Sony is known for creating the best true wireless headphones today. They combine excellent audio quality with additional features such as touch-sensitive controls or active noise cancellation, all at an affordable price.
The Sony WF1000XM4 is our favorite wireless headphones, launched in 2021 and featuring many of the same features that the over-ear (WH-1000XM4)
Sony has since released a new pair wireless earbuds. They are very different from the WF1000XM4. The Sony LinkBuds have the most unique in-ear headphones that we’ve ever seen. They feature a ring-shaped, open driver design that leaves all of your ear canals exposed.
The Sony LinkBuds, unlike the WF-1000XM4, are made to be worn throughout the day. They allow you to hear the world around you, listen to podcasts, and take calls. This unique design was a huge gamble by the company, but we believe it has been worth it.
The LinkBuds and the Sony WF1000XM4 are both excellent examples of the progress wireless earbuds has made in the past few years. We’d be happy to recommend either model. It is difficult to choose between them, unfortunately.
We’ve done a deep dive on the Sony WF1000XM4 earbuds and the LinkBuds to compare them. This is everything you need about Sony’s top earbuds and how they compare to its weirdest.
The Sony LinkBuds.
Sony LinkBuds and Sony WF-1000XM4: Price and availability
Sony LinkBuds can be purchased now for $179 / PS149 / AU$299 after they were launched on February 15, 2022.
They are much cheaper than the Sony WF1000XM4, which was $279.99 / PS250 / AU$449.95 at the time they were released in 2021. While there are occasionally deals, WF-1000XM4 discounts tend to be very modest.
You can find great deals on the SonyWF-1000XM3 or the less expensive in-ear headphones such as the WF–C500 for $79/PS89/AU$149.95
The Sony WF1000XM4.
Sony LinkBuds vs Sony WF-1000XM4: design
The Sony LinkBuds as well as the WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds are truly wireless. There is no cable between the earbuds. The charging case charges the battery and keeps the earbuds safe.
True wireless earbuds fall into one of two categories: those with protruding stems, like the Apple AirPods Pro or those without. The Sony LinkBuds aren’t like any other wireless earbuds that we have seen.
The Sony LinkBuds have an open design, which allows your ears to hear all around you. The ear canals are blocked by traditional earbuds. However, the LinkBuds’ ring-shaped drivers leave the ear canals open.
These drivers are connected to round housings in a figure eight-style arrangement. Rubber fins are available in various sizes and hold the housings in place in your concha.
We didn’t find the LinkBuds as comfortable as the Sony WF1000XM4 despite their smaller size. This is not an indication of poor design. However, our ears simply don’t like this particular form factor.
Comparatively, the Sony WF-1000XM4 with their charging case and flat circular housings are quite large, with polyurethane eartips connected to them.
Each model has an IPX4 rating which makes them water-resistant. This means that they can withstand some sweat and rain. Both the LinkBuds as well as the WF-1000XM4 are available in silver or black colors and come with recycled paper packaging. The LinkBuds go one step further in eco-friendly design and are made partially from recycled car parts.
Sony LinkBuds and Sony WF-1000XM4: Controls and Setup
The Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds both have touch-sensitive controls that allow you to tap on the housings of your earbuds to change your music, take calls, or summon the voice assistant.
The LinkBuds do have some extra tricks. Because they are so small, it can be difficult to tap the LinkBuds’ housings accurately. Sony therefore developed Wide Area Tap.
This clever feature allows you to tap the area in front your ears to control LinkBuds. You just need to tap your forehead to play/pause or skip the next track.
These controls can be reconfigured in the Sony Headphones Connect App – where you will set up the LinkBuds and the WF-1000XM4 when you first use them.
You can customize your earbuds and download updates.
You can personalize the app to your liking. In the case of LinkBuds, there is even an animation that shows how to properly wear them. The Headphones Connect app can enable Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology. This requires that you take a picture of each ear. The app will then analyze your ears to create an immersive sound that is tailored to you.
Sony LinkBuds vs Sony WF-1000XM4: audio performance
The Sony WF1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds offer outstanding audio performance. They both support DSEE upscaling technology and automatic pausing when you take your earbuds out. 360 Reality allows for immersive virtual surround sound.
The LinkBuds have a remarkable soundstage. The 12mm open-fit ring drivers create an expansive sound that lets every instrument shine in your favorite songs.
The open design doesn’t provide the same powerful bass response as earbuds with a seal against the ear canal. However, the LinkBuds sound balanced enough that the lower frequencies don’t seem bloated.
Although the Sony WF-1000XM4 has a deeper sound, they don’t have as much volume. The XM4 and LinkBuds provide excellent control and dynamism, while the XM4 provides high levels of detail.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 may make you feel more connected to the world thanks to its physical seal against the external world and active noise cancelling technology that blocks out your environment. Sony’s LDAC codec supports high-res audio on the WF-1000XM4. DSEE can enhance music on the LinkBuds up to ‘nearly’ hi-res, but not as good as 24-bit / 192kHZ streaming.
The LinkBuds don’t offer any noise cancellation, active or passive. These earbuds can be worn all day and allow you to hear the world around you as you listen to music.
Sony LinkBuds and Sony WF-1000XM4: Battery life and connectivity
The Sony WF-1000XM4 has the longest battery life of the two models. The battery lasts for 24 hours, and the earbuds provide 8-12 hours of audio playback. You can expect a shorter battery lifespan if active noise cancellation is enabled.
The LinkBuds offer only 17.5 hours of battery time. That’s 5.5 hours for the earbuds, and 12 hours for the charging case. Sony Headphones Connect App warns you that battery life may be shorter if you have multiple features, such as Speak-to-Chat and DSEE, all on at the same time.
The LinkBuds as well as the WF1000XM4 support Quick Charging. This allows you to charge your earbuds quickly when you are in a rush. Only the WF1000XM4 supports wireless charging.
Both models have Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity which ensures a reliable connection to your devices. The LinkBuds would sometimes drop out if we left the phone in another room. This is because Bluetooth can be affected by physical barriers such as walls. However, the LinkBuds seemed to have the most trouble.
Both models do not have multipoint connectivity, which allows you to quickly switch between playback devices. This is a shame considering the quality of both Sony earbuds.
When you are trying to decide between the Sony LinkBuds or the WF-1000XM4, the first question that should pop into your mind is “How will I use my new earbuds?”
The LinkBuds are wireless earbuds that can easily be worn throughout the day. They allow you to listen to music and take calls. Anyone who wants to try something different will love the unique design.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is the best option if you want to completely block out the outside world while listening to music. They offer great active noise cancelling and an immersive sound that will let you enjoy the music to the fullest. They also have high-quality audio support, so you can listen to high-quality music streams.
Wireless charging support is also available with the WF-1000XM4 model. This will be a great option for anyone who forgets to charge their wireless earbuds.
The price is what will ultimately decide your decision. LinkBuds cost $100/PS100/AU$150 less than noise-canceling counterparts. If the LinkBuds seem too expensive, there are many cheaper options. For instance, the 2019 AirPods offer many similar features and are often discounted. Apple’s earbuds don’t have the same audio quality as Sony’s.