The 780 is the smallest model in Mission 78 series of upmarket loudspeakers. Diminutive would be a better word than small to describe the 780 – it’s a mere 280mm high,165mm wide and 263mm deep, with an enclosure size of only 7 litres.
In appearance the Mission is elegant. The drive units are “upside down” compared to most speakers, with the tweeter below the woofer. Both drivers are mounted on a molded plastic baffle, allowing the baffle to curve away from the drive units.
The woofer, which produces the bass and midrange, is made from a material that Mission call Keraform. The 130mm woofer crosses over at 2.5kHz to a silk dome tweeter.
The cabinet is of an unusual design. The interior walls are sculpted to scatter internal reflections, while these sculptured areas are filled with acoustic foam. This sort of engineering is only possible because of the computerised routers and other woodworking equipment available today.
Around the back of the speaker are biwirable binding posts and a reflex port.
The 780 is designed to be stand mounted, and Mission have their own stunning-looking stand called the Stance ($399). I used my own stands in my review.
Listening to the 780s
This is a stunningly musical loudspeaker. But before I get into that, there are some caveats. The 780 is a small speaker and suits a smaller room. Placing the 780 in a larger lounge is a waste of potential. Second, although the 780 is not an expensive speaker, it deserves to be used with high quality ancillaries. Use the 780s with a rough sounding amplifier and your music will sound awful.
I was immediately impressed with the 780, from the first CD I played. I’m a fan of both Ella Fitzgerald and the superb arrangements that Nelson Riddle created behind her for some of the Songbook series.
The first thing that struck me was Ella’s voice. It was pure, without any emphasis or colouration. Many speakers can add a bit of boom to her voice, which ruins the voice. Not the 780 – Ella’s voice was rich and full, but without a trace of boom.
But more important to me was that the playful nature of Ella’s voice came through superbly. On some speakers Ella can sound bored. Through the 780s Ella was alive!
The backing – Nelson Riddle’s orchestra, was superb both musically and sonically. The various instruments under Riddle’s command were clearly differentiated and tonally superb. There was a hint – just a small one – of a touch of forwardness in the presence range.
Even more remarkable was the soundstaging. The large soundstage seemed out of keeping with such a small loudspeaker. The instruments were spread across the soundscape in a coherent manner, not bunched up at all around the speakers.
I could clearly hear that Ella was in a separate vocal booth, in a different acoustic space to that of the orchestra. And Ella was firmly centred in the soundstage with no central wandering apparent.
I’ve really grown to appreciate the rock group The Police over recent years. Listening to The Police through the Mission 780s showed a highly detailed sound. It was easy to hear the various layers of instrumentation that was used and the various amounts of reverb added.
Again, the soundstaging was excellent – large-scale and very stable. With the different instrumentation of The Police, there was a definite, but small, presence excess.
One thing that the 780s did very well was portraying the pace and timing of the musicians. It’s always been curious to me that some hi-fi components can drag down the apparent tempo of music or even make it sound as if the players are slightly out of time with each other.
The Mission 780s didn’t suffer from this. The musicians were clearly playing together, with their subtle emphasis and changes very easy to discern.
The 780s will work best in a small room of course – after all, they are a small loudspeaker. But for a small room, with high quality components, the Mission 780 is a winner.
Mission 780 loudspeaker. $1099