Grado has been making headphones for decades, but the family-owned company was late to the wireless game. Admittedly, it waited until it felt the technology met its lofty standards for audio performance. Grado debuted its first wireless headphones in 2019, keeping its open-back roots intact while offering the convenience of cutting the cord. True wireless is all the rage now, and once again the company did its homework before wading in. With the GT220 ($259), Grado offers its signature sound quality in a set of earbuds that cover all the basics. And sometimes that’s all you really need.
Gallery: Grado GT220 review | 12 Photos
Gallery: Grado GT220 review | 12 Photos
Grado makes a range of headphones, from affordable and basic to truly sonically impressive -- and expensive. Many of those pricier models are built with materials like mahogany and brushed aluminum. However, the company kept it simple with its first wireless headphones (the GW100), and it did the same here with the GT220. The earbuds are very plain-looking and all-black, except for the white Grado “G” logo on the touch panels. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed these don’t have more of the design touches Grado is known for. While I can appreciate there’s very limited space to work with on earbuds, I think there’s room for the typography and finer details for the Prestige Series.
- Outstanding sound quality
- Better-than-expected battery life
- Five (!) charges in the case
- Wireless charging
- Very plain design
- Slightly awkward fit
- No customization or app features
- No ANC
A status light shines through that G icon (blue, red or purple), letting you know when the earbuds are in pairing mode, powering off or going through a factory reset. This area is also the touch panel that accepts your taps and long presses for the on-board controls. And Grado has done a stellar job organizing those so everything is easy to remember. On the left earbud you can summon a voice assistant or take a call. On the right resides all of your audio controls. Lastly, a long press on the left and right handles changes in volume (left is down, right is up).
While the shape of the touch panel is a rounded triangle, the main housing is more of an oval. A nozzle-like extension juts out from the bottom and into your ears, complete with a silicone tip on the end. I can’t tell if it’s the diameter of that component or the length of the “arm” itself (or a combination of the two), but the design here causes the GT220 to sit awkwardly outside of my ear. It’s like I need to be able to push them in further, but can’t. To be clear this doesn’t affect the sound quality whatsoever, and the earbuds never feel like they’re going to fall out. But they do stick out further than it feels and looks like they should, and that makes things a little cumbersome at times.
And then there’s the charging case. The pill-shaped accessory has embossed GRADO text across the lid, with a USB-C port around back and a group of four LEDs on the front. Those lights let you know how much battery is left or what your charging status is. Since there’s four, each one signifies 25 percent, so it’s pretty easy to get an idea of where things stand with a quick glance. This isn’t the smallest case I’ve seen by any means, but it’s still pretty compact considering the five extra charges it offers inside.
Setup and use
To get started, simply remove the GT220 earbuds from the case, and they’ll automatically go into pairing mode the first time. If you need to pair to another device, simply press and hold on either the left or right earbud for five seconds. Because Grado doesn’t offer a companion app, that’s pretty much it in terms of setup. There are no presets to test or any way to change up the on-board controls, so once you’re paired, you’re golden. Those who prize simplicity should be pleased.
In terms of overall comfort, the GT200 is really a mixed bag. Once you find the best eartips for you, the buds will provide a tight fit that keeps things sounding good and goes a long way to passively block out distractions. Unfortunately, the design leads to an awkward fit -- at least for me. Again, the nozzle-like extension that goes inside your ear seems a bit too long, or too wide, so the outer portion of the buds sticks out rather than nestling on the ledge just outside my ear canal. Although the touch controls themselves work just fine, the not-quite-snug fit means the earbuds move quite a bit when you’re making adjustments, especially the press-and-hold volume adjustments.