With the launch of the Grell TWS/1, there’s not only another pair of true wireless earbuds in town but another headphones brand. Grell is the brainchild of headphone engineer Axel Grell, who spent the best part of three decades at Sennheiser and designed some of its most acclaimed pairs in, for example, the HD 650 and Orpheus.
Having left Sennheiser fairly recently, Grell started his own company. And the first fruits of its labour are the TWS/1. The true wireless earbuds come into a crowded market with strong specs, including active noise cancellation, a 28-hour total battery life with ANC activated, and Bluetooth 5.2 compatibility with aptX HD and aptX Adaptive support. The earbuds are also splash-proof (IPX4-rated) and play ball with SoundID, letting you customise audio to your hearing and fit.
Grell claims it is sound quality that separates its newcomers from the competition, though. “I always try to create the best possible acoustical experience for the money, no matter the price point,” says Grell. "With our focus on audio, alone, we carefully selected custom dynamic transducers, used the best chipset that is available, and the best sounding codecs." Here's to hoping we finally have a pair that can rival the class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds, then.
To keep costs unrelated to performance down, Grell will sell through an online-only channel and send its products in "simple, inexpensive packaging".
The Grell TWS/1 are priced £180 /$200 (about AU$300) and can be pre-ordered now, with shipping beginning in mid-October. An exclusive version of Grell's first product, the drop + grell tws.01, will also be available via Drop.com around the same time, following an initial pre-sale period on www.grellaudio.com. These will be finished in black, as opposed to the space grey colour of the standard model, and US customers who purchase them will also receive additional blue wingtips.
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Qualcomm have recently announced aptX Lossless, which if/when adopted may mean we finally see some lossless CD-quality wireless headphones and earbuds hitting the market in 2022...ie well after everyone including What EarBuds have tried to sell you their crappy lossy stuff this Christmas.
Or of course, you could invest in a wired solution.
Have you heard of LHDC? It’s a higher-res Bluetooth codec developed by Savitech (popularized by HWA) with the unique benefit that you don’t need a phone with specialized hardware; you can download apps like the FiiO player or HiBy player to either Android or iOS devices, and more apps are currently being developed. That’s why we chose LHDC! While CD-quality FLAC is sometimes called lossless, I think we can agree it’s “less loss” not Hi-Res lossless, but still CD-quality is a welcome improvement.
We’ve also spent a lot of time on the earbud’s timbre, avoiding sibilance, evolving past a flat robotic sound, no background hiss, and also incorporating a stock grell tuning which is warm without bleeding over mid details. This sound quality is even evident with AAC and aptX! We were also able to use the ANC to improve sound quality.