Sony recently released the Linkbuds S, supposedly the upgrade to the Linkbuds that was released earlier this year. However, to our surprise it was an entirely different thing! They sealed up the donut hole and turned it into a mini WF-1000XM4! Or is it?
What is the Sony LinkBuds S?
The Linkbuds S is an in-ear high resolution, noise cancelling, true wireless earbuds that comes equipped with ANC and Sony’s adaptive sound control. The Sony Linkbuds S retails at S$299 and is available in 3 Color’s, White, Black and Ecru (Cream).
While SONY’s flagship WF-1000XM4 cost S$379, the LinkBuds S cost about one quarter less than. So is it worth it to fork out S$299 for a Linkbuds S or top up S$80 to get the WF-1000WM4. Well that depends on your needs. Let’s look at it’s specifications;
|Size and weight||4.8g per bud|
|Case Dimension (Weight)||42.8 X 60 X 27.6MM|
|Battery Charge Time||2 Hrs|
|Max 6Hrs (NC On)/9HRs(NC Off)|
|Bluetooth Specification||Version 5.2|
|Bluetooth Effective Range||10m|
|Frequency Range||2.4GHz band|
At first look the Linkbuds S looks like any other in-ear earbuds in the market with a hint of the signature WF-1000XM4 silhouette. However, the Linkbuds S is also the worlds smallest in-ear earbuds weighing at 4.8g per piece. It is 40% smaller in size than the WF-1000XM4 and 33% lighter in weight. The carrying charging case is also much smaller than the WF-1000xm4 and at 35g is a good compact size. It is easy to carry around in my pant’s pocket without feeling too awkward or uncomfortable.
Sony includes 4 pairs of silicon ear-tips for the Linkbuds S. Although it’s not memory foam, it does fit my ear canal quite well. The smaller profile also means that the earbuds won’t stick out of the ear when worn. Although not as airy and comfortable as the Linkbuds, the Linkbuds S still does well in the comfort section. As a matter of fact, it is actually more secure than the Linkbud as the ear-tips of the Linkbuds S will secure the earbud firmly in place.
Controls and function.
Controls are pretty standard, tap once to play or stop on the right and activate ANC/Transparency on the left. Double tap and triple tap on the right to skip forward/skip back tracks. Holding on the right buds will activate the virtual assistant. Your can also enable your preferred voice assistance, Ok Google or Alexa are compatible to the Linkbuds S. If you have your own preference of tap functions, you can always customize them in the Sony Headphone Connect App.
|Pause/Play||Tap Right Once|
|Skip Forward||Double Tap right|
|Skip Back||Triple Tap right|
|ANC/Transparency toggle||Tap Left|
|Virtual Assistant||Hold right|
|Quick Access||Long Tap left|
One cool function is the wide area tap, where instead of tapping on the earbuds itself. You just need to tap on your face in front of the ear to activate the tap functions.
By installing the Sony Headphones Connect App, it allows users to enjoy the 360 reality audio function. Other than showing the battery levels, it also allows you to access the preloaded EQ mixer or you can manually adjust the EQ level to your preference.
The Adaptive Sound Control function adjusts ambient sounds based on what you are doing, listening and where you’re at. While sensors in the earbuds also detects when you remove or wear the earbuds and automatically pause/play the song that you are listening to.
ANC is comparable to the the WF1000XM4 if you’re not very picky and the Linkbuds S offers ambient mode which can be adjusted to tweak how much noise you want to pick up. A smart function is the Sony’s Quick Attention mode, where the Linkbuds S will pickup precise keywords like “Hi, How are you” and pause the music and play once you ended your conversation. . The best part is there isn’t much white noise when it is activated.
By harnessing the LDAC codec, it allows up 3 times more data transfer than the conventional bluetooth audio. Thus allowing Hi resolution audio as though as if it is wired. Although it’s using 5mm drivers, overall the Linkbuds S delivers a pretty good audio quality. When listening to “Can’t stand the rain by “The Rescue”, there was a clear clarity on the left and right earbuds separation. Vocals and acoustics were crisp and rich. While the bass was alright even though I would prefer it to be deeper.
While enjoying Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you, the beats carries a nice boom to them and the vocals not overly intense.
I like it when songs like Beyonce’s “If I were a boy” or even the Mandarin Song from “Inferal Affairs’ strong vocals could be clearly propelled out without cranking up the volume. The Linkbuds S provides a rich mid range, however highs and lows have to be adjusted with the EQ control for better enjoyment.
Voice calling was fantastic, clear and crips without much background noise. That was the comment by my co-worker while I was in the café.
The Bottom Line.
The Sony Linkbuds S is not the upgrade of the Linkbud but the precursor to Sony’s 1000XM4. If you are looking for something smaller and versatile. The Sony Linkbuds S allows for everyday use from work to exercise to leisure. By having a IPX4 waterproof rating and battery life of up to 6 hours of usage time in a small package, it is well suited for almost all activities. However, if you are a audiophile looking for better quality then the WF-1000XM4 will be a better choice.
A good pair of earbuds that works and sounds good in the mid-high range but is price slightly on the high side.
- Smaller case
- light earbuds
- Sound performance
- Battery life
- Mediocre design