Sony LinkBuds – Review 2022

Well-nigh truthful wireless earphones focus on isolating you from outside noises by sealing your ear canal with silicone or foam tips or by employing microphones and active noise counterfoil circuitry to block out your surroundings. Sony’s LinkBuds take the opposite arroyo—these $179.99 earphones enable you to hear your environment past style of ring-shaped drivers that leave a big, open infinite in front end of your ear canal. It’s a clever idea, and the LinkBuds sound pretty skilful if you tin can become them in yours ears deeply. Unfortunately, the open up design oft leads to a very loose fit that may not stay in your ear at all.

Not a Good Fit

The LinkBuds are available in gray or white and utilise an unconventional blueprint that, unlike AirPods, I uncertainty other companies volition try to emulate anytime before long. Each earpiece has a effigy-viii shape: ane half is a plump near-sphere and the other is a flatter disc with a pigsty in it. The disc half holds a ring-shaped driver and settles against the opening of your ear canal, while the sphere sits higher, against the cartilage. A condom stabilization loop around the sphere extends up to residue behind the antihelix (the inner curve of cartilage in your ear) to keep the earpiece steady. Sony includes v sets of differently sized loops in the box.

Anybody’s ears are unlike, just for mine, the LinkBuds simply don’t fit securely. I tried different ear loops and to angle the earpieces in different means. I closely followed the instructions in Sony’southward video guide, too. I wasn’t able to get them to stay secure for more than 10 minutes, and fifty-fifty then, I had to motion very carefully. The slightest bit of sweat or repetitive motion loosened the earphones and made them extremely vulnerable to falling out of my ears. They wouldn’t stay put for more than than a few blocks when I took a walk, and didn’t even last a minute on the elliptical at the gym.

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Your fit feel may vary—my editor had slightly better luck with the earpieces staying in place, but still thought they didn’t feel at all secure. The loose fit likewise makes it difficult to get a consequent sound between both ears: If each earpiece rests at a slightly unlike bending confronting your ear, that can throw off the stereo mix. This blueprint shows united states why most earphones stick with in-culvert eartips and casings shaped to fit snugly, with rubber earfins or loops for additional support.

That said, the open design of the LinkBuds indeed lets in exterior noise so you can keep an ear on your surroundings even when you listen to music. Sound at college book levels can still eclipse voices, but even then, nothing is physically blocking your ears. I could easily hear people around me on the street and at the gym for the brief periods the LinkBuds stayed in identify.

Tap the Air

If yous tin get the LinkBuds to fit, they utilise a minimalist but clever control organisation. You don’t tap anywhere on the earpieces themselves; instead, you tap your ear in front end of them and motion sensors inside observe the gestures (either double or triple taps).

Y’all can utilize Sony’south Headphones app (available for Android and iOS) to set either earpiece to control playback, adjust book, or actuate your phone’southward voice assistant. Single taps do cypher, presumably to prevent false gestures, but I yet occasionally triggered the sensors when I adjusted the earpieces.

Bated from configuring controls, the Sony Headphones app provides access to several other features, including spatial audio through Sony’south 360 Reality Audio format. The app offers to walk you lot through an ear analysis process, in which it takes pictures of your ears to best tune the surround audio experience for supported media. The concept is similar Dolby Atmos, only for music through headphones instead of through a dwelling house theater setup. It’s besides only really constructive with certain tracks with spatial audio information, such as from 360 by Deezer, Artist Connection,, or Tidal. In addition, you can enable Sound AR through the app to link with the Locatone or Microsoft Soundscape services that provide audio data based on GPS locations.

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The app provides a v-band equalizer with custom settings, enables Spotify Connect, and offers a handy “talk to chat” feature that automatically pauses the music when you outset talking.

Sony LinkBuds

Charging and Connectivity

The clamshell charging instance resembles a fat slice of Chiclet mucilage and a matte push-button latch keeps it airtight. A USB-C port for charging sits on the back, along with a pairing push button.

The LinkBuds deport an IPX4 rating, which ways they’re sweat resistant, only won’t hold upwardly against any pregnant water exposure. If you’re looking for a more durable pair for the gym, the $179.99 Jabra Aristocracy 7 Active earphones sport an IP57 rating and a much more than traditional shape.

Sony says that the LinkBuds can last upward to 5-and-a-half hours on battery for music playback and that the example holds 12 additional hours of accuse. That battery life is pretty standard, only the capacity of the charging instance is on the depression side.

The LinkBuds use Bluetooth v.ii and back up the SBC and AAC codecs, simply non aptX.

Balance With Piddling Bass

It’s difficult plenty to get strong bass out of a conventional earphone driver, and the LinkBuds’ unique ring-shaped i doesn’t help matters. Our bass test track, The Knife’south “Silent Shout,” doesn’t get much low-frequency power at all. The ordinarily thumping bass synth notes and kick drum hits sound like distant pops, and flirt with baloney at maximum volume.

The drivers handle the frequency range outside of the lows well, equally you can hear in Yeah’ “Roundabout.” The opening acoustic guitar plucks don’t get a ton of resonance, merely they still sound full, and a good corporeality of string texture comes through. When the track properly kicks in, the bassline gets some solid presence to keep upwards with the rest of the mix, while the guitar strums, how-do-you-do-hat, and vocals all stand in the front, sounding balanced and clear.

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Sony LinkBuds lifestyle

The Crystal Method’southward “Built-in Too Slow” sounds pretty expert through the LinkBuds despite the lack of deep bass. The backbeat stays punchy enough to drive the rails, though I prefer more than thump than you get here. The riffs and vocals cut through the mix but don’t overwhelm the drums, and then every chemical element gets enough attention.

A Clever Thought in Need of Refinement

Sony’s LinkBuds show a lot of potential, but the company needs to physically reengineer the design. Fit bated, the ring drivers put out full and balanced sound (despite offer picayune in the way of deep bass), and the shape meliorate enables an sensation of your surroundings. I really hope Sony refines this concept in the future, because I similar idea, only the loose fit renders the earbuds most useless for me. Larger, stiffer ear stabilizers and a more contoured eartip around the driver would both go a long way to assistance. For at present, we recommend the similarly priced Jabra Elite 7 Pro earphones, which offer a waterproof design, active noise cancellation, and powerful bass. For less money, the Jabra Elite iv Agile and the Sennheiser CX Truthful Wireless are both good alternatives that sound and fit better than the LinkBuds.