Home tech A solid pair of mid-level TWS headphones

A solid pair of mid-level TWS headphones

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A combination of good sound quality and comfort? Hire me. It’s hard to get excited about true wireless stereo headphones (TWS) these days. When Sony announced that the WF-LS900N (known as the LinkBuds S to the world) was coming to town, I jumped out of my seat.

It was September when Sony LinkBuds landed on Indian shores. That was the last time I was really impressed with a pair of TWS headphones. It wasn’t because they were the best in the business (that title is reserved for Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro), far from it. It’s because they dared to do something that no other manufacturer has done so far. The Original LinkBuds Let the outside world in and mix with your music. This makes you more aware of your surroundings and therefore safer. They are able to do this thanks to their unique open-loop design.

When you hear the name WF-LS900N (LinkBuds S), you assume they have a similar design at a more economical price. Well, that’s not the case at all. Sony may try to convince you that the WF-LS900N is in the same family as the LinkBuds, but that will never work. In fact, the box prominently says LinkBuds S, but the company will only call it WF-LS900N in India and it’s available with an introductory price of R13990.

The WF-LS900N headphones are actually closer to Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4. The WF-LS900N features a traditional closed earphone. While they still let outside noise in (thanks to a vent and mic technology), they all focus on active noise cancellation (ANC) and audio performance. Sony promotes it as a “non-stop” wearing experience and I can see why. The WF-LS900N features a smaller, more compact design that makes it more comfortable to wear for longer periods than the original LinkBuds.

The LinkBuds S support Google’s new Fast Pair feature, which means you can pair your headphones to your Android device quickly and easily.

familiar approach

The WF-LS900N has a comfortable fit and comes with four different sizes of ear tips. The headphones are made from recycled plastic parts from old cars (two are thumbs up for that).

Thanks to the compact design, the user gets two direct advantages unlike the original LinkBuds. First, you may not be able to hear your surroundings either, but you can actually hear the music (bass and percussion) with decent instrument separation. Second, you don’t need to use full volume just to drown out the sounds around you.

If you’ve used a Sony audio product before, you’ll feel right at home. Simply download Sony’s “Headphones” app, turn on Bluetooth, and pair the TWS headphones with your smartphone. The Headset app may not be required, but it’s definitely helpful.

In this app, you can check each earbud and the case (by the way, the charging case provides a very satisfying surprise when closed). You can also adjust noise cancellation or switch to ambient noise, play with the equalizer and some features like spatial sound optimization, among others.

Their smaller footprint means they are easier to insert into the ear canal. It is small, light and very practical. The headphones are available in black, white and beige. This is an area where Sony hasn’t needed to pay attention. The more color options, the less fun (including the weirder ones).

It’s almost as if Sony’s main goal with the WF-LS900N is to wear them comfortably all day. On this front, they are enjoying resounding success. I’ve taken them out for an hour of walking and two hours in a cafe and haven’t felt the need to take them off every once in a while just to give my ears a break. The WF-LS900N does a great job of staying in your ears. Even with a vigorous movement of the head, the headphones did not fall out.

Sound better than the original LinkBuds?

The answer is yes. There’s a good detailed sound coming out of the WF-LS900N. There’s also a well-defined bass (it was almost absent in the original LinkBuds) and the sound is natural, while there’s good clarity in the sound. The fact that these tiny headphones pack a punch says it all. Few TWS headphones of this size can match the sound of the WF-LS900N. Yes, they’re nowhere near as good as the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or even Sony’s WF-1000XM4, but they still hold up.

ANC isn’t as clear as with the WF-1000XM4s. While you may notice the difference between noise canceling and ambient sound modes, they’re very subtle. I took the WF-LS900N and went to a busy street outside Kalkaji Mandir metro station in Delhi. I switched between ambient sound and noise cancellation modes several times and didn’t notice a difference. Although the horn has died down while ANC is on, I can still hear the hum of the buses every few minutes.

For the most part, I had no complaints when listening to music as the bass was solid (though not enough to motivate a live party scenario), vocals were clear, and phone calls sounded good on both ends of the line. ‘call.

As a bonus, the WF-LS900N comes with multi-point support. This means they can be paired with two Bluetooth devices at the same time for added convenience.

Their smaller footprint means they are easier to insert into the ear canal. It is small, light and very practical. The headphones are available in black, white and beige.

Highly responsive touch controls, nasty Bluetooth, and average battery life

However, the WF-LS900N is far from perfect. There were two different areas that had issues. The exterior touch surface may be large, but it’s also very sensitive. I noticed it on my way home from the metro station. I walked through leaves hanging from a tree and my music stopped randomly. At first I was unaware of this, but it happened over and over again. That’s when I was fully convinced that the WF-LS900N’s touch controls are extremely responsive.

The other issue I had was with the Bluetooth connection. There were a few times where the left earbud (yes, the left earbud in particular) wouldn’t respond to any touch. I’ve been trying to turn on ambient mode for several minutes and it doesn’t work. I had to take it out and put it back in my ear several times for it to work. There was also, on one occasion, when the phone told me that the left earbud was connected, but I couldn’t hear any music coming out of it. A quick second in the case fixed everything. A future software update may help stabilize the Bluetooth connection.

With ANC on, battery life is rated at six hours per charge. With ANC off, battery life extends up to nine hours. In my testing of the WF-LS900N, I had about 5 hours and 45 minutes before I had to put it in the case. Sony is where it’s at and these headphones can be used for almost a full day without any issues. The charging case adds 14 hours of charge for a total of 20 hours. It’s just average and, again, far from the best.

The WF-LS900N has a comfortable fit and comes with four different sizes of ear tips.  The ear pads are made from recycled plastic parts from old cars.

The WF-LS900N has a comfortable fit and comes with four different sizes of ear tips. The ear pads are made from recycled plastic parts from old cars.

Are these headphones worth it?

The WF-LS900N may not stand out like the original LinkBuds, but it does appeal in more ways than one. It’s lightweight, comfortable and has most of the features one could ask for. This is a solid pair of mid-range headphones. If you care more about the sound of music and the clarity of voice calls, the WF-LS900N is a more attractive purchase than the original LinkBuds. Plus, the fact that the WF-LS900N are the most comfortable pair of headphones in Sony’s lineup speaks volumes. I’m not sure if they are from the same family, but they are the best and most accurate of the LinkBuds.

Think of these headphones as the smaller, cheaper WF-1000XM4 and they become an easier sell. Compare them to the competition and they hardly fail to be on top in this price range. Oppo’s Enco X2 beats the LinkBuds by being cheaper ( R8,999 on Flipkart) and fuller sound full of energy. Add around 4K to your budget and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are in stock.

When you need all-day comfort, good performance for voice calls and a well-balanced sound profile, look no further than the WF-LS900N. Maybe, when headphones are on sale and at a lower price R10,000, they will be able to sell for much more than their launch price R13,990. The WF-LS900N are undoubtedly good in-ear headphones, but they just don’t measure up to the best. If you’re on the WF-LS900N as your next (or even first) pair of TWS headphones, wait for the discount before you get them.

Read also: Here’s our complete TWS headphones buying guide

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