The Apple AirPods Max make mobile meetings easier to hear no matter where the listener sits.

Sep 08 2021

Review: The Apple AirPods Max Are a Game Changer for Meetings

These easy-to-use headphones add power to the listening experience.

In the digital workplace, headphones are an essential tool for fostering effective communication, especially given the bifurcated nature of our new working norm.

Headphones once attracted more attention within the media and gaming sectors than among public and private sector businesses. But now they’ve earned a center role in the post-pandemic government office, especially for federal employees with hybrid schedules who are still working from home a portion of the time.

It’s clear that federal work will continue to include virtual and hybrid environments for the foreseeable future. A June memo from the White House provided guidelines for agencies that want to provide employees with the flexibility to work both in the office and at home.

For agency leaders and managers, the next step will be to determine how to improve productivity and drive engagement within a hybrid workforce. The Apple AirPods Max headphones can be a game changer, making mobile meetings easier to hear no matter where the listener sits.

While the AirPods Max allow for noise canceling — a critical feature in noisy offices and homes — the headphones also include a transparency mode. This makes more ambient sound audible to users who may need to hear what’s going on around them while they’re on calls.

A Wireless Headset That's Easy to Connect and Pair 

Some people reject wireless headsets because they’re often difficult to set up and configure compared with simply plugging in wired headphones. However, Apple broke down that barrier with the AirPods Max, making them extremely easy to use.

In fact, as soon as the headphones are removed from their case, the user’s nearby iPhone (or other Apple device) immediately detects them and starts the pairing process. It’s even simpler than plugging in a wired headset.

After the initial setup, the AirPods’ great design continues to impress. Lightweight and comfortable, they are hardly noticeable when worn. And unlike earbud-style models, they cup the ears cozily.

 

Apple AirPods Max

 

At 6.6 by 7.4 inches and weighing 13.6 ounces, Apple AirPods Max headphones are heavier and larger than many competitors, but even at that size, the soft cushions over the ears put their surface area to good use by supporting the headphones for long-lasting comfort.

Many of these design advantages stem from the milled aluminum casing, which consists of soft mesh ear padding wrapped around a metal headband, creating a refined feeling that surpasses that of its more expensive competitors. I was impressed with the headphones’ overall quality and feel; plus, the AirPods’ replaceable magnetic ear cups are easy to obtain and remount without having to buy a whole new unit, should they ever fail.

Even Silence Sounds Terrific with Good Headphones

The best headphones offer solid sound and effective noise cancellation. The AirPods Max do this with amazing highs and a tight bass that supports natural midtones. No matter what timbre of voice users have, the AirPods will make sure that every word is clear.

The AirPods were reviewed for three weeks with hundreds of online and phone meetings. Never once did the sound quality suffer, and no time was lost due to technical difficulties; I could always hear what everyone in the virtual room was saying.

Just as impressive, however, was what I didn’t hear. Working at home with three kids, two dogs, a cat and nowhere to hide is a recipe for disaster when hosting conference calls. Yet the smaller, second button on the headset — right next to the wheel on the right earpiece — activates noise cancellation that shuts out the outside world.

Apple also offers an EQ setting within the Music settings that provides additional options to improve the sound specifically for calls. These slight modifications go a long way to improving the sound profile.

Another game changer is the spatial audio feature. Along with what Apple calls “dynamic head tracking,” spatial audio provides theaterlike sound in a 360-degree space that makes you feel like you are in the room with your colleagues. It’s a neat experience to hear such quality in an online meeting.

When working from home, one of the most frequent features I used was Transparency Mode. The same button that initiates noise cancellation also triggers a mode that lets you hear most things around you, while the sound from the headphones remains clear. It’s a brilliant tool for making sure your children are behaving while you’re in your virtual meeting.

Easy to Control Volume From Earphone 

I also liked the placement of the volume knob, which is located on the top of the right earphone. It’s a convenient spot that makes adjustments easy and intuitive without having to use a remote control device.

The knob is designed as a wheel for volume adjustment, but it can also be pressed like a button to answer or disconnect calls.

Working from home or in less-than-ideal conditions may be the new normal for federal workers. The new AirPods Max can help make those spaces a little more comfortable and a lot more professional.

SPECIFICATIONS

MICS: 9
PCONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0
POUTPUT MODE: Stereo
PSOUND EFFECTS: Adaptive EQ
PMAGNET MATERIAL: Neodymium
PCOMPATIBILITY: Apple devices with most recent OS
PRUN TIME: 20 hours