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Grado RS1x & RS2x X Driver Headphones are a Tale of Two Timbers

The brand new Grado RS1x and RS2x X Driver Headphones are gorgeous looking cans that definitely don’t deliver a wooden presentation.

Grado Labs RS-1X Wood Headphones

Grado Labs has been one of the leading American manufacturers of phono cartridges and headphones for decades and the Brooklyn-based company is showing zero signs of slowing down. Having visited the “factory” and watched how their dedicated staff make each cartridge and headphone by hand — I can attest to the quality of their offerings. The family-owned business took advantage of the vinyl revolution and personal audio explosion to expand its lineup and offer a wide range of products that appeal to a very wide net of music listeners. The brand new Grado RS1x ($750 USD) and RS2x ($550 USD) X Driver Headphones have arrived in time for Black Friday and we’re rather impressed.

I’ve been a Grado customer for over 30 years and while I’m still looking for the guy who stole my pair of Grado SR-60s out of my knapsack on a bus outside of Eilat in 1996, I’ve added a Grado Timbre Series MI phono cartridge to my system in recent years and a slightly worn pair of Grado RS1s follow me everywhere.

There is definitely a Grado “house” sound; those who love rock and jazz are big fans of the cans made in Brooklyn and while some have opined over the years that Grado’s models are slightly etched sounding in the treble — I would make the case that Grado’s current lineup are much smoother sounding and one of the best values in headphones at any price.

Grado Labs RS-1X Headphones Angle
Grado Labs RS-1X

RS-1X Specifications:

  • Transducer type: dynamic
  • Operating principle: open air
  • Frequency Response: 12-30,000 hz
  • SPL 1mW: 99.8
  • Normal Impedance: 38ohms
  • Driver matched db: .05
  • MSRP: $750
Grado Labs RS-2X Headphones Angle
Grado Labs RS-2X

RS-2X Specifications:

  • Transducer type: dynamic
  • Operating principle: open air
  • Frequency Response: 14-28,000 hz
  • SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB
  • Normal Impedance: 38ohms
  • Driver matched db: .05
  • MSRP: $550

Morning Wood

The new Grado RS1x incorporate 4th generation X Drivers, and the redesigned RS1x combines maple, hemp, and cocobolo wood for a gorgeous looking headphone.

The RS1x are (like most Grado models) very easy to drive (99.8 dB sensitivity rating, 38 ohms) and I can see them be a fantastic match with a number of the new Dongle DACs like the Helm Audio Bolt, AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt, and Questyle M12.

The new RS1x are manufactured with a mix of different woods; For the first time, three different wood species are working together in a Grado headphone. The housing is made of a maple sleeve, hemp core, and cocobolo outer ring.

X Series Drivers

The RS1x is the first headphone to be built with the larger 50mm X Drivers. Specifically tuned for the tri-wood RS1x, this new speaker design features a more powerful magnetic circuit, a voice coil with decreased effective mass, and a reconfigured diaphragm. These reengineering components used in the 50mm drivers improve efficiency, reduces distortion, and preserve harmonic integrity.

New Cable & Headbands

Along with the speakers, the cables and headband have been redesigned for the RS1x. Housed in a more durable exterior, the now super annealed copper 8-conductor cable reveals even more of your music with improved purity. The new black leather headband features a white-stitched accent.

Grado headphones have come a very long way in that regard and it will be interesting to see how these feel on your head during extended listening sessions. My biggest complaint over the years with their headphones has been the slightly snug headband on my rather large head. Anything that make them more comfortable is a win.

Grado Labs RS-2X Wood Headphones
Grado Labs RS-2X

Afternoon Wood

The less expensive RS2x headphones offer similar specs (99.8 dB sensitivity, 38 ohms) but there is no way that the driver is exactly the same considering the $200 difference in price. A quick look reveals that the RS2x utilizes a 44mm driver instead of the 50mm driver in its more expensive sibling.

Maple, Meet Hemp

A family favorite, the RS2x has been completely redesigned to bring out the full potential of its maple and hemp wood. The housing’s sleeve and ring are made from maple, while a hemp core keeps everything together.

X Series Drivers

The 4th generation 44mm driver is specifically tuned for the RS2x wood housing; this new speaker design features a more powerful magnetic circuit, a voice coil with decreased effective mass, and a reconfigured diaphragm.

For more information: Grado Labs Reference Series

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