Friday, February 11th 2022

Peculiar Sony LinkBuds Leak, Appears to be Open Back

When it comes to headphones, Sony is not a company to shy away from trying new things and the leaked LinkBuds are unlike anything else currently in the market. What we're looking at seems to be a set of open back in-ear TWS earbuds, although it's highly unlikely that we'll see any form of noise cancelling support here. Sony did make something similar under its Xperia brand some years ago, although the Xperia Ear Duo XEA20 as they were called, weren't nearly as compact, but it's the only other open back in-ear type headphones we're aware of.

The LinkBuds, also known as the WF-L900 appear to be sitting entirely inside your ears and according to the leaked information, they lack any kind of physical buttons. This might not be a huge issue, as the LinkBuds are said to feature automatic volume control, based on the listening environment. They're supposedly built around Sony's V1 processor and are said to feature support for Sony's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine). Although noise cancelling for the listener might be missing, AI noise suppression for voice is apparently present and is meant to be activated by touching the ear, rather than the earbuds. Other features should include support for voice assistants, Google Fast Pair and multi-pairing.
Judging by the speckled appearance, we're looking at yet another product that is using some form of recycled plastic and the upper half seems to have a removable, possibly silicon based part that will help with fitting. The LinkBuds should feature IPX4 certification and the battery is said to be good for up to 5.5 hours of music playback, with the charging case adding a further 12 hours of battery life. The rumoured pricing is US$249 or around €200-220. The LinkBuds are expected to be revealed on the 15th of February, as Sony already has an online event planned for that day.
Sources: @TechInsiderBlog, WinFuture
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12 Comments on Peculiar Sony LinkBuds Leak, Appears to be Open Back

#1
awesomesauce
interesting design,

i wounder how it perform and if it stay right in ear and not fall off.
Posted on Reply
#2
TheLostSwede
awesomesauceinteresting design,

i wounder how it perform and if it stay right in ear and not fall off.
The design is really quite strange, but the upper part has what looks like a silicon ring with a flexible part sticking out. That should allow it to have some flex against the ear and hold it in place, with the bottom half sitting behind the tragus of the ear.
It could be good in situations where you want small earbuds, but don't want to block out too much outside noise.
Posted on Reply
#3
Tigger
I'm the only one
Wonder if they sound tinny, what the bass is like.

Interesting vid talking about these.
Posted on Reply
#4
TechLurker
Another article on this from their own leaker claims that the intent is supposedly to allow for some ambient noise with your music being layered over it, keeping aware with what's going on around you but still letting you listen to music. I think the article claimed it was much like overhead store music augmenting an otherwise boring shopping experience; but now you can layer music over the rest of your daily life without completely blocking it out.

Assuming it's true, I could see some use cases; outdoor walking/jogging/running would be one, to better hear incoming cars (esp. quieter EVs or Hybrids at low speeds that only produce some noise to be "heard") and unleashed dogs, or at certain workplaces where one still needs to be able to hear but is allowed to wear them otherwise. At least, looking at some of the local store cashiers and stockers, who currently just have "one-in, one-charging" and have to either turn their head or remove the other earpiece when a customer comes up to them. Gets weirder with the ones working at stores that have headsets; one-in, one-charging, and one-store communicator that they just switch ears when they switch earbuds.
Posted on Reply
#5
Operandi
TechLurkerAnother article on this from their own leaker claims that the intent is supposedly to allow for some ambient noise with your music being layered over it, keeping aware with what's going on around you but still letting you listen to music. I think the article claimed it was much like overhead store music augmenting an otherwise boring shopping experience; but now you can layer music over the rest of your daily life without completely blocking it out.

Assuming it's true, I could see some use cases; outdoor walking/jogging/running would be one, to better hear incoming cars (esp. quieter EVs or Hybrids at low speeds that only produce some noise to be "heard") and unleashed dogs, or at certain workplaces where one still needs to be able to hear but is allowed to wear them otherwise. At least, looking at some of the local store cashiers and stockers, who currently just have "one-in, one-charging" and have to either turn their head or remove the other earpiece when a customer comes up to them. Gets weirder with the ones working at stores that have headsets; one-in, one-charging, and one-store communicator that they just switch ears when they switch earbuds.
I think this is trying use passive design to allow noise in whereas others like my Jabra take the active approach with the built in mic and noise cancellation to try to selectively allow ambient noises in and allow you to hear whats going on around you over music or podcasts. It works ok in some situations like going for walks where its pretty quiet but in others like on the bike where there is consistent noise it totally fails and can't distinguish wind noise from car noise and just creates a huge mess. I think thats always going to be the case when trying to use the microphones and active noise cancellation.

If they can get it to work and sound good I'd be down to try them.
Posted on Reply
#6
trsttte
I don't think this will be very successful. Everyone wants ANC and noise isolation which a design like this has little chance of being good at.

I for one love to see more designs that aren't in-ears that you need to fully stick into your ear. I may at some point need to replace the Galaxy Beans and there really aren't that many options like that.
Posted on Reply
#7
CallandorWoT
trsttteI don't think this will be very successful. Everyone wants ANC and noise isolation which a design like this has little chance of being good at.

I for one love to see more designs that aren't in-ears that you need to fully stick into your ear. I may at some point need to replace the Galaxy Beans and there really aren't that many options like that.
yep agreed, even at home i want noise cancellation cause of thin made walls and traffic. cause apparently as a society we are ok dropping six figures on shitty construction, i could have been just as happy in a 15x15 wood shed for about 3 grand, and hell, that wood is probably thicker.

damn we get scammed every day in america don't we? lol
Posted on Reply
#8
Operandi
trsttteI don't think this will be very successful. Everyone wants ANC and noise isolation which a design like this has little chance of being good at.
No, not everyone wants that. Besides thats relatively easy as is evident by the countless no-name brands on all over the placing offering just that.

Relatively good sound while being able to hear around you is the holy grail of wireless IEM for basically anyone doing anything outside. Its a huge market and so far nobody has been able to get it right.
Posted on Reply
#9
my_name_is_earl
BT headphone has come a long way. I remember using the Jawbone thinking it was dope back then.
Posted on Reply
#10
trsttte
OperandiNo, not everyone wants that. Besides thats relatively easy as is evident by the countless no-name brands on all over the placing offering just that.

Relatively good sound while being able to hear around you is the holy grail of wireless IEM for basically anyone doing anything outside. Its a huge market and so far nobody has been able to get it right.
I agree but most stuff I see is either airpods know-off or variations on 1 or 2 designs all using some kind of rubber seal eartip inside the ear canal (the original air pods don't protrude inside too much or use the rubber seal but still use a similar design philosophy).
Posted on Reply
#12
trsttte
TechLurkerFor anyone who cares, Gizmodo currently has an early review up.
LTT has an early video up as well

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