Sony’s latest earbuds are shaping up to be the biggest competitors for Apple’s beloved AirPods with impressive sound quality.
There may finally be a rival for Apple’s AirPods Pro with Sony’s latest release of the Sony LinkBuds S. They boast a lightweight design for all day comfort along with impressive active noise cancellation and an adaptive transparency mode.
At the beginning of this year Sony released some funky looking earbuds called LinkBuds, with little doughnut shaped holes in them. They were lightweight buds made so that you could not only wear them all day without discomfort but the doughnut shape allowed surround sounds to still reach your eardrums, offering a seriously good transparency mode whether you were listening to something or not.
In my opinion, it was a clever design for our new age of working from home. Earbuds that allow you to always be connected comfortably, while still being able to hear the doorbell so you don’t miss that package arriving or the kids calling out to you. However, even though I think they set out to do what they offered, I feel that they have less use-case scenarios than the new LinkBuds S, which offer better sound quality with active noise cancellation.
I’ve been using the LinkBuds S for a couple of weeks now. They come in 3 colours – black, ecru (beige) and white. I picked the black ones up, which are housed in a matching black slim and lightweight charging case – perfect for even the smallest pockets.
They’re charged via USB-C and the case also has a flat base so it can be placed standing up on a table.
What’s more impressive is that the earbuds themselves are ludicrously lightweight coming in at 4.8 grams. In the box there are different sized ear tips so you can find your perfect fit and for me the small rubber tips were perfect. I love the fit of these earbuds, they sit almost flush in my ears and I think they look really aesthetically pleasing compared to most buds out there. You still feel them resting inside your ear canal like all in-ear buds and ear plugs but I think I found them more comfortable than I usually would because of their weight.
Sony has also tried to enhance their wearability by adding a high quality ambient sound mode that lets surround sound into the buds while you’re not listening to anything to combat the design’s innate passive noise cancellation. I’ll admit, even though Sony’s aim is to make you try and forget you’re wearing earbuds, the transparent/ambient mode doesn’t sound totally natural. However, it does a good job of balancing out that earplug feeling which lets you have a conversation with someone without feeling like you need to take them out of your ears. This is also great for crossing busy roads, or listening out for a delivery (and ambient modes can be used with or without music or content playing). There’s also adaptive sound control that can cleverly adjust your ambient sound depending on your environment.
Additionally, the active noise cancellation is really awesome. It does a great job of generally blocking out surround sounds when you need to focus. And even though these buds are so small and lightweight they have new 5mm drivers inside which offer really crisp, clear music playback with punchy bass – it’s the Sony sound quality you’re used to. The buds are really easy to use too. They have touch controls where you can adjust things like volume, toggle off or on noise cancellation or skip tracks. And if you use Sony’s ‘Headphones Connect’ app you can tweak the touch controls and other useful settings such as whether or not the earbuds pause playback when you take them out.
One of my favourite features of these buds is that just a 5 minute quick charge can offer up to 60 minutes of playback. And this feature is something I really rely on with my fast paced life and, well, forgetfulness. Look, there’s a lot of tech to charge on the daily – first and foremost being my phone – so this is super handy. Additionally, the buds boast 6 hours of battery life alone and another 14 hours of charge is stored in the case. I’ve been able to use the buds off and on throughout my entire work day and not run out of battery.
Worth the price?
The LinkBuds S launched with a price of $349.95, which I think is a bit overpriced but at the moment you can find them for a very reasonable $268, making them cheaper than AirPods Pro and many other premium noise cancelling earbuds. If you’re an Android person, these would likely be one of my top recommendations for earbuds with ANC at the moment. And if you’re an Apple user but the fit of AirPods Pro doesn’t work for you it’s possible these will suit you better. If you like what you’ve read, jump on that deal!
Originally published as ’Perfect for the forgetful’: Sony Linkbuds S offer 60 minutes of playback from 5 minute charge
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