The AirPods Max project makes rumors of an update to the next generation model a reality

By Hartley Charlton

Hardware prototyping consultant Ken Pillonel's latest project switches the AirPods Max's Lightning port to USB-C as part of his ongoing effort to identify repairability and sustainability issues in consumer electronics.

The project was a response to some users' dissatisfaction with the fact that premium headphones continue to use the Lightning port for charging, while most others from Apple devices have switched to USB-C, and there are also rumors that a second-generation version of the device will finally make the transition. It also serves as an effective solution for damaged ‌AirPods Max‌ Lightning ports, which are expensive to replace.

Pillonel has created a special replacement part that allows any tech-savvy ‌AirPods Max‌ Users can upgrade their headphones to USB-C themselves. The work involved complex design and manufacturing processes, including developing an open source USB-C conversion circuit and a custom PCB that fits perfectly without the need to drill or damage any original components.

The replacement part is designed to be installed on top of the existing board, carefully avoiding contact with any other components. The design also addresses potential durability issues with a flexible section that reduces stress on the connector, increasing the life of the kit.

Pillonel explored the possibility of enabling USB-C audio pass-through, but ultimately decided against it. This is due to the prohibitive cost and complexity of integrating Apple's own technology. The conversion kit along with detailed instructions can be purchased from the Pillonel online store.

Second generation ‌AirPods Max‌ They are rumored to be released in late 2024, with the main upgrade being a USB-C port instead of Lightning. No other major changes are expected, meaning the headphones likely won't have features like the H2 chip and Adaptive Audio, but there could be some new color options.

Related Review: AirPods MaxTags: Ken Pillonel , USB-CBuyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Attention) Related Forum: AirPods [38 comments]

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