Headshot of David Griner

By David Griner

32 mins ago

When Apple bought the Beats by Dre headphone line in 2014 for $3 billion, it was clear the move was more about brand ubiquity and style rather than hardware quality.

While most Apple products are considered paragons of product design (missing ports and annoying notches aside), Beats gear has often been criticized by audiophiles as style over substance—a reputation that’s perhaps less deserved today, with Consumer Reports rating Beats headphones about on par with Sony products in a similar $300 price range.

But now Apple has released its first over-the-ear headphones under its own core brand, positioning it as an extension of its popular AirPods line of wireless earbuds. The AirPods Max was announced today at a hefty price of $549.

Apple is banking on that price being one true audio enthusiasts, and/or its die-hard fans, are willing to pay for the headphone equivalent of an iPhone.

To reveal the product, the brand created a spot called Journey Into Sound that turns the everyday activity of zoning out on your couch into an interstellar-yet-internal experience.

The spot commendably avoids lingering on the technology inside the headphones, which boast 20 hours of wireless usage and top-of-the-line noise canceling. It does, however, demonstrate the “transparency mode” that allows you to hear the real world around you before wisely choosing to mute everything again.

Apple’s soundtrack for the spot is “Polarizer” by Cid Rim, the stage name used by Austrian-born drummer and producer Clemens Bacher.

The ad was directed by the duo known as Vania and Muggia, made up of Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia. They also directed Apple’s “Meet iPhone 12” launch spot: