We begin, as in all analyses, by talking about design. The first Sony LinkBuds surprised us with their donut-shaped driver and their peculiar gesture detection system, but the LinkBuds S return to the path of the familiar and offers us headphones that, except for their low weight and materials, are not very different from so many other earbuds already available on the market.
For one thing, the earphones are made from recycled plastic from car parts (according to Sony) and have a surprisingly lovely bumpy feel. They are available in beige, white, and black, the latter being the ones we have had the opportunity to analyze. The headphones are small, sneaky, and light, very light.
Each earphone weighs 4.8 grams, which is not bad, while the case weighs 35 grams. When we use them, they hardly notice that we are wearing them, which is appreciated in the most extended sessions. They are fixed to our ear canal employing silicone rubber bands and, as we always say, it is convenient to try all the ones that come in the box to choose the ones that fit us best. That will prevent them from falling out and improve passive noise cancellation.
Distributed throughout the headset’s body, we have the touch surface (for gestures, which we will talk about later), the microphones in charge of active noise cancellation and picking up our voice, and the position sensor for automatic pause. The mesh that can be seen protects the external microphones from typical wind noise. They are, in short, simple and well-crafted headphones.
The key, however, is not in design, finish, etc., but in its comfort. I speak personally: I have tried countless headphones, and all devices have passed through my ears. Without fear of being wrong, I can say that they are one of the most comfortable headphones I have had the opportunity to analyze to date. They are light and small, and we hardly even notice we’re wearing them. I have been able to wear them for hours and have not had the slightest problem. Here is the rival to beat if you are looking for comfortable headphones.
If we look at the case, we will see that it is a small box, made of the same rough plastic as the headphones and without great fanfare of design. It is a minimalist, small, light case that fulfills its purpose. In front, we have an LED to indicate the charging status, and behind the charging port and the reset button, that’s all for good and evil.
For good, it is a light case, which does not bulk in the pocket and is not uncomfortable to carry. For the bad, we are talking about 200 euro headphones that do not have wireless charging. I understand Sony’s idea (compact as much as possible), but in this price range, there are almost required features, and wireless charging is one for versatility and comfort.
Sound quality: A good, if not great, surprise
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: the sound. How are they heard? Summary: Good, excellent, but not what you’d expect for a $200 headset. Now we will refine this. Before, however, it should be noted that the Sony LinkBuds S has a five-millimeter driver and the V1 processor, which is the same as the 1000XM4. The problem is that such a minor driver has specific implications when representing the extremes of the frequency spectrum.
If we listen to podcasts, videos, and other less “careful” content, we will have precisely zero units of problems. The sound will be good and will leave us satisfied. Things will change if we listen to music, especially if we are little foodies and seek the best sound experience.
With this, I do not mean they are poorly heard. The Sony LinkBuds S sounds very good, particularly in mid frequencies, but the five-millimeter driver suffers a bit in the lower and higher frequencies. They lack that punch that can be found in more urban genres.
It shows up well on Cleopatrick’s ‘youth,’ which has quite pronounced lows and highs. While the medium frequencies and the voice are heard perfectly, the more exaggerated bass and treble are somewhat saturated. Is an average user going to enjoy these headphones? Definitely. Is someone with trained ears likely to find it lacking? Also.
As for sound technologies, the headphones are compatible with DSEE Extreme (reconstruction of compressed content) and LDAC, a Sony technology with a 990 kbps transfer speed. If you have an Android mobile and music content in high definition, great, you can take advantage of it. If you have an iPhone, unfortunately, you will have to settle for AAC and SBC; ergo, you will not be able to learn. Take advantage of the benefits they offer, for example, Apple Music. If you use Spotify, and the maximum it sends is 320 kbps, you will go more than enough.