The Sony LinkBuds S is Sony’s latest addition to its already stacked lineup of wireless headphones.
Not to be confused with their also recently released LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S looks like your typical wireless headphones which are nothing special.
I’ll have to admit, during my first few hours with the LinkBuds S, this is how I initially felt with these headphones – that there just wasn’t anything special enough to warrant buying something like Sony’s own WF-1000XM4, which you can now find for just S$10 more than the new LinkBuds S.
Although the XM4 is older, it has better sound quality, better active noise cancellation (ANC), and controls and convenience very similar to the LinkBuds S.
The only two downsides to the XM4 are simply the larger charging case and the heavier headphones.
And lo and behold, the weight and comfort of the LinkBuds S was more than enough to convince me that I would rather have the LinkBuds S as my daily driver than the XM4.
Some basic specs, the LinkBuds S comes with your typical fanfare for Sony wireless headphones these days:
Active noise cancellation
microphone for calls
Sony sent the original LinkBuds to Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore for comparison too, but I’ll disregard that comparison because while they share the same family name, the LinkBuds and LinkBuds S are two polar opposites when it comes to their signature sound and design.
The original LinkBuds has an “open-back” design, unlike the LinkBuds S.
The open design allows ambient sound to travel through the headphones naturally, rather than artificially inducing it like the closed-in-ear design of the LinkBuds S.
For a more accurate representation, I’ll use the Sony WF-1000XM4 in comparison.
WF-1000XM4 vs LinkBuds S
As I mentioned earlier, if all you care about is sound quality, the XM4 undoubtedly wins. Packing a 6mm driver as opposed to the 5mm driver in the LinkBuds S, the XM4 has a much better soundstage and much better detail in the music and things you hear.
Not to mention, the ANC on the XM4 is superior and is able to block out much more ambient sound than the LinkBuds S.
But if you’re someone who wears their headphones for everyday use and moves around a lot (which, let’s face it, almost all of us are), the LinkBuds S excels tremendously in this area.
Weighing just 4.8g per earcup, this is Sony’s lightest in-ear earphone.
For comparison, the XM4 has 7g per headphone jack and is absolutely beefy compared to the LinkBuds S.
Oh, what is it you say? Was the XM4 already light to start with? Yes, but the 4.8g of the LinkBuds S is on another level.
When I used the LinkBuds S for a long period of time (literally from 100% battery charge to 0, which is about 6 hours), there were times when I actually forgot I was using it when I turned on ambient mode to talk to the people around me.
Because it’s so lightweight, it also puts less pressure on your ears to keep your headphones in place.
I never knew a 2g weight reduction would mean so much for headset comfort.
Have you ever had the unfortunate incident of your headphones flying off while you were in an intense gym session?
Have you ever had your headphones distract you so much while running because you were about to fall?
Personally this happened with the XM4 but not the LinkBuds S.
In fact, I was intentionally trying to make the LinkBuds S fly out of my head by doing vigorous head movements as I ran (and I was sweating a lot, mind you), but no data. The LinkBuds S stood in place like a champion.
That was the moment I converted.
When going through my daily routines and work, there were only a handful of times I would say “Oh, this looks really good” with the XM4, as opposed to the countless times I would say “My ears hurt” when pulling it out at the end of the day. day.
For something that’s for everyday use, comfort and mobility are kings, and the LinkBuds S is the undisputed champion for that.
Not to mention that the charging case is also so small and light that you’ll even struggle to find it if you lose it.
LinkBuds S has similar functions to other Sony headphones.
The earbuds are touch sensitive and can pause, skip or play your music with just a few configurable touch commands on the right earcup. A long press can activate Google Assistant, if you like that.
You can also choose between ambient mode and ANC mode by tapping on the left earcup, and a long press on it will turn the music down and automatically send it to ambient mode if you need to hear and talk to people around you.
Bluetooth connectivity is great, although I’ve experienced some dropouts in crowded areas. I would attribute this to interference more than anything else.
That said, the mic is fine. While usable for calls and meetings, it’s nothing groundbreaking. It works as intended.
One small thing I miss about the XM series is the NFC pairing feature.
All I had to do to pair my XM4 with my phone was tap the case and it was paired. For LinkBuds S, you must manually pair it by searching it on your phone.
While it is a little inconvenient, once this is done, it is paired forever.
You can also download Sony’s “Headphones” app on your phone to check the battery percentage of each earphone as well as the case.
If you use the app, you will also have access to a plethora of features such as equalizer and sound quality improvement.
Speaking of the case, it holds a good 14-hour charge for the earbuds, effectively making it able to fully recharge your earbuds about two and a half times before completely depleting.
I didn’t expect LinkBuds S to impress me so much. On paper, it does nothing special.
The XM4 does everything much better, and like I said, you can find it for S$309 at retail these days, just S$10 more than the LinkBuds S, which costs S$299.
To be clear, the ANC and sound quality of the LinkBuds S is not bad.
They’re perfectly fine, it’s just that they’re currently priced a little closer to Sony’s wireless headphones, which have better versions of these features.
But the comfort and weight of the LinkBuds S make it all worth it.
The LinkBuds S is a great companion for everyday use and is one of the most comfortable headphones on the market right now.
I wouldn’t hesitate to replace my XM4 with the LinkBuds S for my day to day, and I’m personally looking forward to getting a pair of these for myself.
Dominic loves technology and games. When he’s not busy getting shot in the head in VALORANT or refreshing anything he sees, he does a little pro wrestling.