During my visit to Brooklyn's Grado Labs last year, CEO John Grado explained why the company hadn't yet made wireless headphones. "I still don't think it will sound as good as the wired stuff," he said. "But we feel the technology has gotten to the point where we feel it would be worth it for use to start getting our feet wet." Well, the time as come. This week Grado Labs revealed the GW100: the company's first wireless headphones that just happen to be the first open-back wireless headphones, too.
If you're not familiar with Grado, the family-run company makes a wide range of open-back headphones that cater to both entry level and audiophiles alike. With the GW100, Grado adds wireless to a design that draws inspiration from its existing Prestige Series. You can expect the company's signature sound, thanks in part to drivers specifically tuned for the demands of Bluetooth. Grado also says it reduced the escaping sound by 60 percent over its wired headphones, thanks to redesigned speaker housings and internals.
Speaking of connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX handles the playback here and Grado says you can expect a range of about 10 meters (about 33 feet). In terms of battery life, the GW100 offers up to 15 hours of playback, but, per usual, mileage will vary based on your listening volume. Yes, that's about half of what you get with similarly priced sets from Sony and Bose. Of course, neither of those have an open-back design, and Grado is banking on the fact that you'll want to have its audio quality over 30 hours of battery life.
There are some common features at work on the GW100 though. On-board controls will help you adjust volume, skip tracks and pause music. The volume and power buttons actually pull double duty. A short press on the power button is the play/pause control while a long press on the volume buttons will skip to either the next or previous song. The power button is also used to answer calls, and a built-in microphone allows the person on the other end to hear you. Lastly, a charging light indicates when the GW100 is powered on, fully charged, charging or has low battery with either solid or flashing red and blue.
The GW100 is on sale now for $249 at the Grado Labs website.