5 kick*ss audio-setups you can get instead of the Apple AirPods Max

by Praveen Kamath December 14, 2020 4 min read

5 kick*ss audio-setups you can get instead of the Apple AirPods Max

You’ve seen the memes, you’ve read the jokes; it is all over the internet after all! Unless you’re living under a rock, you have surely heard about possibly the most expensive (is it, really?) headphones in the wireless noise-cancelling headphones market right now. At ₹59,990 they have more than a point to prove!

The Apple AirPods Max are finally out, after years of research, rumours and speculations. Like everything Apple, they cost quite a bit. The AirPods Max cost a whopping ₹59,990 in India. To give you a perspective, that is equivalent to 30x RHA MA390 Universal, 15x MEE Audio X10s, 10x LYPERTEK TEVIs or 2x Sony WH-1000XM4.

Well, Apple doesn’t have quite the reputation when it comes to audio products (yeah, we’re talking about EarPods) but inarguably things have started to look onwards and upwards ever since they’ve acquired Beats by Dre. The market-revolutionising AirPods or the worthy follow-up AirPods Pro are amongst the best-sellers in their segment. It also boasts of two excellent sounding smart speakers in the HomePod and HomePod Mini.

Before you give into the advertising and the Blue Bubble Complex*, here are 5 ways to spend that ₹59,990 and get yourself a kickass audiophile setup for the price of a headphone:

1. Audeze LCD-1 + iFi Audio ZEN CAN

Audeze LCD-1 + iFi Audio ZEN CAN

A great headphone coming out of California? Yes, that is a thing. Meet the Audeze LCD-1. It packs a planar magnetic transducer, designed to bring the live concert home. Ergonomic, comfortable, lightweight fit, immersive, massive soundstage and affordable (by planar headphones standards and AirPods Max’ lofty standards). Not to mention it also includes a hard case that packs the entire headphone securely (don’t get it? This is how the AirPods Max’ Case looks). The headphone pairs right into the iFi ZEN CAN. The ZEN CAN is a portable DAC/Amp packed into one small streamer shaped enclosure. Think of it as the Rick to Audeze’s Morty. The ZEN CAN brings out the best of the Planar Magnetic LCD-1 and likewise.

This would cost about ₹34,990 + ₹14,990


 

2. Sennheiser HD 560S + Chord Mojo

Whilst unboxing his AirPods Max MKBHD said it and we quote, "I’d still go to my Sennheisers to experience the true sound of music." Sennheiser's newest launch, the HD560S, aims to offer the very best of sound, in a familiar open-back form factor. Combined with a wide soundstage and a well-rounded sound signature, the HD560S is a stairway to great audio! Paired with the Chord Mojo, an audiophile’s favourite, it surely is one of our top recommendations.

This would cost about ₹18,990 + ₹34,990


 

3. Meze 99 Classics + iBasso DX160

Meze 99 Classics + iBasso DX 160

Ahoy Apple fanboy! If you’ve made it this far (well, halfway through the list) then we’ve served our purpose. Meze and iBasso may seem like unfamiliar names to you but stay with us. Meze is a Romanian brand known for ‘premium sound for those who know better’. With the gorgeous Meze 99 Classics, you get what you pay for. The Meze 99 Classics are a gorgeous pair of headphones with good sound to match. When paired with the iBasso DX160, an Android-based (you’d hate that, wouldn’t you?) Hi-Res Audio Player, the combination sounds phenomenal!

This would cost about ₹26,999 + ₹29,990


 

4. Sony WH-1000XM4 + Sony WF-1000XM3 + Sony WI-1000XM2

Be honest, you did not see that coming. While Apple was busy reducing the notc- oh wait. While Apple was working towards a higher screen refresh ra- oh wait. Okay, while Apple was busy designing the phenomenally superior H1 chip for a faster, more reliable connection, Sony released the QN1 chip. The industry-leading QN1 Processor is the G.O.A.T when it comes to active noise cancellation. It is leaps and bounds ahead of what Apple has to offer at the moment. Not to mention, the universal compatibility it offers. Up until two years ago, Sony was hot on the heels of Bose but things have changed quite a bit since then. With the over-ear WH-1000XM4 in 2020, true wireless WF-1000XM3 in 2019 and the neckband in-ear WI-1000XM2, Sony has retained the crown for being the best in noise cancellation in the market.

This would cost about ₹24,990+ ₹14,990+ 21,990


 

5. Pretty much any headphone with a good seal, great sound, seamless connectivity and active noise cancellation?

Buy ANC Headphones

Oh, and a proper carry case: We have a whole collection of those, you can check those out here. Who knows, maybe you could buy the entire collection and that could still cost you a lot lesser than the AirPods Max?

These noise cancellation headphones would range anywhere between ₹9,990 - ₹39,990

Here’s a Pro tip: While Apple products are traditionally more expensive in India, prices in some markets such as HK and the UAE are a lot lesser. So, suppose you have a budget of ₹60,000, we suggest you book a ticket to Dubai for a one-day trip. A round trip to Dubai will cost you ₹16,969 on AirIndia if you book the tickets now (Dec 2020). Let's round off this figure to ₹17,000? Still leaving room to pick the AirPods Max and a pair of wireless headphones too, maybe?

However, if you are a true Apple loyalist, price is hardly a deterrent. After all, if you don't have an iPho- AirPods Max, you don't have an AirPods Max.

*Blue Bubble Complex - A sense of superiority Apple users have when compared to an Android phone user.

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Praveen Kamath
Praveen Kamath



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