AirPods Max
Dec 17, 2020 at 10:51 AM Post #616 of 4,924

Adnen Ayed

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They are sold separately under the Beats brand. Apple bought Beats for its streaming music service which became Apple Music. Based on the reporting I’ve read, when Apple got into headphones (AirPods), they didn’t even involve any of the Beats people. Behind the scenes rumors and reporting suggest that Apple audio people thought little of Beats headphones and figured they could do better on their own.
Very Apple like.
They tried to hire me for Europe in 2008. I felt the 'we don't think much of others' atmosphere in the London headquarters.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 10:54 AM Post #617 of 4,924

plakat

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Nice impressions... really get the lightning to 3.5 cable plug it to your DAP / DAC / AMP and let me know, because it's definitely the right way to know if the APM competes with other wired headphones. It's really much better sounding wired, provided you have a source powerful enough it's not easy to drive actually.

IMHO if you test with BT, let's stick to comparing with other BT offerings.
Otherwise let's compare from the same sources with the wire plugged :)

There's no comparison in my short evaluation... though if one wants to do that, I don't see a problem comparing totally different models (i.e. wireless vs. wired) as long as the result is not "the wired one is bad because its not wireless" -- I've sometimes read arguments on that level in commercial reviews...

I've read your findings above regarding cabled use of the APM, but have a hard time getting my head around some of the details. For one, I don't think there's a real passive mode to be found on the APM: I think the 3,5mm to Lightning cable contains an ADC and the drivers of the APM never see the real signal, but only what their internal DAC/amp feeds them. Which reduces differences to DAC -> ADC -> DAC -> Amp vs. file -> recoding for Bluetooth transfer -> DAC -> Amp. Yes, may sound different (especially depending on the quality of the AAC recoding for Bluetooth), but its still very far from a pure passive headphone, like the D9200 I mentioned (but did not compare to, totally different domains of usage for me).

In general those minuscule Apple adapters seem to be of very good quality (I once saw measurements of the USB-C to 3.5mm and the Lightning to 3,5mm dongles), so I'd expect the 3,5mm to Lightning to be of similar high quality. Might be interesting to totally kill the battery and then check with that cable if it does work without the internal electronics of the APM. I guess not, because the Lightning connector, to my knowledge, does not have predefined analog lines (but could possible switch to such a mode, but only with the digital chips on connector and plug coordinating).

So for pure sq, you prefer the Aonic? Have you heard the panda by chance?

I try to not directly compare headphones, but get standalone impressions: direct comparisons magnify differences and make the one question that is most important to me difficult to answer: Do I like how this sounds?

Sorry, I had a Panda on order but cancelled it months ago (incidentally due to getting the Aonic). I have heard the PM3 at some time, did not like it though -- the Panda is said to be voiced a bit differently though.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 10:54 AM Post #618 of 4,924

Ilomaenkimi

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My question is a serious one. You can't make a blanket statement like you did without being specific about who is at risk. It's lazy and leaves a false impression. Of course my question merits discussion. That's why I asked it. The companies at risk are those where the Airpods Max play most competitively. Bose and Sony, of course. Notice, you didn't say Focal, Audeze, Sennheiser or any of the well known high end brands. That's because based on the market reaction, this is a fantastic consumer product, but it poses no threat to audiophile class companies. Indeed, the APM is not an audiophile class headphone.. In fact, it's more likely to help it as the consumer gets accustomed to the $550 price point for headphones.
Says who? What defines audiophile class? :)
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 10:54 AM Post #619 of 4,924

ubs28

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So before the release, people were saying that Apple cannot beat companies like Sony while I already said that Apple can do it based on what they did it in the wireless IEM game.

Well, after today, I can say that Sony is several tiers below the APM, it is not even funny. The ANC is on an other level.

I was running with these headphones at around 17km/h and it was quite windy. And I didn’t hear any wind with the APM. Headphones like the WH-1000XM3 are very noisy with strong winds while running at such speeds.

It was only when I turned off the music, that I could hear a bit of noise from the wind, but it was on much lower level than other ANC headphones I have used under such conditions.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 11:01 AM Post #620 of 4,924

bobeau

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Bose and Sony, of course. Notice, you didn't say Focal, Audeze, Sennheiser or any of the well known high end brands. That's because based on the market reaction, this is a fantastic consumer product, but it poses no threat to audiophile class companies. Indeed, the APM is not an audiophile class headphone.. In fact, it's more likely to help it as the consumer gets accustomed to the $550 price point for headphones.

There are folks in this thread comparing these favorably to the likes of wired sets like the LCD classics and HD6xx (note: I'm not making the claim myself). Both these companies have skin in the wireless game w/ the Momentum and Mobius, so... I don't think anyone is really immune.

My daily drivers are KSE 1200s and these are no slouch. They don't have the cleanliness/detail and probably low distortion of those, but they do have what seems to be a pretty Harman-friendly FR w/ the adaptive EQ, probably correcting things in the time domain as well to give the impression of a rather large soundstage for closed cans. So there are pluses and minuses there.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:03 AM Post #621 of 4,924

mthaynes

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After reviewing this thread and watching a bunch of reviews it seems that apple fell a bit short with these. In the IT industry we use to call this version 1. Oh-oh

Most notably:

  • Lack of the ability to store and transport: ANC’s were designed for travel. Or at least that was the start with Bose. It would have been very easy to implement a ball or universal joint connection between the cup and the headphone band that allowed the cups to be swiveled up towards the headphone for storage / transport. Both Sony and Bose do this.
  • Case is a joke – nothing more to be said
  • Amazon. Amazon already makes Echo / Alexa earbuds, but I don’t see an over ear, maybe I missed it. Anyways these ear buds are on sale for $79. Will amazon bring an Alexa / Echo over ear to market? Assuming similar pricing an over ear could be a less than $200 option. Again theory / guess only here. If this happens that says the Bose and Sony have a coopetitor of huge strength at the low end.
  • The max is a $550 unit that you have to buy a 3.5 connector for $35 (I think that is the price), plus power supply (think these are about $30 from apple) and aftermarket case. God know the price of the case lets say $40 for giggles. That’s a total build of 650-700. These have sold well so that says the market is willing to pay that for a higher quality ANC or at least theoretically and they are willing to pay a lot more


So here is the rub. Both Bose and Sony will benefit from a higher end ANC. After all they don’t want to play with amazon and apple has confirmed that people will pay more. Both Bose and Sony have lots of features that are comparable. Dolby / Surround / gimmicks can be added as these are not unique to apple. Both sony and bose have a host of existing top shelf drivers / speakers to choose from on the shelf.

I am more interested to see particularly how Sony will respond to Apple. My guess is we will se something before Christmas 2021.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:12 AM Post #622 of 4,924

clerkpalmer

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While I haven't heard the Max, I am calling bs on any notion that they sound better than an LCD2c based on any objective criteria. Strikes me as shiny new toy syndrome. It's clear this is a nice product and a step or two above the current ANC offerings but I really think the exuberance needs to be tamed. There is no passive mode and BT is capped at lossy AAC files where the competition offers LDAC and AptxHD.

Once the newness wears off, I think there are going to be a ton of people unloading these realizing that they can get 90 percent of the performance for 60 percent of the price or going the other way can get a superb desktop setup for 125 percent of the price. This is a niche product for ios users who apparently like to watch movies while using headphones. This thread has me intrigued enough that I feel the need to try them but I will be shocked if they come anywhere near my Ananda (cost me 500) let alone my Panda (cost me 300). If they do I'll come back here and eat crow.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:16 AM Post #623 of 4,924

tkddans

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My question is a serious one. You can't make a blanket statement like you did without being specific about who is at risk. It's lazy and leaves a false impression. Of course my question merits discussion. That's why I asked it. The companies at risk are those where the Airpods Max play most competitively. Bose and Sony, of course. Notice, you didn't say Focal, Audeze, Sennheiser or any of the well known high end brands. That's because based on the market reaction, this is a fantastic consumer product, but it poses no threat to audiophile class companies. Indeed, the APM is not an audiophile class headphone.. In fact, it's more likely to help it as the consumer gets accustomed to the $550 price point for headphones.

I agree that the wireless APM doesn't give the same performance as full sized, wired, open back headphones (at least when BT connected; I still need to try wiring these into my AMP/DAC setup, as someone suggested).

However, where I think the APM fit into an audiophile's life is to enjoy music at a very nice level of fidelity more conveniently than before - at least over the Sony and Bose wireless options.
I can't speak first-hand for wireless comparisons like B&O's H95, though opinions vary there.
I can't speak for comparing to Panda. I really can't speak with confidence on many comparisons first hand

Still, based on the commentary of the wireless competition, and based on my personal experience looking for pleasing sound from hifi wireless headphones, I would definitely say the APM are a great compliment to the audiophiles wired collection. The APM allow me to finally move away from my computer to somewhere else in my space, or to travel outside of the home, with a pair that I can genuinely enjoy all media with, without feeling like I'm missing the sounds retrieved on my home setup.

Watching YouTube videos, I can hear the recording pick up little things in the background and the sounds of a person's mouth - as much as I would hear them with the HD 800's. The difference becomes the quality of that playback and the response differences. The APM do not exhibit the same quality as something like the 800's, but I'm finding the APM to retrieve the same sounds in recordings I feel are missing from many mid or lower gear but are present in most hifi cans.

Yes, I wouldn't replace the hifi with the APM, so yea I wouldn't say they meet those expectations. But the gap is surprisingly not very large. It's close enough that you could feel happy having the APM in your life whenever you leave your home setup. It's remarkable to me to have this ability for fidelity now on the go. And you can use them at home in situations where it's inconvenient to access your full setup.

Forget the price even. These are just great to fulfill a role hifi generally doesn't achieve. Then you say it's only $550? Really...really worth it.

Oh, and if the higher sub-bass isn't your taste though, as it isn't with me, you can use the accessibility trick others have pointed out to make them almost balanced without sacrificing quality in a major way.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 11:18 AM Post #624 of 4,924

amoeba1126

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Says who? What defines audiophile class? :)

There is no such thing as "audiophile class", so it basically renders the poster's point moot. The vast majority of headphones over $100 are capable of high fidelity output and since there isn't really an industry standard upper limit, this leaves us with a chasm between low end headphones capable of high fidelity vs high end. After a certain point, even that becomes moot point as it is all about tuning and listening preference at that point in time. The most "perfect" headphones terms of high fidelity that I have listened to are the HD800, yet I absolutely hate them and would take an LCD-2 over it all day every day. I am a basshead which is pretty far away from the truest sense of "high fidelity" as emphasized bass is very much a departure from the reproduction of the "original" sound.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:20 AM Post #625 of 4,924

bobeau

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While I haven't heard the Max, I am calling bs on any notion that they sound better than an LCD2c based on any objective criteria.

Okay, but there are at least two people in this thread w/ experience with both claiming they are competitive. I'm sure shiny new toy syndrome is part of it, but those people actually have hard cold experience with both in their possession.

I do think the adaptive EQ making corrections in the time and frequency domains are an advantage in a way, over well, all headphones, but possibly losses in distortion and overall resolution against real hifi cans, as stated in my prior post.

These are great and you should really not knock them until you have tried them.

Once the newness wears off, I think there are going to be a ton of people unloading these realizing that they can get 90 percent of the performance for 60 percent of the price

I've been on headfi for 15 years (17 if you count lurking), have had some $50k of cans come thru my mitts. Have been to a few Canjams, have hosted local meets. I predict you're wrong on this one, IME these are going to be a hit like the other Airpods, but are going to go one step further and blur the lines between consumer and hifi, esp. in the wireless space.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:21 AM Post #626 of 4,924

plakat

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After reviewing this thread and watching a bunch of reviews it seems that apple fell a bit short with these. In the IT industry we use to call this version 1. Oh-oh

Most notably:

  • Lack of the ability to store and transport: ANC’s were designed for travel. Or at least that was the start with Bose. It would have been very easy to implement a ball or universal joint connection between the cup and the headphone band that allowed the cups to be swiveled up towards the headphone for storage / transport. Both Sony and Bose do this.
  • Case is a joke – nothing more to be said
  • Amazon. Amazon already makes Echo / Alexa earbuds, but I don’t see an over ear, maybe I missed it. Anyways these ear buds are on sale for $79. Will amazon bring an Alexa / Echo over ear to market? Assuming similar pricing an over ear could be a less than $200 option. Again theory / guess only here. If this happens that says the Bose and Sony have a coopetitor of huge strength at the low end.
  • The max is a $550 unit that you have to buy a 3.5 connector for $35 (I think that is the price), plus power supply (think these are about $30 from apple) and aftermarket case. God know the price of the case lets say $40 for giggles. That’s a total build of 650-700. These have sold well so that says the market is willing to pay that for a higher quality ANC or at least theoretically and they are willing to pay a lot more


So here is the rub. Both Bose and Sony will benefit from a higher end ANC. After all they don’t want to play with amazon and apple has confirmed that people will pay more. Both Bose and Sony have lots of features that are comparable. Dolby / Surround / gimmicks can be added as these are not unique to apple. Both sony and bose have a host of existing top shelf drivers / speakers to choose from on the shelf.

I am more interested to see particularly how Sony will respond to Apple. My guess is we will se something before Christmas 2021.

Overall I do not think Apple fell short in any way. I don't care about ANC, but they seem to have done even that better than Sony or Bose... not bad for a 1. gen (given that both Sony and Bose are several generations in and still sound bad). Plus they sound much better than those other options...

Regarding the 4 points I think I only agree with nr. 2 -- that case. The others... not so much. However I fold a headphone, its still rather large when compared to an in-ear (which I much prefer for on-the-go use). Amazon? I'd not see them as a direct competitor to the offerings of Sony or Bose, who both already offer models in that price range. I don't need either the 3.5mm connector nor a power supply (I have several of them, multi-port to declutter my desk). I rarely use included cases (V-Moda being the exception), but I'm looking forward to a nice third party leather case -- which would never have been included anyway.

There's no doubt Sony could build better sounding headphones than their current ANC offerings (well, they actually do... those models just aren't wireless). I think their focus is different, and they are doing well in their target market. Bose... don't know. And I don't even care I have to admit.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 11:25 AM Post #627 of 4,924

oryan_dunn

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Well well well... now we know the potential of the APM driver... plugged them wired to a top end DAP (in my case Hiby R8) and... they are much much improved even if you're limited to 3.5 single ended. The overall signature is more balanced. The bass is much tighter and controlled and is pretty impressive, the mids are still smooth but fuller sounding the upper mids tilt is gone in favor of a reference midrange that is very articulate, the upper treble has more presence which brings more air as well as significantly improved resolution. It's a very natural sounding heaphone, colored me impressed.

Note that they are power hungry High gain and Turbo mode on R8 volume at 50/60 out of a 100 no less and it delivers over 500mW at 32ohms.

I hope third parties will manufacture a proper lightning to 4.4 cable down the line

The Lightning port specification is purely digital. Any Lightning <-> analog audio cable will have an ADC or DAC in it depending on direction.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_(connector)
A high end DAC/Amp is unnecessary as it'll get re-encoded digitally for input to the APM.

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MR2C2AM/A/lightning-to-35mm-audio-cable-12m
Note the "bi-directional", it has to say that because the standard lightning to female 3.5mm adapter they sell only has a DAC inside, not an ADC, and can't be used to feed audio to the APM.
 
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Dec 17, 2020 at 11:30 AM Post #628 of 4,924

nihalsharma

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After reviewing this thread and watching a bunch of reviews it seems that apple fell a bit short with these. In the IT industry we use to call this version 1. Oh-oh

Most notably:

  • Lack of the ability to store and transport: ANC’s were designed for travel. Or at least that was the start with Bose. It would have been very easy to implement a ball or universal joint connection between the cup and the headphone band that allowed the cups to be swiveled up towards the headphone for storage / transport. Both Sony and Bose do this.
  • Case is a joke – nothing more to be said
  • Amazon. Amazon already makes Echo / Alexa earbuds, but I don’t see an over ear, maybe I missed it. Anyways these ear buds are on sale for $79. Will amazon bring an Alexa / Echo over ear to market? Assuming similar pricing an over ear could be a less than $200 option. Again theory / guess only here. If this happens that says the Bose and Sony have a coopetitor of huge strength at the low end.
  • The max is a $550 unit that you have to buy a 3.5 connector for $35 (I think that is the price), plus power supply (think these are about $30 from apple) and aftermarket case. God know the price of the case lets say $40 for giggles. That’s a total build of 650-700. These have sold well so that says the market is willing to pay that for a higher quality ANC or at least theoretically and they are willing to pay a lot more


So here is the rub. Both Bose and Sony will benefit from a higher end ANC. After all they don’t want to play with amazon and apple has confirmed that people will pay more. Both Bose and Sony have lots of features that are comparable. Dolby / Surround / gimmicks can be added as these are not unique to apple. Both sony and bose have a host of existing top shelf drivers / speakers to choose from on the shelf.

I am more interested to see particularly how Sony will respond to Apple. My guess is we will se something before Christmas 2021.
Tell you what, APM will outsell any headphones in the world very soon. I don’t think there is a lot of competition(Bose & Sony) but even if it’s there, Apple will up the game so high that everyone will just give up. Just my opinion, someone may differ.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 11:32 AM Post #629 of 4,924

clerkpalmer

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These are great and you should really not knock them until you have tried them.

I'm not knocking them and I do plan to try them. But it's one thing to say they are measurably better than the ANC competition, but it's an entirely different thing to say they are better than a fully wired LCD2C which is considered one of the best mid fi cans on the planet.

I really hope people do not going selling off their Audeze in place of these .... Sheer lunacy. Also a major peeve is the fact that these are neutered for anyone not on ios. Not all of us want to carry an iphone around. Just enabling LDAC (assuming the chipset supports it) would be a major move to opening these up to other half of the planet.
 
Dec 17, 2020 at 11:33 AM Post #630 of 4,924

buzzlulu

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I think many are completely missing the point of these headphones imho. For those of us on headfi who run Utopia's, Stax, Sennheiser etc. there is no point of doing a comparison. That is simply not what these headphones are or are supposed to be.

When it comes to WIRELESS, BLUETOOTH, ANC headphones - ie all 4 versions of the Sony's, all of the various Bose incarnations, all of the B&O versions (perhaps excluding the new H950), all of the B&W versions, the DALI, Sennheiser's wireless offerings etc. etc. - imho these Apple cans immediately jump to the top of the class. I have owned or heard most of the ones I have mentioned above- none of them have ever thrilled me. I think Apple as become the overnight leader in ANC performance (and I am VERY sensitive to "pressure" from ANC and do not hear it with these).

So - lets not compare these to our wired Utopia's, Clear's or whatever other audiophile cans we listen to. That is not what these are.
For me if I want a wireless bluetooth ANC can which play compressed files - these are at the top of my list.
 

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