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o2so

Flash review of the Grado GW100 wireless headphones

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Hey guys, though I'd share this little experience.

 

I own a decent headphone rig, with Woo Audio amp, Focal Utopia and a pair of Grado GH1.

I'm starting by saying this because it is generally accepted in hifi that if you spent a sh!t load of money in your gear then you must know what you are talking about. Right?

So now that we have established that I am a reliable source of info, let's get to it.

 

I wanted a pair of cans to commute and office. So went to see my friends at Addicted to Audio and tried the best wireless, closed back noise cancelling stuff out there.

 

Not that there is much that is not consumer oriented, really. I tried the B&W PX and found the sound revolting. Congested, closed in, coloured. Horrible.

Then tried the Sony, even worse. Boomy as ef. Not just boomy, everything else was also wrong, oversaturated like a beginner's attempt at photo editing.

 

Then tried the Audio Technica, sound was barely ok but not great. Dry, nasal, metallic.

At that point I was a bit frustrated and ready to give up. I was suggested IEMs, but I already own a decent pair and the intent was to lose the cable.

 

Then I'm handled these plasticky, cheapy looking Grados. They say try these, although you won't be able to use them to commute. I say ok.

 

Right away I could tell these sounded good. Actually, ashtonishingly good.

 

They had the Grado sound, so typically open, crisp, detailed and with good space between instruments. Grado sound yes, BUT with substantial bass. And good quality, non overpowering, non resonating, taut bass!

 

Also, they were among the lightest and most comfortable cans I've ever put on my head.

 

Price? 350ish.

 

Ok they are open back and have no isolation, so not good for commute. But THIS sound for 350 bucks? I bought them.

 

At home I compared them with the much higher end GH1 and the stupidly higher end Utopias.

 

I was actually quite pissed to find out that there is not THAT much difference in SQ. Yes, the Utopias do everything better and have tons more space and stage. But, even if I think they are the best cans out there under $5k (and by a good margin), the Grados did amazingly well in the AB testing. I am aware that I am losing all my well deserved credibility with such statements, but hifi is a weird world sometimes.

 

Let's just put it this way. When I bought the Utopias I tried almost everything else between $1k and $5k, and there were not many competitors that did as good as the GW100 did.

 

For example, one could argue that the GW100 sound better than the GH1, because they have similar detail, dynamics and stage, but more bass (for those not familiar with Grado cans, they are great but get often criticised for their thin-ish presentation). The GW100 might be in fact the first Grado cans with substantial, high quality bass. With that said, the GH1 are ultimately superior in clarity and stage, and still have a very good bass.

 

So what is the point of great sounding, cheap and comfy wireless cans if you can't use them outdoor or to commute?

 

Well, for example you can use them at the office, without invariably dragging your phone off the desk and on the ground on your way to the loo.

 

Or, like me, you can have them on for 2 hours while you walk around the house trying to nurse your 3 months old baby to sleep.

 

Or, if you are the type who likes long meditative sessions on the toilet and want your hands free to read a book, there you go, leave your phone on the vanity and enjoy.

 

What else? Bath tub? I don't know, but you get the idea.

 

Anyway, for the price of a pair of average quality interconnects, my humble opinion is that everyone should own these cans.

 

Anyone owns these? Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by o2so

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Nice wrire up and thank you for the heads up, one day I'll put a headphone set up together and will definitely try these out.
My first introduction to hifi was with a pair of SR80's fed by a Sony profesional walkman. My friend work for Doug Brady hifi and would record to metal tapes from a top flight LP12 through a Naim system. It sounded amazing back then.
It is a pity they are open backed but that aids that Grado airy open sound so i suppose you can't have it all. And for that price they seem very reasonable.

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17 hours ago, TOPSHELF said:

Nice wrire up and thank you for the heads up, one day I'll put a headphone set up together and will definitely try these out.
My first introduction to hifi was with a pair of SR80's fed by a Sony profesional walkman. My friend work for Doug Brady hifi and would record to metal tapes from a top flight LP12 through a Naim system. It sounded amazing back then.
It is a pity they are open backed but that aids that Grado airy open sound so i suppose you can't have it all. And for that price they seem very reasonable.
 

Thanks mate. If you are going to put up a proper headphone set up you might want to have more of a "reference" wired cans and a proper amp, but these are just plain great for more casual (and also critical) listening when you dont want or you cant sit down at your hifi desk.

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Great write up and love to try one soon. I nowadays only use wireless headphone since most of listening is done with 2 channel speaker system and this one would fill my need nicely. Thank you for sharing @o2so

 

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Nice write up indeed,

 

I do have a question o2so, how do they sound in wired mode.

 

I have owned a pair of  entry level Grado (well Alessandro's actually) but gave them away to one of my sons because whilst possessing a wealth of detail, they were just too thin a sound signature for me to enjoy. 

 

If they are not compromised in wired mode (a number of bluetooth headphones are unfortunately) they could be very attractive for both serious and mobile use.

 

Cheers Mark

 

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On 08/04/2019 at 2:18 PM, Linolad said:

Nice write up indeed,

 

I do have a question o2so, how do they sound in wired mode.

 

I have owned a pair of  entry level Grado (well Alessandro's actually) but gave them away to one of my sons because whilst possessing a wealth of detail, they were just too thin a sound signature for me to enjoy. 

 

If they are not compromised in wired mode (a number of bluetooth headphones are unfortunately) they could be very attractive for both serious and mobile use.

 

Cheers Mark

 

Have not tested these with cable but will do and let you know

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Posted (edited)

Thank you o2so,

 

Appreciate if you are able to test the SQ via the cabled non bluetooth option at some time.

 

Regards

 

Mark

Edited by Linolad

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On 08/04/2019 at 12:18 AM, Linolad said:

Nice write up indeed, I do have a question o2so, how do they sound in wired mode. I have owned a pair of  entry level Grado (well Alessandro's actually) but gave them away to one of my sons because whilst possessing a wealth of detail, they were just too thin a sound signature for me to enjoy. If they are not compromised in wired mode (a number of bluetooth headphones are unfortunately) they could be very attractive for both serious and mobile use.

Cheers Mark

 

Pretty much the same wired, except better depending on the amp. There is no big freq. response difference wired-to-wireless as you get with Bose or some others. Being open-back as they are, it's hard to compare them to other brands that are closed back.

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Thanks dalethorn,

 

Appreciate the heads up.

 

Cheers

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On 10/04/2019 at 6:44 AM, dalethorn said:

Pretty much the same wired, except better depending on the amp. There is no big freq. response difference wired-to-wireless as you get with Bose or some others. Being open-back as they are, it's hard to compare them to other brands that are closed back.

I can confirm that, when wired, the sound is affected by the amp and DAC. I tested my GW100 wired to my LG v30, which has an awesome DAC and amp, and the sound picked up the slightly dry and detailed flavour of the V30 quite distinctively. This made me realise that the internal DAC and amp of the GW100 were voiced to be slightly warm, but the drivers are fairly neutral and will reproduce whatever character your source and amp provide.

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Thanks o2so,

 

I appreciate your input on this and value your critical thoughts.

 

As it happens I borrowed my Alessandro's back to have another listen.  I was actually surprised at how good they sound now on my little ProJect head phone amp.

 

Interestingly I probably never ran them in properly  and my son who both plays and makes guitars  (in his spare time) would have given them some stick.

 

As I am enjoying them and the supplied lead is quite long, I will listen on these a bit longer before deciding how to go forward.

 

I don't think I mentioned it earlier, but in the past (20 years ago?), I owned a pair of Stax Gamma Pro's and the attendant Stax headphone amp so I think I have a fair idea as to what constitutes a quality headphone experience. 

 

My audiophile expectations and equipment are far more modest these days!

 

Cheers

 

Mark 

 

 

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I wanted to follow up with a little update. My first GW100 model developed a buzz in one channel, so I got a new pair under warranty but I found the sound to be somewhat different from previous pair. Firstly I thought it was a break in problem but then I remembered that I do not believe in break in that much. 

The sound signature of the new pair was (and still is) darker than what I remembered the first pair sounded like. Still lovely sound but needs a little EQ. Perhaps it is my ears playing tricks but I am pretty sure my firs pair sounded a touch less bassy and more open. Who knows. Specimen variability?

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39 minutes ago, o2so said:

I wanted to follow up with a little update. My first GW100 model developed a buzz in one channel, so I got a new pair under warranty but I found the sound to be somewhat different from previous pair. Firstly I thought it was a break in problem but then I remembered that I do not believe in break in that much. 

The sound signature of the new pair was (and still is) darker than what I remembered the first pair sounded like. Still lovely sound but needs a little EQ. Perhaps it is my ears playing tricks but I am pretty sure my firs pair sounded a touch less bassy and more open. Who knows. Specimen variability?

My two sets of the GW100 were definitely darker than what I'd like for serious listening, even though I like it darker than "classic neutral" headphones like the Sennheiser HD600 (I've never heard the 2nd edition of the HD650, but I assume it's still well to the neutral side of the GW100.)

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Here's an EQ I did for the GW100. The horizontal lines above and below the center line are +6 and -6 db. A 2db cut to the upper bass, 4db cut to 2khz (typical Grado), and a 2.5db boost around 3khz were the main things. Not as dramatic as I thought, but it brought the sound closer to "just warm".

C88D9CF2-619E-47AC-AE7D-44741B3B052F.jpeg

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