Mission 752 Freedom loudspeakerMission 752 Freedom loudspeaker

From the August 1997 issue of Gramophone.

Whatever its more recent achievements, Mission made its name with loudspeakers. A succession of successful models has made such an impact that the chances are any hi-fi enthusiast you talk to will at some time have been a man with a Mission - or more precisely two. This makes any new Mission loudspeaker offerings of more than usual interest. Although the drive unit configurations in the new Freedom range are basically the same as in the original 75 series (of which the 753 was reviewed in July 1993), the cabinet construction and configuration, as well as the crossover, has been completely redesigned for each model.

All three of these 75 Freedom series loudspeakers are essentially two-way designs: the 751 is a compact reflex enclosure designed to be used on a stand; the 752 a floorstanding expansion on it; and the 753 a further extension with a sealed cabinet and four LF drivers, providing "Bass Assist" below 200 Hz.

The 752 Freedom is the middle model, then, with a slim cabinet less than a metre high and carrying the kind of pairing of small drive units which still looks as though it shouldn't be capable of producing any more bass than a supermarket paging system. Not long ago the idea of describing a 170mm driver as a bass unit in a serious loudspeaker would have been regarded as a contradiction in terms. Experience has taught us to expect the improbable, however, and such a design must now be judged on its merits, not on how well it succeeds in producing a quart from a pint pot.

Driver complement is a 170mm Aerogel LF unit coupled with a Ferro-fluid cooled 25mm silk dome tweeter, which is common to the range. The crossover is set at 36kHz, in contrast to the 751's pairing where a smaller (130mm) polypropylene LF driver crosses over at 2.3kHz. Internal volume of the 752's taller cabinet is almost four times that of the 751 at 29 litres, a combination that suggests quite clearly where its advantages are to be expected.

Clearly medium density fibreboard (MDF) has come of age. While the 752 is finished in real wood veneer (black ash, rosewood or oak), the chamfered edges of the substantial panels make no attempt to disguise the nature of the underlying material. The MDF is smoothed and varnished as if it were solid wood, and the contrast offered by its colour, texture and lack of grain provides an interesting styling detail. The review pair were finished in oak, making the effect of the exposed MDF edges particularly subtle. The cabinet sits on a black plinth and is finished with a removable black fabric grille which extends only over the drivers themselves, leaving a large expanse of bare wood below and making it obvious at a glance that this is not a multi-driver system like the 753.

A transverse-fold construction is used for the cabinet and the port appears at the bottom of the rear panel, below the connector assembly. Four binding posts are provided, allowing for bi-wiring or bi-amping, while for straightforward two-wire use large solid wire links are fitted between the HF and LF terminals. I found it awkward to install the connection wires alongside these links, but this is a common difficulty with such designs and it is hard to see a way round it, particularly as we are no longer supposed to use 4mm plugs.

Performance

The 752 claims for itself not just an extended LF response - 6dB down at 40Hz - but unusual smoothness across the range, quoting a response from 70Hz-20kHz within 1-25dB, a much tighter tolerance than usually specified. A power rating is not given, the nearest specification being a recommended amplifier power; this is quoted as 25-150W, a generous headroom given the maximum SPL of 108dB and the sensitivity of 90dB spl for 1W at 1m, figures that suggest the loudspeakers would be fully driven by not much more than 60W.

These specifications suggest a comfortable performance at realistic listening levels, and this is pretty much what the 752 delivers. The bass response, judged simply on its merits, is very impressive; here is low frequency extension so smooth and natural as to allow one to forget the driver complement. Richness and warmth were the adjectives which sprang immediately to mind, and they stayed with me throughout my listening tests. In fact I began by wondering whether the treble had been sacrificed on the altar of bass depth, only to find that the HF drivers are fairly directional and require a listening position close to their axes for best results. Taken in conjunction with the cabinets' modest height, this means that a seated position is certainly better than standing; it also led me to prefer a slightly toed-in layout rather than the square-to-the-wall attitude suggested in the instructions. Heard like this, the overall effect was remarkably complete, the bass smoothness making the sound particularly easy on the ear.

I put the 752s through their paces with my own studio recording of Simon Wills's Trombone Concerto and the considerable dynamics came across powerfully, with the bite and presence of the soloist well preserved. The impression of space and front-to-back depth were also worthy of note, and I was particularly impressed with the way the percussion was placed in perspective behind the band without losing any of its clarity and detail.

I had high hopes of the 752 Freedom and was not disappointed. The most rewarding aspect was the polish and restraint of the performance; these loudspeakers seek not to grab your attention with bravura displays of sparkle and punch but to woo you with elegance and sophistication. A most enjoyable experience.

Specification

Type 2-way reflex Enclosure construction transverse-fold Drive units 170mm bass/midrange; 25mm tweeter Frequency response 70Hz-2OkHz t 1 -25dB LF response -6dB at 40Hz Nominal impedance 8 ohms Sensitivity 90dB at 1 m for 2-83V input Recommended amplifier 26-l50Wpc Maximum spl (per pair) 108dB Effective volume 29 litres Dimensions (H x W x D) 875 x 200 x 260mm Weight (pair) 37kg.

Manufacturer

Mission Electronics, Centralforce Limited, Stonehill, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE1 8 6ED. Telephone 01480 451777. Fax 01 480 43277. UK retail price £578 black; £648 rosewood/oak.

David Foister

 

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