Do you really need the best Sony buds?


Comparison of Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S.

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

I have been using a file Sony WF-1000XM4 For a good year now, and I can safely say they’re a great bunch of True wireless earbuds. Everything works as intended. The battery life and Bluetooth connection are very reliable, the app’s features are plentiful, and the sound quality is perfect. They’re clearly Sony’s best for a reason. So when Sony sent the LinkBuds S in for testing, I was a little skeptical. I like my audio technology to be the best because I don’t like to compromise on quality or features. If you buy the best, then there is a certain guarantee that I will not regret my purchase.

When the LinkBuds S arrived to me, I wondered what sacrifices Sony had made to make the buds significantly cheaper than the WF-1000XM4. Does the $130 price difference really make a big difference when it comes to Sony headphones? Here’s my experience testing Sony’s cheaper wireless earbuds compared to their pricier siblings.

Sony LinkBuds S vs. WF-1000XM4: Reasons to Buy the WF-1000XM4

Let’s get the not-so-great parts out of the way first. The LinkBuds S is cheaper than the WF-1000XM4 for a variety of reasons evident from the start. Let’s just say you’re paying a premium for flagship earbuds for a good reason. However, I must say that these compromises of which I speak are not difficult to comprehend.

Plastic tips vs. foam

Comparison of Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S.

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

Sony LinkBuds S headphones come with silicone ear tips that are designed to seal the ear canal. You get a selection of different sized tips in the box to choose from, which is essential to the earphones’ passive noise-cancellation performance (more on that later). In contrast, the more expensive Sony WF-1000XM4 has soft polyurethane foam tips that do a better job of sticking to the wall of the ear canal. So no matter your ear shape or size, the foam tips can stretch inside your ear for a perfect fit. They are also much better at isolating sound and eliminate more noise, especially in the higher frequency range.

However, the LinkBuds S also allows you to measure the best size for your ears using the companion Sony Headphone Connect app. Borrowed from the WF-1000XM4, this cool feature measures how air-tight the earphones are once you put them on. If your ears are not closed properly, the app will suggest a different tip size.

Bluetooth pairing through the case

Comparison of Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S.

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

Two of the biggest problems I have with the Sony LinkBuds S have to do with Bluetooth pairing and voice routing. The first feature is an annoying one when you start using the earphones with multiple devices.

Unlike the WF-1000XM4, which lets you press and hold the touch surface on the earphones for five seconds to enable Bluetooth pairing mode, the LinkBuds S must be in their case to pair with a new device. There is a button on the case that needs to be pressed for a few seconds to put the earbuds into pairing mode.

LinkBuds S must be placed in their case for Bluetooth pairing.

For someone like me who switches devices around all day to play multimedia, this was very annoying. Every time I had to transfer the connection from my iPhone to my Android phone to my TV to my laptop, I had to keep putting the earphones back in their case so they could pair with each new device. Once connected, LinkBuds S. Multipoint connection Like the WF-1000XM4. This means that you can stay connected to two devices simultaneously.

Voice guidance

Voice guidance Sony WF 1000XM4

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

The biggest inconvenience is the lack of voice guidance on these things. There is a voice guidance setting in the Headphone Connect app, but it only plays notification tones. So when you take the earbuds out of the case and pop them into your ears, there’s no sound telling you if Bluetooth is connected, what the battery level is for each individual bud, or if ANC is turned on or off.

You are left to the audio alerts to find out for yourself. I understand it is a lot budget bluetooth buds I do, but I expected more from the $148 LinkBuds S. Maybe Sony will add voice guidance to the buds with a future update or something, but for now, it’s sorely missed. Fortunately, you get voice guidance for everything on the WF-1000XM4.

Sony LinkBuds S vs WF-1000XM4: Reasons to Buy LinkBuds S.

While I had some issues with the LinkBuds S, I also found a lot to like about the earphones. In fact, if you’re looking forward to picking them up, you’ll be happy to know that they are very close to the premium Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones.

All the same features as the WF-1000XM4

Sony LinkBuds S inverted bud

Even when you’re not paying top dollar, Sony has made sure the LinkBuds S inherit nearly all of the great features of the WF-1000XM4. This means you can take the buds out to stop the music automatically and put them back in to start playing. The LinkBuds also have the same Speak-to-Chat feature that I love on the WF-1000XM4. It pauses playback when the earphones detect you are having a conversation and restarts after a few seconds.

Sony has made sure that the LinkBuds S inherit almost all of the great features of the WF-1000XM4.

You also get adaptive sound controls that automatically toggle the amount of ambient sound the speakers receive depending on your actions, such as running, walking, commuting, or resting.

Plus, LinkBuds let you manually tinker with the equalizer, prioritize sound quality and Bluetooth connectivity, use your favorite voice assistant, and more, thanks to the extensive Sony Headphone Connect app.

Essentially, you get complete parity in app features between Sony’s low-end and cheaper headphones.

More compact than the Sony WF-1000XM4

Comparison of Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S.

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

The first thing that immediately struck me and liked me when I started using the Sony WF-1000XM4 was how small it was and how well it held in my ear. The LinkBuds S beats them. It weighs only 9.6g compared to the WF-1000XM4, which comes in at around 41g. Of course, the latter has larger 6mm drivers, which contributes to its larger size.

However, the difference in weight and smaller form factor of the LinkBuds make them very comfortable to wear. They won’t come out of your ears while you’re running or when you’re just turning sides in bed. It fits so securely that I prefer it to the larger WF-1000XM4 in many situations. Moreover, the earbuds are also IPX4 rated, so they can totally become your partner in the gym.

Great sound and battery life

Comparison of Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S.

Adamya Sharma/Android Authority

I was pleasantly surprised by the LinkBuds S’ sound quality. They’re almost as good as the WF-1000XM4. Most music should sound great out of the earphones. However, I found the bass to be a bit dull compared to the 1000XM4. As mentioned on the sister site SoundGuysfull LinkBuds S reviewInstruments and high-pitched voices sound less prominent than they should be. But other than that, the LinkBuds are a great choice for their price.

If you get a good fit, the LinkBuds S should be able to block out most normal ambient noise.

Noise canceling He is also decent. Even more so because the LinkBuds sit snugly in the ear. If you get a good fit, you should be able to block out most regular ambient noise. However, there are still things like whistles, screams, glass breaking, etc. The 1000XM4 handles such high-frequency sounds better.

He said that, with Active noise cancellation When turned on, the buds can easily last for about six hours. They continue to deliver over eight to nine hours of playback with ANC off. Add to that the charging case, and you get a decent amount of long battery life that should last for over 20 hours of listening time. I find myself using one bud a lot at a time. It’s very convenient because even if one bud runs out of juice, I can just pop the other out of the charging case and start using a fully charged bud again.


Sony LinkBuds S vs. WF-1000XM4: Specifications

SpecificationsSony LinkBuds S.Sony WF-1000XM4
Specifications

size and weight

Sony LinkBuds S.

almost. 4.8g x 2

Sony WF-1000XM4

almost. 41 grams

Specifications

driver unit

Sony LinkBuds S.

5 mm

Sony WF-1000XM4

6 mm

Specifications

frequency response

Sony LinkBuds S.

20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (44.1 kHz sampling)
20 Hz – 40,000 Hz (LDAC 96 kHz 990 kbps sampling)

Sony WF-1000XM4

20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (44.1 kHz sampling)
20 Hz – 40,000 Hz (LDAC sampling 96 kHz, 990 kbps)

Specifications

waterproof

Sony LinkBuds S.

IPX4

Sony WF-1000XM4

IPX4

Specifications

magnet

Sony LinkBuds S.

High energy neodymium magnet

Sony WF-1000XM4

High energy neodymium magnet

Specifications

DSEE Xtreme

Sony LinkBuds S.

yes

Sony WF-1000XM4

yes

Specifications

battery

Sony LinkBuds S.

Shipping time: Aprox. 2 hours

Battery life continuous operation:
the above. 6 Hours (Noise Canceling Playback) / Max. 9 hours (Noise Canceling Off)

Sony WF-1000XM4

Charging time: approx. 1.5 hours

Battery life continuous operation:
the above. 8 hours (Noise Canceling Playback) / Max. 12 hours (Noise Canceling Off)

Specifications

bluetooth

Sony LinkBuds S.

Bluetooth 5.2
Effective range: 10 m

Sony WF-1000XM4

Bluetooth 5.2
Effective range: 10 m

Specifications

Supported audio formats

Sony LinkBuds S.

SBC, AAC, LDAC

Sony WF-1000XM4

SBC, AAC, LDAC

Specifications

Noise canceling

Sony LinkBuds S.

yes

Sony WF-1000XM4

yes

Specifications

charging case

Sony LinkBuds S.

yes

Sony WF-1000XM4
Specifications

Colors

Sony LinkBuds S.

blue earth
light beige
white
black

Sony WF-1000XM4

black
silver

Specifications

What’s in the box

Sony LinkBuds S.

USB-C cable
Advice

Sony WF-1000XM4

USB-C cable
Advice

Sony LinkBuds S vs WF-1000XM4: Verdict

The WF-1000XM4 remains Sony’s flagship for many reasons, most of which I mentioned above. Since they’ve been on sale for a while, you can usually pick up a WF-1000XM4 for pretty good under $200. But if it comes to pushing the full MSRP, at $130 less, the LinkBuds S won’t disappoint. In fact, they’re a very capable set of earphones for this price. What buds will you buy? Let us know in the comments.

$148.00 at Amazon

Sony LinkBuds S.

25%turning off

Sony LinkBuds S.

Noise canceling
effective insulation
Good sound quality



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