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
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.
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
Eugene Whang talked about the “pods” of the AirPods Max and the magnetically detaching ear cups.
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
The team also addressed the controversial “smart case” coming with the new AirPods. Eugene Whang talked about it, and he said:
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
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.
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