You’ve read the headlines so far: Apple’s favorite MacBook Air is finally back with the latest update.
Unveiled at the Cupertino giant’s annual WWDC event, Apple’s best-selling laptop is now just 11.3mm thin and weighs just 2.7lb. It was the first Mac to have an M2 fast chip with a 40% faster neural engine, 25% brighter and for a number of other reasons everyone was so excited about it.
But two huge improvements in terms of hardware have not gone unnoticed and we hope that some people, not just rock legend Neil Young, will care.
As for the audio file, the two biggest drawbacks on the latest MacBook Air include support for Apple Music’s proprietary and immersive spatial audio from the new Air onboard speakers, plus – and this is crucial – the enhanced 3.5mm headphone jack that now supports high impedance headphones.
Why is the new headphone jack important?
First, we need to talk about some of the best high-impedance headphones, as well as some of the top audiophile cans. Why? They usually use a very thin voice coil in their drivers so it can be rolled between individual wires without much air.
When done well, it leads to less sound distortion and better, snooper bass reproduction.
So, should we all go out and buy some high impedance headphones? Well, the downside of this accuracy and clarity is that it makes it very difficult to drive these particular animals.
To clarify, impedance is a measure of resistance to electric current, measured in ohms: the higher the figure, the greater the resistance. Low impedance headphones are generally considered to have an impedance of less than 50 ohms. High impedance headphones can, at the same time, be 250 or 600 ohms.
Now, the amplifier in a typical smartphone is designed with standard 32-ohm headphones in mind. So, plugging in high impedance Headphones can lead to bad sound quality into your average laptop headphone jack – and all of that investment goes to poor impedance matching.
You should also look for a special headphone amp to get the most out of high impedance headphones using MacBook Air as a source. Until now (probably) now.
Although Apple has not given any concrete specs to the jack except for the hilarious phrase “there is also a headphone jack with support for high impedance headphones”, it is still fine.
Spatial audio support from MacBook Air’s onboard speakers
When Neil Young slammed the “Fisher-Price” sound quality of the MacBook Pro in 2020 Interview with The Verge (Opens in new tab), He called it “crap piece, are you kidding?” By adding, “You can not get anything out of it. If you keep it, you can not get it because DAC on the MacBook Pro is not good”.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the DAC has changed here, but surely the new MacBook Air speakers have been adjusted to support Apple Music’s proprietary and impressive immersive spatial audio.
During his interview a few years ago, Young, the creator of Pono and the champion of high – quality audio streams, said with at least an open mind about moving forward with products, “When quality comes back, I’ll give it another go. Never say never.”
Just a hint, but maybe now is the time for Mr. Young to take on the latest gander? He may even say “Hey hey, my my” …