Surprise! The LinkBuds S managed to mostly go unnoticed as we were all (understandably) concerned with the newest edition of Sony’s top-notch over-ear headphones. Numerous factors, not the least of which is the company’s perplexing name structure, probably contributed to this. At first glance, it’s unclear how the new earphones fit in. The quick response is: right in the heart of Sony’s expanding line of completely wireless earbuds. At the low end, the regular LinkBuds are priced at $180, which is still not inexpensive. The excellent but expensive WF1000XM4, which retails for exactly $100 extra, is at the top end.
So far, the breakdown has been fairly simple. The M4 earbuds are a truly premium pair at a truly premium cost. In contrast, the LinkBuds have a huge hole in the middle that is intended to increase situational awareness. Evidently, the letter “S” stands for “sound.” That doesn’t exactly make things clearer. Although the LinkBuds S sound superior to their namesake models with the huge hole in the middle, they eventually fall short of the M4s in terms of sound quality (mostly because they use smaller drivers). The company’s tagline is “The world’s tiniest and lightest, noise cancelling, Hi-Res” for the sake of clarity. Authentically wireless headphones really sounds good when you say it, huh?
They are a pretty great-sounding pair of daily earbuds, to put it simply. I’m not certain that the LinkBuds S is necessary given the company’s current line. However, after using them as a daily driver for the past few weeks, I’m pleased they do. The LinkBuds S are among the finest sounding and most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn in my ears, and I test a ton of earbuds over the course of a year. It’s a powerful combination. At $200, they are more comparable to LinkBuds than to M4s. By most standards, they are hardly inexpensive, but at least they are more affordable than the $250 MSRP of the AirPods Pro.
But the thing that really got me was the coziness. I was quite complimentary of the M4s, and I still am. Although they had a far smaller footprint than their predecessor, I’ve always seen of them as earphones for around-the-house use. They’re hard to beat for music listening in the comfort of your own home. They’re difficult to recommend if you’re a busy individual seeking for something “on the move.” For instance, I wouldn’t take these as my first set of headphones when I head out the door. And when it comes to my early runs, they don’t even rank in the top 10. They are simply too hefty.
They protrude out of the ear and are large and rather weighty. On the other hand, the LinkBuds S make a terrific strolling companion. I am aware of how subjective and reliant on your individual ear’s peculiarities comfort is. But in my opinion, the LinkBuds S are the perfect size and have a soft silicone tip that fits snuggly in the ear for extended periods of time. However, I’m still hesitant to suggest them expressly for exercise. With a built-in wing to keep them in place, the most recent Beats are far better suited to the task. In that environment, especially while perspiring, it might be challenging to traverse the touch screens on the side.
The reasons mentioned above are why the sound quality is inferior to the M4s. However, they provide pretty great sound whether listening to music or podcasts. Since getting the pair, they have mostly come out of my ears to (1) rest Sony’s new over-ear headphones and (2) sleep. According to the press materials, Sony’s endeavor to target primarily a Gen Z audience (“buds developed for the future generation”) is said to be centered on the “always-on” strategy.
Although the firm touts features like “Auto Play,” which starts playing music depending on certain actions, I’m not entirely convinced that these buds are better suited for the TikTok generation. You may use the Sony Headphones app to automatically start playing music in response to events like putting the LinkBuds in, finishing a conversation, or taking a stroll.