In recent years, we’ve seen many interesting TWS earbuds designs from the Sci-Fi inspired Nothing Ear (1) to the fashionable Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick that goes beyond our imagination of how a TWS earbuds typically looks like. While those designs did impress from the aesthetical point of view, but they don’t really change our listening experience (that much) since the fundamental design of the earbuds remain unchanged.
The new Sony LinkBuds is an exception. It comes with an unique doughnut-shaped design that’s unlike any of the TWS earbuds we see in the market. Here, Sony isn’t trying to create a standout design but rather improves listening experience with a revolutionary ring-shaped driver that aims to keep user in touch with the surrounding while listening to their favorite music. So how does this novel design pans out in real life? Let’s find out in our Sony LinkBuds review!
I believe most people could hardly tell that the Sony Linkbuds is an actual pair of earbuds just from the looks of it. Reason being is simple; the new Linkbuds is nothing like what we saw among typical TWS earphones which normally adopt an in-ear construction with a rubber tip like what we saw on Apple’s AirPods Pro.
Instead, the LinkBuds features a ring-shaped tip that fits snugly along the curves of your ears. At the beginning, it might felt a bit challenging to keep the earbuds in place but with some practicing, it’s actually pretty easy to wear it securely in your ears without falling off when doing vigorous exercise. To make things easier for LinkBuds user, Sony had also created a video demo that offers proper guidance on wearing the LinkBuds.
Compared to earphones with in-ear construction, the unintrusive nature of the LinkBuds’ design makes it more comfortable to wear over period of prolonged usage, since you don’t get that sort of plugged-up feel that felt uncomfortable after some time. Speaking of comfort, it’s featherlight weight of just 4.1 grams (on each side) means you’ll hardly notice the earbuds’ presence throughout the day – whether you’re exercising or on a call.
Despite being an all plastic affair, the Sony LinkBuds actually scores well in terms of durability. The earbuds themselves are IPX4-rated for water resistance which means you wouldn’t need to worry about the earbuds being exposed to sweat when exercising or having them in your ears during a light drizzle.
It’s fairly straightforward when it comes to controlling music playback on the Sony LinkBuds. Just like most other TWS earphones, the new LinkBuds adopts a touch sensitive sides that allow users to play or pause music by simply doing a double tap or skip a music with a triple tap. Of course, you can also pick up an incoming call by tapping twice, or reject it by tapping trice.
The key highlight here however, lies in the so-called Sony Wide Area Tap which actually gives users the ability to control music by performing the same tap operations on your face (specifically around the region nearer to your ears), instead of the earbuds itself.
This feature is possible because Sony claimed that the earbuds are equipped with acceleration sensors that allow the earbuds to pick up vibrations around the ear area, also known as the tap detection area. The LinkBuds has the Wide Area Tap feature turned on by default, but you can easily turn it off within Sony Headphones Connect app.
I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical with it’s audio quality at the beginning as I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a earbud with a large circular cutout at the middle. However, the Sony LinkBuds is quick to impress the moment I wear it on my ears and blast my favorite music.
In fact, listening with the Sony LinkBuds is an interesting experience. Somehow, the LinkBuds are able to allow listeners to remain wide aware of their surrounding while enjoying music at the same time. So how is it possible for music and background noises to co-exist?
It all lies in an intuitive feature known as adaptive volume control which automatically raises the volume when you walk into a noisy environment such as a subway station, and reduces the volume the moment you step into the library.
Indeed, the adaptive volume control is a smart feature which worked remarkably well in real life usage. The LinkBuds were responsive to any changes to ambient noise, even the slightest one. That means music will always remain in focus despite it’s co-existence with ambient noise.
After spending several weeks with the Sony LinkBuds, I found myself starting to appreciate such open design which has proven to be beneficial in multiple scenarios, especially when you’re cycling along road shoulder as it offers more awareness against incoming traffic.
Backed by a 12mm ring driver, the new Sony LinkBuds are able to deliver a balanced sound profile with well-articulated mids and trebles. Also, the Integrated Processor V1 that runs under the hood helps to reproduce crisp details in music with minimal distortion, allowing the LinkBuds to offer an amazing listening experience across most music genres.
The only aspect where the Sony LinkBuds falters is perhaps it’s slightly underwhelming bass response due to the nature of it’s design. However, if you ain’t a fan of bass heavy music, then this probably won’t affect you that much.
Most of the time, the Sony LinkBuds are able to last more than 5.5 hours on a single charge which is pretty decent for a TWS earbuds. In the event that the battery runs out, the charging case is able to provide an additional 12 hours listening time. Although the charging case doesn’t supports wireless charging, but it do support fast-charging via a USB-C cable which will net you around 1.5 hours worth of listening time with a mere 10 minutes charge.
The new Sony LinkBuds is a one of a kind TWS earbuds which embodied some of the latest innovations in the field. It’s no doubt an excellent pair of earbuds for those who desire comfort or require a pair of earbuds that are able to keep them wide aware of the surrounding while offering a pleasurable listening experience.
For those who’re interested, the Sony LinkBuds is priced at just S$269 and is available for purchase through Sony Singapore’s online store.