On December 8, 2020, Apple announced the manufacture of an ultimate product: the Airpods Max, the first wireless and circum-auricular headset of the brand, that is to say that the object hugs the shape of the listener’s ears. Because it is a phenomenal innovation, the headphones are offered at the equally incredible price of 629 €.
This very high price is justified by the Apple company which reminds, after the release of more accessible products (the iPhone SE, the HomePod mini), that it is a luxury brand. However, luxury has a price: the pads of the AirPods Max alone cost 79 €. Such a sum nevertheless leaves us wondering about the intrinsic value of the headset: are the AirPods Max really worth their price?
Although it is still difficult to judge a product that has not yet been tested and whose marketing has not yet started, Victor Deléage, advisor in the HiFi 35 store (Rennes) believes that it will certainly be possible to find a better quality helmet for a lower price.
Despite its takeover of the Beats company in 2014, Apple is indeed not a specialist in high-fidelity audio. Thus, Victor Deléage explains to us that « Apple, like Beats, does not want to release products that are faithful, fair, but things that are pleasant to listen to, which is very different. In the business, we call that a “flattering” sound. It’s pleasant, there are beautiful, round basses, the brands assume it, consumers can look for it. But the problem is that records don’t actually sound like that.»
According to the expert, Apple would move further away from high-fidelity sound – in other words, “luxury” sound – by using ambient noise reduction devices. To counter Bose or Sony and others, Apple is highlighting « the best active noise reduction technology on the market to ensure you get the best listening experience. »The use of such a device “degrades the sound, not a little, but a lot,” as Victor Deléage put it.
Fortunately, AirPods Max are not only part of this marketing strategy of sound “flattery”. In addition to their sleek design and practical size, the AirPods Max are equipped with other advanced technical features, including two H1 chips for seamless connection to other products in the Apple ecosystem, shape memory pads, stainless steel construction, anodized aluminum cases, and the same Digital Crown frame as the Apple Watch. The headset is also equipped with Siri technology and has 20 hours of autonomy.
In spite of the apparent advantages presented by the AirPod Max, Victor Deléage ultimately recommends avoiding such falsely luxurious products. The seller therefore recommends helmets that offer better value for money, such as the Audeze LCD-2 or the Fostex TH-610. Before committing a certain amount of money, the expert obviously reminds us to test the luxury helmets. According to him, the important thing is to listen.
Featured photo : © AirPods Max, Apple
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