AirPods Max
May 5, 2021 at 11:23 AM Post #3,916 of 4,364

powersfineart

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Yeah, the only way is Lightning->3.5mm (DAC) 3.5mm -> Lightning (ADC) -> AirPods Max (DAC), so there is an extra analog/digital conversion in there. To keep it digital, would require a Lightning<->Lightning cable, which Apple doesn't make.
I’m not sure it would work but you could try Apple’s USB 3 to lightning camera adapter -> USB to lighting connector cable -> APM. I’m not sure it would work but it gets you lightning connector to lightning connector. I’m not home right now so I can’t try it.
 
May 5, 2021 at 11:28 AM Post #3,917 of 4,364

tinyman392

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Yeah, the only way is Lightning->3.5mm (DAC) 3.5mm -> Lightning (ADC) -> AirPods Max (DAC), so there is an extra analog/digital conversion in there. To keep it digital, would require a Lightning<->Lightning cable, which Apple doesn't make.
USB to Lightning would allow a full digital signal transfer, but the APM doesn't support it currently.
 
May 5, 2021 at 3:55 PM Post #3,918 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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Lossless quality out of AirPods is like pouring rocket fuel into a 30 year old family sedan and expecting it to run like a sports car… pointless…

But I’m intrigued with what they can do to squeeze more out of the AirPods Max. Or sucker us into AirPods Studio / AirPods Studio Pro / AirPods Studio Pro Max…….
Good analogy, but they have AirPods Max and can also continue improving on AirPods Pro. While AirPods still won’t sound the same as a high-end IEM, new generations will have the ability to come shockingly close.
 
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May 5, 2021 at 11:19 PM Post #3,919 of 4,364
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Good analogy, but they have AirPods Max and can also continue improving on AirPods Pro. While AirPods still won’t sound the same as a high-end IEM, new generations will have the ability to come shockingly close.
Not being familiar with the AirPod Max but I have listened to them at the store 1-2 times. In short at first hearing I have to say that I do like them.

But how much of that sound is "digitally" enhanced vs "natural analogue" acoustics from just the drivers and cup design, I can't say. Any thoughts to that?
 
May 5, 2021 at 11:35 PM Post #3,920 of 4,364

tinyman392

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Not being familiar with the AirPod Max but I have listened to them at the store 1-2 times. In short at first hearing I have to say that I do like them.

But how much of that sound is "digitally" enhanced vs "natural analogue" acoustics from just the drivers and cup design, I can't say. Any thoughts to that?
We know that up until about 1kHz the AirPods Max are working to keep to a target frequency response. They do the same for the Pro as well. For the rest, it’s a tossed bag as you really can’t know for sure.
 
May 6, 2021 at 1:55 AM Post #3,921 of 4,364

AlwaysForward

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No. Or at least not until we know how to reliably design over-ears in a way that they naturally (and not unnaturally) excite our ears - something I'm not even certain could realistically be done for most headphones types without a smart, active component (IMO passive headphones should be going the way of the dodo sooner rather than later).
The idea of exciting the outer ear in a way that corresponds to our natural HRTF is I believe - please correct me if I'm wrong - behind Rtings's PRTF evaluation. But I'm not quite sure at all that the results are conclusive.
For what it's worth I largely prefer the sound of my AirPods Pro in the upper mids and trebles than a lot of over-ears BT headphones I've tried in 2020 and 2021.
That it's wrong, sorry :D.

But it's a long, long explanation.

I too share the idea that we should be hearing what the recording / mixing / mastering engineers intended us to hear. Even if we're talking about Brokencyde for which I'd rather listen to with an all spectrum -100dB filter.

But that seems quite a bit difficult to achieve.

So for a start, Adaptive EQ (which is something that has already existed in various form with ANC headphones for a while, albeit perhaps not quite as sophisticated as Apple's implementation) doesn't work above 1khz :
https://twitter.com/oratory1990/status/1343323936801644544?s=20
See the faint grey traces ? That's the multiple measurements with slight positional variations on the dummy head that are then averaged. They coalesce into one trace where Adaptive EQ can work its magic. Above, it's a mess, and beyond the audibility threshold.
The same sort of variation will happen on your own head.
So take away n°1 : headphones' FR curve vary with position over your head, not just seal quality. Adaptive EQ is a great solution to sealing issues, but not to positional variation.

Also, since we all have different ears, heck since even our left from right ears aren't the same, frequency response above 1khz will vary between us, again above the threshold for audibility :
1449446210135.png
From that study I believe : https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=16877
See the thick grey trace behind the solid black curve ? That's how FR curve near the eardrum of the test subjects vary (measured by probe microphones). You can notice that it can become quite thick (ie high variation) at lower frequencies with some headphones (that's a sealing issue), and above 1khz with all of them, and even more so above 5khz (that's variations related to the shape of your ears / canal).
Now it's possible that some variation in that range is desirable, as we all hear differently the same sound source in a natural environment (that article : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-related_transfer_function).
But the problem is that headphones seem to interact with our ears in a way that is quite a bit different than natural sound sources or a pair of speakers. As a result we see high variation between listeners, and a variation that is undesirable.
There aren't a lot of good solutions to that problem at the moment. EQing this range by ear is a PITA.
But theoretically the headphones of the future will be able to gather enough anatomical data in real time of your ear shape that they'll be able to
a) tailor the FR curve to your own anatomy so that the FR curve delivered at your eardrum is similar to what a natural sound source would have produced,
b) modulate it in real time to compensate for positional variation.
So take away n°2 : headphones' FR curve increasingly varies above 1Khz across several listeners because of anatomical variations, in a way that could be at least partly unnatural, and remains quite difficult to EQ well, particularly, IMO, above 5khz.
But we'll still need to EQ it at some point :D.

Also, Harman's own research fully acknowledges that personal preferences variation come into play, particularly in terms of bass response below a certain frequency - independent of seal, positional, or anatomical variation :
https://www.headphonesty.com/2020/04/harman-target-curves-part-3/
So take away n°3 : People's preferences, particularly in the bass, may differ quite a bit.

And finally hearing damage or age can modulate what you hear and perhaps require some form of compensation over time.


So in regards to the AirPods Max FR curve and its capacity to deliver recordings as intended by the engineers / artists :
- Below 1khz it measures very rationally (ie corresponds fairly well to Harman's research, that is to say to a "decent pair of speakers in a decent listening room", with a sub bass bump according to the majority of preferences, and is very smooth with no weird bumps or wiggles,), and theoretically Adaptive EQ can ensure that it's quite constant across listeners and immune to sealing variation. But it doesn't feature a bass shelf EQ adjustment which we know should be there according to Harman's research.
- Between 1khz and 4khz the general shape of it corresponds very well to an average of how humans' anatomy naturally modulate the FR curve, with the ear canal gain peak at around 3000hz for example. Top marks for that. But the whole region is quite depressed compared to what Harman's research would suggest corresponds better to "decent speakers in a decent listening room". Difficult to know exactly by how much and as it's in the range where we start to see anatomical variation across humans it's difficult to say "2.7khz is 4.75dB below where it should be". But given how many people have commented on how they prefer it with the "balanced" setting in headphones accommodation it's quite likely that this region is perceived as depressed by quite a few people.
- Above 4khz measurements show a very high degree of variability, in fact even more so than quite a few headphones, even on the same type of rig (GRAS). Difficult to extract any information from them.
- The capacity to apply an audiogram to change its FR curve might be an interesting solution to the latter point.

BTW I just had a bit of fun using in ear mics to measure some of my headphones to see whether third party measurements can be relied on to EQ headphones to below audibility differences. Don't take it too seriously, I don't have the means or the knowledge to do it to a particularly rigorous degree, but the answer is most likely not : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...-at-a-breakthrough-value.943107/post-16300055
Brilliant couple of posts there. Apple’s depth sensing team is top notch and as things scale, there could be a cost reduction of VSCEL based systems like their Lidar or faceid that they could mount to the inner cups. That would allow them to tune for each individual’s physical anatomy in relation to the cup in near real time.
 
May 6, 2021 at 2:04 AM Post #3,922 of 4,364

AlwaysForward

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What a pity the New Apple TV 4K will not support Spatial Audio.
The rumor is that they have a sound bar in the works. They can turn 2 homepods into an atmos system using beamforming and spatial/computational audio. I think they’re doing a big smart speaker for the living room.

I have some inside knowledge that they’re doing something with depth sensing camera tech for a living room product. That sounds like they are probably going to use it to localize people in space(kinect style). Once that’s in place, they can tie the TV to the headphones for spatial audio. At least in theory, whether or not that actually build that feature is another question.

Because such a feature set would play so well into their AR/VR intentions , it seems more likely than not that spatial audio will extend its uses as their vision for spatial imagery comes together.
 
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May 6, 2021 at 2:09 AM Post #3,923 of 4,364

AlwaysForward

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Another rumor is that Apple is going to drop new Airpods in conjunction with a new losssless tier of music streaming this spring.

APM has become one of my all time favorite headphone products yet I feel APP lags behind in sound. A new AirPod that’s pocketable with improved performance sounds very exciting to me. Fingers crossed.
 
May 6, 2021 at 3:26 PM Post #3,924 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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Another rumor is that Apple is going to drop new Airpods in conjunction with a new losssless tier of music streaming this spring.

APM has become one of my all time favorite headphone products yet I feel APP lags behind in sound. A new AirPod that’s pocketable with improved performance sounds very exciting to me. Fingers crossed.
Apple HiFi is a huge marketing opportunity for them. They could release a new line of AirPods and Beats headphones and get people to upgrade just for lossless streaming alone, which by the way would be the first true lossless protocol on the market. (LDAC and aptX HD are fine but can’t compare to Apple Lossless, especially if Apple’s solution is to pass through data uncompressed.)
 
May 6, 2021 at 3:28 PM Post #3,925 of 4,364

MICHAELSD

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Not being familiar with the AirPod Max but I have listened to them at the store 1-2 times. In short at first hearing I have to say that I do like them.

But how much of that sound is "digitally" enhanced vs "natural analogue" acoustics from just the drivers and cup design, I can't say. Any thoughts to that?
I also tried AirPods Max for about thirty seconds in a store and came away liking them. Not enough time to form a real opinion, but I could hear the fullness of the audio and the emphasis on sub-bass.

Quite a bit of the sound signature is digitally enhanced, especially the range leading into 1KHz. Not that that’s necessarily an issue provided the end result sounds natural and unprocessed, which it does.
 
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May 6, 2021 at 3:35 PM Post #3,926 of 4,364

MayaTlab

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But how much of that sound is "digitally" enhanced vs "natural analogue" acoustics from just the drivers and cup design, I can't say. Any thoughts to that?

I don't think that it's important though :D.
I think that it's just like modern digital lenses. The end result is what matters. Some manufacturers will use DSP to correct obviously flawed and under-engineered devices, whether that's lenses or headphones. But others will design the devices from the start with DSP in mind as an integrated whole to reach a result that overall benefits from this integrated approach and that couldn't have been achieved without DSP in the first place.
THD probably doesn't matter that much past a certain threshold, but perhaps the APM would have never reached such low figures without an integrated approach.
And I'm not sure that there are a lot of closed backs that measure as well below 1khz.
 
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May 6, 2021 at 7:15 PM Post #3,927 of 4,364

mainguy

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Weighing in after a few hundred hours of these on my head.

These are great, because they get you listening to music. In much the same way an iPhone makes you take photos, the best camera is the one you have, same goes for headphones. The convenience and versatility of the APM means im listening to more music than ever. They’re a real joy to use, so comfortable you forget they’re on, and far, far better deisgned that other wireless headphones. I’ve owned almost the lot so have as many points of comparison as anyone. Apart from the Sony’s, £300 plastic no thanks.

The sound is great, for a BT headphone. Not as good as the best imo (p7w) but it trounces the master & dynamic offerings (MH40/MW65) the latter is £450, and so far behind in audio quality/ANC it’s almost tragic. They also sound better than the sennheiser momentum 3. They are nowhere near wired premium sets in SQ as mentioned by plenty of others.

That said, I still notice a lack of musicality/fun/mids. If Apple nail that down, I think these would probably be the best all round headphones on the planet, as in if you needed a one tool for all type of thing. As it stands, I can see why some people would take other options for SQ, but when you have these and other sets, you find yourself using the APM an awful lot. I might prefer the p7w, but I maybe use them 10% of the time.
 
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May 6, 2021 at 8:06 PM Post #3,928 of 4,364

AlwaysForward

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I don't think that it's important though :D.
I think that it's just like modern digital lenses. The end result is what matters. Some manufacturers will use DSP to correct obviously flawed and under-engineered devices, whether that's lenses or headphones. But others will design the devices from the start with DSP in mind as an integrated whole to reach a result that overall benefits from this integrated approach and that couldn't have been achieved without DSP in the first place.
THD probably doesn't matter that much past a certain threshold, but perhaps the APM would have never reached such low figures without an integrated approach.
And I'm not sure that there are a lot of closed backs that measure as well below 1khz.
Fully agreed. I previously mentioned the lens/acoustics as an example for how computational audio will enable “more with less” so to speak.

For example: if one can digitally remove reflections from the sound inside of the earcup, does it matter that it’s not open for sound quality and soundstage?

Subjectively: I don’t perceive any of the typical closed back sound behaviors I tend to associate with a closed back presentation
 
May 6, 2021 at 9:25 PM Post #3,929 of 4,364

3Putter

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I think Apple will end up accomplishing what I’ve been saying all of these years: Apple Music HiFi will win over even more audiophiles into going wireless. If users are able to get the same quality as with a wire, then there’s no downside. It would be incredible to get lossless quality with
Good analogy, but they have AirPods Max and can also continue improving on AirPods Pro. While AirPods still won’t sound the same as a high-end IEM, new generations will have the ability to come shockingly close.
Weighing in after a few hundred hours of these on my head.

These are great, because they get you listening to music. In much the same way an iPhone makes you take photos, the best camera is the one you have, same goes for headphones. The convenience and versatility of the APM means im listening to more music than ever. They’re a real joy to use, so comfortable you forget they’re on, and far, far better deisgned that other wireless headphones. I’ve owned almost the lot so have as many points of comparison as anyone. Apart from the Sony’s, £300 plastic no thanks.

The sound is great, for a BT headphone. Not as good as the best imo (p7w) but it trounces the master & dynamic offerings (MH40/MW65) the latter is £450, and so far behind in audio quality/ANC it’s almost tragic. They also sound better than the sennheiser momentum 3. They are nowhere near wired premium sets in SQ as mentioned by plenty of others.

That said, I still notice a lack of musicality/fun/mids. If Apple nail that down, I think these would probably be the best all round headphones on the planet, as in if you needed a one tool for all type of thing. As it stands, I can see why some people would take other options for SQ, but when you have these and other sets, you find yourself using the APM an awful lot. I might prefer the p7w, but I maybe use them 10% of the time.
Why do they get you listening to music? Is it because the others sound worse? Being best of the worst for $550 is nuts! Don’t apologize if you love them or if you can tolerate their mediocre sound due to the cool factor. I wish I felt the same because they felt like a Maserati on my skull. I found a wireless ANC that blows them away to my ears. I’m hoping the Apple hifi rumors and new sets become reality.
 

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