If you’re looking for a premium true wireless headset and want options from Sony, you should probably pay attention to the flagship WF-1000XM4 first, and rightfully so. Sony’s flagship true wireless headset is among our top picks in the field, thanks to its generally good active noise cancellation, features, and sound quality. However, at approximately Rs. 20,000, it is undoubtedly very expensive and will be out of reach for many. Sony’s latest true wireless headphone, the LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) may offer something of a solution.
At a price of Rs. 16,990 in India Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) It costs a little less than the flagship WF-1000XM4 But it promises an almost as good experience, thanks to advanced Bluetooth codec support, active noise cancellation, and a lightweight form factor that makes it a viable “all-day wear” option. Does this unique situation make the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) worth the price? Find out in this review.
Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) Design and Features
While the naming convention might suggest that the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) is the successor to the original Sony LinkBuds (WF-L900), The new headset is completely different. The design is decidedly more traditional, with a proper in-canal fit and earpieces that don’t look out of the ordinary in any way.
However, the LinkBuds S earbuds are smaller and lighter than most competing options in the premium segment for true wireless earbuds. The speakers are available in three colors – black, white, and ecru. The black review unit I received had a nice texture and feel.
Sony touts the LinkBuds S as the kind of true wireless headphone you can wear all day, and their 4.8g weight and earbuds’ compact shape certainly help in that regard. While quite comfortable to fit in the canal, the Sony WF-LS900N isn’t quite as comfortable as the original LinkBuds, and I found it difficult to hold the earphones in all day as Sony might suggest. However, wearing the earphones for 2-3 hours at a time was no problem at all.
The Sony WF-LS900N’s traditional form factor and design allow for a secure fit with adequate noise isolation and active noise cancellation. However, the compactness meant that Sony had to use smaller than usual 5mm dynamic drivers in the earphones. The outside of each earbud is flat to allow easy use of touch controls (customizable through the app), while the inside contains a proximity sensor that controls the auto-off function, among other things. The earbuds are IPX4 rated for water resistance.
The charging case for the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) is a fairly straightforward case, with the color of the case matching that of the earbuds. It’s a compact, convenient shape and size, with an indicator light just under the lid, a USB Type-C port, and a pairing button on the back. Notably, there is no wireless charging on the Sony LinkBuds S, which is a bit disappointing given the price of the headset.
The eco-friendly sales package includes four pairs of silicone ear tips and a USB Type-C charging cable. Other features on the headset include support for Spotify Tap and Endel custom audio clips, Google Fast Pair, and multipoint connectivity for up to two devices simultaneously. .
Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) app and specifications
Sony’s excellent Headphones Connect app handles connectivity to all of its premium wireless headphones, including the LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N). Available for iOS and Android, the app has a largely similar interface and selections regardless of platform, adding to Sony’s ongoing approach to platform agnosticism.
However, it is best to use the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) with an Android device, in order to take advantage of the LDAC Bluetooth codec support. These and their associated functions are the only points where the app experience differs between the two operating systems. In fact, during my time with the Sony LinkBuds S, a software update for the earphones enabled multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, along with offering a premium section for integrating services like the Spotify Tap.
Other key features in the app include music playback controls, adaptive sound control for ANC and ambient sound mode customization, talk to chat, customize Bluetooth connection quality (in favor of sound quality or connection stability), customize touch controls, and auto power off when wearing earbuds or removing them, and a graphical display of the battery life of the earbuds and charging case, among other things.
The app covers practically everything you might need on a Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N), though perhaps the only real drawback is the lack of detailed customization of the controls. Sony’s WF-LS900N lets you choose control “groups” for the left and right earbuds separately—these include ANC and Ambient Sound controls, playback controls, and volume controls. This means you’ll have to pick two out of three basic sets, leaving one out entirely, and then make sure you remember the somewhat confusing controls to move forward.
The Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) have 5mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 20 to 40,000 Hz (with the LDAC codec turned on). For connectivity, there is Bluetooth 5.2 and support for SBC, AAC and LDAC Bluetooth codecs. The headset uses Sony’s embedded processor V1 for communication and ANC functions.
Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) performance and battery life
Presented by Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) as a less expensive alternative to its flagship WF-1000XM4, it really has everything the latter has to offer in terms of features, but at a price of around Rs. 3000 less. However, there are some notable differences that explain the difference in price and location, the biggest being the sound quality.
The Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) use 5mm drivers, which are smaller than the 6mm drivers on the WF-1000XM4. While the actual size of the drivers may not be indicative of anything, there is definitely a noticeable difference in the sound on the WF-LS900N, compared to the much more expensive and better-sounding WF-1000XM4.
The sound came out fairly crisp in terms of tuning, adhering to the often used U-shaped frequency response curve, being well-suited to the most popular genres of music. The lows and highs were more pronounced than the midrange on tracks like Stay (Don’t Go Away) by David Guetta, which deviated slightly from the WF-1000XM4’s more balanced approach. This also tends to affect tonal fidelity and levels of audible detail, compared to Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds.
When listening to Je M’amuse by French jazz band Caravan Palace, the sound was aggressive and forward-sounding, while remaining relaxed and totally unstressful. The track’s dubstep-style electronic elements had a distinct rumble and attack feel, while the swing-style vocals and instrumentals contained a fair amount of detail that felt appropriate for the headphone’s price.
However, despite the significant bandwidth advantage that the LDAC Bluetooth codec brings, it seems that the Sony WF-LS900N wasn’t able to take full advantage of it. The tone, drive, detail, and sense of polish found in the WF-1000XM4 were missing here, despite the many similarities between the Sony WF-LS900N and its more expensive stablemate. This is where the price and position difference between the two TWS earphones is most obvious.
The active noise cancellation on the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) is very good, and it benefits greatly from the excellent passive noise isolation and fit of the headphone. There was a significant reduction in interior noise; The roar of overhead air conditioners was almost completely blocked out.
There was a somewhat noticeable reduction in miscellaneous noise outdoors as well, which helped focus what was playing even at low volumes. Music, audiobooks, and dialogue in videos sounded decent in noisy settings even at about 50 percent volume. Calls handled similarly well, with decent mic performance ensuring I could be heard as well as I could be heard.
Battery life on the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N) comes close to advertised claims; I managed to get just under six hours of listening time out of the earphones. The charging case added two full charges plus a total playtime of about 17 hours per charge cycle. Quick charge claims to provide an hour of listening with five minutes of charging.
There’s very little to complain about with the Sony LinkBuds S (WF-LS900N); This is a capable, well-equipped, and well-priced pair of true wireless earbuds, and it offers better comfort and ANC performance than most other options in its price range. It’s hard to argue with the proposition here on a practical level but on an emotional level there’s just a little missing from the WF-LS900N, and that’s largely because there’s nothing special about the sound.
The Sony LinkBuds S sound good enough for an excellent wireless headphone, but it doesn’t push the boundaries any further than the actual flagship headphones. This is the only real flaw in a pair of delightful, functional, and affordable true wireless headphones.
You might spend that amount a bit more on options like the WF-1000XM4 or the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 It might be worth it, if you can budget for it. If you are using an Apple or Samsung smartphone, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Respectively, it might make more sense from an ecosystem point of view. However, if the size, form factor, and promise of good ANC performance on the Sony WF-LS900N appeal to you, you won’t be disappointed at all.