Sony’s LinkBuds made a splash earlier this year for their unique ring-shaped design that lets you stay in touch with your surroundings without relying on a transparency mode. But there’s a new LinkBuds in town, and it follows that by? Leaving it all behind. The Sony LinkBuds S are a traditional pair of wireless earbuds, for better or worse.
While the original LinkBuds were all about the open-ring driver that intentionally let outside noise in, Sony has returned to a more traditional wireless earbud design with a new five-millimeter driver in the LinkBuds S. That means earbuds and silicone ear tips that sit in the ear, and Sony has also added active noise cancellation (ANC) to block out the outside world.
Despite the change in design and the added technology, Sony has managed to keep the earbuds small. Very small. When the earbuds launched, Sony claimed they were the world’s smallest wireless noise-canceling earbuds. And that’s how they feel, both in the hand and in the ear. They slide easily into the ear cup and twist for a snug fit. They’re also IPX4 waterproof, which means the Sonys can be used both at the gym and on the way to the office.
The LinkBuds S are available in three colors – white, black and beige (ecru). However, Sony has since launched an eco-friendly pair in “Earth Blue,” which is made from recycled water dispenser bottles. This gives the outer surface of the buds and case a “unique” marble effect reminiscent of Global Hypercolor T-shirts.
In addition to active noise cancellation, the LinkBuds S also offer an ambient noise or transparency mode that lets you hear more of what’s going on around you. There are even 20 levels that can be set via Sony’s headphone app, which is more than generous flexibility.
The LinkBuds S have a Speak-to-Chat feature that lets you start a conversation while the headphones are still on. They automatically turn off when you start a conversation and resume playing music when you finish. You can adjust the sensitivity of the feature so it’s not triggered by coughing, as well as how long they wait before feeding music back into your ears.