Sony is known for making some of the best wireless earbuds in the market, especially when it comes to noise cancellation and sound quality. The Sony WF-1000XM4s are widely regarded as the best earbuds you can buy right now, but they also come with a hefty price tag of $279.99. If you are looking for a more affordable option that still offers some of the features and benefits of the XM4s, you might want to consider the Sony Linkbuds S.
The Sony Linkbuds S are a pair of earbuds that I have been using for the past six months, and I have to say that they have grown on me a lot. They are not perfect, but they have a lot of things going for them, such as their comfort, noise cancellation, sound quality, battery life, and app support. In this review, I will share with you my honest and detailed opinion on these earbuds, and help you decide if they are worth buying.
Sony Linkbuds S
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What is in the box?
- The earbuds Themselves
- Charging case
- Earbud Tips
- USB-C charging cable
How comfortable and well-designed are the Sony Linkbuds S?
One of the first things that impressed me about the Sony Linkbuds S is their design and comfort. These earbuds are 40% smaller than the XM4s, and they weigh only 4.8g each. They come with multiple silicon tips that fit snugly in your ears and help block out external noise. They also have a spatial vent or some other design feature that eliminates the plugged-ear feeling that some in-ear earbuds can cause.
The Sony Linkbuds S are extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I have tried other earbuds like the AirPods Pro or Beats Fit Pro, and they hurt my ears after 20 minutes of wearing them. Even the XM4s start to feel sore after an hour and a half or so. But with the Linkbuds S, I have no ear soreness, they don’t fall out of my ears, and they feel very light and natural.
The earbuds also have an IPX4 rating, which means they are resistant to water splashes and sweat. This makes them suitable for workouts or outdoor activities. The case is also compact and easy to carry around, although it does not support wireless charging. You will need a USB-C cable to charge it.
The case has a rough and rugged texture that felt weird at first, but it has smoothed out over time and feels better now. The case also has an LED indicator that shows the battery level of both the earbuds and the case itself.
How does the Sony Linkbuds S perform in terms of noise cancellation and transparency mode?
Another thing that I like about the Sony Linkbuds S is their noise cancellation performance. While they are not as good as the XM4s in this aspect, they are still one of the best noise-cancelling earbuds in this price range. They use dual microphones on each earbud to capture and cancel out ambient noise, and they do a pretty good job at it.
I recently took them with me on a plane, and I could barely hear the engine noise or the people talking around me when I had these in. They also work well in other noisy environments like cafes, buses, or offices. You can adjust the level of noise cancellation in the Sony Headphones app, or use adaptive sound control to let the app automatically detect your activity and adjust accordingly.
The Sony Linkbuds S also have a transparency mode that lets you hear what’s going on around you without taking off your earbuds. This is useful when you need to talk to someone or be aware of your surroundings. The transparency mode on these earbuds is actually better than the one on the XM4s, thanks to their better onboard microphones.
The transparency mode sounds very natural and clear, and you can also adjust the amount of ambient sound allowed in through the app. You can activate transparency mode by tapping on the left earbud, or by using speak to chat feature that pauses your music and turns on transparency mode when it detects your voice.
How does Linkbuds S perform in terms of Sound Quality and Battery Life?
The last thing that I like about the Sony Linkbuds S is their sound quality and battery life. For a pair of earbuds in this price range, their sound quality is pretty good. They use 6mm drivers that deliver clear and balanced sound across different genres of music. They also support LDAC codec, which is a high-quality Bluetooth audio format that allows you to stream higher-resolution music from compatible devices.
The Sony Linkbuds S sound very clean and crisp, but they don’t have as much bass or depth as the XM4s. The XM4s use larger 8mm drivers that produce more full and rich sound, with better separation and detail. The XM4s also have foam tips that create a better seal and enhance the bass response.
The Sony Linkbuds S have an EQ feature in the app that lets you tweak the sound profile to your liking, but I think they sound pretty good out of the box. They also have DSEE, which is Sony’s technology for upscaling low-quality music to make it sound better. However, I haven’t noticed a huge difference with this feature turned on, as most of the music I listen to is already in high quality.
The battery life of the Sony Linkbuds S is decent for its size and weight. They can last up to 6 hours on a single charge, and the case can provide an additional 14 hours of juice. You can also get a quick 10-minute charge that gives you an hour of playback. The app will notify you when the case battery level dips below 30%, so you won’t run out of power unexpectedly.
The Sony Linkbuds S also support multi-point connectivity, which allows you to connect them to two devices at the same time and switch between them easily. This is very convenient if you want to use them with your phone and your laptop, for example. You can also enable multi-point audio while keeping LDAC enabled on Android, which is awesome.
How is the microphone quality and performance during phone calls with the Sony Linkbuds S?
The Sony Linkbuds S also have good mic quality and phone call performance. They use beamforming technology to focus on your voice and reduce background noise. They also have wind noise reduction to minimize the interference from wind when you are outdoors.
I think they sound clear and natural, and I have had no issues with phone calls using these earbuds. The people I talked to said they could hear me well, and I could hear them too.
However, there is one downside that I encountered with phone calls on these earbuds. When I answer a call, the transparency mode will automatically turn on, which is okay. But if there is a lot of background noise, I would prefer to have more noise cancellation to focus on the call. On the XM4s, I can tap the left earbud to switch to noise cancellation mode, but on the Linkbuds S, I can’t seem to do that. I still hear the background noise, which can be distracting.
Sony Headphones App
The Sony Headphones app is another highlight of these earbuds. It gives you a lot of control and customization options for your earbuds. You can adjust the noise cancellation level, the ambient sound level, the EQ settings, the sound quality mode, the DSEE feature, and more.
The app also has some useful features like a decibel level monitor that shows you how loud you are listening to your music and warns you if you are listening at unsafe levels that can damage your hearing. You can also check the battery level of both the earbuds and the case in the app.
The app also has some features that I don’t use much or prefer to leave off, like adaptive sound control, speak-to-chat, 360 reality audio, and a badge system. These features may work well for some people, but I find them either annoying or unnecessary.
The app also has a services tab that shows you some extra stuff you can do with your earbuds and some apps they work with. The only one that I use is Spotify, which lets you access your playlists and music controls from the app. The rest are not very useful for me.
Comparison with XM4s
The Sony Linkbuds S are often compared with the XM4s, as they are both made by Sony and share some features and design elements. However, they are also very different in many ways. Here is a table that summarizes some of the main differences between them:
|Price||$199.99 (often on sale for $120-$150)||$279.99|
|Size and Weight||40% smaller and lighter than XM4s||Larger and heavier than Linkbuds S|
|Noise Cancellation||Good but not as good as XM4s||Excellent and best-in-class|
|Sound Quality||Good but not as full or rich as XM4s||Excellent and very detailed|
|Battery Life||6 hours + 14 hours in case||8 hours + 16 hours in case|
|Multi-point Connectivity||Yes (can keep LDAC on Android)||Yes (but LDAC will be disabled)|
|Transparency Mode||Better than XM4s||Not as good as Linkbuds S|
|Comfort||Very comfortable and has no ear soreness||Comfortable but can cause ear soreness after long use|
As you can see, the Linkbuds S has some advantages over the XM4s, such as their comfort, transparency mode, multi-point connectivity with LDAC, and lower price. However, the XM4s also have some advantages over the Linkbuds S, such as their noise cancellation, sound quality, battery life, and wireless charging.
Wrapping up Should you buy Sony Linkbuds S?
The Sony Linkbuds S are a great pair of earbuds that offer a lot of value for their price. They are very comfortable and have good noise cancellation, sound quality, battery life, app support, and more. They are not perfect, but they have very few flaws that are not deal-breakers for me.
I think these earbuds are suitable for both iPhone and Android users who want a comfortable and affordable alternative to the XM4s. They are also easy to pair with other devices like Windows PCs and Macs. They are versatile and reliable earbuds that I enjoy using every day.
I hope you found this review helpful and informative. Thank you for reading.
Sony Linkbuds S
ProsCheck Today’s Price