Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless are unusual earbuds designed to allow listening to ambient sound. The plastic ring is placed around the ear and has a hole in it that allows us to hear what is happening around us. They come with many features, such as automatic volume adjustment, virtual surround sound, and “Wide Area Tap,” which allows you to register commands by tapping in front of your ear instead of on the earbuds.
However, they do not fit everyone well and, depending on the shape of the ears, may not be comfortable or stable. Because of their open design, they reproduce virtually no bass, so the audio lacks rumble, punchiness and body. Treble is also weak, so instruments lack detail and mixes lack brightness and brilliance. That said, the sound is good for content such as podcasts, and the app has a graphic equalizer and presets that can be used to customize the sound. In addition, they are well built and come with a small case that easily fits in pants pockets.
The Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless are disappointing for commuting and travel if you want headphones with good noise isolation. By their very nature, they block out virtually no noise, which means it might be difficult to listen to music above the roar of bus and airplane engines. That said, they have a very small and portable design. If you walk to work, you might appreciate the fact that they allow you to listen to ambient sound.
They also work with Microsoft Soundscape, which is intended to help you navigate your surroundings with audio cues, which could be useful in unfamiliar places. Unfortunately, the fit depends on the shape of your ears and they are not comfortable or stable for everyone. The six-hour battery life is also a bit short for long flights, but they come with a case that holds a couple of extra charges.
The Sony LinkBuds are adequately comfortable. They come with many silicone sleeves that can be used to customize their fit, but it is still difficult to find a good fit in either ear. The round earbuds stick out slightly and the hard plastic rings can put pressure on the outside of the ear. If you can find a good fit, they don’t feel too much, but it could still be a problem to get them to fit properly. On the plus side, they have a “Wide Area Tap” feature that allows you to tap the front of your ear to register the controls instead of the earbuds, so you can avoid pressing them into your ears when you want to change tracks or turn up the volume.
The Sony LinkBuds have decent controls. The default control scheme is simple and easy to use, but you can remap the functions in the app. You can tap the round part of the earbuds or the cartilage in front of the ear to register a command, and you can turn off this feature, called “Wide Area Tap.” Whenever a command is recorded, beeps are played, but there are no voice prompts. You may have to tap several times to reach the desired volume, which is a bit inconvenient.
There is an automatic pause function that pauses the audio when the earbuds are removed from the ears, a “Speak-to-Chat” function that pauses the audio when the user’s voice is detected, and automatic volume adjustment, which raises the audio when increased ambient noise is detected. All of these functions can be turned off in the app. Unfortunately, the earbuds do not have controls for calls, and the app does not offer the option to add any.