Grell Audio isn’t a household name, but its founder, Axel Grell, is something of a legend in the audiophile community. As Sennheiser’s lead headphones designer for the better part of 30 years, he was a driving force behind the company’s line of highly regarded audio products, like the pricey but extraordinary HD800 and HD800S. Now, out on his own, Grell has his sights set on a new goal: To produce a set of true wireless earbuds that don’t compromise on sound quality and, perhaps more importantly, don’t cost the equivalent of lease payment on a Ferrari. His first attempt is embodied in the Grell TWS/1, a slick-looking set of earbuds that cost $200, and can be pre-ordered from the Grell Audio website starting today and shipping expected by November.
“I always try to create the best possible acoustical experience for the money, no matter the price point,” said Axel Grell in a press release. The TWS/1 features and specs seem to support Grell’s statement. With the exception of active noise cancellation (ANC), most of the embedded tech appears geared toward a higher standard of audio performance: High precision dynamic drivers, dynamic transducers with a tolerance of +/- 1 db, and strong support for high-quality Bluetooth codecs like SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX adaptive, and LHDC. Grell has even included Sonarworks’ SoundID personalized tuning software to help folks adapt the sound of the TWS/1 to their particular hearing profile.
In addition to regular ANC, the TWS/1 offer a feature developed by Grell called NAR, or Noise Annoyance Reduction. NAR is designed to work in tandem with ANC, which typically works better on low-frequency sounds. However, Grell considers noises in the mid, high-mid, and high frequencies range to be more annoying, so when the NAR algorithm detects them, it reduces the normal ANC effect, letting the supposedly less annoying lower frequencies act as masks.
Grell expects the earbuds to get about six hours of life per charge with ANC on, and a total of 34 hours of listening when you include the charging case — a good deal better than what you’ll get from Apple’s AirPods Pro. With an IPX4 rating for water protection, you should be able to take these buds for a run or to the gym without any worries.
At $200, if the TWS/1 live up to their billing, Grell may be able to exploit a gap in the true wireless world. Right now, if you want top-notch audio and ANC from an established brand, you’ll have to spring for the $299 Master & Dynamic MW08, the $279 Sony WF-1000XM4, the $230 KEF Mu3, or the $299 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 (though right now you can find the Momentums for just $199).
After the initial pre-sale period on the Grell Audio website, the TWS/1 will also be offered on Drop.com. Drop customers will also get access to a special version of the TWS/1 in all black (versus the standard space gray color), called drop + grell tws.01.
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