Mission Cyrus 782 loudspeaker
Cyrus is the name given to the higher-priced line of loudspeakers made by England's Mission Electronics. The entire Mission loudspeaker line includes six products under the Mission label and three under Cyrus. Mission also manufactures a wide range of electronics and CD players. The company has a long history of audio innovations, both in loudspeaker and electronic design. Among Mission's claimed "firsts" are the first polypropylene-cone drive-unit used in a product (1978), first widespread use of MDF loudspeaker enclosures (1981), and first CD player from a specialist manufacturer. Interestingly, Mission also makes IBM-compatible personal computers.
The $900/pair Cyrus 782 is a two-way design employing dual 7" (175mm) polypropylene-cone woofers and a single ¾" (19mm) fabric-dome tweeter. The drivers are arranged in a D'Appolito configuration to simulate point-source radiation characteristics. Both woofer and tweeter were designed from scratch by Mission. The polypropylene woofer cones include a "mineral loading" that reportedly increases cone rigidity, thus decreasing cone breakup. Additional woofer design features include a shaped pole piece to increase linearity during high cone excursions, rigid steel chassis to reduce driver resonances, and a tight tolerance between the voice-coil and magnet to increase sensitivity. The woofers are driven in parallel, which reportedly increases the low-frequency drive surface while maintaining good transient ability, high power handling, and even off-axis response. The fabric-dome tweeter is ferrofluid-cooled and -damped, and is said to be immune to the breakup modes associated with fabric domes.
A six-element crossover, with second-order (12dB/octave) filters and a 3.2kHz nominal frequency, divides the frequency spectrum. The hard-wired network features polyester and ALCAP capacitors along with air-core inductors. A split network is used to allow bi-wire and bi-amp capability. The 782's enclosure is made from ¾" high-density particleboard, while the front baffle is 1" MDF for greater rigidity. Side-to-side bracing reduces cabinet vibration and thus the enclosure's contribution to the reproduced sound. In addition to the Cyrus 782's cabinet bracing, the inside walls are "visco-elastically" damped with bitumen rubber pads to increase their resonance resistance. Additional damping is achieved with polyester fiber wadding.
There is a current trend toward making dynamic loudspeaker enclosures more rigid, isolating the sound of the drivers from the enclosure. Several successful designs (notably the Hales System Two Signature, Wilson WATTs, and the Avalon Eclipse and Ascent) have paid considerable attention (and build cost) to minimizing enclosure vibrations. Since the acoustic output of a vibrating surface is a function of its size and excursion, it doesn't take much movement by the relatively large cabinet panels to add significantly to the energy launched into the room by the loudspeaker system. The cabinet's contribution not only colors the signal spectrally, but adds a time smear as the enclosure's energy is released slightly later than the energy produced by the drivers.
Achieving good time-domain performance was a high priority in the 782's design. Low-frequency alignment was optimized for good transient ability, and the contribution of delayed resonances (by cones, cabinets, driver baskets) was considered in both raw driver design and the finished loudspeaker.
The Cyrus 782 is very attractive, with beautiful cabinet construction, solid build, and close attention to fit and finish. However, I had one quibble with the 782s: their binding-post arrangement. Inside the usual recessed terminal cup, the two pairs of five-way binding posts are set in from the cup about 1/8". This made it very difficult to tighten the connectors on thick cable like the AudioQuest Clear and Green Hyperlitzes unless the entire spade lug was completely inside the very small inset area that actually holds the posts. If you don't get the spade lug completely away from the inset ridge, tightening the binding post bends the lug and makes for a loose connection. With some effort, however, I was able to angle the cables so that the lugs were not forced to bend when tightening the posts.
For most listeners, this will be a minor inconvenience since they are not likely to connect and disconnect them as often as I did during the review, and AudioQuest Clear is among the heaviest of speaker cables.
All the auditioning was performed on the Cyrus stands, available for an additional $150. The stands placed the tweeter about 6" below my ears' axis when seated in my listening chair. This is somewhat lower than I'm accustomed to, but is apparently a purposeful design decision. The stands are quite sturdy and made from heavy tubular steel. The "T"-shaped bottom support has threads for inserting three carpet-piercing spikes, while the top plate can be fitted with similar but shorter spikes that slightly penetrate the loudspeaker bottom. On the advice of Mission's Mark Macdonald, I opted for spikes on top and bottom for best performance. He also indicated that due to the 782's lowish impedance, they work well when driven by the Krell KSA-200 amplifier. For the auditioning, I removed the grilles, which consisted of a black fabric stretched across a lightweight plastic frame.
The 782s were broken in for about a day before any serious listening. For part of the break-in period I played the Dorian organ CD of Pictures at an Exhibition (Dorian DOR-90117) on "Repeat" mode while away for the day. After returning home, I realized that Winifred, our Miniature Pinscher, had been subjected to six hours of this, although through a closed door. She probably still hears "The Great Gate at Kiev" in her sleep! After the 782s were broken in, I tightened the hex bolts that hold the woofers in place about a quarter turn, in accordance with the instructions. Mission supplies a hex wrench for this purpose.