Sony’s reputation for high-quality audio goes back 75 years. They gave us the first color TV, the Walkman, and invented the Compact Disc in 1982. Somehow, they kept finding time to make good quality audio equipment, buy a film studio, and develop a robot dog.
Sony’s WF range of wireless earbuds has been among the top sellers in their class since they first launched. Still, the company seems unsatisfied with mere success as they launched a completely new line and named them the LinkBuds.
Something completely different?
They promise to be a unique listening experience. And, they look the part with the strange-looking “ring” design. However, they are not aimed at users on a budget as they come in at around $180.
So, I decided to see what makes these ring-shaped buds go round. And if they are worth such a price tag in my in-depth Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Review.
Design and Build Quality
The LinkBuds are available in either Black or White. And are easily some of the most unique-looking earbuds you will ever see, but I’ll get to the ring-shaped design in a bit.
Something worth noting is that the packaging is plastic-free. Plus, the plastic used in the aesthetic parts is recycled as well. To be more specific, it’s broken-up automobile components mixed with stone. Either way, it feels and looks great.
The case is a rounded square design, but the plastic is high-grade and has a textured sort of sandblasted feel. This makes one feel one’s money has been well spent. The case feels like it will withstand more than a few falls and knocks.
Fit and Comfort
Coming at 4.1 grams each, the LinkBuds are some of the best lightweight earbuds around. They are exceptionally comfortable and remain so even after hours of wearing them. In other words, they are easily some of the most comfortable earbuds you can buy.
The rubber loop that pushes up against the inside of the ear adds extra stability. There are five sets included, and they are easy to swap in and out, so finding your fit will be easy.
The LinkBuds are rated IPX4, which means they will resist light splashes, the first few seconds of rain, and all the sweat you can muster in the gym. I don’t recommend taking them for a swim or to the sauna, but they are great earbuds for working out.
The Open-Ear Design
This is meant to bypass the need to take out your earbuds to have a conversation. The need for an Ambient mode in a companion app is also removed due to this meeting between form and function.
This seems to have worked quite well. The open-ear design doesn’t affect the seal on the buds either, so your sound is safe.
Functionality & Battery Life
The LinkBuds feature Bluetooth 5.2, which makes for a super fast and easy connection to your smart device. Android users will be happy to know that the LinkBuds also have fast pair.
This allows you to engage in pairing via a popup simply by opening the lid of the case close to your device. There is also a dedicated pairing button on the back. The case itself can be charged via a USB-C cable.
The touch controls on the LinkBuds are as unique as the open-ear design since the controls aren’t on the earbuds. To use the controls, the user can simply tap the side of their temple lightly.
On the left side, Double taps will play and pause the music, and triple taps will skip forward. On the right side, a double-tap will activate the voice assistant for commands, whereas a triple tap will let the assistant read out the time, weather, and any phone notifications.
Furthermore, both Ok Google and Alexa are built-in. As a result, these are some of the best voice assistant earbuds out there. Strange as this might seem, it works flawlessly, and I had no trouble with inputs being read wrong or more than once.
The only glitch I came across, and this happened only once, was while I was eating a hamburger. The music just paused and started again.
Using the Sony Connect app, you can activate or deactivate the Speak to Chat function. This will pause and play the music automatically when it noticed the sound of your voice and/or the absence thereof after a certain time.
The problem is, if you’re anything like me and you want to sing along, this feature will cause nothing but frustration. The app also includes an Equalizer with presets and the option to create and save custom profiles.
As advertised, the LinkBuds provided around five hours of playback on a single charge. A ten-minute charge in the case will give you about an hour and a half of playback. The case will carry around two extra charges, which bring the total to around 17 and half hours.
This is very average, and there are quite a few competitors who offer better performance at the same or lower cost.
The LinkBuds are powered by 12mm drivers and Sony’s V1 processor. This helps to enhance the quality of lower-res audio by making use of Sony’s patented DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine). As well as 360-degree audio.
Keep in mind that these are earbuds you buy because you want the outside environment to come in. Yet, the audio quality is still very decent, despite sounding like it’s being played on big speakers somewhere instead of a small machine in your ear.
Music, audiobooks, and conversations with people around you are clear enough. But don’t go looking for an immersive experience with these earbuds. However, if you are interested in their practical value, they have plenty.
The quality of the voice reproduction on the LinkBuds is quite good. Voices don’t sound nasal or overly compressed, and the lack of bass can be forgiven since it provides room for clarity.
The only problem is that the open-ear design makes it impossible to use these earbuds anywhere but indoors.
Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Review – Pros and Cons
- Well built.
- Very comfortable and secure.
- Excellent practical value due to open-ear design.
- Touch controls are great.
- Very compact and lightweight case.
- Not the most immersive sound.
- Average battery life.
- No wireless charging.
- Impossible to use anywhere except indoors.
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Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Most Durable Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best Earbuds for Running, the Best Cheap Earbuds Under $100, and the Best Wired Earbuds currently on the market.
Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Review – Conclusion
If you’re someone who uses their earbuds for work and needs something practical and lightweight but still sturdy enough to last, these could well be the perfect solution. Likewise, if you just have your music in the background while you’re out and about or making calls, these are your new best friends.
They’re lightweight and stylish. And, the open-ear design means they will go where you go without being a hassle. The final score is 8 out of 10.
Until next time, happy listening.