On the one hand, several mass-market earphones offer Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), so you can shut off the outside world and focus on the audio you’re listening to. Sony, the company that mastered ANC with the WF-1000XM4, has launched new true-wireless earphones worth $180 at the opposite end of the spectrum.
The new Sony LinkBuds WFL-900 is designed for the people who prioritize multitasking and leave Transparency Mode switched on constantly with conventional earphones. Sony’s new “always-on” earphones could pioneer a new category with its function.
Each earbud has a bulbous housing for the battery and other hardware, while a donut-shaped speaker driver goes in your ear and plays sound transmitted over Bluetooth. The hole in the middle of the speaker driver allows sounds from the surroundings to be heard. According to Sony, the design feature could come in handy during several activities, such as when you’re working and want to enjoy music but listen to coworkers too. The design could also let you drive and attend a phone call simultaneously (although we wouldn’t advise you to try this).
The LinkBuds also pack some intelligent features. They automatically change volume as you transition between environments with different ambient noise levels. Not to mention, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are also supported. Sony advertises all-day comfort with the LinkBuds’ lightweight design backed by IPX4 water resistance for the occasional splash. Spotify Tap is also supported. It allows you to tap the outside of your ear (not the earbud) and play or pause Spotify playback.
On the battery front, Sony advertises 90 minutes of playback time after a 10-minute charge. You could get up to 17.5 hours of playback from the case on a full charge. However, Sony has priced the LinkBuds at $179, which is steep but more affordable than the flagship WF-1000XM4.