Sony has created a strong foothold in the active noise cancelling headphone and earbuds market with two winning contenders, the WH-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM4. ANC technology in both these products is a gold standard for other audio accessory makers, and now the Japanese consumer electronics giant has another offering that’s set to cater to a niche set of users.
Metaphorically speaking, Sony is going in the opposite direction of what they excel in terms of headphones and earbuds – the active noise cancelling technology! The new LinkBuds are the first of their kind earphones that let the ambient noise in. Yes, the audio transparency mode takes precedence here to let the outside noise in for more awareness of the world around.
Open ring design
The LinkBuds are instantly distinguishable in the sea of earbuds with their gaping hole in the audio driver. Called the Open Ring Design each bud is mastered for natural audio delivery for spatial awareness. Open diaphragm of the earbuds focuses on transparency – the exact opposite of what current earphone drivers tend to do by isolating the ear canal.
Each of these buds weighs 4 grams in total which is quite light for long time wearing comfort. LinkBuds are tailored for any ear type since they have been developed after extensive ear shape research, mining data back since 1982 when first in-ear headphones burst into the scene.
Specifications wise, the buds impress with 12mm drivers synched to a V1 processor. That means Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) upscaling technology further enhances the audio output. The supported audio codecs that audiophiles will get are SBC and AAC, but LDAC has surprisingly been left out for now.
Unique playback function
The users will get a unique gesture system with the earbuds – tapping on the front of the ear skips tracks, toggles volume or initiate play/pause command. Also, there is the Speak-to-Chat function which will automatically pause music or podcast playback when you start speaking.
The IPX4 rated earbuds come with four sizes of wingtips – S, M, L, and XL – to keep them snug in place with the right fit. Sony LinkBuds have a continuous listening time of 5.5 hours which is extended to additional 12 hours in the charging case. For eager buyers, the earbuds come in Grey and White color options for a price tag of $180. They can be bought right away, so ones who’ve had enough of ANC can give these a try.