Sony brought out its latest earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC) Wednesday, the $199.99 LinkBuds S. The consumer electronics giant appears to be going for “Goldilocks” buds here, fitting a super-lightweight option for comfortable, long-term wear just below its flagship WF-1000XM4 ANC earbuds in both price and quality level.
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Sony LinkBuds S ANC earbuds: Just right?
The new earbuds share branding with the open-design LinkBuds released earlier this year, but the “S” model features a more conventional design with in-ear fit.
And the “S” buds are very light, at 4.8 grams apiece, but still offer ANC. The regular LinkBuds don’t, favoring an open soundstage with natural ambient sound.
Despite their featherweight status, Sony’s latest earbuds are somewhat heavy on features. They include ANC, an ambient sound / transparency mode and support for the company’s hi-fi LDAC Bluetooth codec.
Reviews so far seem to place them a step below the top-tier WF-1000XM4 buds in sound quality and ANC prowess, but they’re also about $50 cheaper and more comfortable.
Sony positions both LinkBuds sets as all-day wear earbuds that “link” your outside and digital lives with smart software features.
LinkBuds S can automatically start playing music when you insert them in your ears. Or, to name two other examples, resume play from a Spotify playlist or offer you soothing sounds after you finish a phone call.
They also include typical Sony features, such as adaptive sound control. It allows you to customize levels of noise cancellation and ambient sound depending on what you’re doing or your location.
As for battery life, it’s rated at six hours with ANC and 20 hours when recharge from the case. Water resistance is at the IPX4 level.
But Sony left out a plus that has become standard for most premium earbuds — wireless charging. Most earbuds that cost in the neighborhood of $200 have it.
LinkBuds S preorders are available now and the earbuds will ship starting May 20, Sony said.
Available in black, white, or beige (exclusively at Best Buy), the LinkBuds S cost $199.99.
Where to preorder: Amazon