Geek Review: Sony LinkBuds | geek culture
A few years ago, everyone and everyone was throwing fitness trackers, until no one could keep up. These days it’s the realm of wireless headphones and you can find them everywhere, but there are a few kings of this audio hill. Sony has been one of the biggest players, mixing it up with the other players but taking on Apple with its iconic line of AirPods. With the release of his new Sony LinkBudsthe Japanese tech giant seems to be moving away from the tried and true WF series and urging people away from the beloved AirPods?
The Sony LinkBuds are one of the most unique designs we’ve seen in years outside of the original AirPods. At first glance, you might think this is a compact earbud that swivels, to allow for physical audio transparency, and then can close when you want great sound isolation, but that’s not the case. The two-piece look is a one-piece design that relies on the earring to keep them secure. There is no silicone or foam tip to secure the earbuds inside your canal, as they only sit inside the outer part of your ear canal like many standard earbuds .
Since the upper part of the link buds are heavier than the lower part which sits in your canal opening, the choice of rubber hook fit and size is crucial or else these will fall out immediately. This is a design that we strongly recommend you try before you buy in case you don’t find it to your liking. The carry case they come in is small, light and very handy, although that means there’s no wireless charging. The case design and build quality are minimal and lacking in relevance, but feel more budget-friendly than what the brand is known for. If you want to buy a set, they’re available in charcoal gray or white, and we recommend gray as it’s better at hiding dirt or marks that can build up over time.
Sony aims to be as eco-friendly as possible with the LinkBuds packaging, and while we appreciate the effort and awareness towards sustainability, the presentation is, for lack of a better word, flimsy. The earrings you desperately need to rely on are positioned as such in this thin paper pouch which, when removed, is difficult to put back on, and the pouch immediately loses its shape, resulting in customers who , will almost certainly lose or misplace a loop or two as they can easily fall out.
There’s no quick installation guide for the headphones, only a QR code to link you to an online video that isn’t the best for explaining how to install the headphones safely. It took us several tries to figure it out, and we got our fair share of headphones in Geek Culture’s office. In addition to the box contents, you’ll get a USB C cable for charging, but no power supply, but that’s more the norm in 2022 so that’s expected.
In terms of performance, that’s another matter. We’ve been testing the LinkBuds for the past couple of weeks and came away a little puzzled. We commend Sony for taking a fresh approach to the wireless headphone segment, but we also wonder if they’ve actually done their due diligence when it comes to real-world testing, especially when it comes to the editing and audio quality.
Connectivity to an iPhone or Android device via Bluetooth is quick and relatively simple, but relies on the Sony Headphones app for more settings and firmware updates. Speaking of the latter, the update process is somewhat frustrating. Updates can take up to 60 minutes, yes 60 minutes even over Wi-Fi. The LinkBuds need to be outside the case to do this, which means you’ll either need to carry the Link Buds in hand with your phone for an hour, or just take an hour out of your day to update the LinkBuds when needed.
When it comes to audio quality, this is where things get muted. The sound is decent with good mids and highs, but due to the design there is little to no bass. Like the NB10 we reviewed, this is surprising because, based on Sony’s track record for excellent audio reproduction in various speakers, earphones, headphones, it shouldn’t be. Sony tries to compensate with (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) DSEE, an option with the LinkBuds that helps reduce the compressed sound you get with video and MP3s. This gives the audio playback a more dynamic sound but unfortunately does not help the lack of bass. Audio performance is average at best, but if you just want to hear music at the gym or while running, these will certainly do the trick.
In addition, the volume at maximum is quite soft compared to other offers. It may be better for ear health, but it’s good to have the option in noisy environments. The audio quality of the WF series is definitely superior, so depending on your needs, the LinkBuds may or may not be right for you.
Comfort-wise, the Sony LinkBuds are designed to stay in your ears longer with less discomfort compared to other headphones. In this regard, they succeed, allowing wear for more than an hour or more without ear fatigue. Do they outperform current AirPods in this regard? Not quite, but they’re getting closer. Battery life is good, around 5 hours per charge with 17.5 hours in the case.
One cool feature is Speak to Chat. This setting which can only be enabled in the Sony Headphones app, detects when the user speaks, automatically pauses the audio and resumes 2 seconds after no words are spoken or you can press twice or three times to activate playback. It works pretty well and makes talking easier than other true wireless earbud offerings.
Unfortunately, the cons tend to outweigh the pros, and while Sony is known for making some of the best true wireless headphones on the market, the LinkBuds fall slightly short of the same standard Sony set.
GEEK REVIEW NOTE
The Sony LinkBuds are an interesting initiative from Sony, but you have to ask why? With lesser audio quality and sound that doesn’t inspire confidence in outdoor activities, this is a hard set to recommend.
- Aesthetics – 8/10
- Manufacturing quality – 7/10
- Performance – 5/10
- Rate – 6/10
- Satisfaction of geeks – 6/10
- Battery life
- IPX4 certified
- Easy to sync iPhone and Android
- Good voice pickup
- Lack of bass
- Transparency design
- Volume down
- Firmware update can take up to 60 minutes.
Bobby is an actor, animator, photographer, and geek who always wanted to be Batman, but settled down as a Jedi-in-training.
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