- Nick LaPlante, Marketing & Product Strategy
Sean: The underwear?
Ken: The headphone underwear.
Sean: Inherent in Apple's minimalism, they don't have an off switch, so they're always on. But they go into a sleep mode if they're not using them.
Ken: And the batteries last forever, so I don't really see any use to put them in there. You know?
Sean: Is it more for travel, like if you're taking it places? Do you think?
Ken: The case alone? I'm not going to throw this in my bag. You know, with all the crap in my bag? It's going to damage this really nice band. So I always carry it in the box. This case is basically pointless. I mean, I think it's one of those things that's deservedly heavily criticized on the internet. A lot of indirect criticism is usually just trolls, but not this.
Do you want to know the thing about it, though? I love it. I love the way it looks. I love the way it's constructed.
Sean: But I love the way it's built. It has this amazing little fold through.
Ken: So we're going to ignore that it's completely useless, for now.
Sean: Yes. All right. What if this was just an effective case, like a soft shell case? Just to protect the top webbing.
Ken: Well-made, useless underwear. Beautiful underwear.
Sean: Yeah, this mesh thing is really gorgeous. And if you look down it like this? People use it in architecture a lot. When you have those converging lines and it bends.
Ken: What's nice about this fabric style ear cup is that they probably won't get those cracks, like on other headphones. And I've found them to be extremely comfortable. I used to have the Sony. These are more breathable.
Sean: (Puts on the AirPods Max) Wow. I find the action on the digital crown dial to be extremely satisfying, actually. When you turn it, it makes a clicking sound. I think digital. And it's really mimicking the Apple watch. You can tell that the hardware is really high quality.
Sean: Those are usually injection-molded plastic.
Ken: It does have one serious drawback though: it makes them really heavy. These headphones are noticeably heavier than the Sony and the Bose.
Ken: So I think it was worth the trade-off, but the trade-off of course is cost, right? If they made them out of plastic that looks like metal, it'd be $200 cheaper to the consumer.
Ken: Okay, so one issue I have with the AirPods is I feel like the design aesthetic is a little bit of a mismatch. These machined metal cans are really gorgeous. You see them in person—they're perfect. The anodizing is really nice. These curves are really unusual, but they kind of have a retro vibe, like what helicopter pilots wear. And then the band is really modern and new age.
Nick: Yeah. I'm looking at the Dolby and the Sony. They're both sort of pyramid-shaped.
Sean: Right. They have more volume. This Apple one is very flat.
Ken: Mm-hmm. I think something that Apple and Dolby are doing really successfully though, is how they integrate the ear pads into the can. Apple's is really nice because it has these beautiful material gaps and match-ups, in the way you can remove the ear pad. And then Dolby's are cool because the can becomes part of the ear pad. You can remove these too, but it just looks like a continuous soft piece all the way around which is really successful.
Ken: From an audio perspective, the part that really blows me away is when you watch movies with them. I was like, "Okay, okay" when they talked about it in the presentation. They always hype up features like that—but I started watching movies with these on and it's unbelievable. Like sometimes I have to double check to make sure it's coming out of my headphones because I feel like it might be bothering other people in the room.
Sean: The Dolby's do the same thing. It's super realistic.
Ken: Like what, Sean?
Sean: The headband, specifically, and the connectors—the way it connects to the cans. I just thought that chrome detail was beautiful. It was reminiscent of the back of that super pro iMac that they have. Just the chromed-out details, almost medical in a way. Just really clean design.
Ken: So I talked a lot about how, overall, I feel like the components don't really match very well. But if you isolate just the can, its absolutely incredible.
Sean: And then look at the micro chamfers on the lip, the inside lip here. I mean, it's just incredible. And on the side, on the outside too, that's interesting. There's a larger chamfer.
Sean: Which actually makes me think of our pen pot.
Ken: It goes small on the inside, big on the outside.