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Hands-On

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

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.