AirPods Max Designers Talk About The “Two Pods And A Sturdy Band”

Apple AirPods Max
Image: Apple

The silent announcement of the $550 Apple AirPods Max surprised most of us. Well, it was no surprise to its designers, who had been silently testing “hundreds of prototypes” before finalizing one. In an interview with the Japanese design magazine, Casa BRUTUS, the AirPods Max designers talked about the Apple headphones and their aesthetics.

In our earlier AirPods Max review roundup, we saw even reviewers divided in opinion with the latest Apple product. It is so because the AirPods Pro are luxuriously designed with all the premium material you could ask for. While it is certainly well-built, Apple also seems to have nearly nailed the acoustics with this one.

Apple Design Team And The AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max
Image: Apple

The AirPods Max design team had three key players on it. Evans Hankey, who started as VP of Industrial design at the company, Eugene Whang, an industrial designer at Apple, and Bob Borchers, who is in charge of product marketing. The trio gave the interview about the design and aesthetics of the AirPods Max.

Note: The quotes here have been translated from Japanese to English. Context has been added wherever needed.

Evans Hankey stated, “Two pods (pods) and a sturdy, flexible band that connects them. This was our goal, and from there we started looking at the final shape and material.” Hankey said it was all about using the right material to know how it will reflect light and how the end product will look.

We are quite familiar with aluminum and its oxidation process, and we also have a good understanding of the light and shadows that float on it. The earcups came into that shape because they were made of aluminum. The other materials probably had different shapes. There is an inseparable relationship between the material and the shape.

Credits where due; we have to admit that the Apple headphones look and feel better than the plasticky alternatives in the same territory. While those have their own advantages, like better scratch resistance, the AirPods Max have a luxurious note to them. The designers even thought of the headband canopy and chose a knit mesh that is more flexible than plastic, and has a better fit and weight distribution.

Magnetic Ear-Cups And Controls

AirPods max Sound
Image: Apple

Eugene Whang talked about the “pods” of the AirPods Max and the magnetically detaching ear cups.

When choosing materials, we chose materials that we are accustomed to wearing and materials that we prefer to wear. We choose genuine soft fabrics that are made to be worn, rather than fake materials such as vinyl or artificial leather.

While it’s a good feature to have detachable ear cups, it’d be cooler if Apple let us mix and match the cups for AirPods Max while placing the original order. Whang also talked about the AirPods ditching touch sensors in the ear cups for the digital crown. The headphones have a well-placed digital crown and an ANC button, which is easy to reach.

AirPods Max Smart Case

Apple AirPods Max case
Image: Apple

The team also addressed the controversial “smart case” coming with the new AirPods. Eugene Whang talked about it, and he said:

I wanted to make a good case. Our case has a structure in which one sheet is cut out and fastened in several places so that it becomes three-dimensional. When the ear cup is rotated and inserted here, the headband is exposed. Although it is still in the state, it is judged that it is not necessary to cover it because it is made strong in the first place. Also, thanks to the exposed band, it is possible to have a function that you can easily grasp it with your hand and take it out of the bag.

Whang also stated how the case is not “cumbersome” and how it is more travel friendly. He also talked about the magnets in the case, which put the headphones into an ultra power-saving mode.

Our Take On The Apple Headphones

Apple AirPods Max Review Roundup 2020

Seen from either luxury or audiophile perspectives, the AirPods Max is another controversial Apple product. Ideally, it is great for those who are deep into the Apple ecosystem and want a good sounding pair of luxury headphones. Then there are audiophiles and even some iOS users, including me, who would care less about the aluminum and magnets and more about the audio purity.

That said, the latest Apple headphones do offer certain things that you won’t get with any other headphones. Paired with an iOS device, they can deliver spatial audio, which is a superb feature. Another thing here is the effortless pairing and switching experience with your other Apple devices. Lastly, the design and color options are as good as it gets.

Also Read: Apple AirPods Max Review Roundup: Are They Worth The $549 Price Tag?

However, some of the shortcomings of the product are the knit mesh fabric. A friend once spilled tea on my JBL 700 headphones, and I could clean it with a wipe. I’m not so sure about the knit mesh handling stains or even resistant to cuts and tears. Since the cover leaves it exposed, make sure you don’t carry an open Swiss knife in the same bag as your AirPods Max.

The AirPods Max are clearly in the consumer audio section as they’ll please most of the listeners most of the time. However, if you’re weighing dollars for sound, you’ve paid more for the build than the output they deliver. In my AirPods Max review roundup, I mentioned some alternatives at a similar price point for a more sound-oriented approach.

Source: Casa BRUTUS

Manik Berry

Manik Berry

With a Master’s degree in journalism, Manik writes about big tech and has a keen eye for political-tech news. In his free time, he’s browsing the Kindle store for new stuff read. Manik also adores his motorcycle and is looking for new routes on weekends. He likes tea and cat memes. You can reach him at [email protected]
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