Grado is an audio company that you just can’t help but like. Brooklyn-based Grado Labs has been making headphones for over 60 years, adapting at its own pace and not rushing into markets without thought and precision.
The Grado GT220 true wireless headphones are testament to this - robust and brilliant-sounding, they offer a lot of sound from their diminutive frame.
They enter a category, though, that is brim-full of brands trying to get into your ears so can (and do they) offer something that will stand out from the crowd?
- The best true wireless earphones - great headphones, tested.
1. Grado has built these earphones to last
We'll admit that we are less than enamoured with the Grado GT220 case. It's chunkier than many of the other true wireless earphones we have tested, but at least it feels like it is something that has been made to protect the buds within.
Open up the case and the earbuds are a joy to look at. There's the G logo from Grado on the sides of the buds. When you are pairing the logo flashes red and will continue to flash blue when you have paired them to your device. This is something to be wary of: these aren't earphones you can wear in the dark in bed with your significant other next to you - they'll be thinking the police are outside.
They are also a little on the chunky side, so they protruded out from our ears - only just but it is noticeable.
2. The earbuds are comfy and packed with technology
There are three different buds to choose from, depending on the size of your ear cavity. Once chosen, the fit is snug and the polycarbonate material feels comfortable resting on the ear and looks sleek.
While there is no ANC (active noise cancellation) available through the true wireless buds, you do get a decent amount of passive noise cancelling when they are fitted in the ear properly, which was welcomed.
Powering the audio are two 8mm drivers and thanks to Grado's top-notch sound engineers, they work overtime producing a sumptuous sound throughout our time wearing these things.
3. Sound is top grade, thanks to Grado
We are big fans of the prowess Grado offers in the sound department and weren't disappointed with the Grado GT220s. No matter what we wanted to listen to, the ear buds met the challenge offering brilliant bass, marvellous mid-tones and they hit the high notes each and every time.
Joy Oladokun's Tracy Chapman-esque Look Up was just stunning to listen to through the GT220s. Her fretwork filled with a tremor-like treble tone, the piano soaring and filling the space around you.
I Love You, I Hate You by Little Simz hits you with a hip-hop bass lower down than you are expecting through the Grados and the strings on the track hits that little bit higher, too.
Bloom At Night by LUMP was also on our test track list. The earphones made sure that Laura Marling's beautiful vocals weren't lost in the murk of the squelchy bass of the song, lifting the song admirably.
We would have liked some sort of companion app to tweak the EQ now and again, but these have been tuned by experts and it shows.
4. Touch controls work well, even when working out
The Grados came with us to the gym a number of times and while they didn't make the lockdown spread disappear, they did well to stay in our ears throughout without fear of falling out and despite the sweat that drained from our unfit selves, the capacitive touch controls worked wonders (and the IPX4 certification worked well, but we would have liked a higher waterproof rating).
We were never confused about play/pause and skip - and even used the Google Assistant compatibility on occasion ("okay, Google why is my heart rate so high and I've only just done a warm-up?").
We did miss the auto pause when taking the ear buds out of our ears. This is something we like to see on true wireless buds and it's a shame it isn't available here.
5. Battery is big and impressive
Given each Grado GT220 ear bud is just 5g, there is a lot of juice in these earphones. So much, that you hardly worry about battery life.
On there own, the ear buds will last for around six hours but you get an extra 30 hours in the carry case. This almost makes us forgive the case for being on a bit of the chunky side.
Charging will take a few hours but you can do it by plugging in a USB-C charger or chucking them on a Qi-compatible charging mat.
Grado GT220 Final Verdict
Let's get the quibbles out of the way. What you don't get with the Grado GT220 true wireless ear buds is ANC, a compatible app or the ability to turns its flashing LED lights off. And the price is at the higher end of the market.
But what you do get is one of the best-sounding true wireless buds on the market - they offer rich audio that immerses you. Couple this with a beefy battery life and Grado have created a rather-brilliant set of true wireless buds.