Active noise-canceling earphones are all the rage right now, but consumer electronics giant Sony has decided to be slightly counterintuitive by launching a radically new design of true wireless earphones that are more open to the outside world. The brand-new Sony LinkBuds use a unique ring driver design that brings a whole new level of audio transparency to the earphones market coupled with a “Never Off” wearing experience.
Sony is billing its LinkBuds as a great way to enjoy music as well as everything that’s going on around the listener. These true wireless earphones are always on and can keep the wearer connected to the Internet and their music while still being aware of their surroundings.
The design of the LinkBuds revolves around a unique open ring driver which provides audio transparency. Physically, the LinkBuds are superbly small and offer an ultra-comfortable fit with clear sound and call quality. By leveraging the unique design of the LinkBuds, with their sensor and spatial sound technologies, Sony claims it is creating new sound experiences for gamers and home workers.
The open driver used in the LinkBuds is shaped like a ring and has an open center that enables sound to reach the user’s ears from outside, enabling them to hear what’s going on around them without spoiling the music. Thanks to the design, the wearer will always be able to hear when someone calls their name, even if they are making a phone call at the time.
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The transparency feature makes it easy to chat with friends while listening to favorite songs. The new design is ideal for working from home where the user may need to keep an ear out for a knock on the door. The earphones are also perfect for gaming, listening to music and making video calls over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Designed never to be always on when worn, the LinkBuds are tiny and comfortable. Weighing just four grams per earpiece, these earphones are an incredible example of miniaturization. Unlike conventional earbuds, the protective surface covering the speaker diaphragm is integrated within the earpiece housing, saving space. The overall shape of the earpieces has been crafted by drawing on extensive data collected about ear shapes since Sony introduced the world’s first in-ear headphones, way back in 1982. Sony claims the wearer will barely notice the earphones, making them perfect for all-day wearing.
As well as providing high-quality audio, the Sony LinkBuds can be used for making phone calls without background noise. Precise voice pickup technology performs advanced voice signal processing using Sony’s noise-reduction algorithm that’s been developed using AI machine learning. Based on more than 500 million voice samples, the algorithm can suppress ambient noise and extract the speaker’s voice with great clarity. LinkBuds enable the user’s voice to be heard even when calling from noisy situations.
LinkBuds offer high-quality sound thanks to Sony’s DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) which can restore compressed music tracks to a much higher audio quality. Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 reproduces detail in the music with minimal distortion. The specially designed 12mm ring driver serves up a rich and well-balanced sound.
Adaptive Volume Control is another feature of the LinkBuds and it can automatically optimize the volume based on where the listener is. It blends the music seamlessly into the environment, enabling the user to listen to favorite tracks at a comfortable volume in a range of situations, making listening to music in the open air a more enjoyable experience.
Despite their size, the LinkBuds are easy to use and feature a range of advanced functions. For example, instead of using touch controls, the LinkBuds can be controlled by the user tapping their face. With Wide Area Tap, users can double or triple tap the area in front of their ears to adjust playback without ever needing to touch the earpieces.
With Speak-to-Chat, the LinkBuds will automatically pause the music as soon as the user starts speaking to someone. Once the conversation is over, the music begins playing again, so there’s no need to touch any controls. LinkBuds also come with hands-free help so users can get information, connect with friends, set reminders and activate their preferred voice assistant just by saying “OK Google” or “Alexa.”
LinkBuds support Google’s Fast Pair feature for effortless pairing with Android devices. There’s also a function for locating where the earphones were last left. Swift Pair makes it easy to pair the LinkBuds with Windows 11 or Windows 10 laptops, desktop PCs or tablets. For the first time, the earbuds can be taken out of their charging case and a pop-up will appear automatically on the computer for connecting. With Quick access, the LinkBuds can be configured to resume Spotify playback with just a couple of taps and no need to touch the smartphone.
Sony LinkBuds also provide enhanced capabilities integrated with Microsoft Soundscape. Their open-ear shape enables users to hear audio beacons and callouts of buildings or intersections, all with the natural sound of the surroundings. Compass/gyro sensors inside the earphones can detect the direction of the user’s head and enable them to hear the sound from a destination, without holding a smartphone.
Like many major corporations in the consumer electronics industry, Sony is working hard when it comes to sustainability. The LinkBuds have been designed with the environment in mind. Their charging case is made with a mix of recycled plastic materials and stone, giving an attractive and hard-wearing surface with a slight sparkle. All the LinkBud’s packaging is plastic-free.
Thanks to IPX4 water resistance, the LinkBuds can shrug off splashes of water and sweat. With a playing time of 5.5 hours, the LinkBuds are also good for the daily commute and a workout in the gym. There’s an additional 12 hours of backup charge available in the LinkBud’s compact storage case. Even better, a quick 10-minute charge can yield up to 90 minutes of playing time if the user has forgotten to keep the LinkBuds charged.
Sony LinkBuds also come with 360 Reality Audio which can make the music sound as if the listener is sitting in the front row of a live concert or sitting alongside the recording artist in the studio.
Pricing & Availability: Sony LinkBuds will be available in Grey and White finishes from February 2022 and will be priced at approximately £150 / €180.
More info: www.sony.co.uk