After years of speculation about what ever would happen, Grado Lab's first wireless headphone, GW1
What is it?
The first wireless headsets from a cult favorite.
Great Grado Sound, Now Wireless
Building Quality Feels Sparky
For a certain brand of nerd, Brooklyn-based Grado Labs inspires devoted loyalty. The 65 year old family company has cultivated a follow-up thanks to its distinctive aesthetics, stubborn commitment to its homemade roots, and its uncompromising commitment to sound quality. And they have a headphone that everyone can afford: The Audiophile brand offers great products as cheap as $ 80 and spans up to thousands. Grado's slow style suggested that maybe the company would never go wireless.
But after 18 months of development, GW100 ($ 250) is true! John Grado, the company's headhanko is talking about making headphones on such deceptively simple terms, it sounds like almost everyone could design them. ("There's a cord, speaker, and speaker housing.") For me, why confuses why all five years (at least) in the usual Bluetooth period, we only get our first Grado wireless boxes. Grado has mastered the art of adjusting simple headphones precisely – why should you throw a wall of digital technology between the musician and man?
In the development of the wireless product, Grado and his team had to go through several rounds of tuning digital technology to get exactly the sound he wanted – not for the bassy, with the intermediary the company is known for.
I've owned a few of the very cheapest Gradosene for a few years. They sound exceptionally well better than many headsets that cost two or three times as much. You do not put the headphones on as much as you are absorbed in them. They reproduce remarkably clear and detailed sound, partly due to their open-back design. By not sealing the ear cup, the driver moves more freely.
Using GW100s over the past week, I remind you of the feeling of being completely immersed in music. One day I plowed myself through a stack of new records I wanted to listen to in a number of genres. Cat Power Delicious Vocal on Wanderer was clearly and humanly rendered. Meanwhile, the headset handled loudly on the fire's punitive thrash metal without flipping. My go-to song to check out bass is "Aunt Lock / Infinite" by Flying Lotus; Its unpleasant low-end synthesizer lines are devilish for audio products of all kinds. And while Grado is proud that he has not followed the audience to products with excessive bass, the headphones slide down there and catch the shade of the song's bulb tones.
I could go on and over again, but that's enough to say yes! The headphones sound great! Superbra! To my decent ears as good as anything I've ever heard that does not drive the price north of $ 400. Given the company's pedigree, it's not super surprising.
There are of course disadvantages. In case it has not been reviewed yet, the GW100s is an incredible barebones product, and does not give any benefits or amenities to our highly popular Bluetooth wireless headsets like the Bose QuietComfort-35 II Sony WH-1000XM3. There is no noise reduction technology, no EQ modes or compass button. Heck, you can not even connect them to more than one source device at a time. To switch from listening from the computer to the phone, disconnect the headsets from the computer, turn off Bluetooth or go out of range to get the headset back into pairing mode.
While Bose and Sony headphones are clearly designed with the comfort and durability of frequent travelers in mind, the GW100 looks better at the desk or armchair. The headphone design looks very like Grado's affordable Prestige series headphones. (According to Grado, the GW100 is not based on any particular wired product. It's a new design.) While it's nice that the headphones have the iconic look and they are quite easy, plastic and thin metal construction make me feel nervous when I hug it my backpack. In particular, the headsets survived a five-foot fall from a gym with just a small scratch at the end of the bolts that attached the ear.
Another point of view is the foam doors supplied with the headphones. It's cheap stuff that feels scratchy on your ears and does not stay attached. If you throw the headset into the bag, be prepared to mess around to clear the earplate that has fallen off. They are very easy, so I managed to use them for a long time, and I had nothing to do with scratching too much.
One of the main disadvantages of open headphones is noise – you hear a lot of outside the world and the sound of the headphones is also similar. (Entertaining Grado sees itself as a function, not a mistake: "You make ice cream melting.") On this model, the company has done some clever construction to reduce leakage without sacrificing the benefits of opening design. And it works. My old Grados would annoy my colleagues and they can not hear the GW100s.
The problem of sound from outside has not been completely solved. I could still hear the idle lift on a heavy metal ice car and roaring a subway station that rolled into Union Station made it hard to hear Nirvana.
The headphones went well around the city, and although there were cutouts in large open openings, as is usually the case with Bluetooth headsets, it was not that annoying that I could not use them.
Grado says that depending on how these headsets do ("We're on sticks and needles") The company plans more products for its wireless line, including potentially some higher-end models. From now on, the only plan he will reveal for an in-ear model with noise reduction to be released next year.
So where does it leave us? If you are the type of Grado consumer who really participates in the company's more affordable products, you will also love these. They hit each note, both in terms of sound and aesthetics, as fans have come to appreciate from the brand. That said, like all Grado products, they are not for everyone: they are precise, uncomfortable, and do not block out the sound well. But as someone wondering if the venerable Brooklyn audio source would ever go without wires, they are stoked they finally have.
- Sound delightful.
- Noise leakage has been significantly reduced compared to other Grados.  Very easy, but also potentially not very durable.
- Earpads remain steady and scratchy.