Apple unveils its first over-ear headphones – the £549 AirPods Max | Apple

Apple has announced its long anticipated first over-ear, noise cancelling wireless headphones, the AirPods Max, costing £549.

The new headphones look to take the good bits of Apple’s wireless earbuds the AirPods and put them in larger Bluetooth headphones with high quality speakers and a very high price tag.

The AirPods Max feature active noise cancelling, Apple’s spacial audio technology that simulates surround sound and a transparency mode similar to the AirPods Pro. But they also feature a “breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ” according to the firm.

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s marketing chief said: “The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience.”

The headphones have a similar “computational audio” processing system to the firm’s HomePod smart speaker which tunes the music in real time that promises rich and detailed audio.

The digital crown from the Apple Watch acts as a control for volume and playback. Photograph: Apple

They have a fairly traditional shape with a mesh headband and fabric ear cups, and have a digital crown jog-dial button similar to that on the Apple Watch for controlling volume and playback. They also come with a fabric case for storage and last for up to 20 hours between charges.

The unveiling provoked surprise from users and industry watchers alike, not only for the price, which is nearly double the majority of competitors and greater than Sony’s PlayStation 5, but also for their design.

The AirPods Max will be available in UK on 15 December and require an Apple device running iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3 or MacOS 11 Big Sur or later.

Apple faces fierce competition in the headphones space, not only from market-leading rivals such as Bose, Sony and B&W that produce similar headphones costing about £300, but also from its own Beats brand, which sells a range of noise cancelling headphones.

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