The Sony LinkBuds S, released on May 18, 2022, represents a departure from its predecessor, the unique yet flawed LinkBuds. With an emphasis on reliability and performance, the LinkBuds S aims to cater to a broader audience. While it sacrifices some distinctiveness, it brings improved features and sound quality to the table.

Design and Comfort: The LinkBuds S ditches the unconventional donut-shaped housing of its predecessor in favor of a more conventional design. The earbuds, made of black plastic, feature a comfortable round shape that fits securely in the ears. The silicone ear tips ensure a snug fit, contributing to noise isolation. However, the design tends to attract dirt and grime, necessitating frequent cleaning.

Features and Control: Tap controls on the earbuds’ flat exteriors handle various functions, including toggling active noise canceling (ANC), controlling playback, activating the virtual assistant, and adjusting volume. Although functional, the earbuds may not always register successive taps accurately.

Connectivity Options: The LinkBuds S employs Bluetooth 5.2 for connectivity and supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs. It also supports Google Fast Pair, making pairing with Android devices straightforward. The inclusion of LDAC is beneficial for Android users seeking high-quality audio.

Battery Life: Sony claims the LinkBuds S can last up to 6 hours on a single charge, and this claim holds up in testing. The earbuds provide almost 5 hours and 41 minutes of continuous playback at 75dB(SPL). The charging case offers an additional 14 hours of charge, making for a total of nearly 20 hours.

Sound Quality: The LinkBuds S presents notable improvements in sound quality over its predecessor. It closely follows a target frequency response curve, with well-represented bass and mid-range sound. However, there’s an under-emphasis in the high-range frequencies, affecting certain harmonics and high-pitched sounds. Using EQ presets can help address these issues.

Microphone Performance: The LinkBuds S’s microphone offers decent performance in ideal conditions but struggles with external noise. While suitable for phone calls in quiet environments, it falls short in noisier settings.

Alternatives: For iOS users, the Apple AirPods Pro remains a top choice due to its seamless integration with Apple devices. Samsung users may consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Galaxy Buds 2, designed for optimal performance with Samsung Galaxy phones. Additionally, the higher-end Sony WF-1000XM4 offers exceptional noise canceling, sound quality, and features.

Conclusion: While the Sony LinkBuds S sheds the uniqueness of its predecessor, it brings reliability, solid sound quality, and effective ANC to the table. With its conventional design, secure fit, and easy-to-use tap controls, it caters to a wider audience. Despite its anonymity, the LinkBuds S competes well with other wireless earbuds under $200 USD and offers a reliable and enjoyable listening experience.

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