Different headphones for different… needs.
While one man will want a chunky set of noise-cancelling cans to drown out all around them, others like to stay more aware of their surroundings. Which is where so-called ‘open-ear’ options come in.
These headphones still deliver quality sound, but are designed in such a way – usually by using bone-conduction technology – that allows the outside world in.
That’s good news for runners, cyclists, and anyone else who prefers a bit of spatial awareness while working out or generally going about their days.
Sony’s LinkBuds (RRP £149) represent the brand’s first foray into this open-ear world – though it’s made possible not by bone-conduction, but a unique open-ring design.
The ring sits just inside your ear, allowing the speakers to do their thing while the hole lets background noise in.
Sony LinkBuds: the good
Sticking with the positives, these are slick-looking, barely-there buds that achieve the dual purpose of sounding strong and combining the online and offline worlds.
A full charge gives you five-and-a-half hours of play time, plus another 12 topped up in the case.
They’re also splash-proof and easy to use with single, double and triple taps – or indeed with Alexa or OK Google voice control.
Sony LinkBuds: the bad
With small design, however, comes a big onus on getting the fit just right. And for us the LinkBuds don’t quite achieve that.
Sony say ‘LinkBuds combine a shape that perfectly matches the human ear with an ergonomic design for a more stable fit’, but we found the buds became slippery when wet – an issue if you’re exercising at any intensity – which caused them to dislodge from time to time.
It’s worth noting, of course, that ear shape is not universal, and the buds do come with a few different-sized outer rubber rings for a slightly more customised fit.
Should you buy Sony LinkBuds?
Crisp sound and good looks are the selling points here, so if you’re just looking for a pair of casual-wear headphones the LinkBuds would work well.
For workout wear, though, we prefer to stick to the security of over-ear options.