Mission 79 Series 5.1 system review

Mission's newest floorstanders feature side-firing drivers for a better soundfield

Mission 79 Series 5.1 system
Mission's 79 speakers are dressed to impress

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My main platform for testing this Mission system was the Anthem D2V, P2 and P5 pre-power combo, with Denon's Blu-ray transport acting as principal picture pusher. Other electronics, though, were also used, including cooking-quality Denon and Onkyo amplification and a NAD DVD player, to confirm driveability.

What they showed was that this Mission system is not hard to control. Low-cost amplifiers are quite effective at squeezing useful levels of sound from the enclosures, though somewhat optimistic sensitivity ratings from Mission confirm that you need rather more power than you might expect.

On the other hand, these speakers don't have the internal headroom to cope with anything like full power output from the heavyweight (in every sense) Anthem electronics. At moderate volume levels, or even what might be described as moderately high volume levels, it all sounds very well poised and in control.

But go beyond a certain point on the volume control (the actual level is dependent on the source equipment and the source material) and it quite quickly deteriorates into an untidy-sounding mess.

However, despite this, Mission's 79 series still goes more than loud enough to exceed normal comfort levels in most rooms, and for most people. The levels it can generate without audible compression or distortion are estimated to be around the 100-102dBA level, but as usual this number is frequency dependent.

And relax...

This brings me to the more important question, namely how it performs qualitatively. And I was impressed.

One part of my audition involved the latest James Bond opus in lossless format from Blu-ray, Quantum of Solace (007 can always be relied on for an exciting, high-octane opening sequence, and this one is no exception), and the Missions coped well.

Mission 79 series speakers

SERIOUS LOOKING: Mission's 79 series would surely be Darth Vader's surround speakers of choice...

The balance of the opening sequence is such that you don't really need too much power to make a satisfying impact. Apply too many Watts and you'll get a rather muddled, shouty midband, which has nothing to do with any problem intrinsic to the speakers, but which makes uncomfortable listening.

Uncomfortable is a very un-Mission 79-like quality. If a single word could be used to sum this system up, it is easy or relaxed. In its natural state, the system is unusually clean and transparent – you may quickly forget you're listening to speakers. There is nothing hard or aggressive about the system midband and neither is the treble grainy. The overall qualities are of clarity and openness.

Another useful attribute of the speakers is their stereo imagery, which is precise and provides a firmly located image even for listeners seated to one side. This is no surprise given the narrow faceted enclosures, whose geometry is all about controlling imagery.

The three satellite speaker designs (front, centre and rears) are broadly physically comparable. All sound consistent with each other apart from the centre speaker, which is normally oriented at 90 degrees from the others and tends to punch through the middle, giving a more positive, and in some ways more articulate, dialogue quality.

The subwoofer has to be treated on its own, of course. It has good detail and limited overhang. Again it is not the most muscular design of its type, but there is almost no detectable box signature, and bass depth is good, though it will only generate moderate volume levels. It performs well, bolstering special effects tracks replete with explosions and other noises, but it can sound underpowered with the bass track on some music discs.

Serious ambition

This is Mission's most ambitious system for a long time, and one payoff is a more sophisticated and transparent sound than you might expect. Another powerful payoff is the superb aesthetics; these Missions are almost in a class of their own at the price.

The system just looks wonderful in the black finish submitted for test, and the white option is arguably even more striking and contemporary-looking. This is not a package for those who judge speakers by how loud they go, but it makes good sense of difficult or muddled soundtracks. Highly recommended.

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