Grado GT220

Marking Grado’s first foray into the burgeoning market for true-wireless earbuds, the compact GT220 is barely noticeable when sat inside the ear and weighs only 5g. Grado provides three sizes of ear-tips and the buds are designed so that you can give them a little twist once they’re in place to ensure a firm fit and a decent seal. The GT220 supports both aptX and AAC codecs for Bluetooth and offers a claimed six hours of battery life. The charging case allows you to charge them five more times, for a total of 36 hours of listening. The case can be fully powered up using a standard USB cable – bundled – but also supports Qi wireless charging.

The earbuds automatically go into pairing mode as soon as they’re taken out of the charging case, so you can simply turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone or other devices to start listening. It might take a little while to learn all the controls, however. There’s no app provided, so you’ll need to remember a series of complex commands that involve single, double and triple taps on each earpiece in order to control phone calls and music playback.

The lack of an app means that there are few additional features either, such as custom EQ or the active noise-cancellation offered by rivals like the Sennheiser Momentum 2 (HFC 410), so the GT220 still leaves a little room for improvement there.

Sound quality
Though it’s not exactly awash with features, its 8mm drivers and support for both AAC and aptX ensure that it gets the basics right on sound quality. Low’s chilling See-Through, streamed in MQA Master format from Tidal, takes more than four minutes for vocalist Mimi Parker to intone five lines of lyrics, but the GT220 has the insight to simply step back and allow each note of the sparse arrangement to resonate for full effect.

Meanwhile, Zak Sally’s glacially slow bass intro has a melancholy rumble that sets the scene perfectly – “You were discovered, bended over the dead…” As the sharper guitar gets in on the act, there’s a sense of menace with the GT220 capturing the icy tone with unusual clarity for Bluetooth in-ears. Against this sparse backdrop the arrival of the ominous ticking percussion seems like a dramatic crescendo, yet the Grado seems to cope well with Low’s ‘less is more’ approach and allows Parker’s haunting vocal to slowly fade away like a sad memory.

In search of something a little more upbeat, I do a complete about-turn with the AAC version of Vampire Money by My Chemical Romance stored on my iPad. The GT220 has no trouble with the change of pace, delivering the thumping drum intro with gusto as the band introduce themselves by name (a nod, perhaps, to Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet). The thrashing guitars and yells of “Come on!” on the final chorus can easily go off the rails and become mere noise on lesser rivals, but the GT220 balances the sound and lets the taut drums set the pace and hold everything together. The little earbuds even do a good job of digging down into the deep, electronic bass on The Orb’s Prime Evil, driving the track forward with a menacing, sinuous rhythm, while the jangling percussion attacks the senses with the same piercing ferocity as fingernails scraping down a blackboard.

Precise earbuds such as these would certainly benefit from an app to provide EQ adjustment and additional customisation features in order to compete with similarly priced rivals for all-round value for money. But if you’re in the market for Bluetooth earbuds that provide a clear, detailed sound for a variety of different musical genres, then the GT220 certainly merits a listen. CJ    

Product: Grado GT220
Type: True wireless in-ears

● 8mm driver
●  Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX, AAC
●  6 hours claimed battery life

Read the full review in  Issue 473