Most high-end wireless earbuds feature Active Noise Cancelation (or ANC) technology, which reduces external noise to help you focus on your music. But Sony’s new LinkBuds are incapable of noise cancelation … because they have giant holes in their drivers. And yes, the holes are there on purpose.
It’s an interesting idea—Sony kinda designed the first anti-ANC earbuds. The hole in each LinkBud ensures that you can always hear your surroundings, which may be useful while working, exercising, or wandering around town with a talkative friend.
Additionally, LinkBuds feature automatic volume that adjusts to your environment, an IPX4 splash-resistance rating, and DSEE audio upscaling (no LDAC here). There’s also a “wide area tap” control system that lets you skip tracks, adjust volume, and activate voice assistants by tapping your face, which is very strange.
In a way, LinkBuds are similar to bone conduction headphones. Both options force you to hear your surroundings while you listen to music or podcasts, which can improve your awareness and safety in some environments. If you’re not happy with the quality of your bone conduction headphones, LinkBuds might be a solid alternative.
But I wouldn’t call LinkBuds a direct replacement for bone conduction headphones. LinkBuds pump sound into your ears, while bone conduction headphones send music to your eardrums by vibrating your skull. If you’re cycling, working outdoors, or performing another task where safety is a priority, bone conduction headphones are still the best option, as they leave your ears free.
You can pre-order the Sony LinkBuds now at Amazon. They cost $179, which makes sense, as they’re the first earbuds of their kind. Orders ship February 17th, according to Sony.
Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbud Headphones with an Open-Ring Design for Ambient Sounds and Alexa Built-in, Bluetooth Ear Buds Compatible with iPhone and Android, Gray
Sony's LinkBuds feature a ring-shaped design (a hole) that lets you hear your surroundings. Additionally, they adjust their volume to your environment and support Fast Pair.