- Revives the Xperia Ear Duo Concept in a Conventional Package
- Eco-friendly approach from the package till the product
- Surprisingly good controls and app support
- Decent Sound Quality
- A Niche Product and not for every Tom, Dick and Harry
- Fit and Finish is a hit-and-miss
Sony has always been one of the brands that’s always in pursuit of innovation. And usually their pursuit, leaves most consumers in awe where one would wonder how they thought of something no one else has ever done or thought of. Being a huge fan of Sony myself, it’s nice to see someone catching the market by surprise which is what the consumer market lacks a lot. That said, this time around, the surprise lies in the Audio Department. It’s the Sony Linkbuds.
Unique Design but Acquired Fit and Comfort
Sony is known to make some bizarre earbuds design. In fact, we have reviewed some in the past, like the WF-1000XM3. The Sony Linkbuds definitely follows the footsteps of making things look different and this one looks like an ornament. The earbuds themselves, come in this tiny stone like case made from recycled materials and doesn’t feel like one. Once you do open it, the Sony Linkbuds sit in the case like an earring, looking pretty.
We got the Sony Linkbuds in this grey-black finish, and they have one in an off-white colour, if that tickles your fancy. That said, the earbuds have a rather unique fit. It sits in a way that; you have to do a twist and lock mechanism to make sure that the top part holds on to the Concha and/or Antihelix of your ears. Yes, it does have these unique wingtips that doesn’t dig into your ear which is great in my opinion. The shiny part sits in the ear canal and that’s where the drivers are located.
To be honest, the fit of these Sony Linkbuds was a hit and miss for me. Sometimes I can get it right when I wear it and there are times where it feels like an odd fit. Which eventually leads to pain in the Concha of the ear. Given that my ears are smaller, the fit of the Linkbuds kind-of irked me and I missed the Xperia Ear Duo’s design more.
Takes a Page out of Xperia Ear Duo
Speaking of the Xperia Ear Duo, these Sony Linkbuds are inspired by the Ear Duos. When the Xperia Ear Duos were announced, they had a unique design that looks like a paper clip of sorts. These earbuds would then slide under the ear and hook into the ear canal. But given how people complained that the touch control on it was a pain to use and it was huge as a earbuds, the “futuristic” design has been dumped for something more conventional.
But that out of the way, these Sony Linkbuds are essentially the version 2.0 of Xperia Ear Duo without the Xperia naming to it, as its now solely associated to the Smartphone segment. So, there you have it.
Relies on Headphones Connect App for Control
Unlike the Xperia Ear Duo, these Sony Linkbuds connects to their existing and widely supported Headphones App. It’s a magnificent app in my opinion as I have been able to manage pretty much every single one of my Sony audio gears seamlessly. The Sony Linkbuds leverages over the app for its control on how you’d like to set it up and link Spotify for quick launch under the Service toggle. The Sound and System allows you to change the earbuds sound profile and Voice Detection to quickly pause the music.
While the Quick Detection works, and most of the time, very well – it’s also a feature that can get you all frustrated. In my case, sometimes I don’t realize I am wearing them, and I get into my car. As I do that, when my favourite music place and the moment I start singing, it pauses. Which is annoying. So, I ended up disabling the feature and proceeded with my “Car”eoke session. Sony needs to patch an update to find out if we are singing or talking, just saying.
Interesting on-ear Controls too
One of the two parts where the Sony Linkbuds takes a rather unconventional approach, is the on-ear control. These earbuds are equipped with some haptic sensor that detects the taps around your ear. Which means, all you need to do is tap around your ears to stop and play your music. As gimmicky as it sounds, the idea and execution is genius. This allows you to not touch the earbuds directly as it can be disrupting and the tap around the ear works so well.
Occasionally, I’ve had people asking me why I am tapping around my ear, and I’d go “I am changing my songs.” To which they’d look at me weirdly. It’s funny to creep people out with this but hey, that said, it does work well.
Sound-wise, Blending both worlds
Onto the most pressing things about the Sony Linkbuds. The idea behind these earbuds, is to blend the virtual world with the real world. Think of it where the music is the ambient mode, and the real-world noise and sound is the priority.
Ever since I tried the Xperia Ear Duo, I fell in love with the concept, and I was waiting for a better earbuds with the same concept to pop up. After using these, I can say that I like the Xperia Ear Duo design as its more friendly towards every kind of ear shape. The Linkbuds, as I mentioned is a hit and miss fit. The ring-type driver with the open diaphragm design is a well-engineered product. Sound wise, we have a good balance of everything and since it behaves like an open-back headphones, you do have some loss of details in the song you listen to.
The volume gets as loud as it can get and that’s the issue. If the noise or the sound from the outer world is louder than the volume of your earbuds, chances of your music getting drowned is high. In my case, I did face that but not to a severe extent. The battery life of these earbuds isn’t going to blow your mind but for what it is, it does offer a decent amount of listening time.
That’s really all we have to say about the Sony Linkbuds. Now, it’s not the kind of earbuds I can go about recommending to everyone. This is a very niche product that does one feature better: blending both the virtual world and real-world sound in a way that it feels as if they are one. If you are looking for this exact kind of product, then chances are, you will love the Sony Linkbuds. But if you are expecting to get these and want a closed earbuds listening experience, these are not for you. That’s as simple as we can explain.
Otherwise, get the Sony WF-1000XM3 or XM4 if you need the isolation and ANC.