The Sony LinkBuds S are official, and they add noise-cancelling to the ambient audio experience.
As expected, they do away with the open ring design of the standard LinkBuds. In its place is a more traditional earbud design, but they still allow in outside sound thanks to a vent at the bottom. Activate the noise-cancelling, however, and background noise will be banished, letting you lose yourself in the music.
Sony calls the ability to flit between these two modes a "never off" listening experience.
Adaptive Sound Control adjusts the ambient sound settings based on your environment, allowing in the optimum amount of background sound.
Sony claims the LinkBuds S are the world's smallest and lightest noise-cancelling hi-res true wireless headphones. They weigh just 4.8g each – that's bit more than the AirPods, but the AirPods don't pack noise-cancelling tech. And their shape "perfectly matches the human ear", according to Sony. All-day listening, here we come.
Sony´s Precise Voice Pickup Technology is onboard. This optimally controls the microphones on both earbuds to focus on your voice, meaning you can be heard no matter how loud your surroundings.
Inside is a new 5mm driver, alongside Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 to improve noise cancelling. (This is the same processor as in the superb Sony WF-1000XM4.)
Like Sony's other premium headphones, they can handle Sony's LDAC music codec, while DSEE Extreme upscales tracks to restore any lost detail.
Speak-to-Chat – as seen on the Sony WH-1000XM5 – pauses the music when it detects you speaking, so you can have a conversation without taking the earbuds out. And they play nice with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants.
Touch controls are the order of the day, and they pair quickly with Android devices using Google's Fast Pair feature. Windows user? Swift Pair fulfils the same function. Bluetooth LE provides a low latency connection to a source device, which is good news for gamers, and like other Sony headphones, the packaging doesn't use plastic.
The LinkBuds S last for six hours with noise-cancellation activated, plus another 14 hours from the carry case, making for a total battery life of 20 hours. After that, you'll need to find a wall socket. A five-minute charge will give you up to an hour's play time.
Sony has also partnered with mobile gaming company Niantic (makers of Pokemon Go) to bring immersive audio to gaming. When you play the Niantic game Ingress using your LinkBuds S, spatial audio will mean the sound is delivered according to the direction the player is facing. Sony is promising more AR gaming action will come soon to LinkBuds S.
Your colour options are White, Black and Ecru. LinkBuds S ship from 20th May and will cost £180 ($199, AU$350, €200).
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