Sony is one of the most well-known names associated with audio products and it’s not just for speakers and headphones but also for true wireless headsets for a while. The company’s LinkBuds aren’t part of its noise-cancelling headphones but make for their own line-up. Let’s try and see what this pair really delivers.
Design: Sony LinkBuds follow a unique bagel-like design with a hole on the middle part that goes in your ear. There’s an external ear-tip ring that goes around in the upper part of the bud and can be replaced with ear-tips of a different size that come in the box, whichever is suitable for your ear size. The LinkBuds are really light and compact – weighing under 4.5gm each – and the same can be said for the charging case, which is also smaller and lighter than most TWS cases you would have seen – weighing under 35gm. It might require a bit of getting used to, but once done, the pair is comfortable to wear, even for long hours. You should see which ear-tip rings work the best for you. The LinkBuds don’t fall of or require any frequent adjustments even of you move around. The buds and the case are made out of recycled plastic but the battery on these isn’t replaceable. The inner shelf of the LinkBuds carry a sensor, charging magnets and speaker grille. The LinkBuds are IPX4 splash-resistant, and the variant I tried (grey colour) didn’t catch fingerprints.
Audio performance: Sony LinkBuds supports Bluetooth 5.2 with Fast pair (for Android) and Sift Pair (for Windows) support. There’s SBC and AAC audio codec support (no LDAC for some reason). The LinkBuds pair pretty quickly even the first time, and work reliably with your main device. The Sony LinkBuds offer more of a “balanced” output – with decent but not great handling of bass and even highs, though it handles vocals well most of the times. The audio seems to be more suitable for pop and alt genres of music. Since these are open-ear buds, bass isn’t exactly supposed to be heavy. The buds don’t feature active noise cancellation, but they have ambient sound, allowing you to hear voices around you, which is done by design, if you like it. The mic quality, on the other hand, is good quality whether it is for calls on the go or for video calls.
Other features: You can control playback and make calls by tapping around the bud (and not on it), like on your ear and it actually registers this far-tap well. There’s a Speak-to-Chat feature where the LinkBuds pause whatever you’re playing after you start to speak, and this works reliably but you might want to switch it off if you’re used to signing your songs along as the buds would register it as you’re speaking and pause your music. The buds pair with only one device at a time. You can use Sony’s Headphone app to reconfigure controls for different controls as well as for trying different EQ settings or try EQ settings to your own taste. The charging case features a USB Type C (there’s a short USB type C cable that comes in the box) a push button for opening the case and an LED for charging indication. It has fast charging but no wireless induction charging support.
Battery life: The Sony LinkBuds stay afloat for around 4.5-5 hours on a single charge while the charging case additionally provided about 11.5 hours, which isn’t too long but it still isn’t too bad. About 10 minutes of charge in the case can deliver about 80-90 minutes of playback. Features like Speak-to-Chat and Digital Sound Enhancement Engine can take a bit of a toll on the battery life, as mentioned inside the app, too.
The Sony LinkBuds’ open ear design provides comfort for wearing; the pair seems a better fit for those looking to make calls and listen to their music (more for vocals and pop music) on the go than serious music listening sessions indoors. Its audio quality isn’t quite up to the mark of, say, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. And, it doesn’t have active noise cancellation but its ambient sound and speak-to-chat feature work reliably, and with that small size (including that of the case), it only makes its case for people on the go stronger. The Sony LinkBuds are a bit of a niche and interesting product (currently, retail for around Rs 15,000) that aren’t for everybody, and it shows from the word go.