Sony has a long history of experimenting with weird products. Sometimes those experiments are flops, but other times they result in genuinely clever, useful, and innovative products. The new Sony LinkBuds fall into that latter category.
They won’t completely replace your favorite pair of headphones, but you might actually find yourself using them far more. Five years after the original Apple AirPods helped make wireless earbuds an affordable mainstream product, headphone makers now need to bring something new to the table if they want folks to upgrade.
Sony is introducing a third solution. Instead of cramming speaker drivers into your ear canals. Sony has created a 12-millimeter driver in the shape of a ring with a hole in the middle. Without removing the earbuds from your ears you can easily carry on conversations or hear the sound of a cyclist’s bell coming up behind you while still enjoying music or a podcast. That’s assuming you don’t have the volume turned up too high because even with a hole, the LinkBuds still deliver sound right at the entrance to your ear canals and can still easily drown out everything else you hear.