Grado have entered into the wireless audio market with 2 models now, let’s see how the GW100 fairs…
Grado Labs have kindly sent these out to me for review.
I have not been paid or sponsored to write this.
The thoughts and views in this publication are my own honest and unbiased opinion.
The Grado GW100 retails at $249.00 at the time of this review.
You can pick a pair up at the following link:
Grado GW100 headphones.
Grado SR125e headphones.
Astell & Kern AK70.
Micheal Jackson – Dangerous. ( 16bit / 44.1kHz Redbook )
David Bowie – Hunky Dory. ( 16bit / 44.1kHz Redbook )
Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls. ( 16bit / 44.1kHz Redbook )
Fleetwood Mac – Audiophile Collection. ( 16bit / 44.1kHz Redbook )
What’s in the box:
Grado GW100 headphones.
Micro-USB charging cable.
3.5mm audio cable.
Bluetooth Version: 5.0.
Battery Capacity: 850mAH.
Working Distance: 10m.
Battery Life: 40 hours**.
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20kHz.
Mic Sensitivity: 42dB +/- 3dB.
Transducer Type: Dynamic.
Operating Principle: Open Air.
SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB.
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms.
Driver Matched dB: .05 dB.
Build and finish:
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to own 9 Grado headphones and IEM’s.
Grado is a renowned family run company that have been around since 1953 creating in my opinion, some of the best headphones, IEM’s and cartridges out there.
Their work ethic, attention to detail and quality is evident from their lower end line right through to their higher end models.
Their design process is creative yet sensible. As a result you won’t see a product released that hasn’t been painstakingly thought through, tested or tweaked.
Of the products I’ve owned I can attest to all of the above.
The GW100 are no different in this regard. The same solid build is here boasting premium craftsmanship.
I admire the satin black finish. It’s a change from the usual gloss black and has a premium, subtle aesthetic.
The headband has been updated with a slimmer but thicker headband with improved padding. The forks feel robust and adjustment is firm and stays in place.
Compared to the SR125’s I noticed a slightly stronger clamping force which I’ll get into in the comfort section of this review.
There are three physical buttons. A Power button and a volume +/- rocker. Both have a firm click with little play.
The audio cable included is slimmer than usual but has the advantage of being detachable, allowing the end user to upgrade to any cable they choose. However I will add here that the included cable is more than satisfactory and doesn’t hinder or change the sound signature.
The charging cable is USB type-C. More brands are now embracing this connection over Micro-USB and this is a most welcome development.
The ear pads are I believe the same foam pads seen on the SR60, SR80 and SR125. They’re made from a high grade foam that doesn’t easily tear.
It’s comforting to know we can swap the pads out for others from Grado’s multiple options.
Grado have opted for an almost all plastic construction similar to the SR125’s etc. I’m glad in this instance that they have used plastic cups and forks as this results in the GW100’s being a lightweight headphone. I’ll also say that the plastics Grado use have always been high quality and make for a hardy construction.
Pairing is straight forward.
Put your device into pairing mode, Hold down the power button on the GW100 until the LED flashes red and blue.
Your device will ask to pair, click ok and you’re done.
Grado don’t have an app and in all fairness it’s not required.
Battery & charging:
40+ hours is a big statement but it’s accurate. After an initial charge I was able to use the GW100 at the stated 50% volume for a few days before needing to charge.
2 hours is also an accurate statement and they took exactly two hours to charge from flat.
As suspected the GW100 are a lightweight comfortable headphone that disappears when you’re wearing them.
They have a slightly stronger clamping force than I’m used to from a Grado headphone but it’s only slight and doesn’t affect comfort in any way. In fact it helps to keep them securely in place which makes sense as the GW100 is going to be used as a portable headphone in many cases. I’m confident they’re not going to fall off when I’m out and about.
I managed to wear the GW100 for a solid 4 hours ( wired ) with no discomfort or fatigue.
Wired or wireless the GW100 sounds exciting, although when listening to them over a wired connection I hear more body, a little more clout.
Thanks to the GW100 being an open backed headphone we are presented with a wide, open soundstage, bestowing depth and headroom.
I hear layers of sound, separating instruments and vocals into a refined stereo image.
The GW100 is not a bass heavy headphone, yet they retain a lively, fast paced bass that grabs your attention with both its agility and punch.
The mids and high mids are dynamic, clean and detailed. Vocals are airy and transparent.
High frequencies are extended and vivid, though not obnoxiously so.
Grado claim to have reduced sound leakage by 60% and although I can’t measure this, sat next to my SR125’s I will say that they have indeed managed to tame the GW100s without losing the “Grado sound”.
Summery and recommendation:
For $249 you’re getting a wireless headphone that has a capable and stable bluetooth connection which doesn’t impact on timbre or performance.
The controls are easy to comprehend and placed in a manner that is soon remembered through muscle memory.
The Grado sound signature is clear as day and the GW100 haven’t lost any of that Grado magic.
They are stylish and lightweight with a more retro design than what the competition have to offer.
Grado have made some discreet improvements to the design without losing the look and feel that we are all familiar with, while improving comfort and robustness.
The sound they reproduce is well balanced, fast and lively, if a touch on the bright side. A wide open soundstage with a vivid image. Suitable with various genres. And when listening to them in a wired setup you’ll find they perform with a boost in timbre and scale.
If you want to have that Grado sound and ruggedness with you when you’re on the move or pottering around the home and don’t want the hassle of having a cable to deal with then look no farther. With the added bonus of reduced sound leakage you really can’t go wrong!
Thank you to you, my ever supportive readers! please, as always, subscribe, like and share.
Thanks to John and Rich Grado for sending these out and for your patience. You’re both proper gents!
And thank you to todays sponsor, Airpulse. Sponsors of the blog are an invaluable source of support and generosity.