Grado GT220 review: stellar sounding wireless headphones that cover the basics

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You would be forgiven for assuming that a set of genuine Grado wireless headphones looks amazing, but I can confirm the assumption is correct. The audio profile is exceptionally clear, allowing you to capture subtle details you might miss on other headphones. The depth and dynamic range prevent music from appearing too compressed. I picked up things like the natural studio reverb over things like the snare drum (where the artists wanted it to be heard) and the grungy metal guitar distortion has more texture. It’s not just noise, there are nuances, and the GT220 has taken me to new sides of old favorites.

This clarity is paired with a well-tuned EQ. There’s enough bass when it’s needed, like when you’re blasting Gojira’s explosive drums or the buzzing beats of PVRIS. The GT220 keeps vocals and instrumental details crisp and clear with sufficient low-end sound, leaving each sound source layered.

Since there is no companion app, you only have the factory setting on the GT220. Frankly, this is great as they sound pretty good right out of the box. There is also no active noise cancellation (ANC) here. For me, the GT220 offered a tight fit once I found the right tips, and the passive isolation was enough to block out any TV noise radiating from my next living room. Of course, you also lose all ambient sound mode. It’s not always an ANC companion – some headphones like the Galaxy Buds + have it without noise cancellation – but more often than not the two come as a pair.

Battery life

Billy Steele / Engadget

To my surprise, the battery life of the GW100 headphones far exceeded what Grado promised in this review last year. In fact, I got three hours longer than the company claimed. With that in mind, I figured the GT220 would have no problem hitting the declared six hour mark and there would be a good chance it would exceed that number. Indeed, I managed eight hours of use with the headphones before having to dock them in the case. And Grado goes a step further than most headphone manufacturers when it comes to the charging case. Not only does it offer wireless charging, but it also comes with five additional charges for 36 hours of use in total. If you prefer to use a cord, the GT220 case can also be supplemented with a USB-C cable.

The competition

Despite his age, Sony WF-1000XM3 always sits at the top of my “best” list when it comes to true wireless. The headphones are big and bulky, but few even come close to what Sony offers in audio quality and noise reduction performance. Additionally, the company incorporates a load of customization into its companion app and will automatically adjust presets based on activity or location. That is, if you are ready to give the software certain permissions. Perhaps more importantly, the WF-1000XM3 costs around $ 30 less than the GT220 if you have to pay full price. More often than not these days Sony headphones are soaring about $ 170 – $ 180.

Grado beats Sony in terms of pure sound, and if that’s your main concern, the best alternative is Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. The MTW2 doesn’t quite offer the full package that Sony does, but the headphones ring a bell really well. Sennheiser also packed in ANC, although that doesn’t block the world as well as Sony or Bose.

Speaking of Bose, while noise reduction capability is of the utmost importance, QuietComfort headphones are your best bet. Like the WF-1000XM3, they’re bulky, but Bose has managed to bring its exceptional active noise cancellation technology from its on-ear headphones to true wireless headphones. You’ll find a better mix of features elsewhere, but you’ll struggle to match the noise-blocking capabilities of the QC headphones. Again, the sound quality is not as good as that of Grado, and this Bose model is more expensive at $ 279.95.

Wrap

Grado promises its signature sound in the GT220, the company's first true wireless headphones.  It responds to that, combining it with better-than-expected battery life and the convenience of wireless charging.  The overall design is pretty straightforward, and the fit is slightly awkward compared to the construction of the headphones.  There is also no companion app for any customization.  However, you don't need to change the sound anyway, as these are some of the best headphones we've tested.

Billy Steele / Engadget

There is no doubt that the GT220 looks amazing, and to some people, that’s all that matters. When you factor in battery life, wireless charging, and reliable on-board controls, Grado has it all covered with its first true wireless headphones. However, some will want the ANC to thwart noisy environments, while others will want the ability to change touch inputs. And if you’re like me, you might be facing a slightly embarrassing fit. Grado falls fair Short of the full set here, but for a company obsessed with sound quality, it almost delivers on all of its promises.

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