Like snails and caviar, Grado can be an acquired taste. Known for their retro, open back-design and a sound profile that’s most ideal for jazz and classical music, they’re the last headphone company in the world that I’d expect to release a wireless model. But here they are, the first open-back wireless cans we’ve ever tested. Will they wow Grado fans with their famous, crystal highs and spacious soundstage? Let’s find out in this Grado GW100 Wireless Headphones Review.
IN the BOX
No one can deny Grado’s super comfortable design. Extremely light with fat foam cushions, wearing these cans is like resting your head on a puffy cloud.
With an open-back design, you’re not going to get any sound isolation. At the same time, a wireless headphone is about on-the-go use. So, these are meant for quiet walks through the meadow or butt thrusts in the kitchen.
Although the GW100 only use Bluetooth Version 4.2, it does have apt-X compatible technology, which is employed by some Android phone models.
With that now famous, home-made, vintage feel, Grado headphones aren’t the kind you want to throw around. But though they’re not the most durable design, the ear pads are replaceable. They also fold flat, making them portable. An accompanying carrying case would have been nice, but Grado likes to keep it simple.
The functions are straightforward. Three buttons allows you to play/pause, skip songs, control volume and make calls.
Battery life is on the shorter side, at about 15 hours, and it takes 2 hours to fully charge them. But if you do run out of power, you’ve got a 3.5mm input and an accompanying cable.
Call clarity is excellent. But the caller on the other line is going to here all surrounding noise.
If you’re planning to share these headphones with other devices, be warned that you might run into some pairing problems. My colleague used them before me, and he had to “forget the device” on his phone for me to use them with my phone. I researched online how to resolve this issue, but couldn’t find any information.
Don’t expect warm and forward leaning lows. Grado isn’t known for sounding lush. What you will get is a super melodic and transparent bass line with a little punch. Still, it doesn’t offer a ton of versatility. There’s not enough presence in this frequency range to do justice to pop and hip-hop, for example. But there’s no bleeding into the higher frequencies, and it’s certainly a clean profile.
You’ve got a full spectrum of sound in the midrange. The upper mids are a tad emphasized compared to the lower mids. So again, you’re not going to get a lot of meat out of these. Still, it’s one of the more balanced midranges I’ve heard on a Grado of this caliber. And it’s certainly a clear and detailed sound that stays true to Grado’s name. The present mids give rock songs a feeling of fullness, while the transparency and separation make the GW100 a perfect choice for folk music. Acoustic guitars are clean and almost delicate, especially in the upper midrange. The same is true for pianos. It’s a sparkling sound that lures you with a sense of lightness. This feeling only Grado can manufacture, and fans of this brand won’t be disappointed by its glistening character.
Grado loyalists should enjoy the highs too. Soprano vocals are very airy, and upper-register notes float with ease. It’s a better listening experience than some of the cheaper wired Grado models. Miles Davis’ trumpet was bearable at its peaks, while strings offered a nice balance between smoothness and clarity. Of course, being a wireless headphone, you’re not going to get the transparency you’re used to getting from Grado in this frequency range. But that playful feel in the highs is definitely retained.
Grado offers a soundstage more multidimensional than any other wireless headphone I’ve tested. You’ll get a sense of height and depth that’s generally impossible for any closed-back wireless headphone to produce.
If you’re a Grado fan or you enjoy a bright headphone with a huge soundstage, then the GW100 is for you. But if you’re unfamiliar with the brand or appreciate a rich lower end, you might want to test these cans out before buying.
Transducer Type: Dynamic
Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 99.8 dB
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Bluetooth Version: 4.2 with apt-X
Working Distance: 10m
Battery Life: 15 Hours
Charging Time: 2 Hours