Sony is a powerhouse in the world of consumer audio. They’ve been generating buzz in the audio world, especially with their unmatched adaptive noise cancellation technology. With the popularity of Apple’s Airpods, I was excited to try their latest entrant in the wireless earbud race: The Linkbuds. At $180, the Linkbuds fall into a heavy contested price bracket for the wireless earbud market. Today I’m going to see if Sony can live up to their reputation.
What’s in the Box
- Charging Case
- Charging Cable
- 3 Free months of Deezer HiFi
Look and Feel
The Linkbuds have a discreet, futuristic feel to them. People will still know you have headphones in when you wear them, but they don’t come across as a distraction. They fit incredibly well and respond quickly to the touch commands. The charging case is small and feels securely constructed, and I never felt worried about damaging them. I really like the feel of these headphones.
Sony wanted to keep the design and user experience as seamless as possible. On the basic operating level, once you connect your headphones via Bluetooth, they function similarly to other wireless earbuds; utilizing tap commands and including features such as pausing audio when the headphone is taken out or when you start talking. One advantage it has over other earbuds is that you can customize the behavior of each headphone’s tap commands. I personally found Sony Headphone Connect to be a bit clunky, but it has several customization options such as EQ, wireless calling settings, and 3D spatial audio integration.
3D Spatial Audio
One large selling point of the Linkbuds is integration with Sony 3D Audio¸ Sony’s answer to other spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos. I was very excited to give it a test run, but found myself mildly underwhelmed. Similar to VR, spatial audio is still in its infancy, and the technology feels rather inaccessible and not worth it for me. Many streaming services with 3D audio are much more expensive than the average music subscription, and have a shallow catalog of songs mixed for the format. I’m sure this will change as the technology improves and becomes more integrated, but as of now spatial audio doesn’t do much for me.
In normal stereo mixes, the Soundstage on the Linkbuds is average. I never felt a sense of claustrophobia from listening to mixes, but tracks that normally had wide mixes felt flat at times. The dynamics are decent too, but tend to distort slightly at louder extremes. You definitely can’t go wrong with these and I got a decent sense of space from them.
The lows on these are pretty good for wireless earbuds. They can be present while not overwhelming most of the time, which isn’t easy. They definitely don’t have as much impact as other headphones I’ve tried, but a boost in the low-mid EQ band resolved this for me. Customization options like EQ are becoming more and more common in consumer headphones, which will really help people fine tune their listening experience.
The midrange on the Linkbuds has an interesting character that brings out a pleasant brightness in mixes. They stay out of the way of the lows and compliment them well, albeit occasionally sacrificing some of the body and impact of the overall sound. The mids rarely felt like too much to me, which was a pleasant surprise.
The Linkbuds’ high range is good, but not a standout. It could have been more present at times, and lacked a certain dynamic range that adds depth and clarity to mixes. While good highs are very difficult to achieve in wireless earbuds, I think Sony could have done a little better in this area. This is not to say that this ruined my listening experience or even distracted from it, but it didn’t add anything to it.
Overall, Linkbuds are good earbuds with a lot of potential. They’re perfect for on the go listening, and can portray the mix in nearly any setting. They sport many of Sony’s signature innovations, such as noise cancellation and reliable build quality. While I think some of the bells and whistles didn’t live up to the hype, I think that Sony got the most important aspects of these headphones right, and my listening experience didn’t suffer as a result. Linkbuds are a worthy addition to anybody’s collection and a great option for somebody who wants to get some wireless earbuds.
You can buy Sony Linkbuds here