I really like working whereas listening to a podcast or a Taylor Swift playlist, however I’m all the time fearful my earbuds are going to dam out too many sounds and depart me splattered on the hood of a Ford F150. This means choosing the right pair of headphones to put on outdoor is vital. Sony’s new LinkBuds let every part in—no, actually. These wi-fi earbuds have literal holes in the midst of every bud so you may hear all of the ambient sounds round you.
They’re removed from the first headphones to attempt to combine the true and digital worlds, however they’re one of the best I’ve used up to now. For the primary time, I’m discovering few causes to take away a bud—and even pause my music—after I’m wandering round. Now that is what I name augmented actuality.
The key to the LinksBuds’ success is their form. They are tiny, spherical earbuds with silver-lined halos that sit in your ear canal, suspended in your ears through comfy (and interchangeable) silicone ear loops. A rounded higher part is the place you will discover the battery and processors.
They are available in both darkish grey or off-white, with a wide range of loops to suit totally different ear styles and sizes, which is sweet as a result of the buds are so small I needed to dimension up the band to maintain ’em in my ears. This is a boon for anybody with smaller ears, like WIRED’s very personal senior affiliate editor, Adrienne So, who continually complains about cumbersome earbuds that by no means keep in. Their small dimension additionally helps them largely disappear into your ears, although you’ll really feel the grippy plastic on the surface of every bud in your ear canal–no cozy silicone ear suggestions right here.
Here’s the LinkBuds’ essential trick: Instead of utilizing bone conduction drivers or microphones to pump in sound from the world round you—the commonest method on any earbuds with some kind of “transparency” characteristic—the donut-shaped drivers of the LinkBuds let the sounds of the world in by way of the outlet in the midst of the bud, and the digital sounds out of your paired cellphone or pc are available in by way of the within of the ring.
At low volumes, you largely hear ambient sounds and little or no music, however crank up the quantity and your tunes take pleasure in extra of a 70/30 mix—you’ll hear a automotive horn or individual screaming, however not a lot else. Fair warning to anybody with embarrassing style: At excessive volumes, people round you’ll hear what’s popping out of the LinkBuds.
The easiest options, in my expertise, are passive ones like this. I haven’t struggled with wind noise on bike rides or ski runs utilizing the LinkBuds, which is a typical downside with earbuds that use built-in microphones to drag in ambient sounds. I can nonetheless be part of loud environments and listen to my music.
I took the LinkBuds on a ski journey, on runs, and to the grocery store. They’re a lot better than most wi-fi earbuds in cases when it’s good to shortly pause your music—like when somebody asks you a query otherwise you wish to hear an announcement.
I like that you should use the Android or iOS app to have the buds routinely regulate the quantity primarily based in your atmosphere. But the way in which you truly management the earbuds is fairly intelligent. You faucet the realm in your head proper in entrance of the buds twice to play or pause a music, which means you barely ever want to the touch the LinkBuds themselves. I really like these controls. They make you are feeling like a Star Trek character with cybernetic implants. That mentioned, the controls didn’t all the time work completely.