I’ve had the AirPods Max for over a month now and I find myself drawn to using them more and more the longer I have them. It isn’t just for the sound quality, either. One of the biggest reasons why is the superb Active Noise Cancellation they offer.
I’ve already gotten into the habit of using the Max when I drive more than an hour. I usually use my AirPods Pro when driving to work in the mornings and they do a fine job. That’s a shorter trip of around a 20 min trip and traffic is heavy, so I want to be able to hear what’s going on around me a bit better. However, the Max are far superior when it comes to reducing sound to the point that you can protect your hearing over a longer period of time.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I drive a full-size van for work, and it gets REALLY loud driving 70 MPH+ on the expressway. I’ve been working a lot at two different locations that are 2 hours away in different directions over the last two months, and will continue for the next 3-4 weeks, at least. I also make the occasional visit to our Nashville office, which is around 4 hours from my house. When you combine the road noise with playing music or podcasts loud through the Aux port to overcome said road noise, you have a nice case of temporary tinnitus when you get where you are going.
I’ve used my AirPods Pro on short trips for a while, and they certainly help. I started using my Beats Solo Pros on longer trips when I bought them, as the noise cancellation is a bit better. Most of these trips are either early in the morning or after dark on stretches of highway or Interstate where traffic is light, so cutting down on most of the noise around me isn’t a big problem. I can still hear what I need to while driving and can work or go to sleep without that ringing in my ears after I arrive.
The Beats Solo Pro were good at beating back the road noise, but nothing I’ve tried can match the AirPods Max. They make driving on long road trips easy. I don’t care as much about the sound quality of my podcasts, but it certainly is nice to be able to hear them clearly at a normal volume when there’s a much as 85-90 db of road noise surrounding me according to my Apple Watch.
Over the last two weeks, I have tried out my AirPods Max in a new environment. I’ve been working on a new project automating five large Air Compressors in a plant that produces auto body parts. These are not the kinds of compressors that you may see at an automotive repair garage or in someone’s shop. Each of these 5 compressors is around 20 feet long and 8 feet high and accompanied by an Air Dryer that runs with it. Only two of the compressors and dryers run at a time, but they are still quite loud. Add in a few other pumps in the room and the plant production line on the other side of the wall, and you have a room that requires hearing protection to work in.
That means walking around with earplugs in at all times, which the AirPods Pro actually substitute nicely for. However, they still only do so much good when I have to sit down for a while at a table with my laptop and program or test and tune something else that we’ve worked on. That takes time and concentration, and even the AirPods Pro don’t quite cut it after an hour or two.
However, the AirPods Max have no trouble taming this very loud room for two to three hours at a time. I can sit and listen to music or podcasts for two to four hours at a time while I work without any complaints from my ears. I have even worn them with nothing playing to just take advantage of the noise cancellation.
If I spent that long in the Air Compressor room without any hearing protection, my ears would still be ringing when I got up the next morning. You don’t realize how hard a place like that is on your hearing until you’re in a quiet place later on and you can tell how much your ears are complaining.
I’ve been impressed with the noise cancellation on the AirPods Max since I got them, but this experience working in a very loud industrial environment has taken that to another level. Years ago, I would have considered using a wireless router and working somewhere else nearby, but unfortunately, this room is off to itself and we have been working on equipment outside around it leading up to this, so that just isn’t an option. I have also worn earplugs before, but working in a room this loud for a long period would have required something like shooter’s earmuffs. I have used them in the past in very loud Chiller Rooms when I didn’t have a choice to work elsewhere. That level of hearing protection is the only thing I’ve user that matches the Max, which is really impressive.
With the AirPods Max, I no longer have to worry about sitting and working in a loud environment for a long period of time. I know this level of noise cancellation isn’t absolutely necessary for a long flight or a vacation car ride, but it’s good to know that a set of headphones that costs this much has some versatility beyond the usual places that we like to use it. If the AirPods Max can tame a room full of industrial Air Compressors, they will almost certainly handle anything you throw at them.