Sony LinkBuds Review Summary:

Editor’s Rating- 3.4/5

Design & fit

Connectivity & Controls

Sound

Battery

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pros

  • Speak to chat feature
  • Light and small
  • Wide soundstage
  • Good call quality

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Underwhelming bass
  • No ANC

Audiophiles these days are very much aware about the open-back headphones from brands like Sony. However, this time the company has taken invention a notch higher as it has launched open-back earbuds in the Indian market. Sony LinkBuds are the weirdest and strangest looking buds I have seen till date. These doughnut-shaped buds come with a hole in the middle that allows one to listen to music without blocking the world around.

In today’s day when most of the brands focus on high-quality ANC in their TWS devices, Sony has decided to go the other way and bring earbuds that leave your ear canals totally free to hear what’s happening in your surroundings, while you enjoy music or listen to podcasts. The Buds come with premium features and are priced at 20k thus buying them requires a good discretion on the user’s part. Meanwhile, read out the review to find out if you should consider spending 20,000 rupees on this TWS device.

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Sony LinkBuds Price & Availability

Sony LinkBuds have been priced at Rs. 19,990 in India. Sony has opened pre-bookings under which, you can get the Buds for Rs. 12,990 if you book the TWS between the 4th to 12th of August.

The Buds will be available from August 13 via Sony retail stores, ShopatSC.com, and other e-commerce portals in India. The Sony Link Buds will come in White and Grey

Sony LinkBuds Specs

  • Driver size- 12mm ring
  • Frequency response- 20Hz-20KHz
  • Voice assistant- Google, Siri, Alexa
  • Type- In-ear
  • Rating – IPX4
  • Connectivity- Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
  • Earbuds weight- 4.1 gram each
  • Charging case weight- 34 grams
  • Playback time (buds)- 5.5 hours
  • Playback time (with case)- 17.5 hours
  • Case dimensions- 41.4×48.5×30.9mm
  • Earbud dimensions- 3.5×2.4×3.5 inches
  • Battery type- Lithium ion
  • Charging type- USB Type-C

Sony LinkBuds Unboxing

The Sony LinkBuds box contains-

  • Wireless earbuds with charging case
  • 5 pairs of rings in different sizes
  • USB Type-C cable
  • User manual

Sony LinkBuds Review: Design & Fit

The design of the Sony LinkBuds is one of the most unique factors about it. The earbuds come with a near seen before aesthetic as they have a fully open design that leaves the user’s ear canals exposed. Each earbud has a ring-shaped driver connected to a rounded housing that sits just above in the conch of one’s ear and is held in place by the rubber fin. The 5 sizes of fins available in the box allow you to choose the perfect fit for your ear like I used medium-sized fins. The fins have to be a perfect fit as otherwise, the earbuds won’t stay intact in your ears. The buds come in 2 colours- White and Grey and I received the Grey variant that looked elegant.

The buds are compact and feather light in weight thus allowing you to wear them for long durations without a hitch. The buds weigh 4.1 grams each and are the smallest ones you can find in the market. The buds come with an IPX4 rating for protection against sweat and splash. This makes use convenient during workouts and other outdoor activities. The fit is so perfect in your ears that you never have to worry about the earbud falling off while jogging or doing any other rigorous physical activity.

The only problem that one can face is the inability to understand how to wear these buds. The buds have a different design and thus require a little practice before you get used to wearing them. The ring-shaped portion should slide into the concha region and then one tucks the integrated wing tips under the antihelix so that the buds stay in place. If you still don’t get how to wear them, you can visit the Sony website where there is a video that shows how to use these buds. Also, a few might not find these buds comfortable to wear for long durations. This happened to me as after a few hours of wearing the buds, I started getting irritated with them. It’s better that you try them by visiting a retail outlet before purchasing them.

The case is the size of a ring box and is lightweight to carry as well. The front of the case has a little button that has to be pressed to open the box and reveal the earbuds. The LED light on the left side of the case indicates battery level, while the USB-C charging port and a pairing button are found at the backside of the case. The shell of the buds and case both are made of recycled plastic and are environment friendly.

Sony LinkBuds Review: Connectivity, Controls & Features

The controls on the Sony LinkBuds are ingenious. One can tap the buds for different functions but the problem arises because the buds are very small in size. To resolve this problem of a smaller touch area, Sony has implemented Wide Area Tap on the LinkBuds. This allows us to double or triple tap the area in front of our ears to control the buds. This means I had to tap my face to pause or play music or skip to the next track. The controls work well but one needs to tap a little firmly to get the tap registered. The controls can be customized via Sony Headphones Connect App like I assigned a triple tap on the left earbud to lower the volume.

LinkBuds come with Speak to Chat feature this means, the music playing will automatically stop if you start talking to anyone around you. As soon as you stop talking and buds detect no voice for 15 seconds, the music will resume itself. This is really smart and convenient to work with as I did not have to keep pausing the music to reply to my mom’s questions. The buds are made for Work from Home module which has become a common norm these days.

In today’s times when every TWS brand is after ANC so that there are not interruptions in your listening experience, Sony brings these anti-ANC LinkBuds so that one never disconnects from their surroundings. You can be aware of what’s happening around you even when you are in a meeting or listening to music.

To start using the LinkBuds, install the Sony Headphones Connect App and follow the prompts on the screen. The app lets you customize touch controls, view battery status, toggle between equalizer presets, manage adaptive volume control, Switch on DSEE audio upscaling and speak to chat feature, software updates and more. The app is easy to use and works smoothly without any lags.

In terms of connectivity, Sony LinkBuds are Bluetooth 5.2 enabled and Android users can use Fast Pair to quickly connect the buds to their devices. Windows users can use Swift Pair. ios devices can also be connected via Bluetooth although multipoint pairing is not available. Connectivity is fast but not stable. This is because when I moved from one room of the house to another, the connection dropped sometimes. This is a bummer as one expects a stable connection at least within the premises of one’s home. The Buds support SBC and AAC audio formats and can switch between various devices.

Sony LinkBuds Review: Sound Quality & Call Quality

The unique open design of these buds provides a large soundstage, which is not seen in most of the other TWS devices. The audio from the buds has detail, rhythmic accuracy, and is balanced so that the sound of each & every instrument is clear and precise. The 12mm drivers make sure each sound is well distinguished from each other and the vocals are also crisp and soothing.

The open design does come with its own share of flaws as well. A lot of environmental noise can be heard which can be distracting, but then these earbuds are built with the same purpose. The bass is not very strong as the buds don’t create an airtight seal against your ear canal. The sound leakage might annoy you and there’s nothing you can do about it as well. The songs with complex rhythms sound distinct and don’t feel disharmonious which is good. The bass could have been richer and deeper but otherwise, every kind of music sounds ok via the LinkBuds. There is support for Sony 360 Reality Audio which makes you feel as if music is coming from every direction toward your ears. Although the Sony LinkBuds are not an ideal TWS for music lovers, but they work for those who need to keep switching between work and leisure throughout the day.

Call quality is great as the voice of the person at the other end is clearly audible and vice versa. Even in outdoor environment, the call quality remains decent and there are no hang-ups or lags.

Sony LinkBuds Review: Battery

The Sony LinkBuds give around 5 hours of playback time on a single charge. With the case, the buds offer 10-11 more hours of playback time. The app will indicate low battery as soon as the level falls below 30%. 10 minutes of quick charging gives 90 minutes playback time, which is good.

Review Verdict: Should you by Sony LinkBuds?

Expert rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Sony LinkBuds are a premium product priced at 20k. The TWS comes with a unique open ear design & different features like Speak to Chat and No ANC. These buds are meant for you if you need a TWS that you can wear all day without having to plug it in and out to listen to what’s happening around you. They have a good soundstage and offer a decent call quality. The buds are the lightest and smallest in the segment and the case is compact as well. However, if you are someone who prefers deep bass, then the LinkBuds might not be the perfect choice for you. There is no active noise cancellation for those who want to block the noises around while listening to something and the battery life is also not very large considering the fact, that TWS these days come with up to 30 hours of playback time on a single charge (with case).

Reasons to buy

  • Speak to chat feature
  • Light and small
  • Wide soundstage
  • Good call quality

Reasons to not buy

  • Expensive
  • Underwhelming bass
  • No ANC

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