The Sony LinkBuds S are an excellent pair of earbuds for music lovers who want the convenience of wireless earphones. They’re compact enough to fit in a pocket, they sound great, and they offer active noise cancelling (ANC) that’s on par with the best of their category.
The main drawback of the Sony LinkBuds S is that they aren’t exactly “flagship.” This means that while they sound good and they’re a lot easier to use than the original LinkBuds, they don’t pack a huge amount of innovation. The open drivers and ear-strap design mean they let in lots of environmental sound, so you won’t get the kind of audio clarity that’s associated with flagship headphones.
They also sound a bit under-emphasized in the high range, so you won’t get the same level of sonic realism as with flagship headphones like the Apple AirPods Pro or Sony WH-1000XM5. However, there are some ways to fix this, especially if you’re a big fan of high-pitched instruments.
First, you’ll need to install the Sony Headphones Connect app (iOS/Android). This is where you can get firmware updates and change a variety of EQ presets. It’s also where you can set up Quick Access features like Spotify Tap and Endel, and even Auto Play, which automatically plays a playlist when you put the earbuds in.
You can also customize the earbuds’ on-ear controls by tapping on the flat exterior sides of each earbud. This lets you toggle between ANC and transparency mode, turn on your virtual assistant, and control volume and playback.
These controls are all handled with simple taps, so it’s not hard to operate them. They include a double tap to pause music and a triple tap to advance a track.
There’s also a Wide Area Tap feature, which allows you to tap your face, instead of the earbud, for pause and play. This is useful if you’re out in a noisy environment and need to keep an eye on what’s going on around you.
It’s not quite as convenient as a single tap to pause music, but it’s still a very useful addition. There’s also a quick access button, which lets you skip tracks or activate your virtual assistant without having to take the earbuds out of your ears.
They also have a great battery life, at least for Bluetooth earbuds. They can last 5.5 hours before you need to plug them in, so they’re a great choice for long-haul commutes and gym workouts.
The charging case is made from recycled plastic derived from car parts, so it’s a green feature. It’s also a small, secure fit for the earbuds, and it’s rated IPX4 for water-resistantness.
There’s no built-in microphone for making calls, but you can still listen to voice calls through the app or with a wired headset, such as a Google Pixelbook. The earbuds have excellent recording quality, so you can hear your voice through the earbuds’ mics.
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