Sony LinkBuds Review: Next-Level Open Earbuds

Audio
Speaker 1: Hey there, these are Sony's new link buds. And I gotta say I was a bit surprised when I first got my hands on them. For starters, they have an actual name you can easily remember and not some funky model number. And then there's the whole ring thing kind of weird. Right? Let's talk about that. Speaker 1: [00:00:30] So as far as the name goes, Sony says the concept behind the link buds was to make an always on product to link your online and offline worlds. I'm not quite really sure what that means, but the idea is that these buds are supposed to be really comfortable to wear around all the time will not shut you off from the outside world. That's where the ring comes in. These are open earbuds, like the standard AirPods. So they allow ambient noise in, [00:01:00] but in some ways their akin to Samsung's galaxy buds live earbuds, AKA the beans because they have a stemless design. And although they're not exactly kidney shaped, they are elongated. They come in two color options, speckled white and speckled carbon. And Sony says both the case and buds are made outta recycled plastic, which may be a first for earbuds. They cost $180. Speaker 1: I'll get into whether I think they're a good value toward the end of the video, but they're basically in line with what the AirPods third generation and [00:01:30] galaxy Bud's live cost when they first launched. I'd say the one big advantage. These have over both the AirPods third generation and the galaxy Bud's live is that the design to stay in your ears real securely. I was actually able to get it good fit with the buds live and a pretty good fit with the AirPods three, but I've seen plenty of comments from people who couldn't get the buds live to stay in their ears and not everybody can get a secure fit with the AirPods, which is why you see all those AirPods winning accessories selling on Amazon. The link buds come with five different sizes of fins or [00:02:00] arc supporters as Sony calls them medium is the default size, but there's also extra small, small, large, and extra large, the large and extra large worked well for my ears and the thin wedges under that top Ridge on your ear and helps lock the bud in place. I wouldn't say these lock in quite as well as the beats fit pro, but they're arguably more comfortable, particularly if you're someone who doesn't like having an Eart tip jammed in your ear, Speaker 1: It's pretty, self-explanatory how the butts fit in your [00:02:30] ears. But the app does have a tutorial that shows you how they're supposed to fit. What's interesting, is that the way the ring sits in your ear, it's partially hidden. So people can't really see it from the outside. Anyway, it just looks like you're wearing regular buds. You may not totally forget you're wearing earbuds and they may not fit everybody's ears perfectly, but I found them quite comfortable to wear from time to time. I did make little adjustments to how they sat in my ears and how the ring is positioned in your ear. It can impact sound quality slightly. [00:03:00] You can tweak the sound a bit in the companion app for iOS and Android, but changing the EQ setting doesn't dramatically change the sound profile, engaging base boost. For example only gets you a touch more base. Speaker 1: These use Sony's V one integrated processor, which is its version of a Bluetooth system on a chip it's Bluetooth 5.2, and like the Sony WF 1000 X mark four, the link buds unfortunately do not support multi-point Bluetooth. Pairing that feature allows you to connect the buds to two devices at the same time, like your smartphone [00:03:30] and your computer and easily switch audio back and forth between the devices. Sony says these have 12 millimeter drivers and the buds are I P X for splash proof. I got some shots of them in the rain and was a little worried. I might have gotten them a little too wet, but after I dried them off, they worked fine. So you can definitely use them for workouts and runs. And they did stay in my ears. When I ran with them, these are not noise canceling earbuds, and they don't have a transparency mode because they're naturally transparent. If you pause your music, it basically sounds as a, if you're [00:04:00] not wearing earbuds, Speaker 1: The link buds do have a few extra features and a couple of them are pretty cool. These have ear detection sensors. So when you take a bud out of your ear, your music automatically pauses and then resumes. When you put the bud back in your ear, and yes, you can use a single bud for audio listening and leave the other one charging in the case. If you want, the buds have touch controls and they work just fine, but what's cool is if you want, instead of tapping on a bud, you can tap on your face, just in front of your ear. [00:04:30] Sony calls the feature wide area tap, and you can turn it on. Or often the companion app. It's two taps to pause your music and three taps to advance a track. You can also set taps for volume controls. The link buds also carry over Sony, speak to chat feature found in its w F 1000 X mark, four buds and w H 1000 X mark four over your headphones. Speaker 1: That's the feature where if you start talking to someone, your music automatically pauses. You can have a conversation with them. Music then resumes about 15 seconds after you stop [00:05:00] talking. If you talk to yourself a lot, or maybe talk to your pets too much, you might want to turn the feature off in the app. It does use up a touch more battery life. When you have it on battery life with these guys is rated up to 5.5 hours at moderate volume levels. So it's not stellar, but the case does provide a couple of extra charges and has a quick charge feature that gives you 90 minutes of playback time from a 10 minute charge. How do these sound well good, but not as good as the w F 1000 Xbox four. And they fall attached short of the AirPods [00:05:30] third generation, which offer improves sound from the AirPods second generation. Speaker 1: They have a nice open natural sound, well balanced with good detail and just enough base, but like a lot of open ear buds that they just don't. Same kind of base response as a set of noise, isolating earbuds. And while they have Sony's DSE digital sound enhancing feature that does make your music sound a little fuller. There's no support for Sony's near lossless L deck Kodak. Like there is with the w F 1000 X mark four. They also have the same issue that all open [00:06:00] earbuds have in noise, your environments. They let sound in. So whatever you're listening to competes with whatever ambient sound you encounter for a lot of people, that's a feature, not a bug for safety reasons. You often want to hear the outside world, but you should be aware that despite having an adaptive volume control feature, that all automatically adjust the volume to your environment, some folks may have an issue with how loud these play. I paired them with an iPhone 13 pro and a Google pixel four plus, and stream music from apple music, Spotify, and [00:06:30] Cobas. There was some variation, volume levels across devices and streaming surfaces. And I do think how your ear shaped and how the speaker ring sits in your year can affect volume levels. Some people may think they play plenty loud while others may not particularly when you're outdoors. And when you're dealing with competing sounds including wind noise. Speaker 1: Sony is targeting the link buds at gen, and I guess it doesn't want to kill younger pee's ears, [00:07:00] which I do appreciate with my ears. Anyway, the AirPods three, play a little bit louder and had slightly bigger sound overall. So did the galaxy buds live, but those can distort a bit at higher volume levels. As I said, Sony's w F 1000 X mark four, have these beat for sound quality, but weirdly the link buds are better for making voice calls. Sony, won't say how many microphones the link buds have? I see only one external one on each bud, but it says it's improved the noise reduction algorithm and [00:07:30] callers told me, they thought my voice sounded clear with minimal background noise in the noisy streets of New York city. So these in fact have surprisingly good voice calling for performance. I just hope Sony brings that same new algorithm to the WF 1000 mark four with a firmware upgrade. Speaker 2: All right. So I got some traffic going by here. It's pretty noisy in the background. Hopefully you can mean pretty decently. Speaker 3: Yeah. Your voice is coming in super clear right now don't really hear much going on. Speaker 1: I'll finish by saying that I'm generally impressed [00:08:00] with what Sony has done with the link buds. And that's not just because it gave them a real name, open earbuds are difficult to do well. And these definitely have an innovative design. Not only are they very comfortable to wear, but they stay in my ears well. And even if they don't play quite as loud as I'd like in noisier environments, they do sound good for open buds. And I am a fan of the speak to chat and wide area tap features. These are an excellent alternative to the AirPods, particularly for Android users who can't take advantage of some of the AirPods, apple only extra features like [00:08:30] spatial audio. If you just have trouble keeping AirPods in your ears, they do have Google fast pair. The link buds are a little expensive at $180, but I do think they is room for some discounting while they feel premium enough. Speaker 1: They're missing features like wireless charging and both the case and buds don't quite feel as solid and substantial compared to what you get with the w F 1000 X mark four. So like the galaxy buds live, I think you'll see the street price on these come down fairly quickly, but let me know what you guys think. [00:09:00] Does the link buds design seem appealing to you sound off in the common section, and if you found this video informative at all, hit the like button and subscribe. If you haven't already, if you want even more info, there's a link below to my full text review on CNET, along with links to all the products mentioned in this video. I'm David carnet for CNET. Thanks for watching.

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