Grado's new Reference Series headphones use an exotic mix of maple, cocobolo and hemp wood

Grado RS1x
(Image credit: Grado)

Grado has launched its new Reference Series headphones, featuring new drivers, revised cables and headbands, and no fewer than three kinds of wood. 

The RS1x (above) and RS2x (below) now feature the fourth generation of drivers Grado has developed since its first pair in 1991. Grado says these new ‘X Drivers’ bring a "completely redesigned speaker and new harmony" to the headphones, with each drive unit specifically tuned for the wooden enclosures they’re built into. The driver was first introduced in the company's recently launched, lower-ranging Prestige Series, of which the 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award-winning SR325x and SR80x belong.

Grado RS2x

(Image credit: Grado)

The Reference Series' flagship RS1x (£799.95 / $750 / about AU$1400) utilise 50mm drivers of this kind, while the outer housings are made from an aesthetically (and no doubt sonically) distinct mix of maple sleeve, hemp core and cocobolo. Grado has much experience in using wood in the past, of course, liking it for its warm tonal ability. The RS2x (£599.95 / $550 / about AU$1000), meanwhile, combine maple and hemp wood and use 44mm versions of the driver.

Also in the name of improved sound quality, Grado has also increased the magnetic power while decreasing the effective mass of the voice coil. Lastly, the RS1x and RS2x now come with new and supposedly more durable 8-conductor cables, as well as white-stitched leather headbands.


After new cans? These are the best headphones of 2021

The best Black Friday headphones deals 2021 – all styles for all budgets

Read our Grado reviews

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.