Here at Gear Diary, we’re big advocates of being aware of your surroundings when you’re out running, walking, or biking. It’s tough to listen to music and work out unless you opt for the “one in/one out” earbud strategy or use bone conduction headphones that leave your ears open. Leave it to Sony to come up with an answer that lets you keep your earbuds in without losing contact with the outside world with the new Sony LinkBuds!
Sony LinkBuds are pretty unique in the world of true wireless earbuds; the company’s goal is to accommodate the fact that we’re all wearing earbuds, but we still need to be able to have conversations or hear what’s going on around us.
The result is that the LinkBuds look kind of like tiny donuts that sit just inside your ears, leaving the middle open and allowing you to hear what’s around you while also listening to music.
Sony uses Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) tech, so they promise you’ll get clear sound and a pleasant listening experience. It’s also using AI to make sure your voice sounds clear if you take a call by suppressing ambient noise and even the ability to adjust the volume preferences based on your location!
These aren’t waterproof, but they are IPX4 water-resistant, so normal sweat should be fine. Effectively, you’re getting the quality listening experience you expect from Sony, but with the bonus of being able to hear if your coworker is sneaking up on you to drone on about their dramatic weekend fixing a lawnmower.
The ability to adjust your volume and be aware of your surroundings without giving up musical quality is pretty clever.
We’ve seen other companies attempt to solve the “how do you listen to music without sealing yourself from the world” problem, mostly by either using bone conduction and leaving your ears totally clear or putting in two-way microphones so you can effectively “listen” to the outside world on demand.
Bone conduction is great, but you do give up some sound quality, and having an on/off option for outside listening sounds good but can drain your batteries.
The Sony LinkBuds thread that by merging the listening quality of regular headphones with the open-ear option of bone conduction. On paper, at least, they seem like the ideal solution if you work in an office or spend a great deal of time outside but also want or need your headphones at the same time.
One final bonus: Sony says the LinkBuds are made with recycled materials and plastic-free packaging, so you can feel slightly less guilty about your carbon footprint as you rock out!