Prior to getting the Airpods Max, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 were my everyday headphones. I’d use a headphone amp at the desk while I worked, or sometimes to just chill when I wasn’t listening to music on my downstairs home theater. At this point in the hi-fi hobby for me, the DT 1990 are the best sounding headphones I’ve heard and owned.
That’s of course not to say there aren’t others that sound even nicer — it’s just that I haven’t heard them myself.
Over time I started carrying headphones for my iPhone while doing chores and other things around the house, and really saw how much a cord got in the way.
The walk around freedom the Airpods Max provide wowed me from the first session. Things like washing dishes or doing laundry felt far less tedious when jamming to music or listening to something on YouTube, and the level of detail in the Airpods Max’s sound totally changed a long-held assumption I’d had that bluetooth headphones wouldn’t be a good choice for a focused listen.
(I’d largely avoided trying any of the popular options like Sony XM4’s up until this point because of that assumption, to be clear, and not because I’d heard them and dismissed them.)
The bass is tight and plays deep into subwoofer ranges — noticeably deeper than the regular Airpods. If anything the bass curve favors the really deep bass, which is cool for electronic or hip-hop, but for rock music the mid and upper bass ranges to me are a little underrepresented. However, clicking on “Electronic” in Apple Music’s EQ punches it up nicely without muddying the other frequencies (like “Bass Boost” mode does).
In fact as I write this I am listening to BT’s newer album, Metaversal, and it sounds fantastic.
There isn’t quite the level of detail I find in the DT 1990s, nor does the music’s quality sound quite as open on the Airpods Max. The 1990s also have lusher bass while still being tight, which I enjoy.
The Airpods Max do sound better using the 3.5mm to Lightning cable rather than bluetooth, and a bit closer to the DT 1990 level of sound. But still not quite there.
However, they do play ball in the same league, you could say. And to be in that realm and be wireless and have such excellent noise cancelling/transparency mode very quickly made them my everyday headphone.
When I know I’ll be at the desk and really want to be music-centric (and for gaming on my PC) I’ll use the DT 1990.
But the rest of the time? I’ve grown fond of being able to be elsewhere in the house and still get great sound. The Airpods Max don’t disappoint.