Grell TWS-1 earbuds review: Pro-level design and SoundID support at a surprising price
These powerful earbuds may cost less than the leading models – but you’ll be stunned at how much more they pack in
⊕ Powerful and accurate sound
⊕ Wireless charging of the case
⊕ SoundID for extensive sonic customisation
⊕ Wide range of codecs supported
⊖ Slightly lower water resistance rating than some other earbuds
Axel Grell has contributed to the design of many high-end headphones over the years. The TWS-1 in-ear headphones are his first solo venture. His aim? To make audiophile wireless earbuds available to a wider market, with a reasonable price tag.
The earbuds and their charging case are beautifully finished in a combination of aluminium and solid plastic, and boast a seriously premium feel. Each bud has a small stalk with a microphone that is satisfactory for calls and voice assistant activation. They use Bluetooth 5.2, introduced in 2020. But be aware that this is still not found in all audio devices.
Easy to pair, the TWS-1s support a commendable range of codecs, including SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX adaptive and LHDC, and have a range of more than 50 metres. Battery life lasts for up to 34 hours with active noise-cancelling on, or 45 with it off. The case also holds four full charges so that you won’t run out of power while you’re out and about. There’s USB-C charging via the included cable, plus wireless charging of the case too, which is impressive at this price.
The buds have glass surfaces that can be tapped using various touch combinations to control volume and playback, activate your voice assistant and perform other common tasks. As well as the superb active noise cancellation, they also offer Grell’s Noise Annoyance Reduction system, which passively blocks mid- and high-range sounds while leaving the low end alone. It’s an effective tool, and works like a less intense version of ANC. You can use one bud on its own for taking phone calls and there’s a transparency mode for use when walking or cycling.
The TWS-1s produce exceptional sound from their 10mm drivers, with a balanced and powerful soundstage and a frequency response of 4Hz-22kHz. Tested with a range of sources from classical and electronic music to movies, they perform consistently across the board.
The buds also integrate with Sonarworks’ free SoundID app, a clever system that runs on iOS or Android and lets you tailor the buds’ performance to your unique ear shape. When activated, it runs you through various sound tests, asking you to select your preferred EQ curve and tuning, which is augmented over time using machine learning.
This sound signature is uploaded to the buds themselves so that it’s active when paired with any device, and you can always go back into the app to tweak or deactivate it. The buds sound dynamic and accurate even without SoundID but it’s a useful option to have, and much more flexible than a simple bass boost and the presets more commonly found in wireless earbuds.
Grell has provided a genuinely premium feel and level of performance with the TWS-1s, while keeping them competitively priced and matching the sound quality and features of models up to $100 more. They’re an excellent choice for audiophiles and regular users alike, with the addition of SoundID a highlight for people who like to customise their listening experience.
- 10.1mm high precision custom dynamic drivers
- Active noise cancellation and Noise Annoyance Reduction
- Frequency Range 4Hz – 22 kHz
- Up to 45 hours of listening
- Charging case with USB-C and wireless charging
- Transparency mode
- SoundID support for custom EQ and tuning
- Multiple hi-res codecs supported
- Glass touch field for gesture commands
- Range of over 50 metres
- $199.99 / £179.99
- Contact Grell Audio
- Buy: Drop