Dandy Cat

Apple Music Classical to Launch on March 28th

From John Voorhees at MacStories:

On March 28th, Apple will launch Apple Music Classical, a free app that’s already available for pre-order that will offer a catalog of over 5 million classical recordings to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost.

I was beginning to think that this app would never see the light of day. That it would be another Apple acquisition that’s just quietly absorbed and never heard from again. Maybe some of the features of Primephonic would find their way into Apple Music, but nothing more.

As a classical music lover, I’m happy they proved me wrong.

It’s too early to say if this new app will answer classical music lovers’ prayers, but it looks like the foundation is sturdy. The app should only get better once it’s released (especially since it’s being released through the App Store and may not be encumbered with receiving only annual updates, like most of their other apps).

The audio quality should also be top-notch. Classical songs were quick to take advantage of Hi-Res Lossless and Dolby Atmos playback. Coupled with proper metadata and a more thoughtful and appropriate presentation, Apple Music Classical could be, pardon the pun, music to my ears.

In addition to my previous post, the brilliant theme song for Succession may be one of the most invigorating and eminently listenable pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

Composer Nicholas Britell should be better known than they already are.

Pour one out for a technological world changer. Bye iPod.

I have found the greatest music video ever made:

Wild Beasts was probably the best British band of the last couple decades. They never achieved the fame and recognition they deserved.1

I think this video of them playing their song Wanderlust on a 7,866 pipe organ is a good encapsulation of their brilliance. Talk about a staggering instrument. 7,866 pipes? Are you kidding me?

  1. Maybe I should aim to change that? ↩︎

The only time I want to hear twangy music is when it’s being performed by white-haired comedians.

I think the new Apple Music Voice Plan may be a decent offering.

I do feel some pity for fans of classical music who will have to request “Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183: I. Allegro con brio.” Or Bon Iver fans who want to listen to anything from 22, A Million.

I’ve been enjoying a renewed interest in Animal Collective lately. I’m reminded of when their album, Centipede Hz, came out in 2012. Words cannot express the profound disappointment I felt upon my first listening of its third track, “Rosie Oh.”

It begins with swirling whines, rhythmic kick drums, and one of the most pleasant and intriguing rising bass lines ever before devolving into a mess of noise that’s a bit much even for them.

It mars what’s an otherwise decent album. Luckily, they’ve done far better work before and after that song, so there are always other things to enjoy.

Whoa! There’s a brand new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album out now! Be still my quaking heart. This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. And, of course, the songs are as beautiful and glorious as ever.

Happy early birthday to me! 🎵

The album cover for G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!

AirPods Max Are My Best Audio Buddies


It’s been a little over two months since I received my AirPods Max, and I’ve used them every single day since getting them. I love them very much, especially so since I used an Apple gift card with a very generous amount placed on it to purchase them.

I won’t bury the lede: do I think you should get AirPods Max for yourself? Probably not. I got extremely lucky with my gift, and I chose to spend that money on something that I thought I would appreciate. Turns out they’re lovely, and I’m grateful for them.

As far as headphones go, they’re both expensive and not expensive at all. Compared to other noise-cancelling headphones in its quality range, e.g., the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, they’re overpriced. Heck, even compared to other Apple audio products they’re overpriced. Stack them up next to something like the Audeze LCD-4 headphones, however, and you’ll see what a bargain they can be.

If someone was looking to purchase a great pair of headphones, I’d probably point them in the direction of the ones from Sony.1 Those offer similar functionality and sound for a couple of hundred dollars less than the AirPods Max. To be frank, that’s the better deal.

However, I’ve been enjoying Apple’s offering and think they fit mostly well in Apple’s audio lineup.

ii. The sound of AirPods Max

Ubiquitous “I’m not an audiophile” warning.

Apple’s doing a lot of computational work to make these headphones sound balanced and present. Compared to their Beats line of products, these headphones offer sound that doesn’t assault your ears with heavy bass. Instead, I’m hearing bright high notes, a midrange that makes vocals sound like the person singing is right in front of me, and bass that thumps the inside of my head without making my brain feel like it’s being squished.

Apologies for the use of florid descriptions of the way these sound. At least I didn’t use “sparkly” or “chunky” or “tinny.”

Everything feels accurate to my ear. I’m confident that what I’m hearing is, for the most part, what I should be hearing. It’s all just there. What I’m hearing lives inside my head, directly center stage.

That’s because it’s not just some magnets moving the air between the headphones and my ears, as many headphones are. There’s a computer chip inside each ear cup that processes, tunes, and adjusts what’s being beamed to them from my phone or other devices. The sound it plays is being styled, but not to alter what was created by the artist. Instead, it’s to enhance the experience for the listener.

The noise cancellation is also the best I’ve ever experienced. It’s not on par with Apple’s previous best, the AirPods Pro, because they’re better. Instead of being shoved inside your ear canal it envelops your ear with a soft cushion. I don’t experience any of the pressure that some people can feel when they wear noise-cancelling headphones, and I don’t think that’s an accident. Apple’s figured out how to make a pleasant cancellation experience as invisible as possible.

Likewise, their Transparency Mode, which relies on that same magic, is breathtaking to consider. The headphones aren’t just turning off noise cancellation—you’d then only hear muffled sounds from around you. Instead, they’re using the many microphones in the headphones to “play” outside sounds to you, just as it plays music. Every time I switch over to this mode, by pushing the noise control button, I marvel at how it seems like I’m not actually wearing headphones.

These sound so good that I don’t think I’ll ever consider another pair of headphones.

iii. The feel of AirPods Max

There was a big fuss about the feel of these headphones when they came out. It’s safe to say that everyone’s concerns are, on the whole, not a problem in the slightest. These are the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever owned, and I look forward to putting them on each day.

The only thing anyone should be concerned about is the fabric mesh on the headband. This “canopy,” as Apple calls it, will forever feel vulnerable to the world. I fear the day when I accidentally snag it on something and it screws up the fit and feel of the headphones. This is reason enough to invest in AppleCare+ for them.

Otherwise, they’re outstanding. I can wear them all day without feeling like they’re squishing my head—a common problem with other headphones I’ve owned. The ear cushions feel like pleasant pillows. The telescoping arms extend to the perfect length for my (large-ish) head. Everything comes together to equal comfort.

I’ve not once felt like these are too heavy. They feel perfect in their weight and distribution. Many people complained about their feel and how much they moved around on the head. I don’t know where that’s coming from. I have a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones that I use when recording podcasts. Since getting the Max, I dread having to wear these. They do feel lighter than headphones made primarily of metal, but they also feel like cheap pieces of crap in comparison. They flop around, squeeze my head, and struggle to achieve a decent seal around my ears.

AirPods Max glow with the luxury Apple imbues so many of its products. I feel like I’m wearing something special when I slip these on.

iv. They do fall down in places

There’s some stuff about the AirPods Max that do dampen the enjoyable experience:

  • The Smart Case is forgettable at best, but it’s mostly just bad. It has a misaligned notch for the charging cable, it offers zero protection for the mesh canopy, and it’s boring. It pales in comparison to the Wireless Charging Case used by the other AirPods.
  • This isn’t necessarily a problem with the headphones, but Siri is still lacking. I use it frequently because it’s an easy way to do many things. However, it’s clear there’s still so much potential that’s not being realized. Instead of a personal assistant hugging my ears, I have a somewhat competent robot on my head.
  • The incredible Spatial Audio feature isn’t currently available on the Apple TV. This may be more of a limitation with the Apple TV box—it is an older piece of hardware. Having Spatial Audio available to me would make for a great experience that would set it far apart from the competition. This is a massive oversight that Apple needs to fix as soon as possible.

v. They’re the best headphones I’ve ever owned

Surely, they’re not the best sounding headphones ever made. Put on a costly pair of wired headphones that are attached to an imposing stack of converters, amplifiers, and equalizers and you’d no doubt have a transcendent experience that the AirPods Max will never be able to meet. That also sounds like a cumbersome undertaking, and a damn expensive one.

There’s not really a price ceiling when it comes to audio equipment. Audio gear is a money monster. It will consume whatever cash you throw at it, and it’ll do it with a greedy smile on its face.

You can find headphones that’ll run you the price of a brand-new car. You can get a digital-to-analog converter (or DAC) that’s five times the price of the AirPods Max. A quick internet search will give you listings of floor speakers that can cost as much as an enormous house.

The only limit on this stuff is how much your wallet is capable of handling.

I don’t want any of that nonsense. If that’s your thing, then more power to you, but it’s not mine. I value a frictionless experience that can delight my ears. I don’t want to be tethered to an amp because I’m wearing headphones that won’t even function without wired power. Instead, I want to be able to connect to multiple devices with ease, move freely around my home, and play whatever I want whenever I want.

AirPods Max have given me all of that, and I couldn’t be more happy to own them. If I had the money, I would buy them a second time (probably for my wife), even if I wouldn’t necessarily say other people should get them. If you’ve got the expendable cash, then go for it, but again, they’re so damn expensive. They’re still one of my favorite Apple products ever. They consistently amaze me and have been a great companion as I’ve written these words. I’m a fan for life.

  1. In this case, I’m assuming this theoretical person doesn’t sleep on a bed of cash. ↩︎

This video by Pogo, called Scrumdiddlyumptious, is a great way to start your day. Heck, it’s great at any time of the day. It’s been around for ages, but it’s still delightful. The music, editing, and imagination of it continue to astonish me.

Enjoy the sweetness! 🎵

This was unexpected: Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett will finally be releasing the soundtrack to one of my favorite films ever, Her. The movie came out in 2013, so it’s been a long time coming. I’m really looking forward to listening to this official version on March 19. 🎵

The cover image of the soundtrack to the film, Her.

“Dancing in the Street” without music is still and may always be one of my favorite things ever. 🎵

I was just listening to Rubber Soul. There are probably people out there who think that “beetles” the animal is spelled like “Beatles” the band. Much like how to internet has convinced way too many people that “loose” is the correct spelling for “lose.” Sigh 🙄