Grell TWS / 1 ANC-In-Ears in the test

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The first wireless in-ears from Axel Grell under its own brand, the grell TWS / 1, convince with very good sound, many codecs such as aptX Adaptive, LHDC and AAC and active noise suppression that can assert itself in comparison with the competition. The “Noise Annoyance Reduction” promises further improvements.

With the grell TWS / 1, headphone developer Axel Grell is launching the first wireless in-ears under his own new brand, after having been responsible for numerous headphones at Sennheiser for years and developing headphones for more than 30 years. The aim of the TWS / 1 is to meet high demands on sound quality and to score with a clear, natural sound instead of bass and volume. A lower price than comparable models should ensure that this sound quality is affordable for more buyers. The manufacturer relies on direct sales of the in-ears, which are only available in gray, after the release was postponed several times – not only because of the persistent lack of chips, but also because the product did not yet meet Axel Grell’s requirements and he wanted to implement further improvements.

ComputerBase was able to take a look in advance at the garish TWS / 1, which is available from today for 199.99 euros grellaudio.com can be pre-ordered and delivered from mid-November.

In addition to the earphones and the charging case, buyers receive three pairs of silicone and two pairs of foam tips of different sizes, a USB-C to USB-A charging cable and a quick guide.

Technical data and functions of the TWS / 1

aptX Adaptive, LHDC and Bluetooth 5.2

From a technical point of view, the garish TWS / 1 are not just messing around and not only rely on the latest Bluetooth standard in version 5.2, but also offer an unusual variety of audio codecs. Thanks to Qualcomm’s QCC5141 chipset, SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and LHDC are supported – a combination that has never before been tested in the test field. Devices that do not yet support aptX Adaptive can use aptX HD or aptX, which are part of aptX Adaptive.

  • garish TWS / 1

    garish TWS / 1

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    While aptX Adaptive requires a Qualcomm smartphone on the other side, the “Low Latency High-Definition Audio Codec” (LHDC) does not need this. However, it is not yet widespread on Android. LHDC can handle bit rates of 400, 560 and 900 kbit / s with a sampling depth of 24 bits and a sampling rate of 96 kHz and is roughly comparable to Sony’s LDAC. The OnePlus Buds Pro (test) recently also supported the codec, but broad support from smartphone manufacturers has yet to follow. Currently, the codec is only used by Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro and newer, the Redmi K30 and K40 series, the Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G and Note 9T, the two Poco smartphones Reno6 and Reno4 SE and the Oppo models F2 Pro and F3 supports. In the case of OnePlus smartphones, LHDC is to come to the OnePlus 9 (Pro) devices via software update. The editors have not yet received any of the smartphones mentioned, so that LHDC could not be used in the test – this will also be the case for many buyers.

    Bluetooth multipoint will follow via update

    Bluetooth multipoint is also supported, so that two end devices can be connected to the earphones at the same time via Bluetooth in order to be able to switch playback between them seamlessly. However, this does not yet work with the preliminary version of the TWS / 1, which ComputerBase has. However, it should be delivered with a firmware update, at the latest when the wireless in-ear headphones are generally available. For example, while watching a video on the tablet, the call can be taken on the smartphone with the earphones without having to end the connection and pair it.

    10 mm driver with extended frequency response

    The sound must be implemented by dynamic 10 mm drivers that cover an extended frequency response from 4 Hz to 22 kHz. This frequency response, which extends far downwards, is primarily intended to clarify what the acoustics are technically capable of. In order to achieve unadulterated sound, the dynamic converters have a tolerance of 1 dB according to their own information.

  • garish TWS / 1

    garish TWS / 1

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    Glass surface and IPX4

    The earbuds have a unique design that differs from many of its competitors. The inner part adjoining the silicone attachment is provided with a silicone ring, which is supposed to improve the hold in the ear. This chamber is followed by the round outer area, on the outside of which the touch sensors are located under a thin glass surface and which houses a microphone in a short stem. In order not to give up the ghost even in the rain and through sweat, the earphones are protected against splash water in accordance with IPX4.

    Metal charging case with a large battery

    The metal charging case measures 39.0 × 66.0 × 34.0 mm (H × W × D) and is therefore a little thicker than many of its competitors. The Apple AirPods Pro, for example, come to 45.2 × 60.6 × 21.7 mm, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 to 50.0 × 50.2 × 27.8 mm. It is therefore a little too thick to be able to carry it comfortably in every trouser pocket.

    The weight is 61 g and is therefore also a bit higher than many competitors, who, however, rely on a pure plastic housing. Each earbud weighs 7 g. The case is charged via USB-C or wirelessly according to the Qi standard. The internal battery is relatively large with a capacity of 770 mAh – each earbud has a capacity of 60 mAh.

    5, 28 and 45 hour battery life

    The manufacturer specifies the battery life of the earphones at around 5 hours with activated ANC. In total, it should be 28 hours with the charging case if ANC is used. The case charges the earphones around 4.5 times. Without ANC, the total battery life should be around 45 hours, i.e. 8 hours on one charge.

    In the test, the pre-production model lasted 5:15 hours at medium volume and a colorful music mix with activated ANC, before the earphones have to be recharged.

    ANC, NAR and transparency mode

    The garish TWS / 1 have both active noise suppression and a transparency mode, with which one can perceive the environment. The manufacturer wants to counteract the typical noise of many in-ear headphones when activating ANC with better, but also more expensive microphones that generate 12 dB less noise than cheap microphones. A total of three microphones per earphone are used, so that a hybrid ANC with inward and outward-facing microphone (feed-forward and feedback processing) was implemented, in which the inward-facing microphone measures the noise in the ear and also measures it a negative feedback loop as low as possible. Two microphones have an omnidirectional characteristic and are interconnected to form an intelligent array that is aimed at the mouth. The rear external microphone also serves as a microphone for the transparency mode and as a feed-forward microphone for noise-canceling.

    NAR, the “Noise Annoyance Reduction”, is an in-house development, patent pending, which aims to counteract a problem from ANC. Because through the strong, active damping of low frequencies, the high frequencies become more clearly perceptible and are more disturbing. So a strong ANC can leave annoying high frequencies behind. The garish TWS / 1 therefore analyze the spectrum of background noises and adapt the ANC using a psychoacoustic model in order to reduce the perceived annoyance from the environment. NAR is therefore an addition to ANC and can be switched on when the ANC is activated.

    garish TWS / 1 garish TWS / 1

    With telephony, the microphones also switch from cardioid to omnidirectional characteristics when wind is detected, in order to be less susceptible to wind noise.

    Control with swiping gestures

    The garish TWS / 1 rely on touch controls on both earphones. On the right copy, playback is started and paused by tapping it once. If you swipe from top to bottom, this reduces the volume. If you wipe the surface from bottom to top, however, the playback volume increases. Tapping the right earbud twice activates the voice assistant of the connected smartphone.

    On the left earbud, it is primarily used to switch between ANC, NAR and transparency mode. If you tap the left earbud once, the transparency mode is activated, another tap changes to ANC. To deactivate the ANC again, the touch surface must be held down for about one second. However, deactivating these two modes only works if you are in the activated ANC. If the surface is held for one second when the transparency mode is active, the system switches to ANC. If the surface is held down for three seconds with activated ANC until three short tones sound, the “Noise Annoyance Reduction” (NAR) is switched on. You can now switch between transparency and NAR with a single tap. If you want to use ANC again instead of NAR, you have to hold down the touch surface of the left earphone for three seconds in NAR mode. For the control, NAR is configured as an addition to ANC and can only be switched on and off when the ANC is activated.

  • garish TWS / 1

    garish TWS / 1

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    The left earbud also offers swiping gestures. If you swipe from the back to the front, the repetition jumps forward one track, and one track backward from the front to the back.

    If the area on the right earbud is held for five seconds, the pairing process is started and another device can be connected.

    It takes a while until you have internalized the controls and even then you have to be careful to touch the touch surfaces cleanly so as not to accidentally activate a swiping gesture if you only want to tap briefly. The TWS / 1 are therefore not completely free of incorrect entries, but the control works reliably. Adaptation is not possible. The garish TWS / 1 also does not offer a function for automatically pausing and resuming playback when an earphone is removed from the ear or reinserted.

    Good single use, without adjustment

    Both earphones of the garish TWS / 1 can be used alone. There are annoying dropouts and pauses neither when switching from stereo to mono nor vice versa. The control is not adjusted when only one earphone is used, so that only the functions of the respective earphone can be used.

    garish TWS / 1 garish TWS / 1

    No app yet to test

    The SoundID app from Sonarworks for the TWS / 1 was not yet available for testing, but should be ready for sale in mid-November. Among other things, it will offer an equalizer with individual profiles and the possibility of firmware updates. However, it will not be possible to adapt the controls.

    Comfortable to wear

    The TWS / 1 are expansive, which is why they cannot be worn well under hats, but the wearing comfort does not suffer. Thanks to the rubberized edge, they sit comfortably in the ear without pressing or constantly changing their position. Even light jogging is not a problem in the test, but with faster sports it can become problematic due to the relatively far outward center of gravity, which always depends on the individual seat.

  • bright TWS / 1 in the ear

    bright TWS / 1 in the ear

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    On the next page: sound, ANC, telephony, latency and conclusion

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