AirPods Max
Dec 20, 2020 at 10:54 PM Post #1,096 of 4,870

Maukey

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I would expect 9to5Mac to be biased in favor of AirPods Max, although expensive headphones tend to get a lot of additional criticism which isn’t necessarily unjustified since they have a lot to live up to in terms of expectations.

Audeze’s EL-8 Titanium was panned by more than a few critics for not living up to its $799 price tag, and even got a 2-star review from What Hi-Fi. I’ll be curious to see how they review AirPods Max since to my surprise HomePod Mini got a five-star review.
I read the 9to5 review. He actually ended his review proclaiming that the Max will be the only over ear headphones he uses because he really enjoys them overall. He actually praised the sound as having some of the best bass he's heard. He mainly criticized low volume listening when compared to high end audiophile headphones saying they don't get that same level of detail and clarity. He doesn't see these as audiophile headphones. He also said the Max has the best in class ANC and Transparency mode, but doesn't find it worth $550 on sound alone. He would've liked them priced at $400 or $450. I can respect that.
 
Dec 20, 2020 at 10:59 PM Post #1,097 of 4,870

MICHAELSD

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I can respect that as well. I think $399 would have been a more palatable price. I’m curious what his point of comparison is to state outright they “don’t sound like $550 headphones.” He’s probably not wrong, I just think more context given through examples of other headphones he‘s listened to would be helpful.
 
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Dec 20, 2020 at 11:01 PM Post #1,098 of 4,870

nihalsharma

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After a 73 pages worth of thread, I am getting more and more confused. I am still unclear how the APM perform soundwise.

Folks comparing it to HD800/s, really? Those Senn headphones are next level things. Can APM really excel them in any parameter? I am not convinced. But if it so, I will be really happy for the APM. I really don’t expect them to beat the Senns or sound as close as the Senns, I just want them to sound good.

And there are people who outright claim that APM sound bad. Some are saying they are overpriced - without giving a thought to the other features coming with the APM. I think people who are saying they are bad are just comparing sounds of APM with some other good headphones. It’s not just the sound which has to be compared.

I don’t think Apple created shortage of supply. What if they really sold overwhelmingly? Cannot we accept the fact? In India, the Apple products are priced at 1.3/1.4 times in the US, but people buy them.

I am still looking for few perfect comparisons to make up my mind to buy these.
 
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Dec 20, 2020 at 11:02 PM Post #1,099 of 4,870

Malevolent

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After a certain point audio gear for the most part tends to sound different, not necessarily better or worse beyond subjective opinions.
I agree with this statement. After a certain threshold, the technical differences are minor at best; the prime differentiators are flavor, tuning, and signature.

I don't (fully) expect the AirPods Max to beat the pants off of a Vérité Closed or an MDR-Z1R, for example. However, I can earnestly hope that it brings 80% of that performance into a portable form factor. If so, and if it's just $550, it's well worth its sticker tag, IMO.

I see many opinions bandied about, but the only ones that matter, sound-wise, are from those written by people who have auditioned the Apple headphone. If someone prefers the AirPods Max to an HD 800 S, it's their choice, ultimately. I don't like the Sennheiser flagship myself, so it won't take a lot for me to subjectively prefer a (much) cheaper closed-back headphone to the HD 800 S. It doesn't mean that the HD 800 S is bad; it's just not my cup of tea.
 
Dec 20, 2020 at 11:20 PM Post #1,100 of 4,870

tinyman392

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I read through the 9To5mac review, it’s actually quite fair with their conclusion. I’d price them in the 450 range in terms of being a fair price for what you get. However, I’m not on board with saying because they cost 550 dollars, they should sound like a 500 dollar headphone. That’s like saying the Sony XM4 and Bose NC700 should sound like 350 and 380 dollar headphones, respectively, for the same reasoning.

The reviewer admits its not worth the price, but also states that it’s the main headphone he’ll likely be using. So the price is high, but not high enough to not justify getting it. If this is the case, Apple probably hit their pricing just right; even if they did push a little higher than we expected them to. I guess the pricing might be a case of hate the game not the player... Well maybe hate the player too, because it seems like the cool thing to do :/
 
Dec 20, 2020 at 11:43 PM Post #1,101 of 4,870

torifile

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This is the first Apple headphone to be priced over $300. The first reaction from most ordinary consumer (not people on head-fi) will be shock. Why does anyone need a $550 pair of headphones? How does this $550 headphone sound better than other headphones that cost $100? How much better can it be? "How much better" can be up for discussion and interpretation. Everyone will have a different opinion on this. And we can all be civil debating...
There is really never a civil debate when it comes to Apple stuff. It’s an unfortunate reality when it comes to the fruit company.

And it always seems to come down to a few basic issues - either price, lack of options or hype. Sometimes a combination of those things. I don’t know why but it happens with pretty much every Apple release. Audio is just a new domain for them to play in.
 
Dec 20, 2020 at 11:49 PM Post #1,102 of 4,870

torifile

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After a 73 pages worth of thread, I am getting more and more confused. I am still unclear how the APM perform soundwise.

Folks comparing it to HD800/s, really? Those Senn headphones are next level things. Can APM really excel them in any parameter? I am not convinced. But if it so, I will be really happy for the APM. I really don’t expect them to beat the Senns or sound as close as the Senns, I just want them to sound good.

And there are people who outright claim that APM sound bad. Some are saying they are overpriced - without giving a thought to the other features coming with the APM. I think people who are saying they are bad are just comparing sounds of APM with some other good headphones. It’s not just the sound which has to be compared.

I don’t think Apple created shortage of supply. What if they really sold overwhelmingly? Cannot we accept the fact? In India, the Apple products are priced at 1.3/1.4 times in the US, but people buy them.

I am still looking for few perfect comparisons to make up my mind to buy these.
Let’s dispense with the comparisons because they are so subjective. The question that would be good to have answered is: will you use these in your rotation? I definitely will. I love the sound. It’s fun and engaging. It feels pretty close to the intention of the music, IMHO. Are they worth $550?

Sure they are.

Because I’ll get $250 of enjoyment out of them over the next year and sell them for $300 when I’m ready to move on. I’m not sure that any other wireless headphone will hold on to 60% of its MSRP after a year of use. I’m pretty sure the APM will.
 
Dec 20, 2020 at 11:59 PM Post #1,103 of 4,870

Maukey

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I'm listening to my AirPods Max right now while sipping a glass of wine, YEAP, I'll add to the hype. I'm loving these more and more the more I listen to them. Apple nailed the tuning on these. They're just so fun to listen to. Detailed, exciting, wide and musical are just a few words I'd use to describe them. No distortion at high volumes which is a hell of compliment for a Wireless ANC closed back headphone. For movies, these things are an absolute monster. That's really the underrated aspect of these.
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:24 AM Post #1,104 of 4,870

kdphan

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I'm listening to my AirPods Max right now while sipping a glass of wine, YEAP, I'll add to the hype. I'm loving these more and more the more I listen to them. Apple nailed the tuning on these. They're just so fun to listen to. Detailed, exciting, wide and musical are just a few words I'd use to describe them. No distortion at high volumes which is a hell of compliment for a Wireless ANC closed back headphone. For movies, these things are an absolute monster. That's really the underrated aspect of these.
I've found a new enjoyment for watching movies on the iPad, especially on apps that support spatial audio. I almost have an urge to rewatch the entire 2 seasons of Mandalorian.
I will pick up the new Apple TV once it supports spatial audio.
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:31 AM Post #1,105 of 4,870

tkddans

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I think I may have committed some kind of headphone treason, but if anyone wants to fiddle with EQ on the iMac's Apple Music, it does offer the option. Pure curiosity got the better of me. This may either spoil my liking of the APM out of box tuning or give me another way to enjoy them. See screenshot:

Screen Shot 2020-12-21 at 12.25.48 AM.png


So the changes are about...

32: -1.3'ish dB
64: 0 dB
125: 0 dB
250: 0 dB
500: +1 dB
1k: +1.5 dB
2k: Just a hair above +3 dB
4k: Maybe +4 dB
8k: +3 dB
16k: Just a hair below 0 dB

My ears are tired like I've been at a concert, listening to this stuff all night and fiddling around. I would try longer but need to give my ears a rest and revisit this tomorrow, fresh. This is just a start to some experimenting on creating a brighter alternative to listening. Not necessarily better (and I'm sure I broke some EQ rules or something here).
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:32 AM Post #1,106 of 4,870

Heyyoudvd

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This whole debate over whether or not the APMs sound like $550 headphones seems strange to me because what exactly is a $550 headphone?

The more I read headphone reviews and the more I learn about the current state of the industry, the more I’m starting to realize that the entire concept of price points starts to break down after $200.

I mean, if you were to take the 5 best headphones at $500-$1000 and compare them to the 5 best headphones at $200, is the difference really significant?

For example, how many $500 headphones offer better clarity than the HD 560S? How many $500 headphones offer better mids than the 6XX? How many $500 buds sound better than the AirPods Pro? How many $500 headphones are more detailed than the DT880?

I personally don’t yet have a lot of personal experience listening to most of the headphones discussed on this site, but I’ve done a ton of reading and have seen so many reviews and analysis, and I get the distinct impression that the entire concept quality increases basically stops at $200. It’s not even just a matter of diminishing returns kicking in; it’s a matter of many expensive headphones simply not sounding all that great. Once you go above that $200 price point, you’ve entered a world where headphones cease to be a piece of cool technology and they’ve started to be a piece of craftsmanship.

It’s like with watches. You can spend $10,000 on a Rolex or even $300,000 on a Patek, but they won’t keep time any better than your cheap Timex will. You’re paying for the amazing craftsmanship and artistry, not for the actual performance.

With headphones, there are of course high priced headphones that perform better than any low or mid priced headphone possibly could by virtue of the amount of time, effort, materials, and technology that went into it (ie. no $200 headphone will sound like an Orpheus or Abyss 1266). But those top performers seem to be the exception, not the rule. From what I gather, most $500 or even $3,000 headphones will sound worse than the top performing $200 headphones.

People think of price and sound quality as this linear relationship, where the two increase together, and then perhaps SQ starts to increase at a slower rate once diminishing returns kicks in high up on the curve. But even that’s not correct. It’s not even just that expensive headphones get better more slowly as you increase price; it’s that they often don’t get better at all. A $3,000 headphone may not sound any better at all than a $2,000 headphone or a $1,000 headphone, or even a top performing $200 headphone.


That’s why this whole debate seems silly to me. Saying that the AirPods Max don’t sound as good as a $550 headphone isn’t a statement that means much. If the APM can even hang in there with a good performer in the $150-$200 range and then the APM add all the cool Apple computation features on top of that, then I’d say yes, they’re absolutely as good as any “$550 headphone”, whatever that means.

But maybe I’m wrong. I personally haven’t had much hands-on time with many $1,000+ headphones, so I could be way off here. But I don’t think so.
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:39 AM Post #1,107 of 4,870

HiFiHawaii808

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This is the first Apple headphone to be priced over $300. The first reaction from most ordinary consumer (not people on head-fi) will be shock. Why does anyone need a $550 pair of headphones? How does this $550 headphone sound better than other headphones that cost $100? How much better can it be? "How much better" can be up for discussion and interpretation. Everyone will have a different opinion on this. And we can all be civil debating...
Actually, serious critical reviewers of audiophile headphones view the Airpods Max to headphones in the $100-$300 bracket.
After a 73 pages worth of thread, I am getting more and more confused. I am still unclear how the APM perform soundwise.

Folks comparing it to HD800/s, really? Those Senn headphones are next level things. Can APM really excel them in any parameter? I am not convinced. But if it so, I will be really happy for the APM. I really don’t expect them to beat the Senns or sound as close as the Senns, I just want them to sound good.

And there are people who outright claim that APM sound bad. Some are saying they are overpriced - without giving a thought to the other features coming with the APM. I think people who are saying they are bad are just comparing sounds of APM with some other good headphones. It’s not just the sound which has to be compared.

I don’t think Apple created shortage of supply. What if they really sold overwhelmingly? Cannot we accept the fact? In India, the Apple products are priced at 1.3/1.4 times in the US, but people buy them.

I am still looking for few perfect comparisons to make up my mind to buy these.
The APM is a well tuned, technically average headphone with some nice bells and whistles for Apple ecosystem members. Those who measure frequency response and tonality for a living assess the APM as a headphone that performs in the $100-300 category. Since it provides noise cancellation and some other features like spatial audio, it favors pretty well against other noise cancellation headphones. It has an easy of use advantage over wired audiophile headphones because you can simply connect it to a source via bluetooth or airplay with the inherent limitations of those communications protocols. $399 is probably what its worth. The rest is economic rent extracted out of buyers from Apple.
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:50 AM Post #1,108 of 4,870

kdphan

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Actually, serious critical reviewers of audiophile headphones view the Airpods Max to headphones in the $100-$300 bracket.

The APM is a well tuned, technically average headphone with some nice bells and whistles for Apple ecosystem members. Those who measure frequency response and tonality for a living assess the APM as a headphone that performs in the $100-300 category. Since it provides noise cancellation and some other features like spatial audio, it favors pretty well against other noise cancellation headphones. It has an easy of use advantage over wired audiophile headphones because you can simply connect it to a source via bluetooth or airplay with the inherent limitations of those communications protocols. $399 is probably what its worth. The rest is economic rent extracted out of buyers from Apple.
The way I think of the APM's value is that if I'm using it almost as much as my other audio gears which cost anywhere from 2-10x more, then it's worth it. It will not perform to the levels of my other gears but it doesn't mean I don't get enjoyment out of them. I just wish the treble wasn't so peaky.
 
Dec 21, 2020 at 12:54 AM Post #1,109 of 4,870

nihalsharma

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I was owning an iPhone 8 plus after which I bought Samsung Galaxy Note 10 plus. The iPhone at that time was priced nearly 1.4 times the Note 10 but due to some money crunch I could not buy the iPhone. And believe me, the moment I opened the Galaxy’s box, I was totally disappointed. The camera in Galaxy sucks(personal opinion).

The point is - even if the prices are far apart, the iPhone(to me) is a lot superior than the best of Android phones. Glad I sold the Note and recently bought iPhone 12 max and I am really satisfied, again it’s priced very higher than the latest Galaxy Note.

The point I am trying to make is even if APM is 550$, I am sure it would bring a lot of satisfaction to those who buy it and they will not complain of the price(like a lot of fellow head-fiers). And there are other segment of people who, like the Android users, will keep complaining of the price and try to justify how the APM is worth less of $550. This happens. So, saying it’s priced a lot more is not a fair argument.
 
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Dec 21, 2020 at 12:59 AM Post #1,110 of 4,870

kumar402

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After a 73 pages worth of thread, I am getting more and more confused. I am still unclear how the APM perform soundwise.

Folks comparing it to HD800/s, really? Those Senn headphones are next level things. Can APM really excel them in any parameter? I am not convinced. But if it so, I will be really happy for the APM. I really don’t expect them to beat the Senns or sound as close as the Senns, I just want them to sound good.

And there are people who outright claim that APM sound bad. Some are saying they are overpriced - without giving a thought to the other features coming with the APM. I think people who are saying they are bad are just comparing sounds of APM with some other good headphones. It’s not just the sound which has to be compared.

I don’t think Apple created shortage of supply. What if they really sold overwhelmingly? Cannot we accept the fact? In India, the Apple products are priced at 1.3/1.4 times in the US, but people buy them.

I am still looking for few perfect comparisons to make up my mind to buy these.
In India it’s priced at 60K in local currency and that is close to $875. AirPods Pro are better priced here in India and I feel is better value for money
 

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