An open-back Bluetooth headphone? Only a few exist on the market, so it’s a rather unique model. But Grado fans may be thrilled to get this iconic sound in wireless form. Does it perform up to the standards audiophiles have come to expect from the brand? And how does it present itself in terms of character? Let’s find out in this Grado GW100x Wireless Headphone Review.
In the Box
USB-C charging cable
Look and Feel
Anyone familiar with Grado knows that their headphones are probably the most comfortable headphones on the market. With their old-school foam pads and forgiving clamping force, the GW1000x sit gently on the ears. They’re also very light. So, if you’re going to listen to music for hours on end, Grado is a great choice. TheGW100X sports the same look and feel as their popular SR60X and SR80X, almost flimsy in there appearance if it wasn’t for the stitched, soft leather headband.
Design and Functionality
Grado has employed its 4th generation 44mm drivers here, which are specifically tuned for this model. The company boasts a lighter voice coil, more powerful magnetic circuit and redesigned diaphragm, all to reduce distortion and improve efficiency. I was impressed by the volume that GW1000x could reach for a wireless headphone. Bluetooth is notorious for not producing enough gain, and this was certainly not the case for this model. Tinnitus sufferers rejoice. It’s also notable how little the sound bleeds out of these open-back cans. And apparently, Grado had been able to diminish escaping sound by up to 60% on the GW1000x.
The headphones are fitted with the standard play/pause and skip buttons on the side of the ear cup. They also allow you to pick up calls and even activate your voice assistant. I found pairing to be easy, and quickly forgot that these vintage cans were equipped with Bluetooth technology. The battery lasts a long 46 hours on a single charge. Grado has employed Bluetooth 5.2 and supports SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive. The range is only 10 meters but I didn’t experience any drop-outs during my listening session.
Unsurprisingly, the GW100x presents the most spacious soundstage you’ll hear from a wireless headphone in this price range. And coming from an audiophile who’s never been one of those die-hard Grado fans, I have to say, the imaging is gorgeous for a Bluetooth set of cans. Listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love, the track presented plenty of depth, with percussion and the rhythm guitar sitting far behind the center-right. There’s also a decent sense of height, and instruments tended to reach impressively low points on the vertical axis. Of course, the fantastic separation on the GW100x also lends itself to the spacial colorfulness of the soundstage, as does the overall leanness of the Grado sound profile.
Grado has given fair play to the bass. Anyone who has tried a Grado headphone knows not to expect a thick and juicy low-end. But even pop tracks, like Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” showed some significant bass punch. The speed and grip brings a lively energy to the sound, while the fantastic transparency really shines through when listening to string instruments in this range. Double bases, for example, had a very natural, resolving sound.
The high mids get more attention than the lower half of this range. So, vocals tend to take center stage in the track. And percussion has some great snap in the mids as well. The balance works especially well for jazz tracks, and it becomes clear as to why Grado is such a popular headphone for this genre. Listening to John Coltrane play “In a Sentimental Mood,” his saxophone beams right through the mix, as does Duke Ellington luminous piano in this rage. Furthermore, as in the low-end, the timbre feels entirely natural, breathy and detailed. Acoustic guitars sound equally as radiant, with guitar strums in this range enjoying fantastic definition and delicate handling. So, this is perfect headphone for those who favor jazz, classical and acoustic genres overall.
No surprise in this range. Although, Grado hasn’t produced an overly bright headphone by any means, the highs are well represented. Listening to strings in this range, you may not hear the level of transparency you’re used to in a wired Grado at this price point; there’s some smoothing over some of the more nuanced textures. But I didn’t mind the comparatively polished feel of the strings in this range, as it brought a nice fluidity to the sound. And listening to some Whitney Houston in the highs, her vocals had a floating feel while still maintaining the velvety character of her voice. Out of curiosity, I plugged in the cable while listening to this range, and certainly, some of the more subtle details of string instruments were brought out with more clarity. So, if you one day you don’t feel like compromising on the details, using the cable should do the trick.
As far as wireless headphones go, the GW100x is one of the best performing, and certainly most unique models on the market at this price point. (I have yet to listen to the HifiMan Deva, so I don’t have much to compare it to) Not everyone will find the Grado open-back design particularly appropriate for the subway ride home to Brooklyn. But if you’re a fan of the brand, or a lover of acoustic genres and you want some room to move around, the Grado GW1000x will deliver audiophile sound in a convenient package. And if you’re looking to listen more critically, the wired connection will provide you with the fantastic transparency that makes the brand so famous.
You can pick up your pair of Grado GW100x Wireless Headphones at Audio 46.
- Bluetooth Version: 5.2
- Battery Capacity: 850mAh
- Working Distance: 10m
- Battery Life: 46 hours*
- Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz
- Mic Sensitivity: 42dB +/- 3dB
- Transducer Type: Dynamic
- Operating Principle: Open Air
- SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 38 ohms
- Driver Matched dB: .1 dB