For Grado fans looking to shift gears or add to their gears, these wireless options both have something different to offer. Each model has a specific target in mind, and the team at Grado labs have put their best foot forward with these new headphones and done it on their terms.
Let's start with the GW100 headphones that are the more unique offering in the lineup as they are an open-back model, which has both pros and cons.
The GW100 is for those looking for an open back headphone's big open sound without the wires. Typically the issues with open-back headphones are that they bleed sound and are not great in noisy environments, so using them on a commute or a place where you would typically be looking for wireless convenience is not ideal. So this narrows the audience quite a bit and makes the target demographic fairly specific, audiophile types that want wireless freedom and will be listening in quiet spaces.
The good thing is that the price is quite reasonable at $249, so you can easily add these to your arsenal without breaking the bank.
Build / Comfort / Design - The GW100s are built from plastic, which many people will gripe about right off the bat. The plastic helps keep both the price and the weight down, so it's a delicate balance that might be fine for some but a deal-breaker for others. We wouldn't say they feel cheap per se, but they don't feel as sturdy as Grado's wired models or other closed back wireless headphones at the same price point.
Where the headphones shine are design and comfort, making them great for long listening sessions. Aesthetically they look dope with that classic Grado retro look that is sure to get compliments from design nerds and audio hipsters.
The clamping force is also just right, and the basic foam earcups are easy to upgrade should you want to replace them. If you have a smaller head, there could be an issue with the fit, and they might fit a bit on the loose side.
While they are on, controlling the headphones is relatively easy, thanks to the left earcup's tactile buttons. No tapping and hoping you get it right; just reach up and feel the buttons to control playback and call functionality. The micro-USB cable also plugs into the same ear cup, with the port being covered by a little silicone cover to keep out dust and moisture.
What's in the box - Per usual, it's a very basic presentation with a flat white box containing some headphones, a basic carrying pouch, a 3.5mm aux cable for wired listening, and a standard microUSB charging cable.
Sound / Functionality - The sound is excellent when you are in a quiet space, like at home or a closed-door office but once out in the wild, things fall apart. You will contend with both sound leakage and ambient noise for commuters, making the GW100s relatively worthless on planes, trains, or buses. There is also a mic built in to take calls, but again, not great and not really what these cans are for - but it's nice to have the functionality even if it is mediocre.
The battery takes about two hours to charge and gives you about 40 hours of playback, which is solid but not a category leader. Chances are you will be keeping these at home or in the office and will just put them back on the charger when you are done with them, but 15 hours is more than enough playback time for these headphones.
The wireless connectivity is the Bluetooth 5.0 aptX codec, which will be sufficient for most aside from the extreme audiophile types. The headphones also have roughly a 33-40 foot range depending on where your sound source is vs. the headphones. The less that's in the way of the headphones, and it's music source, the further it will go.
How do the GW100s sound? - The sound is relatively neutral; nothing dominates, leaving the choice of music options quite open. As long as you are in a quiet place, you will get beautiful sound - any ambient noise will just piss you off.
The balance between the lows, mids, and highs is perfect for most genres like jazz, electronic, indie rock, etc. However, if you are a bass hound, it's a no go. You get lovely details with the GW100, with a more expansive sound stage and more intimate feeling when listening to jazz or acoustic music. We didn't love hip hop on these or four on the floor dance music like techno or house; it just felt a little meh. However, anything with detail, like Aphex Twin, Autechre, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, etc., all sounded great.
Summary - If you are someone looking for wireless headphones' freedom but still want the sound of an open-back headphone, these are a great addition to your line up. Yes, they are very niche, and there are probably not many people who really need a headphone like this. If you are a commuter, this is a no go; you are better off with a closed-back wireless headphone with active noise canceling or the Grado GT200 True Wireless units that we review below.
Next, we have the Grado GT220 True Wireless Earbud
Our first thought was why enter such a crowded market, the True Wireless market has exploded over the last couple of years, so this seems like a bit of a "me too" move from Grado. However, once you get more acquainted with the GT220, you start to see and hear the Grado difference, and then it all starts to make sense.
Build / Comfort / Design - The build quality is solid, and frankly, they feel like the same quality as many of our other True Wireless (TW) buds at this price point, or even slightly below. The design also feels on par with most TW buds out there right now, nothing that will blow your mind.
The case looks similar to most as well and delivers a total of 36 hours of playback time with a full charge on the case. With a total playback time on the buds themselves at about 6 hours, giving them plenty of juice for most commuters.
The GT220 does not have a companion app, nor do they feature Active Noise Cancelling (ANC); instead, the focus is put on high-quality sound output, in which they deliver big time.
Connectivity is BT 5.0, apt-X and AAC compatible - so you are sure to get excellent sound quality.
The mic quality is excellent for taking calls, and the touch controls work great for controlling audio and calling functionality. With the left side controlling phone and voice and the right controlling music playback. Although with any touch control, be careful when fiddling with them for fit or itching your ear, or you will jack things up.
What's in the box? A case, extra tips, charging cable (you can charge them wirelessly as well), and your buds.
Sound Quality - You may not be able to tweak an EQ or control the ambient noise that comes into the headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, but you will get staggeringly good sound quality. The GT220 is tuned with Grado's neutral sound signature that works with just about every genre. We tested these on several outside walks, in the car, and walking through a crowded grocery store, and they delivered big. Whether it was electronic music, hip hop, dance music, indie rock, or jazz, we got crystal clear and balanced sound that brought out the best of each song.
Summary -If you are a commuter looking for a TW bud with a good fit, splendid isolation, and stunning sound, then the GT220 is worth considering. Besides the quality sound, you are getting excellent playback time at 36 hours total, reliable build quality, easy to use touch controls, wireless charging, and the ability to execute clear calls and use a voice assistant like Siri.