Early AirPods Max teardown reveals massive drivers, strategically placed logic boards

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Repair specialist iFixit on Thursday began its customary teardown of Apple's latest piece of hardware, AirPods Max, to find logic boards and large drivers fighting for space in crammed aluminum ear cups.

As with prior Apple device disassemblies, iFixit kicked the process off with an X-ray of the new headphone model. Conducted by Creative Electron, the resulting image reveals what at first glance appears to be a spacious interior with electronics arranged in each shell's outer periphery. Upon closer inspection, however, allotted space within the svelte aluminum cups is at a premium.

Apple opted to incorporate both battery cells in one ear cup. How engineers counterbalanced the added weight is at this point unknown. The X-ray also shows the drivers' massive dual-ring magnet motor, Apple's "revolutionary" ear cup positioning mechanism, an array of alignment magnets, circuitry and internal screws.

A look inside provides a glimpse at two discrete logic boards, one for each ear cup. The identification process is ongoing, but iFixit found a number of chips common to both boards including an FPGA as well as what appears to be the H1 chip and power management silicon.

Apple introduced the H1 with a second-generation AirPods model in 2019. In AirPods Max, the chip boasts 10 audio cores and is responsible for active noise cancelling, adaptive computational audio and Bluetooth communications, among other duties.

The repair company plans to continue its teardown over the coming days and will assign a "repairability" score when the process is complete.

Apple debuted AirPods Max earlier this month as a luxury over-the-ear headphone that pairs the company's trademark minimalist styling with cutting edge technology. Sensors and microphone arrays packed within the two ear cups inform the two H1 chips for ANC and advanced operations like Spatial Audio.

Priced at $549, AirPods Max is in hot demand for the holidays. Those looking to snag a pair before Christmas might find stock at a nearby Apple Store, though availability is scarce.


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