Sony are well known for its range of audio products, and has been making some extremely great products for decades.
While Sony provided us with a device for testing purposes, it hasn’t affected our views on LinkBuds.
Our reviews always remain independent of the manufacturer, and the first time they will see the review is at the same time you’re reading it. Keep reading to find out what we think.
How do I get it and what will it cost?
Sony LinkBuds are available now in white or gray colours for $249.
Who is it good for?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Sony LinkBuds are the most unique earbuds on the market right now, with a hole smack bang in the middle of the earpiece.
Designed to keep the outside world partly audible while wearing them, LinkBuds fill a gap in the market where every other pair of earbuds are trying to block external noise completely out while wearing them.
LinkBuds won’t be up the alley of everyone, especially when it comes to how they fit inside the ear. To Sony’s credit, there are different sizes for the supports so that you can at least try to find the best fit.
If you like being an early adopter of the latest technology, and absolutely love the design of the LinkBuds – then go all in. But there are a few quirks to note.
How does it work?
Before I go into more detail on how LinkBuds actually sound, there is a rather interesting feature that stands out. Called Wide Tap Area, the feature allows interaction by tapping your upper cheek, next to the earbuds. This activates simple controls for music, podcasts and voice assistant.
It’s very clever. But it’s not perfect. There were times when vibrations from eating or drinking activated the Wide Tap Area. This can become annoying at times when something you’re listening to randomly stops. In saying that, it didn’t happen all that frequently.
In terms of audio, LinkBuds share some of the same sound-tech from Sony’s other popular wireless earbuds. The difference here is that there’s a hole in the middle of the earbuds, so you’re not going to get the exact same sound as earbuds that seal.
While this causes no issues when using LinkBuds around the home, as soon as you go outdoors there are a lot of competing noises. I found that adjusting the volume higher is required to block out those other sounds, which almost defeats the purpose of what LinkBuds are trying to achieve. But it was nice to be able to hear train announcements without frantically looking around to try and figure out where you are and the next stop.
Sound wise, Sony has done an outstanding job with the clarity of these small buds. I’ve always found that when it comes to Sony’s over-ear and in-ear range, so it’s nice to see that continue here. While music can become distorted when at maximum levels, things like podcasts sound fantastic.
In terms of listening time, you’ll get close to five hours on a charge and an additional almost 18 hours with the charging case. They are fast-charging too. But it’s slightly disappointing since LinkBuds are meant to be worn across the day between offline and online worlds.
Another positive is when it comes to connectivity. I had no issues with call quality, audio connection or the microphone. Even in louder environments, such as walking on a quiet street, chatting on the phone was surprisingly clear.
But add in louder street noise and some wind, and you’re in for some pain with the microphone struggling to isolate your voice correctly.
What we think
Sony is coming in hot with the simple idea of having great quality sound while still maintaining some sort of connection with the outside environment. But did they nail it?
There are some really positive elements to LinkBuds, but some improvements are needed when it comes to the call quality in louder environments, as well as how easy it is for you to become overwhelmed by outside noise in some situations.
I would say that Sony hasn’t quite realised this with its first LinkBuds product. More work is needed to achieve this audio awareness while maintaining a nice, happy balance between the two.
When Sony does achieve this, LinkBuds will be a force of nature.