Fans of The Grateful Dead — Deadheads, if you please — are all too aware that this year marks what might just be the last time to see what’s left of the band’s original members doing what they do best. Dead & Co., as the band is called these days, is embarking on what it calls its Final Tour — a 29-date U.S.-only tour that runs from May 19 to July 16. To commemorate the event, McIntosh has introduced Grateful Dead-branded limited editions of two of its wireless speakers, the RS150 (now the RS150GD) and the RS250 (RS250GD).
Each speaker is effectively identical to its non-Grateful Dead version, except for the one thing that the company is hoping Deadheads are going to want: the inclusion of the band’s two famous icons, “Stealie” (the lightning bolt-adorned skull) and the dancing bears. Those graphic elements are presented immediately below McIntosh’s almost equally iconic blue digital output meter(s) on each speaker.
McIntosh might be looking to cash in on Deadheads, but the company can at least claim a long and deep connection to the band: on March 23, 1974, at their concert at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, the Grateful Dead introduced its Wall of Sound — a huge sound system that consisted of 48 McIntosh MC2300 amplifiers delivering 28,800 watts of power. McIntosh gear will also be used, albeit in a more restrained way, on the Final Tour.
You will pay a lofty premium to be part of this particular fan group: the RS250GD costs $3,500 — a $500 add-on expense over the standard RS250 — while the RS150GD costs $1,500 (a $300 premium on the $1,200 price of the RS150). No one ever said it was easy being a Deadhead.
Still, inflated prices or not, these two wireless McIntosh speakers deliver on both style and substance. Their Wi-Fi connectivity works with Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect, Chromecast, and AirPlay 2, for a wide variety of ways to stream losslessly from your favorite music services, and even the Bluetooth connections are high-quality thanks to aptX and aptX HD support. For those who want the ultimate in control, these speakers also work as Roon endpoints (Roon fans know what that’s all about).
The RS150 is a simple, mono speaker with a woofer and a tweeter pumping out an impressive combined 120 watts, but the RS250 takes things to the next level. It’s a stereo system with eight drivers and a combined 650 watts of total power. It’s also very well equipped with inputs and outputs: you can wire in a turntable via the phono inputs, a TV via the HDMI ARC port, or you can use the digital optical input for CD players. You can connect a wired subwoofer or a set of headphones.