Apple announces $549 AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones, coming December 15th
December 8, 2020
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It turns out Apple has one more major hardware announcement before 2020 comes to a close: after many months of rumors, Apple today unveiled its own over-ear, noise-canceling headphones. They’re called AirPods Max and come with the premium design you’d expect from flagship Apple headphones. They also come with a premium $549 and are set to go on sale December 15th. Preorders start today.

The AirPods Max come in five colors: space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. They feature what Apple calls a “custom acoustic design” with a 40mm driver system “that provides rich, deep bass, accurate mid-ranges, and crisp, clean high-frequency extension so every note can be heard.” Apple has brought over a number of features that first debuted in the AirPods line like adaptive EQ, transparency mode, spatial audio, audio sharing, and hands-free Siri voice commands.

By moving into the premium headphones space, Apple will directly compete with brands like Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, AKG, Bowers and Wilkins, and others that have years of experience and a long list of products between them. But Apple is riding the momentum of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, which have dominated the true wireless earbuds market.

Apple has taken impressive advantage of the synergy between its hardware by introducing features like automatic device switching — AirPods and recent Beats products can switch between an iPhone, Mac, and iPad based on whichever one you’re currently using — and, in the case of the AirPods Pro, a capability called spatial audio that replicates an immersive surround sound experience when watching movies and TV shows on an iPhone or iPad.

Apple’s Beats brand also sells higher-end headphones including the Solo Pro and Studio 3 Wireless, both of which feature active noise cancellation. More recently, with Apple firmly covering consumers invested in its ecosystem, Beats has showed a renewed interest in appealing to Android device owners; the new Beats Flex earbuds have a USB-C connector instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.

Early December is an unusually late time of year for Apple to introduce new products. Today’s news was tipped last week by MacRumors, which reported that Apple had sent out a memo to authorized service providers about imminent changes to AppleCare. In the days since, the long-in-the-works headphones have been viewed as the most likely candidate.

Developing…

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