Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds: Truly Wireless Earbuds That Keep You Connected
Published on May 5, 2023, 9:25 p.m.
Tired of noise-isolating earbuds that make you feel disconnected from your environment? The uniquely designed Sony LinkBuds aim to change that. With their unique open ring driver design, these wireless earbuds allow ambient sounds to naturally pass through, keeping you aware of your surroundings.
The Sony LinkBuds (model WFL900/H) are truly wireless Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds featuring an innovative open-ring driver design that doesn’t fully block your ear canals. This allows external sounds to be heard while listening to audio, providing a seamless listening experience.
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds have some unique features that set them apart from typical wireless earbuds:
Open ring design - The ring-shaped driver allows ambient sounds to pass through naturally, so you can stay aware of your surroundings.
Lightweight and comfortable fit - Weighing just 4.1g each, these earbuds are incredibly lightweight and can be worn comfortably all day long.
Seamless audio transparency - Listen to music and calls without compromising awareness of your environment. The open design keeps you connected.
Alexa voice assistant - With Alexa built-in, you can ask questions, get news, control smart home devices, set reminders, and more. Hands-free convenience.
Weighing just 4.1g each, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds have an extremely lightweight and comfortable fit. The earbuds come with 5 sizes of fitting supporters to suit different ear shapes. The ring driver with a center opening optimizes audio transparency, allowing ambient sounds to pass through naturally.
With Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds provide cable-free listening while maintaining a stable connection. The IPX4 water resistance rating protects the earbuds from splashes and sweat during workouts. Battery life is impressive at 5.5 hours per charge for the earbuds and 17.5 extra hours from the charging case. A quick 10-minute USB-C charge gives you up to 90 minutes of playtime.
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds also have some nifty features powered by integrated sensors. Wide Area Tap allows you to control audio playback by simply double or triple tapping in front of either earbud instead of directly on it. Adaptive Volume Control automatically optimizes volume based on your surroundings for a better listening experience.
With their open ring design, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds deliver clean mids and crisp highs through the 12mm driver units. But the non-isolating fit means almost no bass presence. The soundstage provides a nice sense of space and ambient awareness. Volume can be pumped high without distortion. But overall fidelity is constrained by the lossy Bluetooth codec which compresses the wireless audio signal.
For voice calls, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds utilize Precise Voice Pickup technology with 4 beamforming mics that isolate the voice and reduce ambient noise interference. Callers reported the mic quality is very good, with natural voice reproduction. The noise reduction works well for clear call communication.
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds offer about 5 hours of continuous listening on a full charge. The charging case provides an additional 17.5 hours. Quick charging for just 10 minutes gives you 1 hour of play time, but battery longevity is not nearly as robust as some competing earbuds. Constant low battery is a common complaint.
Bluetooth 5.2 provides cable-free connectivity with extended range and stable pairing. While dropout issues are not widespread, some users faced sporadic connection losses during activity like running or cycling. Multipoint pairing is not currently supported for connecting to two devices simultaneously.
With an IPX4 rating, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds can withstand splashes and sweat without issue. But the earbuds are not fully waterproof, so they can’t be submerged. The exposed driver makes them more vulnerable than typical water-resistant wireless earbuds. Still suitable for workouts but caution is required.
The open-ear Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds are ideal for:
Listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts while commuting or walking, allowing you to stay aware of traffic and surroundings.
Taking calls while multitasking, so you can communicate clearly without being isolated from ambient sounds.
Office use for listening to music or joining virtual meetings while still hearing colleagues around you.
Exercising outdoors, giving you soundtrack motivation while remaining alert to fellow pedestrians and vehicles.
Gaming, allowing you to fully engage with the game audio while keeping in touch with real-world activity.
User Reviews Analysis
Overall, customer reviews of the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds are decidedly mixed, with the open-ear design being polarizing. For every praise, there seems to be an equal complaint about the unconventional form factor.
For fans of the open-ring style:
Many positively highlight the airy, spatial audio experience that increases awareness. The non-isolating fit provides a liberating feeling compared to in-ear canal buds that “plug” the ear. Users describe the openness as similar to listening to a loudspeaker in the room rather than headphones clamped on your head. The transparency allows them to engage freely in conversations and ambient sounds while enjoying audio. Cyclists and runners love maintaining environmental awareness for safety.
For critics of the design:
Some users report the openness results in a tinny, echoey sound when in noisy environments. Lacking noise isolation and bass, the loud ambient sounds overpower and muddle the music. Without a proper seal, audio fidelity suffers greatly. The open fit also provides almost no passive noise reduction. This lack of isolation can be frustrating and defeats the purpose of private listening.
On comfort and fit:
Many users praise the extremely lightweight and comfortable feel, with some describing the fit as “floaty” or barely noticeable in the ear. But others complain about the earbuds falling out easily due to poor grip and lack of canal sealing. Smaller ears seem prone to fit issues even with the included fitting supporters. Proper adjustment takes time and repeated testing.
Battery life impressions:
While the 5 hour battery life meets Sony’s claims, numerous reviewers bemoan the short runtime compared to competitors. Frequent charging is annoying but required for regular use. The quick charge feature provides relief but constantly relying on it is not ideal. The charging case also drains rapidly requiring regular top-ups.
Call quality feedback:
Nearly universal praise for the call performance, with recipients confirming the voice sounds crystal clear and natural. The beamforming mics isolate voice while reducing ambient noise very well. Some noted windy conditions do lower call quality when outdoors. But in general, flawless voice pickup for both regular calls and virtual conferencing.
On audio quality:
Beyond the lack of bass, most found the overall fidelity decent and clear enough for podcasts, audio books, and vocal music when ambient noise is moderate. But for immersive listening, audio quality lacks presence and dynamism. The transmission over Bluetooth’s AAC codec compresses the sound noticeably compared to wired or higher bitrate streaming.
So in summary, feedback on the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds centers on the trade-offs inherent in the open-ear design. Fans love the spatial awareness and freedom, while critics bemoan the sacrifice in audio quality and noise isolation. Comfort, call performance and voice assistant integration earn consistent praise across reviews.
Pros and Cons
- Open-ear design for environmental awareness
- Lightweight and comfortable fit
- Good call quality with Precise Voice Pickup
- Alexa built-in for voice assistance
- IPX4 sweat and splash resistant
- Audio constrained by Bluetooth codec
- Battery life capped at around 5 hours
- Charging case build quality is subpar
- Lacks deep bass due to open design
Value for Money
At around $178, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds are a premium-priced open-ear earbud option. The ambient sound-optimizing design and solid connectivity provides a seamless listening experience that makes the investment worthwhile for some users. Those wanting top-notch sound quality may find better value in high-end closed-back earbuds. But for those who prioritize environmental awareness, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds deliver innovation and utility that provides good value.
The uniquely designed Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds deliver an innovative listening experience by combining wireless freedom with open-ear spatial awareness. While audio fidelity is limited by the technology, the ambient listening capabilities make these earbuds a great pick for those who want to stay connected to their surroundings. For pure sound quality, closed-back noise-isolating earbuds would be a better choice.
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds carve out a niche for earbuds that keep you aware, delivering solid wireless performance for voice calls and casual listening while maintaining a transparency to ambient sounds. For the right user, this can enhance workflows and activities without losing touch with your environment.
Here are the key technical specifications based on the provided information:
- Model number: WFL900/H
- Drivers: Open ring drivers with 12mm dynamic driver units
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
- Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Battery life: Up to 5.5 hours (earbuds), 17.5 hours extra (charging case)
- IP rating: IPX4
- Weight: 4.1g each earbud
- Quick charge: 10 mins gives 60 mins playback
- Voice pickup: Precise Voice Pickup Technology
- Tap controls: Wide Area Tap
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds box includes:
- LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds (left and right)
- USB Type-C charging cable
- Wireless charging case
- 5 sizes (SS, S, M, L, LL) of fitting supporters
- Instruction manual
How To Use
To use the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds:
Download the Sony Headphones Connect app and connect to the earbuds via Bluetooth.
Insert each earbud with the fitting supporter attached into your ears carefully. Experiment with the supporter sizes for optimal fit.
Use the touch controls to manage music playback and calls. Tap the front of your ears instead of the earbuds themselves.
Place earbuds in the charging case for at least 10 mins to quickly top up battery before use.
Activate Alexa with your voice or the touch controls to access the voice assistant.
Adjust settings like noise cancellation and equalizer in the app for personalized audio.
Check charging status of earbuds and case in the Headphones Connect app.