Grado’s open-back wireless headphones make no sense, but here’s why I like them anyway

We just tested a pair of Grado GW100x headphones and gave them the full five stars. Now that may not seem strange at first. We usually like what Grado is doing with its range of exclusive open-back on-ear designs and are even inclined to price the company’s products at an odd price.

The difference this time around is that the GW100x has an open back And wireless. At £249 / $275 / AU$440, they compete in a market of brilliant products from industry titans such as Sony, Bose and Sennheiser. All of these rivals sing from the same spec sheet, in that they’re wireless, noise-canceling headphones with slick apps that let the user tailor the performance to taste. They are also all closed-back designs. Every pair of headphones (apart from Grado) in this wireless space is closed, which makes perfect sense for this kind of product.

Wireless over-ear headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser’s excellent Momentum 4 wireless headphones offer a closed-back design with ANC. (Image credit: Which Hi-Fi?)

These types of headphones are mainly used when people are on the move. A closed design naturally provides a degree of isolation for the listener. Add noise reduction to the mix and you have a product that can make the rumble of a train or bus fade into the background. Such headphones also allow the user to sit next to another person and play the music loudly without annoying anyone. So when Grado released the original GW100 and the subsequent GW100x, we didn’t know what to make of it at first.

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