Q1 this year, Sony released a unique wireless earbuds that has a hole in it. Meet the Sony LinkBuds WF-L900 Truly Wireless Earbuds. Not to be confused with the recently released LinkBuds S, the LinkBuds is unlike any other earbuds or earphone on the market. It features an “open-back” design, and I think it’s also an earbud misunderstood by many. In this Sony LinkBuds review, let’s learn more about the product, its practical use, and who is the LinkBuds for. If you’re interested in such a unique product, please continue reading our LinkBuds review below.
Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds Review – What’s With the Hole?
The Sony LinkBuds, again not to be confused with the LinkBuds S, features an “ultra-small super fit” design. “Ultra-small” might be a bit of a stretch, but those are Sony’s words. But it is smaller compared to the WF-1000XM4, or something like an Apple AirPods (Pro). The LinkBuds remind me of a small Mentos, especially the white ones that I have here.
Aside from being small, the Linkbuds feature a unique “ring” design that, according to Sony, offers audio transparency that links online and offline worlds for a “Never Off” wearing experience. Sony also mentions that users can “enjoy clearer calls and conversations; and authentic, natural sound, all while you tune in to the world around you”.
Wide Area Tap control – By double or triple tapping in front of either of your ears, you can adjust playback to your liking – there’s no need to touch the LinkBuds themselves.
Speak-to-Chat – You can automatically pause music as soon as you speak to someone. Once your conversation is over, your music starts playing automatically, so there’s no need to touch any controls. LinkBuds also comes with hands-free help so you can get information, connect with friends, set reminders, and more by activating your preferred voice assistant. Just say “OK Google” or “Alexa”.
Fast Pair and Swift Pair – This allows you to effortlessly pair with your Android devices. You can also locate where you last left your earphones. Swift Pair makes it quick and easy to pair your LinkBuds to your Windows 11 or Windows 10 laptop, desktop PC, or tablet.
Below are the LinkBuds’ full specifications. After that, let’s take a closer look and share my experience with it.
Sony LinkBuds WF-L900 Specifications
|Headphone Type||Dynamic, Open|
|Frequency Response||20Hz -20,000Hz (44.1kHz sampling)|
|Water Resistance||Yes, IPX4|
|Battery Charge Method||USB Charging (with case)|
|Battery Life||max 5.5 hrs continuous music playback
max 2.5 hrs continuous communication
max 11 hrs waiting time
|BT Range||10m effective|
|Frequency Range||2.4GHz band (2.4000GHz -2.4835GHz)|
|BT Profile||A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP|
|Supported Formats||SBC, AAC|
|Supported Content Protection||SCMS-T|
|Earbud Weight||~4.1grams (each)|
|Charging Case Weight||~34 grams|
|Case Dimension||~41.1mm x 48.5mm x 30.9mm|
|Color Options||White, Dark Gray|
|Accessories||USB Type-C cable|
(#ad) For the latest pricing and availability:
Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless earbuds is available on Amazon.com here.
Packaging and Closer Look
The LinkBuds came in a small simple boxy packaging. Sony has a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its products, so no plastic is included in the packaging material. The LinkBuds itself is made of plastic, but Sony is using recycled plastic materials.
I haven’t mentioned this earlier, but the LinkBuds is compatible with most Bluetooth or Bluetooth-capable devices. Not only Android-based devices or Windows PC, but the Sony LinkBuds is also compatible with iPhones (iOS devices), iPods, and macOS (version 10.15 or later).
The package includes several reading materials, a short USB-C to USB-A charging cable, five sizes of fitting supporter, and the LinkBuds itself, which is housed inside its casing. The LinkBuds is already pre-fitted out of the box with a medium-sized rubber supporter. You’ll need to use the appropriate size since it will hold the LinkBuds in place. Unlike most earphones and earbuds, there are no silicone tips that would hold the earbuds in your ear canal.
The Sony LinkBuds’ charging case is small and it is made from recycled plastic materials from automobile parts according to Sony. The surface of the case isn’t glossy or mirror-like. Instead, it has a matte finish surface that doesn’t slip easily from your hands. To charge the case, you’ll have to connect it to a power source via the USB-C port. Unfortunately, the LinkBuds’ case does not support wireless charging.
Opening the LinkBuds’ charging case is easy. Simply push the button in the middle and it will open. The LinkBunds don’t easily fall off as well, since they are held by a magnet and a small clip. However, if you accidentally drop the case with the LinkBuds in it, there is a chance that it will open and the LinkBuds will be ejected from the case. It’s best not to drop the case even though it looks sturdy.
Like I mentioned earlier, the LinkBuds remind me of a Mentos candy, at least for this white one. It’s small and lightweight, and I sometimes almost forgot that I am wearing them. As you can see from the first photo above, there is a small hole right beside the Sony logo. I think that’s for the microphone.
On the other side, you can see three contact points for the charging case. There’s also an L (left) and R (right) indicator, and near it is the LinkBuds’ sensor. All the circuitry and electronic PCB are located on this side of the LinkBuds. Meanwhile, the other “circle”, the one with the hole, is the driver portion. Below is an illustration of what it looks like under the hood.
As you can see, it has a very unique design, unlike any other earbuds on the market. The way you wear it is somewhat unique as well. You only need to “insert” the LinkBuds on your ear, with the ring portion sitting on your ear’s Concha area. The ring/driver part should align with your ear canal for the best result.
Do not insert it in your ear canal, it is not supposed to go in your ear canal. Aside from the rubber fitting supporter, your ear’s Tragus will help hold the LinkBuds in place.
Above is the LinkBuds right beside the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. Compared to the LinkBuds, the Elite 65t is larger and looks “bulkier”. You can also see the difference in the nozzle portion. Like most earphones/earbuds, the Elite 65t requires a silicon/foam tip to be inserted in the ear. Meanwhile, there is no nozzle on the LinkBuds, just a hole that should align with your ear canal.
How to Control the LinkBuds?
Using the LinkBuds is quite easy and the pairing is smooth, as expected from a well established company. The first time I open the case and wear the LinkBuds, my Windows PC immediately detected the LinkBuds. Pairing it with my Android smartphones was easy and fast as well, and so far I haven’t encountered any issues when pairing with multiple devices.
If you haven’t skipped the intro part, I mentioned that one of the LinkBuds’ features is the Wide Area Tap. With it, simply tap once or twice near the LinkBuds; for example the area right next to your ear, or the sideburn area for men. The LinkBuds’ sensor is sensitive enough that it will even register when you tap your ear lobe or helix.
You’ll need to download and install Sony’s Headphones app to configure the wide area tap, and assign what tap (1 or 2 / left or right) triggers a certain function. And yes, you can use the LinkBuds independently, either left or right only.
Sony Headphones App
Above is what the Sony Headphones app looks like. Although the LinkBuds will work without this app, I find that it is necessary to install it, especially if you want to configure the wide area tap and if you want to receive (firmware) updates for the LinkBuds. If you have other Sony wireless headphone devices, like the WH-1000XM5, you’ll also need this app installed to get updates and for customization.
The only thing that I haven’t tried, and will probably not try, is the 360 Reality Audio Setup. You’ll have to take photos and send data to Sony for it to be configured properly. You can also record your activities, but this will also require that you sign in to a Sony account.
Sony LinkBuds Subjective Listening Experience
By now the internet is flooded with reviews of the Sony LinkBuds. You can see a lot of YouTubers and other media outlets covering it. I was a bit late to the party so I decided to spend more time using the LinkBuds before writing my review. At the time of review, I have used the Sony LinkBuds for more than a couple of months. Most of the time, I use the LinkBuds for watching (YT) videos.
Oftentimes, I use the LinkBuds to listen to some music, but mostly for casual listening only. While the sound quality is good enough, it’s not on a level similar to (audiophile / HiFi) earphones or earbuds. It also lacks deep rich bass or punchy rumbling bass. Although, I was already expecting it due to its open design.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t sound flat or sterile. There’s still some life to it. It’s just not suitable for (serious) music listening and enjoyment. That’s why most of the time I use it for watching videos or listening to podcasts and lectures.
What Is It Like To Use the Sony LinkBuds?
Despite not being one of the best-sounding earbuds on the market, the LinkBuds is still useful in several scenarios. Thanks to its open design, you’ll still hear your surrounding, granted that your volume is not too high. This is useful in situations where you need to be aware of your surrounding or need to hear what’s going on around you.
Sony designed the LinkBuds to have a “never off” wearing experience. And you don’t need to take it off if you want to hear your surrounding. Unlike earbuds or earphones that plug in your ear canal, those isolate and block sound, even if there’s no music playing. Most of the time, you’ll have to remove them if you want to hear your surroundings. This isn’t the case with the LinkBuds.
Speaking of the volume, compared to most earphones, the LinkBuds doesn’t get that loud. Some earphones or earbuds tend to get really loud, like ear-damaging loud. If you’re the kind of person who listens to music at high volume (which I advise against it), you might find the LinkBuds’ volume inadequate.
While, the LinkBuds has a “never off” wearing design, and it’s nice to just wear it (almost) all day, unfortunately, its battery life won’t allow you. From a full charge, the LinkBuds will only last around 5 hours, and lesser if you use them to make calls. After that, you’ll have to return it to its charging case for a quick recharge.
The charging case can provide an additional battery life of around 12 hours. When it is depleted, that’s the time you need to charge the case as well. You can monitor the battery life using the Sony Headphones app.
Lastly, audio quality when making calls is okay and serviceable. It’s not the clearest, but it is clear enough, especially under ideal conditions. Your voice may sound good or a bit bad depending on the scenario or environment.
My only concern is, just like with any other wireless earbuds, the LinkBuds aren’t immune to accidental ejection or dislodge. So, better use the right fitting supporter.
Price and Where to Buy
The Sony LinkBuds WF-L900 Truly Wireless earbuds is now available with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $179.99. It’s available in white and gray colors. For the latest pricing and availability, kindly follow the link below.
(#ad) Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless earbuds are available on Amazon.com here.
Sony LinkBuds WF-L900 Review Conclusion – Who Is This For?
Sony’s LinkBuds truly wireless earbuds is a unique device. It can serve you well if you know what you are looking for. Or if you think the LinkBuds has the specific feature or function that you need. It’s a specialized product and it won’t be for everyone. I think it’s a great earbud especially when you need to be aware of your surrounding without removing the earbuds.
It’s also another option if you don’t want an in-ear type of earbuds/earphones, those with silicon tips that plug in your ear. Some people do not like the suction feeling and would prefer something that doesn’t need to be plugged into the ear canal. The LinkBuds is also comfortable to wear, at least based on my experience. It sits well on my ear, and I can wear it for several hours.
If you are after audio quality or rich hard hitting bass, I do not recommend the LinkBuds. Instead, you might want to consider the Sony WH-1000XM4 or something like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. The LinkBuds is also, and obviously, do not have active noise cancelling feature. You might want to check out the LinkBuds S or WH-1000XM4 instead. If you don’t like an earbuds that needs to be plug in your ear canal, but you want something better than the LinkBuds, I think something like the AirPods (3rd Gen) would fit you.
At the end of the day, I think the Sony LinkBuds is not a bad product. Maybe misunderstood, or people didn’t see its practical use or does not apply to their daily setup. It’s not an earbuds for everyone, and neither does it tries to. It has a unique feature and specific function. And it does its job well in being comfortable, no need to remove (unless for charging) “open” earbuds. If you know that you need its feature, I think it is worth giving it a shot.