The Grado GW100 are decent critical listening wireless open-back on-ear headphones. They're the first wireless option from Grado making them a bit more convenient for everyday use and they pack a bit more bass compared to the other Grado headphones. They also have a decent 15-hour battery life and a fairly simple and responsive control scheme, but the voice prompt is too loud and irritating, which might be a deal breaker for some. Also, since they are open-backs, they won't be the best option for outdoors and commuting. On the upside, they have a decent audio reproduction and they are fairly versatile for a variety of music genres, and you can also use the headphones passively, even if the battery is dead.
The Grado GW100 are very similar to the Grado SR lineup when it comes to design, except that they are wireless. They have a more premium feel compared to other Grado headphones we’ve reviewed so far thanks to their denser cups and well-padded headband, like the SR325e. Since they are the first wireless Grado headphones, they have the first Grado control scheme we've tested. It is fairly simplistic, it is very easy to use and offers great tactile feedback. However, their voice prompt is really loud, which gets irritating after a few times. Also, these headphones aren’t designed for sports and aren’t stable on the head.
Grado didn’t change their retro-looking formula for these headphones as the GW100 are fairly similar to the SR series. They have a nice looking grilled open-back design with fairly large cups. They look a bit more high-end thanks to their more premium headband like the SR325e. However, they don’t have a brushed silver metallic finish and are simply all-black headphones that don’t stand out other than the fact that they look retro.
The Grado GW100 are comfortable for on-ears, similarly to how the SR125e are. They are very lightweight and are not very tight on the head. However, the on-ear fit is not for everyone, and the material used to cover the ear cups is soft but doesn’t feel as good as faux leather would. On the upside, they have a better-padded headband design than most of the SR series.
The Grado GW100 have a decent control scheme. The available controls are fairly limited, but they are responsive and easy to use. You get a call/music control button, and volume controls as well. There are not many buttons, but they are easy to use, very clicky and tactile feedback is good. However, you also get a very loud and scratchy voice prompt, and there’s no way to reduce its volume. You also get audio feedback for min/max volume, track skipping, and play/pause.
The GW100 have decent breathability thanks to their on-ear design but are less breathable than previous Grado models. They have more airflow than over-ears since they don’t completely cover the ears and don’t trap as much heat. The ear padding is also made of a very porous material that helps with airflow. They won’t be ideal for working out as you could experience more sweating than usual but shouldn’t be a problem during casual listening sessions.
They are somewhat portable since they are a bit less bulky than over-ears, but unfortunately, they do not fold into a more compact format. On the upside, the cups swivel so the headphones lay flat and it makes it easier to slide them in a bag and makes it more comfortable to wear around your neck.
The GW100 have a better build quality than most Grado SR headphones. Their cups feel denser and made with better quality plastic, which makes them more robust. Unfortunately, they still have similar plastic joints that feel cheaply made. There are also cables coming out of the cups that go into the headband, and you should be careful not to get them hooked on something. On the upside, they are fairly lightweight and have few moving parts.
These headphones are not very stable on the head and shouldn’t be used for physical activity. They are very lightweight and have decent clamping force but will slip off your ears. This shouldn’t be an issue for casual listening sessions. They do score higher than the SR series as they don’t have a cable that can get caught or hooked on something and snag the headphones off your head, but they won't be ideal for jogging or working out.
The Grado GW100 come with a USB to micro USB charging cable and a 4-foot 1/8” TRS cable if you want to use the headphones wired, even if the battery is dead. The cable is advertised to have an in-line remote and microphone, but our review unit didn’t.
The Grado GW100 are decent sounding open-back on-ear headphones. They have a good, consistent, and punchy bass, a fairly flat and even mid-range, but an uneven treble. However, their high-bass is a bit overemphasized and might sound muddy while the recessed mid-range is going to push vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix. The treble range is mostly under our target curve, meaning it will lack detail, but a portion of the range might sound too piercing and sibilant. Overall, they have more bass than the wired Grado headphones and might be a bit more versatile for a wider variety of music genres.
The bass is good. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at about 20Hz, which is great. Unlike most Grado headphones, low-bass, which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music and sound effects, isn’t lacking and is overemphasized by a bit more than 1dB compared to our target. Mid-bass, responsible for body and punch of bass guitars and kick drums, is within 2dB of our neutral target, while high-bass is overemphasized by about 5dB and will sound a bit muddy and cluttered.
The mid-range is good. The overall response is fairly flat and even. However, mid-mid and most of high-mid ranges are recessed by about 5dB, pushing the vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix by favoring lower and higher frequencies.
The treble performance is average. The response is rather uneven across the whole range and mostly under our target curve, which will make vocals, leads, and cymbals lack a bit of detail and brightness. On the other hand, the peak around 9KHz could make the S and Ts sound a bit sharp on already bright tracks.
The frequency response consistency is good. They show excellent bass delivery across multiple users and re-seats, which is most likely due to their open-back design. They also have a very consistent treble delivery, below 10KHz, which is probably due to their on-ear design. Overall, they will provide the same bass and treble response across multiple users and re-seats, regardless of the shape and size of your head.
The Grado GW100 have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.31, which is very good. The graph also shows that the group delay is almost entirely under our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image.
The soundstage of the GW100 is mediocre. Due to their on-ear design, they don't interact with the pinna and don't activate its resonances, which is why the PRTF response is mostly a flat line. This results in a soundstage that is perceived as small and located inside the listener's head. However, the open-back design of the GW100 will help in creating a more open-sounding and spacious soundstage, compared to closed-back headphones.
The harmonic distortion performance is mediocre. These headphones show an elevated amount of THD in the bass range, especially at 100dB SPL. This suggests that they may struggle to produce a clean bass at very high volumes. Also, the spikes in THD around 4KHz will make the sound of that region noticeably harsh and impure.
The Grado GW100 were not designed to isolate ambient noise since they are open-back headphones. They will not be suitable for daily commutes or for the office since they don’t block engine rumbles or ambient chatter. They are also quite leaky, which may be distracting for the people around you as they’ll be able to hear everything you’re listening to. These headphones were designed to be used in a very quiet environment to be able to enjoy their open audio reproduction.
By design, the isolation performance of the GW100 is poor since they are open-backs. They don’t isolate any lower and mid frequencies, letting in all the engine rumbles and ambient chatter surrounding you. The isolation in the treble range, which is about 6.5dB, is negligible.
Like most open-back headphones, the Grado GW100 have poor leakage performance but are a bit less leaky than other Grados. The whole mid and treble ranges are fairly leaky, which is a broad range. They do leak less than other Grado models, but the leakage is still quite loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 58dB SPL and peaks at 74dB SPL, which is way above the average noise floor of an office. If you don't really care about leakage and are getting an open headset so you can monitor your environment while listening to music then you might want to check out the Bose SoundWear.
The Grado GW100 have a mediocre integrated microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded with this mic will sound slightly thin, noticeably muffled and lacking in detail, but it will still be relatively easy to understand. In noisy situations, however, they will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments, like a busy street. Also, Grado advertised an in-line remote and microphone for the GW100, but our unit did not have anything on the included cable.
The recording quality of the GW100’s microphone is mediocre. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 265Hz suggests that speech recorded with this mic will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.4KHz indicates a speech that sounds noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. However, it'll still be decently understandable in quiet environments, since speech intelligibility mostly depends on the 500Hz-4KHz range.
The integrated microphone is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 11dB, indicating that this microphone is best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud environments.
The Grado GW100 have a decent battery life but unfortunately, they don’t have a companion app to customize the sound to your liking with an EQ. Most people will have more than enough with 15 hours of continuous playback and won’t necessarily need daily charging. They can’t extend the battery with power saving features like a standby mode or an auto-off timer, but thankfully, they can be used wired, even if the battery is dead, and you can also charge them while still using them.
The GW100 have a decent 15.5-hour battery life and fully charges in just under 2 hours. This should easily last you a full day, even if you’re an extreme music listener. Unfortunately, they don’t have any power saving features to extend the battery life, but on the upside, if they are dying and you’re near a power source, you can still use them while charging. They also offer passive playback with the included 1/8” TRS cable, even if the battery is dead.
Unfortunately, the Grado GW100 do not have a companion app for additional customization options to enhance your listening experience.
The Grado GW100 are the company’s first wireless model, but they can also be used with the included audio cable, even if the battery is dead which can be useful, especially for reducing latency issues. Unfortunately, they don’t connect to 2 devices simultaneously, and the connection stability and range are significantly worse when the left ear cup is facing away from the source. On the upside, they support aptX-LL, even if the specs sheet doesn’t say so, and get very minimal latency if you have the appropriate dongle.
These headphones are fairly straightforward Bluetooth headphones. They support version 4.2, but unfortunately can’t be connected to 2 devices simultaneously, which would have been convenient. They also don’t have NFC support, but on the upside, they can use the aptX codec, and even if it isn’t listed in the specs sheet, we were able to use aptX-Low Latency with our dongle.
You can also use the Grado GW100 passively with the included 1/8” TRS audio cable, which will get rid of the latency issues. You can also use the headphones with the audio cable even if the battery is dead, which is convenient
The Grado GW100 do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
The Grado GW100 have a great wireless range with 52ft when the source was obstructed. You should be able to walk around a bit without having to bring your audio source, which can be convenient in a small office. However, the signal reception is noticeably worse when the left ear cup is facing away from the source.
Like most Bluetooth headphones, they have too much latency to be suitable for watching videos or gaming. However, if you have the appropriate Bluetooth device/source you can use the aptX Low Latency codec, which gives you minimal latency, or you can use the headphones wired to get rid of the latency issues completely.
The Grado GW100 are decent critical listening on-ear headphones. Their sound quality is decent and is helped by their open design. They pack more bass than the similar wired Grado headphones, but unfortunately, their build quality still doesn't feel very durable. They have a decent battery life and should last you a full day without a problem, but without the aptX-LL codec, they have too much latency for videos and gaming. They also have an annoying and irritating voice prompt, which can be a deal breaker for some. On the upside, they are lightweight headphones with decent comfort for on-ears. See our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones and the best wireless headphones.
The Grado GW100 are better headphones than the Grado SR325e. They are wireless and offer more freedom to move, and are slightly more comfortable and more stable. They also have a microphone and pack a bit more bass. On the other hand, the SR325e are a bit more breathable and have a flatter mid-range, which is great for vocal-centric music. They also don’t have any latency, but the GW100 are compatible with aptX-LL for minimal latency issues and can also be used wired to completely get rid of it, even if the battery is dead.
The Marshall MID ANC are better headphones than the Grado GW100. They are significantly better-built headphones and have an amazing audio reproduction. They also have a decent ANC feature to isolate background noise. On the other hand, they don’t have the openness of the Grados because of their closed-back design. The Marshalls offer a much better value and are more versatile thanks to their design. They're also noise cancelling and sound more neutral.
The Bose SoundLink On-Ear are better headphones than the Grado GW100. They are more neutral sounding and don’t feel as flimsy as the Grados. Their closed-back design isolates more noise and leaks less, but you won’t get the openness of the GW100. Also, the Bose have bass delivery inconsistencies, especially if you wear glasses, which you shouldn’t get with the Grados. The GW100 have better wireless range and also support aptX-LL for low latency.
The Koss Porta Pro Wireless are better headphones than the Grado GW100. They are more portable since they can fold into a more compact format, are very lightweight, are more comfortable, and leak less. However, the Grados can be used wired too, which is very convenient if the battery is dead. They support aptX-LL and are better-built headphones.