In nomadic audio, Sony remains the reference and wanted to try out a whole new format. Here are the Sony LinkBuds, we tested them and here is our opinion.
What we always liked with sony, it is this ability to take risks in sectors where they are not necessarily expected. Building on the success of the WH-1000XM4 (the headphones) and the WF-1000XM4 (the headphones), we thought that Sony was going to calm down in the portable audio sector. Also, what was our surprise at the announcement of the Sony LinkBudsthe new headphones from the Japanese manufacturer.
So already, exit the barbaric references, we are entitled to a real name, the LinkBuds, as if Sony finally wanted to give a personality to its products. In truth, they keep a reference, it is hidden but it is there: WF-L900. Phew, we feel better, too many changes at once, it would not have been manageable for the most tech-savvy.
Then the Sony LinkBuds are not headphones with active noise reduction or even passive isolation. Sony already has this type of product but what Sony didn’t have was open earphones like Apple’s AirPods and it’s probably these that the Japanese manufacturer is looking to compete with. We spent a lot of time with it, here is our opinion on the Sony LinkBuds.
A decidedly atypical design
Apple had revolutionized the world of wireless headphones and despite a lack of active noise reduction, we could only see the phenomenal success of AirPods and its small iterations. Also, Sony has decided to enter this market of open headphones and for this, the Japanese manufacturer offers a most atypical design.
Indeed, from the first grip, we discover this design with large holes on each of the headphones. According to Sony, this allows for absolute transparency. It is true that if the headphones from Apple allow excellent transparency to be aware of your surroundings, there is a small difference between wearing the headphones or not. With the Sony LinkBuds, the transparency is such that there is no discernible difference between wearing Sony headphones or not.
The finish is excellent and the Sony LinkBuds are super light (4.1g per earphone). They are composed of two parts, the perforated part that can be seen in the photo and which is aligned with the auditory canal, hence the perfect transparency. We have a second part which contains not only the electronics but also a kind of small fin to wedge the earphone in the ear.
They are IPX4 certified and fit perfectly in the ear, at least for us. Now let’s be honest, we had to try the different fin sizes to be sure. But once you have found the right size, the LinkBuds fit better in the ear than the AirPods 3 for example. And to our great surprise, they turned out to be super comfortable on a daily basis, so much so that at times, we forgot about them. The box is like headphones, it is small and discreet.
Controls and yet no buttons
Yes, it may come as a surprise, but the Sony LinkBuds do not offer control buttons, whether physical or sensitive, we are far from what the WF-1000XM4 offer for example. But how do we do it? Well Sony offers a super interesting new technology.
Basically, the Sony LinkBuds are able to pick up vibrations near the headphones. It will therefore suffice to tap near the headphones and they will be able to understand the commands. Two small taps to start or stop the music, three to skip to the next track. Afterwards, it’s super limited but there aren’t many functions either, so on a daily basis, it was fine. Unsurprisingly, there’s no volume control by default. It can be done but at the expense of other functions.
In any case, we were surprised by the fact that it worked really well. There is a little habit to get into but once you get used to it, you no longer need to “aim” the earpiece and that’s not a bad thing. Afterwards, it’s still the beginnings and we can say that the technology has been a bit risky at times.
Alright, we’re not going to procrastinate. Already, we are talking about open earphones so if you want to use them in the metro for example, there is a good chance that you will hear the outside world more than your music. And since we don’t have active noise reduction, we will have to deal with ambient noise.
Also, we can only recommend using the LinkBuds in a quiet environment in order to better enjoy the audio quality of the LinkBuds and speaking of audio quality, we were somewhat disappointed. The volume is relatively low by default and we hear only too little bass, for example. As a result, we end up with a sound that is too high. If it can pass for certain types of music, as much to say that it is a “No Go” for the most popular types.
After, Sony tells us to target a certain type of user who wants to enjoy better audio quality for the content consumed daily but without forgetting the ambient environment around the user. And in absolute terms, Sony has won its bet but we’ll be honest, it’s clearly better than the speakers of its smartphone but below the competition, especially at this price level. Yes, we are talking about headphones at 199 euros all the same…
As for the AirPods but even more, they are headphones for sedentary use above all except that there, they are less good than the majority of headphones, which is not the case of AirPods for example which excels in sedentary use. . And in addition, we believe that headphones should offer us a similar experience both at home, in the office and on the go.
We end on a positive note and the conversations go very well. Our interlocutors heard us during telephone conversations. The Sony LinkBuds partially and effectively eliminate ambient noise. We sometimes have a voice at the limit of the robot but as long as we remain understandable, we don’t have too much to complain about. Moreover, it’s weird, during telephone conversations, we noted a louder volume than when listening to music.
On the technical side
The Sony LinkBuds are classic true wireless headphones and we will go through a very classic pairing. Note the small button on the back of the box which allows you to launch a new pairing since the LinkBuds are not multi-point.
We find Sony’s Speak To Chat function which allows you to mute the music as soon as you speak. As for WF and WH, we disabled this option because it’s too sensitive, we prefer to cut the music manually. Everything will happen anyway via the very complete dedicated application: Sony Headphones.
We end up with an autonomy of around 6 hours per charge with two additional charges via the case, which is quite good in this area. We thus end up with about twenty hours, which is more than enough in real life not to go too quickly through the recharging box.