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Earbuds & In-Ear Headphones

Sony LinkBuds Reimagine the Wireless Earbud: Preview

Sony teams up with Microsoft and Spotify to take on Apple with an innovative wireless earbud with some unusual features.

Sony LinkBuds in white

Sony has reimagined the earbud with an in-ear device you never take off, called the Sony LinkBuds. These true wireless earbuds are designed to stay in your ears all day whether listening to music, gaming, or just working from home. Their unique hole-in-the-middle design allows sounds from the outside world through, keeping you simultaneously connected to both the online and offline worlds.

Spotify Tap™

Spotify users will be pleased to learn of the seamless integration with LinkBuds. Playing music is said to be as simple as tapping your cheek. That’s not a typo. Users can double or triple tap in front of either of their ears to adjust playback – there’s no need to touch the LinkBuds themselves. 

Sony LinkBuds in black

Innovative Pause

LinkBuds have taken remove-to-pause up one more level with speak-to-pause. Sony calls it Speak-to-Chat, which automatically pauses music as soon as the user speaks to someone. Once the conversation is over, music starts playing automatically – there’s no need to touch any controls. LinkBuds also come with hands-free voice services to quickly get information, connect with friends, set reminders, and more.  Just say “OK Google” or “Alexa.”

Never Take Them Off

I’m not sure that I would wear these all day but at 4 grams, the Sony LinkBuds are small and lightweight, so users can wear them for extended periods of time.

Unlike conventional earbuds, the protective surface covering the speaker diaphragm is integrated within the housing, saving space. The overall shape has also been crafted using extensive ear shape data, collated since Sony introduced the world’s first in-ear headphones in 1982.

Sony claims users will barely notice that they are wearing them, making them perfect for the morning run, commute, and a full day at the office.

LinkBuds offer IPX4 water resistance, so splashes and sweat won’t disrupt a workout or outdoor adventure. Users can expect battery life of 2.5 to 5.5 hours from a single charge.

The included charging case can extend usage up to 12 hours more. Meanwhile, a 10-minute quick charge is said to provide up to 90 minutes of music playback time. Interestingly, speaking on phone calls will burn more battery than music listening.

Sony LinkBuds in white with charging case

Crystal-clear sound

Despite their small size and open-air design, Sony claims LinkBuds still can deliver impressive high-quality sound. Thanks to DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), soundtracks are restored to high-quality audio. Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 reproduces all the important details of favorite music with minimal distortion, for a stunningly authentic listening experience. Plus, a specially designed 12mm ring driver provides rich, well-balanced sound. 

Using the Sony | Headphone Connect app, users can unlock a range of features. For example, Adaptive Volume Control automatically optimizes volume based on users’ locations, letting music seamlessly blend with the environment. This allows customers to enjoy a comfortable volume in a variety of environments to enhance the open-air listening experience.

Easy Pairing

LinkBuds support Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature, allowing effortless pairing with Android devices and the ability to easily locate the LinkBuds with a smartphone. Swift Pair makes it quick and easy to pair LinkBuds to a Windows 11 or Windows 10 laptop, desktop PC, or tablet. 

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Spatial Audio

LinkBuds provide enhanced capabilities integrated with Microsoft Soundscape. LinkBuds’ open-ear shape enables users to hear audio beacons and callouts of buildings or intersections with the natural sound of surroundings. Compass/gyro sensors inside LinkBuds can detect the direction of a user’s head and allow them to hear the sound from a destination, without holding a smartphone.

LinkBuds also come with 360 Reality Audio, letting users experience their favorite entertainment in a whole new way. With 360 Reality Audio, music becomes an immersive audio experience and evokes feelings of being in a music studio or live concert venue. A separate music subscription service that supports Sony 360 Reality Audio is required, such as Deezer, Amazon Music or nugs.net.

Sustainability

Sony has not only designed the LinkBuds to be stylish but also with the environment in mind. These unique earbuds and their charging case are made using some recycled plastic materials and plastic-free packaging (excluding coating and adhesive materials). LinkBuds are Sony’s first headphones made with recycled materials

Key Features

  • Connect your online and offline worlds
  • Unique open ring driver links your content and what’s happening in your surroundings
  • Crystal-clear conversations with high quality sound
  • Integrated V1 Processor for balanced high-quality sound
  • Precise Voice Pickup technology for crystal clear phone calls
  • Up to 5.5 hours of battery and a total of up to 17.5 hours with the charging case
  • IPX4 splash-proof and sweat-proof design
  • Ultra-small and light for a fit that stays all day
  • Control audio by tapping in front of your ears
  • Adaptive Volume Control optimizes sound to your environment

Note: LinkBuds are missing a few features available on the more expensive Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds including active noise cancellation (ANC), support for LDAC and Qi wireless charging.

Sony LinkBuds in-ear black

Initial Impressions

Early reporting from other reviews has suggested that audio quality isn’t as good as Sony’s top-of-the-line WF-1000XM4, although talk quality is said to be better. LinkBuds implementation of spatial audio technology looks very intriguing, but do they offer greater sound quality, comfort and convenience over the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) or Beats Fit Pro?

Price & Availability

Sony LinkBuds (model WF-L900) are now available in gray or white for $179.99 at Amazon, Best Buy and sony.com.

In Canada, LinkBuds are $249.99 (CA) at Amazon.ca and Bestbuy.ca.

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