Grado GW100 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed Dec 11, 2018 at 10:56 am
Grado GW100 Wireless Picture
6.2
Mixed Usage
7.4
Neutral Sound
5.6
Commute/Travel
7.0
Sports/Fitness
5.6
Office
5.4
Wireless Gaming
7.0
Wired Gaming
5.6
Phone Call
Type On-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

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. They pack a bit more bass compared to the other Grado headphones. They also have 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're open-back, they won't be the best option for outdoors and commuting. On the upside, they have a decent audio reproduction, and they're fairly versatile for a variety of music genres. You can also use the headphones passively, even if the battery is dead.

Our Verdict

6.2 Mixed Usage

The Grado GW100 are average for mixed usage. By design, these open-back headphones aren’t the best for multi-purpose listening. They have decent audio reproduction for critical listeners, and their open-back design will help create a more open sound. However, it'll also leak a lot and won’t isolate much ambient noise, meaning they aren’t a good choice for commuting or at the office. They're decently breathable for sports but aren't very stable. When using them wirelessly, if you don’t have an aptX-LL dongle, they'll have too much latency to watch video content or for gaming.

Pros
  • Lightweight, comfortable on-ear design.
  • More bass than wired Grado models.
Cons
  • Very high leakage, by design.
  • No isolation from ambient noise, by design.
7.4 Neutral Sound

The Grado GW100 are decent neutral listening headphones. They have a decent audio reproduction and have more bass than the wired Grado models. Unfortunately, they might sound too muddy and sibilant for some. They're decent for a variety of music genres, but unfortunately, they don’t have a companion app that lets you EQ the sound to your liking.

5.6 Commute/Travel

The Grado GW100 are bad for commuting. By design, these open-backs don’t isolate any engine rumbles or ambient chatter, making them unsuitable for a daily commute.

7.0 Sports/Fitness

The Grado GW100 are average for sports. Even if they're decently comfortable, breathable, and their bass can keep you going during your workouts, they aren’t very stable and would slip off your head during physical activities.

5.6 Office

The Grado GW100 are sub-par for office use. Even if their battery life should last you all day, they have really loud leakage by design, and colleagues can clearly hear everything you’re listening to, making them a bad choice for an office.

5.4 Wireless Gaming

The Grado GW100 are sub-par for gaming. Even if they're decently comfortable for long gaming sessions and have decent audio reproduction, you'd need an aptX-LL dongle to use the headphones with minimal latency. Also, they don't have a great integrated microphone for online voice chat with friends and teammates, and the included cable doesn't come with an in-line mic.

7.0 Wired Gaming
5.6 Phone Call
  • 6.2 Mixed Usage
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 5.6 Commute/Travel
  • 7.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.6 Office
  • 5.4 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.0 Wired Gaming
  • 5.6 Phone Call
  1. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

Grado didn’t change their retro-looking formula for these headphones, as the Grado 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 Grado SR325e/SR325. However, they don’t have a brushed silver metallic finish. These are simply all-black headphones that don’t stand out other than the fact that they look retro.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.4 lbs
Clamping Force
0.7 lbs

The Grado GW100 are comfortable for on-ears, similar to the Grado SR125e/SR325. They're very lightweight and are not very tight on the head. However, the on-ear fit isn't 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.

7.4
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling Control N/A
Talk-Through
N/A
Additional Buttons No

The Grado GW100 have a decent control scheme. The available controls are fairly limited, but they're responsive and easy to use. You get a call/music control button, and volume controls. There aren't many buttons, but they're 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.

7.3
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 3.5 C

The Grado 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.

6.2
Design
Portability
L 7.4 "
W 7.5 "
H 1.5 "
Volume 83 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

They're somewhat portable since they're a bit less bulky than over-ears, but unfortunately, they don't 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.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

Unfortunately, they don't come with a pouch or case.

6.0
Design
Build Quality

The Grado 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're fairly lightweight and have few moving parts.

6.5
Design
Stability

These headphones aren't very stable on the head and shouldn’t be used for physical activity. They're 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.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Grado GW100 headphones
  • Charging cable
  • 1/8" TRS audio cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.52 db
Treble Amount
-3.05 db
8.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.35 dB

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'll provide the same bass and treble response across multiple users and re-seats, regardless of the shape and size of your head.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.21 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
19.71 Hz
Low-Bass
1.22 dB
Mid-Bass
1.96 dB
High-Bass
4.96 dB

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.

8.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.56 dB
Low-Mid
2.31 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.19 dB
High-Mid
-1.37 dB

The mid-range is good. The overall response is fairly flat and even. However, mid-mid and most of the 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.

6.2
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.92 dB
Low-Treble
-1.56 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.27 dB
High-Treble
-4.47 dB

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.

6.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.65 db
Dips
1.73 db
8.5
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.31
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.82
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.65
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.68

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. Also, 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 game effects) in the stereo image.

6.8
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.99 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.41 dB
PRTF Distance
9.9 dB
Openness
9.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
7.8

The Grado GW100's soundstage 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 will help in creating a more open-sounding and spacious soundstage, compared to closed-back headphones.

7.3
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.318
WHD @ 100
0.216
Isolation
1.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.8 dB
Bass
-0.03 dB
Mid
1.37 dB
Treble
-6.45 dB

By design, the Grado GW100's isolation performance 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.

3.1
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
57.81 dB

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 Companion Speaker.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A

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'll 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, but our unit didn't have anything on the included cable.

6.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
265.23 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
4.53 dB
HFE
3417.19 Hz
Weighted THD
2.214
Gain
16.79 dB

The Grado GW100's recording quality 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 understandability mostly depends on the 500Hz-4KHz range.

6.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
11.37 dB

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.

Active Features
7.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
15.5 hrs
Additional Charges
0
Total Battery Life
15.5 hrs
Charge Time
1.75 hrs
Power Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port micro-USB

The Grado GW100 have 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're 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.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name N/A
iOS N/A
Android N/A
macOS N/A
Windows N/A
Equalizer
N/A
ANC Control
N/A
Mic Control N/A
Room effects
N/A
Playback Control
N/A
Button Mapping N/A
Surround Sound N/A

Unfortunately, the Grado GW100 don't have a companion app for additional customization options to enhance your listening experience.

Connectivity
7.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line of Sight Range
113 ft
Default Latency
224 ms
aptX Latency
231 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
34 ms

These are fairly straightforward Bluetooth headphones. They support Bluetooth version 4.2, but unfortunately can’t be connected to two 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.

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.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.0 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
0 ms

You can 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 them with the audio cable even if the battery is dead, which is convenient.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
N/A
USB Input
N/A
Line In
N/A
Line Out
N/A
Optical Input
N/A
RCA Input
N/A
Dock Charging
N/A
Power Supply
N/A

The Grado GW100 don't 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 Wireless 2017.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

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 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, the best wireless headphones, and the best on-ear wireless headphones.

Grado SR325e/SR325

The Grado GW100 Wireless are better headphones than the Grado SR325e/SR325. 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.

Marshall MID ANC Wireless

The Marshall MID ANC Wireless are better headphones than the Grado GW100 Wireless. The Marshall 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 Grado because of their closed-back design. The Marshall offer a much better value and are more versatile thanks to their design. They're also noise cancelling and sound more neutral.

Koss Porta Pro Wireless

The Koss Porta Pro Wireless are better headphones than the Grado GW100 Wireless. They are more portable since they can fold into a more compact format, are very lightweight, are more comfortable, and leak less. However, the Grado can be used wired too, which is very convenient if the battery is dead. They support aptX-LL and are better-built headphones.

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear are better headphones than the Grado GW100 Wireless. They are more neutral sounding and don’t feel as flimsy as the Grado. The Bose closed-back design isolates more noise and leaks less, but you won’t get the openness of the Grado. Also, the Bose have bass delivery inconsistencies, especially if you wear glasses, which you shouldn’t get with the Grado. The Grado have better wireless range and also support aptX-LL for low latency.

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