Sony’s new in-ear audio strategy is a strange one, but it’s clear they are backing themselves with a whole new product range aimed at a new generation. The LinkBuds S join the strange but excellent LinkBuds from Late June at $349.95.

$50 more than the “hear-through” LinkBuds, these S versions don’t have the “hole” in them, instead they offer a traditional in-ear bud, with a bulbous sphere to pack in all the tech.

It all sits well within your ear, but this time offers noise-cancelling, something the LinkBuds just can’t do – nor are they intended to.

Sony claims the LinkBuds S are the smallest, lightest noise-cancelling hi-res true wireless headphones – the “Hi-Res” part of that is the bit that excludes almost all other contenders.

Using all that Sony has learned from their headphone technology over recent years, you get the ambient sound concept here which essentially allows you to switch between noise cancelling and ambient sound modes without touching your headphones – the headphones “just know” you need it. That’s a Sony feature that comes to the LinkBuds S.

I don’t know anyone who plays “Ingress” but apparently these new LinkBuds S allow for AR gaming so audio can be spacial within the game allowing you to turn toward a sound and hear it differently. Cool – but niche as hell.

We’re super keen to test the “Crystal clear calls” claim, with Sony suggesting a noisy street or windy day won’t be an issue for the LinkBuds S when you’re making a phone call – if true, that’s a game-changer for sure.

Sound wise, they feature a 5mm driver, packing a punch with a powerful bass and clear vocals.

My main concern with the “never off” claim by Sony is that the battery life, with noise cancelling on is “just” 6 hours – that’s huge, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a full day. A working day might be 8 hours, so I guess with ambient noise usage, and a break here and there, perhaps it will be an all day thing. But I think most would want them working on the commute too, on the bus or train, so we’ll see how that stacks up.

14 more hours of charge in the compact charging case – and just 5 mins of charge will add 60 mins of play time.

LinkBuds S will come in three colours, a black, white and beige (ecru) from Late June at $349.95.