirPod Max was actually rejected my upper management because it would have cost twice the amount retail. Personally, I so wish we’d also had that option available to buy. I’d love it if version 2 of the Max included 2 models - a revised Max & a much higher audio quality version, and I don’t just mean the addition of lossless here, I mean actual audio quality. A model for all of us who understand better sound quality costs more to research, design, test & produce.
When I criticise everyone about their attitude towards headphones and our reluctance to see sense, I admit I’m just as guilty. Even as a kid I spent over $2000 on a Hifi system for myself so why did I expect headphones only costing $50 to deliver the same experience? It just doesn’t stack up now does it?.
In fact, it took me years to slowly research and upgrade both my own Hifi and headphone systems. I now understand and truly appreciate that, better sound quality is such a wondrous and joyous experience. And as with most things in life, higher quality comes with a cost - although at a certain price point and above, the difference starts to become a lot more granular and one of personal taste. And of course there are the brands that try price gouge but they invariably don’t last long.
‘So personally I think the AirPod Max is an extremely well priced headphone & great value once you consider its features, design, build quality and performance. The only way to get something better would be if you’re willing to spend considerably more money. So please no more talk about how these are over priced, it’s just such a ludicrous statement.
Like o said earlier, try buying a $500 Hifi system that delivers you the same overall & audio experience? You can’t of course, so why on earth would you expect Headphones to be exponentially cheaper?
I have AirPods Max and AirPods Pro Gen 2. I actually find the noise cancellation better on the AirPods Pro Gen 2, which isn't surprising because it has an updated H2 chip and adaptive transparency mode. But just generally, the ANC is better, and they don't suffer from the occasional "audio howl" I get on the Max. Sound quality-wise for music, though, the Max is much better than the Pros to my ears (the Pros are still really good, though).
I'll almost certainly move to gen 2 Max, with an updated H2 (or H3?) when available. I lose myself sitting at home with the AirPods Max on - total relaxation. The Pros are always in my pocket, ready for calls, podcasts, music, and going for a run and are great, but the AirPods Max are really special and are what I reach for when I want to zone out and relax.