If you've ever heard of bone conduction headphones, you know they vibrate the bones in your ears to transmit sound, letting you listen while not actually having anything in your ears.
Sony's LinkBuds are NOT bone conduction headphones, but they aim to offer the same benefits, with Sony describing them as "a new way to enjoy your favourite music and the important moments in life, all at once."
These brand-new headphones are naturally truly wireless, and they let you stay connected and aware with the help of the open ring design with audio transparency, with an ultra-small super fit and what Sony promises is crystal-clear sound and call quality.
Sony combined the unique design with sensor and spatial sound technologies, and this is enabling the company to create new sound experiences together with its partners, such as AR gaming, new work from home experiences, sound AR navigation, and quick access to music.
So, what is more detail?
Sony explains its LinkBuds have been created with a unique open ring design that allows you to tune into the outside world whenever you want, without compromising your listening experience.
LinkBuds contain a newly-developed ring driver unit has the centre of the diaphragm, open for audio transparency, allowing you to clearly hear the sounds around, so you’ll always know when someone calls your name or easily chat with friends while listening to your favourite songs.
As you'd expect, Sony says the new design makes LinkBuds "the perfect companion" for a range of uses, including working from home, gaming, listening to music, and more.
They also promise a super small, ergonomic design, approximately four grams in weight. In addition, the protective surface covering the speaker diaphragm is integrated within the housing, saving space. Sony explains the overall shape has been crafted with the use of extensive ear shape data, collated since it introduced the world’s first in-ear headphones in 1982, meaning we’ll barely notice wearing them.
What about the sound quality?
We’re promised the ability to make calls without noise, for crystal clear conversations. LinkBuds offer a “precise voice pickup technology” that performs advanced voice signal processing, while Sony’s noise reduction algorithm, developed using AI machine learning, uses more than 500 million voice samples to suppress ambient noise and extract your voice clearly.
LinkBuds promise to let you hear people, when you need to, even when you’re in noisy situations.
As for audio, there’s the promise of high quality sound, thanks to DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine,) which ensures your personal soundtrack will be restored to high quality.
Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 reproduces all the detail in your music with minimal distortion, for what is called “a stunningly authentic listening experience,” so your favourite artists always sound great. A specially designed 12mm ring driver provides rich, well-balanced sound.
There’s also an Adaptive Volume Control feature that automatically optimises volume based on where you are, letting your music seamlessly blend into your environment. This allows you to listen to your favourite tracks at a comfortable volume and in a variety of environments, to enhance the open-air listening experience.
In addition, LinkBuds feature a “Wide Area Tap” so all control is at your fingertips. By double or triple tapping in front of either of your ears, you can adjust playback to your liking – there’s no need to touch the LinkBuds themselves.
Another cool feature helps when your hands a full, called “Speak-to-Chat.” This lets you automatically pause your music as soon as you speak to someone. Once your conversation is over, your music starts playing automatically, so there’s no need to touch any controls.
LinkBuds also come with hands-free help so you can get information, connect with friends, set reminders, and more by activating your preferred voice assistant - just say “OK Google” or “Alexa”.
Then there’s support for Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature, letting you effortlessly pair with your Android devices. You can also locate where you last left your headphones.
The Swift Pair feature makes it quick and easy to pair your LinkBuds to your Windows 11 or Windows 10 laptop, desktop PC or tablet. You can take the earbuds out of their case and a pop-up will appear automatically. So, no matter where you are, you can easily get connected.
Spotify users will also appreciate the ability to configure LinkBuds to resume Spotify playback with Spotify Tap - meaning no need to touch your smartphone.
Sten Garmark, vice president of consumer experience at Spotify said: “At Spotify, we’re always working to create the best and most seamless listening experience for every moment. Together with Sony, we're excited by the arrival of Spotify Tap™ on the new LinkBuds, allowing listeners to instantly jump into the music or get served something new - all with simple taps."
Empowers richer experience to explore surroundings with Microsoft Soundscape
LinkBuds provide enhanced capabilities integrated with Microsoft Soundscape. Their open-ear shape enables users to hear audio beacons and callouts of buildings or intersections, with the natural sound of surroundings. Compass/gyro sensors inside the headphone can detect the direction of your head and allow you to hear the sound from a destination, without holding your smartphone.
Peter Lee, CVP of Microsoft Research & Incubations said: “Microsoft Soundscape is an innovative audio-based technology that exemplifies our mission to empower every person to achieve more.
"In our collaboration with Sony to integrate Soundscape with LinkBuds, we found that the headphones’ thoughtful design enhances the experience of Soundscape to enable people to build a richer awareness of their surroundings and become more empowered to get around, all while enjoying a true heads-up and hands-free experience. This is just the beginning and we're excited about our ongoing relationship with Sony and how our complementary technologies add value to our personal and professional lives."
IPX4 Water Resistance
Thanks to IPX4 water resistance , splashes and sweat won’t get in the way of you and your favourite tracks. You can also enjoy a full working day of charge – 5.5 hours – from the earbuds and store an additional 12 hours in the sleek and compact case. Even when life moves fast and you’re in a hurry, just a 10 minute charge gives you up to 90 minutes of play time.
Immerse yourself in sound all around
LinkBuds also come with 360 Reality Audio . With 360 Reality Audio, music can feel as real as if you were front row at a live concert or at the recording studio alongside your favourite artist.
Archit Bhargava, Niantic director of product marketing, said “Our products — Ingress, Pokémon GO and Pikmin Bloom — use augmented reality and real-world gameplay to inspire fun and wonder for our community. Sound is an important part of any entertainment experience, especially ones where users are out exploring. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Sony on the launch of LinkBuds to deliver immersive real-world audio experiences to our community.”
Sony’s LinkBuds will be available for LinkBuds will be available in Australia for AU$299.95 April 2022, with more detail here.
Here is the official launch video from Sony: