Sony LinkBuds S Earbud Headphones

Sony LinkBuds S Earbud Headphones

Automate your audio experience with ultralight headphones that feature smart technology to connect your online and offline worlds like never before. Seamlessly shift from ambient sound to advanced noise canceling and enable automatic playback that learns from your behavior. LinkBuds S deliver the right sound for whatever world you’re in.

Features & Specifications

  • Smart features and settings learn from your behavior and automatically adjust sound settings to provide the right sound for the moment.
  • Automatically switches between superlative noise canceling or optimized ambient sound for listening without distractions.
  • Immersive sound quality with Integrated Processor V1.
  • Ultra-clear call quality with Advanced Voice Signal Processing lets sound come in clear.
  • Up to 6 hours of battery life and up to 20 hours with charging case. Quick charging gives up to 60 minutes of playback with a 5 minute charge.
  • IPX4 water resistant protects against sweat and splashes.
  • Intuitive touch control settings to pause play skip tracks, control volume, activate your voice assistant, and answer phone calls.
  • Voice pickup technology and Speak-to-Chat automatically pause the music as soon as you speak to someone, so you can conduct a conversation.
  • With instant pause/instant play music automatically pauses when headphones are taken off and starts again when they are put back on.
  • Alexa enabled for voice access to music, information, and more. Activate with a simple touch.
  • Dimensions: 3.35 x 2.64 x 3.58 inches
  • Weight: 0.34 ounces

Pros & Cons

Pros

The best true wireless earphones for everyone. The Sony Linkbuds S are a shrunk-down, improved version of the already excellent WF-1000XM4. I wasn't expecting this. Given the "Linkbuds" moniker I was expecting them to prioritize ambient sound features over all else, just like the original Linkbuds, but that simply isn't the case here. Build: the Linkbuds S are impossibly small compared to the WF-1000XM4, Sony's previous noise canceling earphones. They actually resemble the Samsung Galaxy buds 2 in overall size and shape. They also sport a nice large touch sensitive area that no one should have trouble missing. The only gripe I do have is that the outer surface is textured and this can cause some discomfort if it rubs against the crus helix. Case: the case is definitely one of the more pocketable out there. It's about the same size as the Airpods Pro case, but slightly shorter and narrower, albeit a bit thicker. However, it also has a textured surface which can make it a little difficult to slide in and out of pockets. Fit: the Linkbuds S fit very similar to the Galaxy Buds 2 and deeper than the WF-1000XM4. They are a little fiddly to fit. In my case I have to rotate them back and forth to get them to seat correctly. Although Sony instructs users to rotate the buds backwards to get a good fit I actually found this uncomfortable because the buds would rub against my Crus Helix and cause discomfort. Rotating them forward slightly fixed the issue. Once the buds were in place I found the fit to be secure and that, combined with their light weight, meant that it was easy to forget they were there. My one complaint about the fit is that the buds are so small that it's very difficult to insert them without either accidentally hitting the touch area or rubbing a finger against the noise canceling microphone, resulting in some static noise. Noise canceling: the noise canceling on the Linkbuds S is fantastic. Although the Linkbuds S are advertised as being open I actually found them to be more isolating than the WF-1000XM4s without noise canceling on. With noise canceling on I actually found the Linkbuds S to be slightly superior to the WF-1000XM4 in terms of blocking out background noise and they certainly blow the Galaxy Buds Pro/2 out of the water. I haven't had chance to test the Linkbuds S with very low frequency sounds (e.g. public transport, planes) but for blocking out office and household noise they're the best true wireless earphones I've tried. Sound: I saved the best to last. I was very pleasantly surprised with the sound quality of the Linkbuds S. The WF-1000XM4s were a big disappointment in this regard, with an overly dark presentation for my taste that led to recessed mids and lackluster treble. The Linkbuds S by comparison adopt a Harman-like tuning that presents mids and treble brilliantly with a satisfying bass boost that doesn't dominate the overall sound. The Linkbuds S definitely beat the WF-1000XM4s for overall sound and they're up there with the Galaxy Buds Pro/2, which are the reigning champs. Comparing the Galaxy Buds side by side with the Linkbuds S I honestly can't pick a favorite amongst the three, which I think is a very good thing. Other: in my limited tests the transparency features are great, as with the WF-1000XM4s. The only other thing that I think is worth noting is that the Linkbuds S struggle to maintain LDAC connectivity more than the WF-1000XM4s. This isn't surprising, given the small size, but is worth considering for anyone who wants to use LDAC in challenging environments or on the go. Wrap up: previously if I wanted to recommend a pair of true wireless earphones for someone I would have to include a 'but'. The Airpods Pro have great noise canceling but the sound isn't top tier and they don't play well with Android devices. The Galaxy Buds sound fantastic but the noise canceling isn't great and they don't play well with iOS. The WF-1000XM4s have top tier noise canceling and work well with both iOS and Android devices, but their sound isn't the best. The Linkbuds S on the other hand have top tier noise canceling, work excellent with both iOS and Android, and have excellent sound. These are now my default recommendation to anyone looking for new True Wireless earphones. Alternative picks: If it wasn't for the better Bluetooth connectivity of the WF-1000XM4s and the improved battery life the Linkbuds S would have made the XM4s redundant. Whether the increased price is worth it for those things will be up to the individual. I think there's still a case to be made for getting the cheaper Galaxy buds over the Linkbuds S if noise canceling isn't a priority. However, I think the only reason to pay more for the Airpods Pro would be if you really like the design and/or the enhanced integration with iOS is really important.

Great Alternative (Supplement) to XM4. My Sony XM4's are phenomenal. I really love my Sony's. But, they're expensive. And big. I tried the Sony C500 as a back-up. They're cheap and they sounded cheap. I returned them. Now, along comes the Sony LinkBuds S. These are quickly becoming my go-to earbbuds when I don't want to put my XM4's at risk or need a smaller package to carry around without sacrificing quality. The sound is great. Size - perfect. Features- lots of great features. Comfort- very comfortable. Secure- yes. I will admit that the price is still somewhat high. I'd say save up or wait till these go on sale. Either way, they're worth the price to me. These are definitely keepers.

Good at everything, but probably not the best option currently. (This is a lengthy review, so in case you are short on time I have included a quick Pros/Cons summary at the top. This gives an idea of my overall opinions, but for more details continue to read on below.) (Note- I will mostly be comparing these to other earbuds that I have used and/or reviewed recently: AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4, Echo Buds2, and Klipsch T5 II ) THE GOOD: --Comfort/Fit: So far, these are very comfortable to wear. They are slightly smaller than some of the other earbuds I've tested, and are up there with Airpods Pro in terms of comfort. They also feel very secure in the ear, unlike some other brands. No complaints here with comfort/design. --Mic Quality: The mic quality of these is excellent. I tested out with calling friends, and these were either 1st or 2nd best sounding earbuds according to the people I called. My friend says that these mics are the best out the earbuds we tested in this range. --Multiple Ecosystem Support: These work well with all ecosystems, whether you are using Apple or Android; and with assistants including Alexa and Google. --Good ANC : The noise canceling on these is also fantastic. This technology has come a long way, and sometimes it can be hard to compare ANC, since each company produces earbuds that prioritize blocking out slightly different frequencies. To me these seem like they are close to the best , but maybe the XM4s and Airpods Pro are SLIGHTLY better, especially the XM4s at low frequency ranges. The Adaptive Sound Control is a neat feature that can change ambient sound settings based on your location, though I'm not sure how useful this will be in practice. THE BAD: --Overall Sound Comparison: With the default EQ settings, the overall sound quality actually seems slightly worse than the WF1000XM4s to me. I also prefer the sound of the Klipsch T5 IIs with most music, and even the Galaxy Pros with some songs; as these LinkBuds S can sometimes sound slightly muffled or dampened in comparison. Still good quality sound overall, just not as good as some of the other options in this range, and not my favorite with any type of music I tested. --No Wireless Charging: This seems like a big disappointment for this price range. I would expect that ALL earbuds that are over $200 should have wireless charging at this point. MORE DETAILS: Here are my thoughts on each category, again mostly comparing to: Airpods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4, Echo Buds2, and Klipsch T5 II. (I also enlisted the help of a friend of mine that is an Audio Engineer, to give his opinions and to use some of his equipment.) Sound - These sounded great to me when I first put them in and listened to a variety of music. I was not disappointed in overall sound quality at all, and if you aren't comparing these to anything else, you will also probably think that they sound great. It was only after rigorously measuring their output with my friend's mics, and also repeatedly comparing them to all of the other earbuds, that I was able to notice the slightly muffled sound compared to the other earbuds. The Airpods Pro, Klipsch T5 II, XM4, and Galaxy Pro all seem slightly more “clear”, with a broader range. The midrange on the Airpods Pro might be the biggest difference here, and when I switched back and forth between them I felt like I was missing some of those midrange frequencies with the LinkBuds S. Overall sound range/EQ preferences are of course very subjective and personal, but my friend and I both agree that these are definitively not our favorite in this category. Design/Fit – I like the way that these fit in my ear, and they are right up there at the top with Airpods and Klipsch in terms of being lightweight and comfortable. For me, the Galaxy Pros were a little to clunky and felt like they might fall out sometimes, but the LinkBuds S fit great while also feeling secure. The texture of the buds themselves is almost a little scratchy, which took me a little while to get used to, but I think I prefer this texture for touch sensitivity. For me though, I have always preferred the press-able buttons on the Klipsch T5 IIs over all of these touch sensors, partly because I often wear a headband over the earbuds and a sweaty headband can mess with the touch sensors sometimes. Calls – This is probably the best overall feature of these earbuds. The microphone quality seemed to be the best out of all the earbuds when testing out on my friend's equipment, and in real-world testing I experienced similar results. These were either the best sounding, or a close second best when compared to other earbuds when making calls. These sounded the best in almost every environment, maybe tied for best with Klipsch in noisy/windy environments. Water Resistance - These have the same IPX4 rating as most of the other earbuds, but note that the Galaxy Buds Pro have a superior IPX7 rating, if that matters to you. So far these have been working great for exercise, but again personally I prefer more headband-friendly designs sometimes. Charging/etc: These charge at about the same speed as the other earbuds, and have a similar battery life. The BIG difference is that these don't support wireless charging, which seems odd at this price range. These come with a short 9 inch usb-A to usb-C cable in the box, no plug/brick. This is my least favorite in terms of charging options compared to the other earbuds in this price range. OVERALL: These are solid earbuds that feel great, produce good sound, have good ANC, and have excellent microphones for great call quality. They do just about everything well, but at this current price I can't say that they are my favorite, or even the best value. Overall my favorites are probably still the Klipsch T5 IIs, which are currently less expensive than these LinkBuds S earbuds at the time I'm writing this. My second favorite would either be the Galaxy Pros or the Airpod Pros, both of which are slightly less expensive and produce slightly better sound in my opinion. The only thing these LinkBuds S are the best at seems to be the mic/call quality, but even then the difference there isn't big enough for me to recommend choosing them overall. Personally I'm sticking with my Klipsch T5 IIs for regular use, but if you are a diehard Apple user, I would have recommend the Airpods Pro over these LinkBuds S at the current prices. If these drop in price in the future and are competitively priced with some of the other options, then they might be a good choice; especially if switching back and forth between ecosystems is important to you and you don't mind the lack of wireless charging.

Only had them for a day so far. The noise cancelling is absolutely surreal. Legitimately thew me off for a sec when I set the box down and heard.... nothing whatsoever. The touch left for transparency is great for when the outside world is calling. Audio quality is great for the price. Seems to work with Google assistant nicely. No complaints so far other than the app being a bit flakey but it's a fresh product so that is expected.

Great ear buds for a good price. Sony is usually a good brand in my opinion for audio products. While I was upset that my new phone didn't have a headphone jack so I couldn't use my Sennheiser HD599s with it, these are a great replacement. Good sound fresh out of the box, small form factor, good battery life and fast charging. Overall these are great and definitely worth the money. The ANC isn't overbearing but is very effective.

Fantastic ear buds! These buds are awesome. I bought foam ear tips to replace the rubber ones that came with the buds. Once I had these on the buds became dangerous. You can't hear anything except what your listening to. I put on noise cancelation and mowed my lawn with the volume half way up and could hear the podcast perfectly. There is a function to let in ambient noise if your out in public which is awesome and works great. Battery life is great. Size is great. Fits in my ear and looks really good. The only issue is if you want to use Google or amazon assistant (maybe Siri, don't know, I use android) you then can not use the left earbud on it's own. But in the setting, turn the functionally to handset only and then you can use either bud independently. I had to contact Sony to figure this out. I don't use Google/Amazon assistant so it doesn't bother me. I've used airpods for years and hate the stem and the fact that they are white. These look so good, you can sleep with them in. They are also very light at 5 grms each. It's only been a week but I'm sold. If something comes up I'll update for sure.

Cons

Unnecessary Earbuds. These are very small, comfy earbuds. They’re great for those of us who sleep with earbuds in. Otherwise, I don’t see much to recommend in these. I’m a big fan of most things Sony. I bought the controversial LinkBuds when they came out, and I love them. However they serve a purpose; I can listen to my podcasts and music and still hear everything around me. They have a quirky fit and inferior sound, but they are extremely useful. I was hoping for a similar experience with these, and was disappointed. These are $200 earbuds that don’t do anything particularly well. The transparency mode, which I would use these for, is far inferior to the natural sound let through on the original link buds. The noise cancelling also falls well short of the XM4s and most other models at this price point. I found the sound quality to also be severely lacking. In short, I don’t understand the reason for this release. Get the original LinkBuds if you want a great pair that lets you stay aware of your surroundings all the time. If you just want earbuds for decent sound quality and noise cancelling, pay up for the XM4s or look at another, better pair at this price point. I would highly recommend the Sennhesier Momentum 2, which are around this price now with the release of the Momentum 3s, and do everything better. Sorry Sony!

They distort at max volume yet they’re not very loud? I have several issues with these earbuds, firstly the build quality.. I can’t explain it but the case & ear buds feel very flimsy, like of recycled plastic. I’m all for saving the environment. But paying $200 for quality like this. It’s just not worth it for me. Mine were sealed & the case was blemished & has a few scratches which is pretty frustrating. Like I said. I’m all for saving the environment but there’s do‘s and don’t do’s especially when you’re paying for a premium item. Another thing is, they are not loud at all, if you’re listening to older music (90s & below) even at max volume it’s very low. When modern music which is louder still not quite loud and I noticed the right earbud starts distorting and cracking sounds at max volume yet it’s not even that loud? I have some Anker Liberty Pro 3s, that don’t sound as good as these but they are definitely around 30/40% louder and don’t distort. It might be because of their small size? Or maybe the build quality like I mentioned before. Only good thing is that the ANC is very good, I used them for a few hours yesterday while doing some home repairs using loud tools & machinery did extremely well in blocking out most of the sounds. But yeah I will end up returning them and trying out the Momentum 3 Wireless by Sennheiser. I own the Sony M3 earbuds, but I have a feeling the M5 are around the corner, so I decided to buy the Linkbuds S while I wait but I was very disappointed, Sony usually does a lot better than this. Returning them tomorrow. If you have money to blow & don’t feel bothered with just having multiple earbuds go ahead. I do that myself, but these, yeah I’m not keeping these. Do better Sony, very disappointed!

They're Okay Nothing To Run Home To Mom About. Packaging: The charging case is amazing. I did have an issue with the right ear plug appearing to be charging but when I went to go on my walk it was dead. So that seems to be somewhat of a connection issue with the magnet. Sound: eh, it's okay. I'm not getting that warm butterfly effect from these. Definitely not at this price. My WH-1000XM5 over ear headphones at $400, now that's an amazing sound. However, for a nice walk or run they're okay. They're just okay mom. Fit: I'm super confused as to how they're supposed to fit in my ear. I'm not sure if there was a tut in their app. They don't feel like they're fitting in my ear correctly. I'll review the app and screenshots if I find any. App: I'm not thrilled that I had to connect via their app. However, I haven't tried disconnecting them either. The one thing I couldn't stand from their app is the Talk setting. Makes sure that's off when listening to music or otherwise your heavy breathing, a slight cough will pause the music and that's annoying. Battery: I've used these a for a few days and every time I come back from a walk they go right back in the case. So battery life isn't a problem for me right now. Nor would I worry about it. Unless you're on a two day hike in the Sahara with out an outlet. Then I'd start to worry. Price: To me, these plugs don't warrant the price. I think they're overly priced for what they are. Sony had wired in ear plugs back in the early 90s I think it was and those were 20x better than these. I believe they cost me around $29 I still have them somewhere in a box too. Final: I love Sony headphones. Always have. These aren't that great. Sony can so better.

Software problems? My once star review could easily be 5 stars. Best fitting bug ever. Everything bout the bud makes it my favorite if all time and I have owned 20+ tws. ANC is not impressive but that is fine with me. One bud makes white wind noice about a. Hour in while listen. Needs a software review. I plan to return and try again. Way to go Sony. Other than. Playstation and televisions, your brand has fallen off of many. The 500 and this rock

Disappointing. I bought these to try out as a replacement for the Galaxy Buds Pro. I tried these on and they fit fine. They are comfy with no issue of staying in during workouts or walking, running, etc. The app itself is loaded with features that are mostly useless and do not work. The Google or Alexa AI would be great, if it worked. The 360 audio wants you to subscribe to a service for it, which is kinda a bait and switch Also, the sound is sub par and mono. There is no rich bass or bass sound. The bass is mid range and the not deep. I lacks the punch in sound that it should have for that price point and the overall sound is mono boxy. Also, the noise canceling is fair but not as good as other earbuds and not worth it. Even with it on, I can still have a conversation, even though ambient sounds were off. I would not purchase any of these ear buds.

Almost great. Ear detection issues. These are wonderfully comfortable headphones. The noise canceling feature works very well. But they keep cycling on and off due to an ear detection issue. They are staying in my ears quite securely, but they keep turning on and off as they detect that they are in my ears, or don’t detect that they are in my ears. The noise cancelling cycling with that, is so irritating that it may kill the experience entirely for me. I will keep trying them for a few days and hope I can find a resolution to the issue.

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