After 7 decades in the audio business, Grado has reached a milestone with a first entry in the world of true wireless earbuds through GT220 . With several options to choose from now, how do these stack up? And are they worth a look from you? We’re going to find this all out right now in this review, starting with a look at the box.
What’s in the Box?
The GT220 comes in simple packaging that is classy and emblematic of the way Grado usually decides to go in terms of their presentation. Inside, the charging case and the earbuds have their own little slots in a nice black foam covering that keeps everything secure and in place.
Above these, there is a smaller box that comes with two extra sets of eartips, and the charging cable for your case, which is USB to USBC type C.
Design and Fit
Aesthetically, the components hit the beats that most true wireless earbuds have been doing since the craze began, with a simple, compact case that is a smooth monochromatic black plastic, and has a Grado engraving on the top as it’s only kind of stylistic aesthetic touch. The case has four LED lights on front that represent 25 percent intervals of charging - 4 is obviously when it is full power. This case can also be wireless charged which is pretty snazzy.
The earbuds themselves are made of the same black plastic material, and have a rounded almost triangular type shape, with magnets on the inside for staying inside the case, and a label for left and right. The only real splash of color is the Grado G on the outside, which does light up with certain functions. It flashes blue twice when powering on, blue and red when it is ready to pair, red twice when powering, and purple when factory reset is in progress - which is a shame because that's really cool, I wish it just did that all the time.
The shape combined with this feature give these as bit of a futuristic and sleek, more modern style that manages to give these a little more personality than most wireless earbuds tend to have.
As for the fit of these, they are pretty comfortable and I have no complaints here. They were easy to put in and secure with the familiar twist lock mechanic, and it created a seal that both felt secure and managed to give me a decent amount of isolation and good resonance. I had them in for a while, and they are extremely light, which made for no fatigue at all.
Check out Grado GT 220 true wireless earbuds unboxing and video review as well if you are interested.
Battery Life and Compatibility
The GT220 supports Bluetooth 5.0 for a wireless connection with high bandwidth and a good range. Supported CODECs here are SBC, AAC and aptX - but not aptX HD or LDAC, so worth noting if that’s a dealbreaker for you.
On a single charge, the battery life here can last up to six hours. However, the charging case itself can contain up to five full charges , which along with a 2 hour charge time itself can offer you a grand total of 36 hours. Again this not the biggest battery life out there, but surely extremely useful for most practical applications like your daily commute.
Controls and Pairing
When you’re ready to pair, you can just take these out of the case and they will automatically initiate their pairing mode, which will be announced by a pleasant voice in your earbuds. These can only connect to one device at a time.
If these are out of the case, you can just long press one of the touch pads on any earbud for 5 seconds to fire them up again and initiate pairing mode. After paired, these will auto pair with a device any time they are taken from the case.
When it comes to controls and functions here, you can control pretty much everything you would need to right from the earbud, via a bifurcated touch control system. The left earbud controls all things related to calls and voice assistant.
Triple tap the left to summon your voice assistant
Single tap to accept an incoming call
Double tap to reject the call
During the call you single tip to end, or to accept a different call, or double tap to reject that same incoming call.
On the right earbud, a single tap will play or pause your music
A double tap will skip to the next track
A triple tap will go the previous track
And holding the right ear bud will increase the volume, while holding the left earbud will lower the volume.
These controls are all pretty intuitive and you can get the hang of them in a matter of minutes,even if you are more used to having left control previous track and right control next track or something similar. There’s no option to change the controls, but I also don’t think you’d need to, as they work pretty well.
The functions aren’t lightning fast, and there is the tiniest bit of lag from touching the pads to the functions actually happening, but some of them are accompanied by a futuristic pinging sound that more than makes up for that for me.
Now let’s talk about some sound. Firstly, the drivers in here are standard 8mm dynamic and they output a standard frequency range of 20hz to 20khz. It’s a simple setup, and provides the clean quality sound that Grado fans have come to expect from them.
As for the Soundstage, having any kind of super substantial amount of width and space in a true wireless earbud is always going to be a challenging prospect. I’d say that the stage offered by the GT220 isn’t going to change this, but it is certainly pleasant and doesn’t sound cramped at all, it just won’t enter into expansive territory. There is a good spatial quality to the mix and elements like background vocals and instruments playing harmony parts will fill out nicely in the background without sounding compressed. Imaging is overall solid.
The low end here is especially rumbly or growly, but it has a tonality that is very clean without being overly neutral. It has a fairly forward facing coloration, and a nice amount of extension, so songs that are supposed to be bass heavy will be given their proper amount of weight and body.
If you’re going to do a throwback on a song like Lil Wayne’s A Mili - like I did when listening to these - the dorning low end tone fills a good amount of the sonic picture and I was able to feel it in a way that is satisfactory to my bass leaning sensibilities.
At the same time, an aggressively played upright bass such as on the track Smarra by jazz trio GoGo Penguin exhibited a similar amount of heft but still retained a smoothness and accuracy of texture.
The response of the mid range is equally musical, but certainly tends to be more neutral, and feels less colored or sweetened, as per Grado’s general sonic philosophy - at least when it comes to these. Consequentially, genres like hard rock with distorted and crunchy guitars will sound nice if you’re rocking out at a loud volume, as they won’t take on the extra warm quality that other systems may tack onto them. Due to this level of balance, high mids tend to peak out a little more, and shift the balance of clarity more toward the upper register. A more reserved mid ballad quasi ballad like Tom Odell’s Another Love takes on a nice haunting quality with the higher mids in his dark colored voice and piano given more of a lift.
High frequencies here have a really nice response, and these higher range, sweeter tones get more of an emphasis that gives them a nice dynamic with deep and extended bass to round out the listening experience. Sounds in this register have what I would call and naturally call, and something like the screeching guitar solo in Maggot Brain by Funkadelic, which features really heavy attacks and a lot of eccentric pans and effects doesn’t sound grating or fatiguing here - instead reproducing the tone and articulations pretty well.
When it comes to true wireless earbuds, these are reasonably priced around 250 USD dollars, meaning that they will be competing with the likes of Apple and Sennheiser to be your portable headphone of choice. If you’re loyal to Grado or have just been a fan of their products in the past, then these will provide you with the same clean and signature sound quality that they can be counted on to deliver.
These may not stack up for you if you’re looking for pure audiophile quality in your true wireless earbud, but they are simple, have a great pleasant sound, and have really easy and intuitive functions, which is certainly worth noting if you’re buying these for practical use and enjoyment on the go.
These are great for you if you like
-clean, natural sound with good amount of depth and body
-relatively neutral mids
These may not be for you if
-You want more Bluetooth and compatibility options
-looking for a more adventurous design
-want active noise cancellation/other features.
You can order Grado GT220 TWS earbuds at Audio46.