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AirPods Max test: at Apple, silence is golden

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Each entry of Apple into a new market is an event. After the iPod, iPhone, iPad and AirPods, the American is entering the market for noise reduction headphones.

As usual, Apple does nothing like the others. While the best-selling models (Bose QC 35, Sony WH-1000-XM4) are sold between 300 and 400 euros, the AirPods Max is displayed at 629 euros. Including at the start of 2023. And wham!

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Should we be outraged? Not really. Apple may insist that it offers consumer products, but its positioning is closer to that of a luxury brand. Its products are regularly singled out for their prices deemed excessive, which does not prevent stock shortages at each launch. Besides, this AirPods Max is no exception to the rule. “As long as there is discomfort, there is no pleasure”.

The AirPods Max is expensive, that’s a fact. The question is whether this price is justified. Or rather to determine if the price difference between this AirPods Max and the models from Sony or Bose is really worth doubling down on.

AirPods Max price and availability

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The AirPods Max has been available since December 15, 2020 at a price of 629 euros – an initial price which did not change until the beginning of 2023, even if it is possible to find the headphones for a little cheaper , refurbished. It comes in five colors: black, silver, blue, red and green (our test model).

This price positions the first headphones from Apple as an ultra-premium or even elitist product. Well Named ?

Design and ergonomics of the AirPods Max

Right out of the box, the AirPods Max sets the tone. Like other Apple products, its first headphones are revealed resolutely premium. The AirPods Max is beautiful, magnificent even. While its competitors are mainly dressed in (quality) plastic, the Pommé helmet is made of brushed aluminum (headphones) and steel (headband).

If these materials sublimate it, they weigh it down considerably compared to its counterparts. The AirPods Max still weighs 386 g against 294 g for the Sony WH-1000-XM4 for example.

This overweight does not really affect the behavior of the helmet. The headband’s piston system allows you to adjust its position, the headphones cover the ears well and the mesh fabric net is comfortable.

The AirPods Max is therefore very pleasant provided that its use is not prolonged. After two hours of listening, slight neck pain occurs and condensation appears behind the (magnetic) fabric cushions. After several hours, one can even observe fine droplets.

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Simple and effective, but…

As often, Apple masters the art of minimalism. No touch keys, everything is controlled using two buttons positioned on the right earpiece. The first allows you to activate/deactivate noise reduction or switch to transparent mode. The second is a replica of the Apple Watch crown spiked with hormones. It allows you to control the volume or pause.

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This same earphone incorporates the Lightning port which will accommodate a charger or connect an adapter (not supplied) to listen to wired music.

As with the AirPods Pro, pairing the AirPods Max with an Apple device is a snap. To connect it, simply bring it closer to an iPhone, iPad or Mac. In a few seconds, you’re done. Android smartphone users can rest assured that Apple’s headset works with their hardware too, but pairing requires a few extra steps.

If the AirPods Max seduces us, the same cannot be said of the Smart Case. The protective cover provided in the box is neither a cover nor a protection. Indeed, it only partially covers the helmet and does not protect the parts most likely to smash on the ground in the event of clumsiness.

However, it remains essential, since in the absence of an on/off button, it is impossible to turn off the AirPods Max other than by sliding it into this Smart Case. We have experienced more practice.

AirPods Max audio quality

With its AirPods Max, Apple promises “high fidelity” sound, a term used by manufacturers of very high-end headphones (sold at much higher prices).

To provide comparable performance to these headsets, Apple relies on 40mm drivers and neodymium magnets, very expensive material partly justifying its higher price than consumer models. Everything is sprinkled with computational audio (powered by the H1 chip) for “premium” sound reproduction.

This concentrate of technologies is confronted with an inconsistency: the AirPods Max only plays sounds in AAC format. It does not support any codec hi-resalmost unforgivable for a product at this price (we will come back to this).

However, this choice seems logical if we consider that the helmet will be mainly associated with an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Starting from this premise, we also understand why Apple does not integrate no 3.5mm jack for wired use. Purists are obviously not Apple’s target, so they will have to put their hands in their wallets to equip themselves with Lightning adapters. Count 40 euros more at the bottom of the bill.

And the audio quality in all this? In a word: impressive. If Apple takes few risks by offering a fairly consensual sound, we must recognize that the result is breathtaking.

The highs are perfectly controlled, the mids impeccable and the bass very present without unbalancing the whole. Thanks to computational audio, the headset adjusts the mids and bass according to its position on your ears. A delight.

Video lovers will also revel in front of their series and films. Compatible Dolby Atmos, the AirPods Max also inherits the spatialization of sound inaugurated with the AirPods Pro. Concretely, the sound is broadcast at 360° (with compatible content, of course) and adapts to head movements. From memory, we have never felt such immersion with a consumer helmet.

The sound quality delivered by the AirPods Max therefore outclasses that of Sony or Bose models. Nevertheless, the difference is too slight to justify such a price difference.

noise reduction

The AirPods Max also inherits the noise reduction of the AirPods Pro. In addition to the excellent passive isolation due to its format, the Apple headphones have active noise reduction and a transparent mode.

To insulate (or reproduce) us from ambient sounds, Apple relies on six external mics (three per earphone) responsible for picking up surrounding noise, and two internal microphones (placed inside each earphone) which analyze the sound arriving in our ears. The H1 chip – which can adjust noise cancellation 200 times per second according to Apple – takes care of the rest.

If the noise cancellation bluffs us, the mode Transparent definitely convinces us. It’s very simple, we have never heard anything like it since the advent of wireless headphones with noise reduction. The AirPods Pro surprised, the AirPods Max impresses.

As good as they are, headphones from Sony, Bose or Sennheiser never compete with Apple’s in this area. We expected no less from a helmet sold almost twice as much.

Autonomy and charging

Apple promises that its AirPods Max is able to keep us company for 20 hours. A conservative estimate since we were able to listen to an average of 23 hours with active noise reduction. This autonomy improves very slightly without the ANC and increases to 25 hours. Apple has therefore succeeded in limiting the energy consumption of its noise cancellation as much as possible. A great point.

On the other hand, these performances remain below other consumer headsets. The WH-1000-XM4, for example, provides 25 hours of listening time with ANC and 35 hours without.

These differences can be partially explained by the absence of the on/off button and the obligation to slip the helmet into its Smart Case to turn it off.

Otherwise, it will take several minutes for the AirPods Max to detect that it is no longer being used. It will therefore remain in a standby state which consumes a lot of energy. For example, we left the headset on our bedside table overnight. When we woke up, the battery had lost 8%.

Apple is making up for it with its very fast recharging (Lightning of course). The brand promises to win one hour of listening in 5 minutes of charge. These estimates turn out to be correct this time.

Our opinion after the AirPods Max test

Are the AirPods Max a better headset than those from Sony or Bose in early 2023? The answer is yes. The design is much more luxurious, the audio quality a step above and the noise cancellation (as well as the transparent mode) much more effective. If it is also associated with an Apple product (which seems to correspond to the most widespread pattern), the experience is even more pleasant.

Technically, the AirPods Max therefore stands out as the new benchmark on the market. However, the 629 euros requested by Apple are difficult to justify. Firstly because this first headset suffers from a few flaws (too heavy, limited to AAC, average battery life, no wired listening). Then, because the delivered Smart Case is absolutely not up to the product.

Finally (and above all), because the difference with competing models, sold almost half the price, is not obvious enough to justify such a price. For 100 to 150 euros less, we would have recommended it with our eyes closed. At 629 euros, better think twice. But as we told you, it is still possible to find the accessory a little cheaper in refurbished, at the beginning of 2023.

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Apru00e8s lu2019iPod, lu2019iPhone, lu2019iPad et les AirPods, lu2019amu00e9ricain se lance sur le marchu00e9 des casques audio u00e0 ru00e9duction de bruit.rnrnComme u00e0 son habitude, Apple ne fait rien comme les autres. Alors que les modu00e8le les plus vendus (Bose QC 35, Sony WH-1000-XM4) sont commercialisu00e9s entre 300 et 400 euros, le AirPods Max est affichu00e9 u00e0 629 euros. Y compris en ce du00e9but d’annu00e9e 2023. Et vlan !rnrnDoit-on su2019en indigner ? Pas vraiment. Apple a beau marteler quu2019il propose des produits grand public, son positionnement se rapproche davantage de celui du2019une marque de luxe. Ses produits sont ru00e9guliu00e8rement pointu00e9s du doigt pour leurs tarifs jugu00e9s excessifs, ce qui nu2019empu00eache pas les ruptures de stock u00e0 chaque lancement. Du2019ailleurs ce AirPods Max nu2019u00e9chappe pas u00e0 la ru00e8gle. u00abu00a0Tant quu2019il y a de la gu00eane, il nu2019y a pas de plaisiru00a0u00bb.rnrnLe AirPods Max est cher, cu2019est un fait. La question est de savoir si ce tarif est justifiu00e9. Ou plutu00f4t de du00e9terminer si lu2019u00e9cart de prix entre ce AirPods Max et les modu00e8les de Sony ou Bose vaut vraiment la peine de doubler la mise.rnrnrnPrix et disponibilitu00e9 du casque AirPods MaxrnLe AirPods Max est disponible depuis le 15 du00e9cembre 2020 au prix de 629 euros – un prix initial qui n’a pas u00e9voluu00e9 jusqu’en ce du00e9but d’annu00e9e 2023, mu00eame s’il est possible de trouver le casque pour un peu moins cher, en reconditionnu00e9. Il se du00e9cline en cinq coloris : noir, argent, bleu, rouge et vert (notre modu00e8le de test).rnrnrnrnCe tarif positionne le premier casque audio du2019Apple comme un produit ultra-premium voire u00e9litiste. u00c0 juste titre ?rnrnrnDesign et ergonomie du AirPods MaxrnDu00e8s lu2019ouverture de la bou00eete, le AirPods Max donne le ton. u00c0 lu2019instar des autres produits Apple, son premier casque audio se ru00e9vu00e8le ru00e9solument premium. Le AirPods Max est beau, magnifique mu00eame. Alors que ses concurrents su2019habillent essentiellement de plastique (de qualitu00e9), le casque Pommu00e9 se constitue du2019aluminium brossu00e9 (u00e9couteurs) et du2019acier (arceau).rnrnrnrnSi ces matu00e9riaux le subliment, ils lu2019alourdissent considu00e9rablement par rapport u00e0 ses homologues. Le AirPods Max pu00e8se tout de mu00eame 386 g contre 294 g pour le WH-1000-XM4 de Sony par exemple.rnrnCet embonpoint nu2019a pas vraiment du2019incidence sur la tenue du casque. Le systu00e8me u00e0 pistons de lu2019arceau permet du2019ajuster son positionnement, les u00e9couteurs englobent bien les oreilles et le filet en tissu maillu00e9 est confortable.rnrnrnrnLe AirPods Max se ru00e9vu00e8le donc tru00e8s agru00e9able u00e0 condition de ne pas prolonger son utilisation. Apru00e8s deux heures du2019u00e9coute, de lu00e9gu00e8res douleurs aux cervicales se manifestent et une condensation apparau00eet derriu00e8re les coussins en tissu (aimantu00e9s) . Apru00e8s plusieurs heures, on peut mu00eame observer de fines gouttelettes.rnrnrnSimple et efficace, maisu2026rnComme souvent, Apple mau00eetrise lu2019art du minimalisme. Pas de touches tactiles, tout se contru00f4le u00e0 lu2019aide de deux boutons positionnu00e9s sur lu2019u00e9couteur droit. Le premier permet du2019activer/du00e9sactiver la ru00e9duction de bruit ou de passer en mode transparent. Le second est une ru00e9plique de la couronne des Apple Watch dopu00e9e aux hormones. Il permet de contru00f4ler le volume ou de mettre en pause.rnrnrnrnCe mu00eame u00e9couteur intu00e8gre le port Lightning qui permettra du2019accueillir un chargeur ou de connecter un adaptateur (non fourni) pour u00e9couter la musique en filaire.rnrnComme avec les AirPods Pro, associer le AirPods Max u00e0 un appareil Apple est un jeu du2019enfant. Pour le relier il suffit de le rapprocher du2019un iPhone, iPad ou Mac. En quelques secondes, le tour est jouu00e9. Que les utilisateurs de smartphones Android se rassurent, le casque du2019Apple fonctionne aussi avec leur matu00e9riel, mais lu2019appairage nu00e9cessite quelques u00e9tapes supplu00e9mentaires.rnrnrnrnSi le AirPods Max nous su00e9duit, on ne peut pas en dire autant de la Smart Case. La housse de protection fournie dans la bou00eete nu2019est ni une housse ni une protection. En effet, elle ne recouvre que partiellement le casque et ne protu00e8ge pas les parties les plus u00e0 mu00eame de se fracasser sur le sol en cas de maladresse.rnrnPourtant elle reste indispensable, puisquu2019en lu2019absence de bouton on/off il est impossible du2019u00e9teindre le AirPods Max autrement quu2019en le glissant dans cette Smart Case. On a connu plus pratique.rnQualitu00e9 audio du AirPods MaxrnAvec son AirPods Max, Apple promet un son u201chaute fidu00e9litu00e9u201d, appellation employu00e9e par les constructeurs de casques tru00e8s haut de gamme (vendus u00e0 des tarifs bien plus u00e9levu00e9s).rnrnPour fournir des performances comparables u00e0 ces casques, Apple mise sur des drivers de 40 mm ainsi que des aimants en nu00e9odyme, matu00e9riau tru00e8s cou00fbteux justifiant en partie son tarif plus u00e9levu00e9 que les modu00e8les grand public. Le tout est saupoudru00e9 de computational audio (propulsu00e9 par la puce H1) pour un rendu sonore u201cpremiumu201d.rnrnCe concentru00e9 de technologies se confronte u00e0 une incohu00e9rence : le AirPods Max ne diffuse que des sons au format AAC. Il ne prend en charge aucun codec hi-res, presque impardonnable pour un produit u00e0 ce prix (nous y reviendrons).rnrnToutefois, ce choix semble logique si lu2019on considu00e8re que le casque sera majoritairement associu00e9 u00e0 un iPhone, iPad ou Mac. En partant de ce postulat, on comprend aussi pourquoi Apple nu2019intu00e8gre pas de jack 3,5 mm pour une utilisation en filaire. Les puristes ne sont visiblement pas la cible du2019Apple, aussi ils devront mettre la main au portefeuille pour su2019u00e9quiper d’adaptateurs Lightning. Comptez 40 euros de plus au bas de la facture.rnrnrnrnEt la qualitu00e9 audio dans tout cela ? En un mot : impressionnante. Si Apple prend peu de risques en proposant un son assez consensuel, nous devons bien reconnau00eetre que le ru00e9sultat est u00e9poustouflant.rnrnLes aigus sont parfaitement mau00eetrisu00e9s, les mu00e9diums impeccables et les basses bien pru00e9sentes sans du00e9su00e9quilibrer l’ensemble. Gru00e2ce au computational audio, le casque ajuste les mu00e9diums et les basses en fonction de sa position sur vos oreilles. Un ru00e9gal.rnrnLes amateurs de vidu00e9os se du00e9lecteront eux aussi devant leurs su00e9ries et films. Compatible Dolby Atmos, le AirPods Max hu00e9rite aussi de la spatialisation du son inauguru00e9e avec les AirPods Pro. Concru00e8tement, le son est diffusu00e9 u00e0 360u00b0 (avec les contenus compatibles, u00e9videmment) et su2019adapte aux mouvements de la tu00eate. De mu00e9moire, nous nu2019avons jamais ressenti une telle immersion avec un casque grand public.rnrnLa qualitu00e9 de son du00e9livru00e9e par le AirPods Max surclasse donc celle des modu00e8les de Sony ou Bose. Nu00e9anmoins, la diffu00e9rence est trop lu00e9gu00e8re pour justifier un tel u00e9cart de prix.rnRu00e9duction de bruitrnLe AirPods Max hu00e9rite aussi de la ru00e9duction de bruit des AirPods Pro. En plus de lu2019excellente isolation passive due u00e0 son format, le casque du2019Apple dispose du2019une ru00e9duction de bruit active et du2019un mode transparent.rnrnPour nous isoler (ou reproduire) des sons ambiants, Apple su2019appuie sur six micros externes (trois par u00e9couteur) chargu00e9s de capter les bruits alentours, et deux micro internes (disposu00e9s u00e0 lu2019intu00e9rieur de chaque u00e9couteur) qui analysent le son arrivant dans nos oreilles. La puce H1 – qui peut ajuster lu2019annulation de bruit 200 fois par seconde selon Apple – su2019occupe du reste.rnrnSi lu2019annulation de bruit nous bluffe, le mode Transparent nous convainc du00e9finitivement. Cu2019est bien simple, nous nu2019avons encore jamais rien entendu de tel depuis lu2019avu00e8nement des casques audio sans fil avec ru00e9duction de bruit. Les AirPods Pro surprenaient, le AirPods Max impressionne.rnrnAussi bons soient-ils, les casques de Sony, Bose ou Sennheiser ne rivalisent jamais avec celui du2019Apple dans ce domaine. On en attendait pas moins du2019un casque vendu pru00e8s de deux fois plus cher.rnAutonomie et rechargernApple promet que son AirPods Max est en mesure de nous tenir compagnie 20 heures durant. Une estimation prudente puisque nous avons pu enchau00eener en moyenne 23h du2019u00e9coute avec la ru00e9duction de bruit active. Cette autonomie su2019amu00e9liore tru00e8s lu00e9gu00e8rement sans lu2019ANC et passe u00e0 25 heures. Apple a donc ru00e9ussi a limiter au maximum la consommation du2019u00e9nergie de son annulation de bruit. Un excellent point.rnrnEn revanche, ces performances restent en deu00e7u00e0 des autres casques grand public. Le WH-1000-XM4 par exemple assure 25 heures du2019u00e9coute avec lu2019ANC et 35 heures sans.rnrnrnrnCes diffu00e9rences peuvent partiellement su2019expliquer par lu2019absence du bouton on/off et lu2019obligation de glisser le casque dans sa Smart Case pour lu2019u00e9teindre.rnrnDans le cas contraire il faudra plusieurs minutes au AirPods Max pour du00e9tecter quu2019on ne lu2019utilise plus. Il restera donc dans un u00e9tat de veille qui consomme beaucoup du2019u00e9nergie. u00c0 titre du2019exemple, nous avons laissu00e9 le casque posu00e9 sur notre table de chevet durant une nuit. u00c0 notre ru00e9veil, la batterie avait perdu 8%.rnrnApple se rattrape bien avec sa recharge (Lightning u00e9videmment) tru00e8s rapide. La marque promet de gagner une heure du2019u00e9coute en 5 minutes de charge. Ces estimations se ru00e9vu00e8lent cette fois justes.rnrnrnNotre avis apru00e8s le test du AirPods MaxrnLe AirPods Max est-il un meilleur casque que ceux de Sony ou Bose du00e9but 2023 ? La ru00e9ponse est oui. Le design est bien plus luxueux, la qualitu00e9 audio un cran au dessus et lu2019annulation de bruit (ainsi que le mode transparent) nettement plus efficaces. Su2019il est en plus associu00e9 u00e0 un produit Apple (ce qui semble correspondre au schu00e9ma le plus ru00e9pandu), lu2019expu00e9rience est encore plus agru00e9able.rnrnTechniquement, le AirPods Max su2019impose donc comme la nouvelle ru00e9fu00e9rence du marchu00e9. Toutefois, les 629 euros demandu00e9s par Apple sont difficilement justifiables. Du2019abord parce que ce premier casque souffre de quelques du00e9fauts (trop lourd, limitu00e9 au AAC, autonomie moyenne, pas du2019u00e9coute filaire). Ensuite, parce que la Smart Case livru00e9e nu2019est absolument pas u00e0 la hauteur du produit.rnrnEnfin (et surtout), parce que la diffu00e9rence avec les modu00e8les concurrents, vendus pru00e8s de deux fois moins cher, nu2019est pas assez flagrante pour justifier un tel prix. Pour 100 u00e0 150 euros de moins, nous lu2019aurions recommandu00e9 les yeux fermu00e9s. u00c0 629 euros, mieux vaut y ru00e9flu00e9chir u00e0 deux fois. Mais comme nous vous le disions, il reste possible de trouver l’accessoire un peu moins cher en reconditionnu00e9, du00e9but 2023.”,”author”:{“@type”:”Organization”,”name”:”Presse-citron”},”datePublished”:”2023-01-13″}}

Source: Presse-Citron

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