True wireless earphones can be broadly classified into two types of fit. These are the in-canal styles that provide better noise isolation and active noise cancellation, and the outer-ears popularized by the original Apple AirPods, which offer a bit more comfort and the ability to better hear your surroundings. Sony’s latest true wireless earphones in India, the LinkBuds (WF-L900), don’t fit any category in particular, with a radical and unconventional design that sets it apart from the competition.
Priced at Rs 19,990 in India, the Sony LinkBuds promise to fit comfortably all day, the ability to listen to your surroundings naturally and unobstructed, and promise good call and audio performance. As the kind of true wireless earphones you can wear all day and use reliably for a variety of purposes, the Sony LinkBuds claim to be quite different from the typical premium TWS headset. Does it live up to these promises? Find out in this review.
Sony Linkbuds Design and Features
The most attractive aspect of the Sony LinkBuds is its design; Many might not even realize that these earphones are worth it at first glance, if they didn’t already know. The earpieces are clearly an outer-ear fit as there is no part leading into the ear canal, and no stems either. There’s a donut-like hole in the middle of the earpiece’s driver chamber, which ensures that there’s a clear way to hear ambient sound even with the earphones on.
This meant that even with the Sony LinkBuds on (with no audio playing), I could hear my surroundings as well without the earphones. As a result, it is a natural and completely biological hearing, with the clear caveat that it is ‘on’ all the time and with no substitutes. If ambient awareness is important to you, you just can’t find a better designed earphone than this.
The unique design has also been created for a comfortable fit, which Sony calls the Arc Support Fitting. There are five pairs of these fittings of various sizes included in the sales package for a customizable fit. I found the smallest size most comfortable for my ear size, but that affected the safety of the fit. Moving my head a bit would cause the earpieces to move, so you might want to try one that combines comfort with a secure fit.
Each earpiece from the Sony LinkBuds weighs in at 4.1g, and are IPX4 rated for water resistance. The outer sides have an interesting texture and aesthetic, and are touch-sensitive to the controls. Interestingly, thanks to a feature called Wide Area Tap, you don’t necessarily have to tap the earpiece yourself for control.
When enabled through the app, it lets you tap the area on your cheek in front of your ear just as you would on the earpiece for the same effect, and it worked reliably for me. It also meant I didn’t have to blindly feel for the small touch area on the earpiece, and it made using the on-device controls much easier.
The Sony LinkBuds’ charging case is noticeably smaller than most true wireless headsets in its price range, making it significantly more pocketable. There’s a lid release button and indicator light on the front, and a pairing button and USB Type-C port at the back. Notably, the earpiece needs to snap into place to initiate charging, but only closing the lid will do so, so it’s not too complicated to use. It’s also worth noting – there’s no wireless charging, which is disappointing at this price point.
Other features of the Sony LinkBuds (WF-L900) include support for voice assistant, Google Fast Pair, Spotify Tap and 360 Reality Audio. There’s no active noise cancellation, but given the state of the headset and the intentional nature of the design, I wouldn’t call it a drawback.
Sony LinkBuds App and Specifications
As is usually the case with Sony headphones and earphones, the LinkBuds work with the Sony Headphone Connect app, which is available for iOS and Android. As for the Sony LinkBuds, the app has a fairly large list of features that can be tweaked and customized, including Speak to Chat, Equalizer, 360 Reality audio configuration, Optimization for Tap controls, Adaptive Volume Control, Auto Play and on earphones poses are included. is turned on or removed, and firmware updates.
Some of these features are already present on older Sony headsets, such as Speak to Chat and 360 Reality Audio. Particularly noticeable on the Sony LinkBuds are the volume controls, which adjust volume according to the intensity of ambient noise, and the Wide Area Tap toggle, which, as mentioned, lets you control on-device without actually touching the earpiece. allows to use.
The Sony LinkBuds use Bluetooth 5.2 for connectivity, with support for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs; There’s no advanced Bluetooth codec support here, which is disappointing at this price. The frequency response range of the earphones is 20-20,000Hz. In addition to fitting five pairs of arc support, the Sony LinkBuds also include a USB Type-C cable in the box.
Sony LinkBuds performance and battery life
The unique positioning of the Sony LinkBuds means it can’t really be compared to anything else around its price segment. There’s no passive noise isolation or active noise cancellation, but what Sony does offer is comfort, awareness of your surroundings, and all-purpose usability across tasks and use cases.
While it initially felt a little too radical to fathom, the LinkBuds offer a pretty good overall experience, which I found myself often opting for the handful of other, arguably better options I had at my work desk. Sony’s pitch of the LinkBuds is all-day and all-purpose, and the ambient awareness has really made it my favorite earphone when in my usually quiet home workspace, and when working outside or on the road.
The ability to clearly hear what’s going on on the earphones without any passive noise isolation seemed like a big question at first, but the Sony LinkBuds delivered a pleasant listening experience in terms of volume and listening capability . That said, the sound signature was a bit odd, with barely any audible sub-bass frequencies, and somewhat dull mid-bass frequencies.
Listening to White Horse by Croatia Squad and Frey at home, which had a fairly high volume, wasn’t too bad considering the Sony LinkBuds’ good tonality and tempo. However, thumps and attack were practically non-existent in this aggressive house track, and the track’s deep, rhythmic beats sounded a bit hollow and heavy.
Although the sound was fairly balanced and capable mid-range with a decent amount of detail, it still sounded great compared to similarly priced headsets like the Sony WF-1000XM4. This is probably intentional given the form factor and need to be able to hear ambient sound in line with what’s playing on the Sony LinkBuds, but it certainly won’t suit many styles of music.
Outside, the Sony LinkBuds struggled a bit compared to indoors. Turning the volume up to the 80 percent level ensured that I could hear what was going on just fine, but it wasn’t able to overwhelm what was going on around me at any point, even though it was particularly loud. Don’t be too loud. This wasn’t as much of a problem in relatively quiet areas, but the sounds from a busy main street in Mumbai were quite distracting.
Tuning the Sony LinkBuds meant the headset worked well for audio-based content such as audio books, movies and TV shows, and YouTube videos. Voices were clear and refined, which naturally extended to the earphones’ performance with calls as well. Provided the volume is sufficiently high, I had a great experience with calls on the Sony LinkBuds, despite the lack of noise isolation. If anything, it feels more natural to take free-flowing hear-through made calls on the earphones.
Battery life on the Sony LinkBuds was pretty average for this segment, and somewhat disappointing given the lack of energy-consuming features like active noise cancellation and advanced Bluetooth codec support. The earphones lasted 4 hours, 35 minutes at moderate volume, while the charging case added two full standby charges for a total run time of about 13 hours per charge cycle.
Sony makes arguably the best wireless headphones and earphones you can find, and it has a wide variety of products to suit different use cases, some of which are quite niche and radical. The Sony LinkBuds are one of the more adventurous and unique products from the company. This goes against several design aspects that could have been considered ideal for the segment to provide the specific type of user experience that was envisioned.
For the large part, the Sony LinkBuds succeeds in this, providing comfort, unmatched ambient awareness and sound that’s designed to overcome the natural barriers of being able to clearly hear what’s around you. This can be distracting, especially in noisy environments, and the weak sub-bass levels in the sound can make some styles of music a little awkward. However, I often found myself favoring these earphones for calls, outdoor walks, and general everyday use at my work desk.
That said, the Sony LinkBuds are expensive at Rs. 19,990, and even at a pre-order price of Rs. 14,990, considering that the design is the biggest highlight here. The LinkBuds will be a good fit for users who want good performance with voice-based sound and the unmatched ambient awareness it offers, but for those leaning toward music, I’d recommend the similarly priced Sony WF-1000XM4 .