Hands on: Grado's first wireless open-back headphones, the GW100

in iPhone
Grado is a well-known brand in audiophile circles, and one of the few companies to specialize in open-back headphones. Believe it or not, the GW100 is only their first Bluetooth model.

Grado GW100

A quick primer: most headphones are closed-back. That means that their drivers and so forth are shielded, improving qualities like noise isolation.

So why would you go open-back? Closing off headphones creates specific acoustic properties, including a narrower soundstage. Open-back headphones tend to have "purer" sound with a wider stage, albeit at the cost of bass performance.

I have to admit, the GW100 isn't terribly impressive out of the box. Most of it is built of relatively lightweight plastic, and the earpieces are covered with a cheap, removable foam lining. It's not at all what you'd expect from something costing $249.

You begin to understand where the money goes, though, after putting the headphones on. They sound excellent -- while you can find more powerful options, the GW100 is exceptionally clear, and its soundstage is immediately noticeable. In both music and games, I picked up separation that was simply missing from most closed-back products.

A separate perk of Grado's design is the use of physical control buttons. There's none of that touch-sensitive gesture nonsense here -- hardwired buttons let you power on, change volume, and skip tracks at will.

Grado promises 15 hours of battery life. Interestingly that's at 50% volume, and the company cautions that life will vary further based on "musical genre."

We'll put that and other claims to the test in coming weeks. Keep following AppleInsider for a complete review.

Where to buy

Want to purchase your own pair of Grado GW100 wireless headphones? B&H and Amazon.com have the Bluetooth over-ear headphones in stock for $249.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 557member
    Grados are excellent, audiophile headphones. Definitely old school, but in a very good way!
    Been using them for years. My current pair are the Prestige Series SR325.

    Saw these on the Grado web site a while back, so it's nice to get a bit of feedback on them.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,454member
    Those are some ugly and chunky cans. The plastic contraction with a $249 price tag doesn't help. So I hope they do sound good. The physical buttons are a big plus for me. I'd like to see some WiFi headphones, especially if they're going to be that big.

    But the big advantage of these Grados is the closed-back design. Being they're BT, they're likely to be used on the move, and less likely to annoy those around the wearer.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    MidnightMikeMidnightMike Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    These are open back, not closed back. They sound great,  but everyone around you will hear what you are listening to, and the Grados don't do much for blocking outside sounds. 
  • Reply 4 of 4
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,454member
    They are indeed open-back cans.

    Grado says
    The GW100 are the worlds first open-back Bluetooth headphones. Their speaker housings and internals have been designed from the ground up, now working in tandem to notably diminish escaping sound by up to 60%.*

    *As compared to our wired headphones. Leakage reduction varies in certain situations. This is based on a reasonable distance, angle, and genre of music played.

    So, yeah, everyone around you is going to hear you, if you play them loud enough, which probably won't take much (my guess).

    So these are not the cans I'm looking for.

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