Mission Cyrus 782 loudspeaker Page 2
The first thing that impressed me about the 782s was their smooth, silky midrange and the absence of aggressive treble so often heard from loudspeakers. I immediately suspected that I would enjoy the 782s. Next to midrange colorations that impart unnatural timbres to instruments and voices, I find an overly bright treble presentation to be the most annoying characteristic of many loudspeakers, especially inexpensive ones. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the 782s had a smooth, natural treble balance that didn't offend the ears.
The 782's overall tonal character was surprisingly similar to that of the $4850/pair Hales System Two Signature, which is, in a word, neutral. Instrumental timbres were natural and realistic, without any glaring colorations that drew one's attention away from the music and toward the loudspeaker. In fact, the words "smooth," "neutral," "uncolored," and "liquid" were often the first impressions written down in my listening notes next to each piece of music used to audition the 782s.
For example, the Bösendorfer on Dick Hyman Plays Fats Waller (Reference Recordings RR-33CD) was reproduced with an open, lively quality, but without the clangy or tinkly rendering that plagues overly bright speakers when reproducing this recording. I had an opportunity to hear the real instrument at length during the recording of this disc, and felt that the 782s did a credible job of conveying its true sound. The midrange was pure, clean, and without congestion or confusion, even during the complex passages of the opening tune, "Bach Up To Me." The bass was very quick and agile, with the ability to convey the rhythmic bounce essential to this music. Although low frequencies were tight and well-controlled, there was a sense of leanness through the mid/upper bass that resulted in some loss of the Bösendorfer's weight and body.
Besides the freedom from tonal aberration, I was also struck by the exceptionally detailed midrange. The piano's wealth of subtle detail emerged in a finely woven rendering that made the presentation musically involving. Nuance that is obscured through other loudspeakers came to life through the 782s. It seemed that there was just more information about the instrument and the music being conveyed to the listener.
Moving on to other recordings, I found my initial impressions of the 782s largely confirmed. The textures presented by the 782s were never hard, edgy, or annoying. This is an important aspect of music reproduction. There was a certain liquidity to the rendering that drew one into the music. Conte Candoli's fl&3252;gelhorn on a recording I engineered was smooth and round. It's easy for a loudspeaker to introduce glare and hardness to this instrument, but through the 782s it retained its round, liquid warmth. Incidentally, it was recorded with a tube microphone (Telefunken 251) and a tube compressor (a vintage UREI LA2A).
Female vocal (Dianne Reeves on David Benoit's album This Side Up, ENP 0001) had a particularly enjoyable quality that was silky, laid-back, and devoid of harsh sibilance. However, the voice seemed somewhat thin and lacked body through the lower midrange. It sounded as though there was no chest attached to her voice. Listening to other instruments with substantial energy in this range corroborated these impressions.
Acoustic bass had a somewhat threadbare rendering through most of its range, though not in its lowermost registers. The weight of orchestral climaxes was missing, robbing the music of its power and impact. Overall, the bass rendering was taut and articulate, the antithesis of tubby and bloated. Generally, I prefer this type of bass presentation to an underdamped, loose bass, but I felt the 782s erred in the direction of favoring quality over quantity. I must add, however, that the 782s had remarkable agility, speed, and detail in the bass.
LF transients, bass drum in particular, were sharp, punchy, and free from the overhang that often obscures the instrument's dynamic envelope. One other LF characteristic I detected was an apparent resonance that could be heard occasionally on acoustic bass. The frequency was much lower than the typical resonant coloration that makes a vocal sound boomy or heavy. Instead, the resonance was seldom excited, and then only by very-low-frequency notes, indicating the resonance was fairly narrow-band. Although I didn't hear it often, it was apparent over a wide range of recordings, suggesting it was probably a loudspeaker artifact. In addition, the 782s seemed to lack the LF extension heard from the Fried, Camber, and Triad loudspeakers I also review this month.
Going back to the 782's strengths, the speaker excelled in presenting a recording's dynamic contrasts and transient information. Transient leading edges were clean and razor-sharp, conveying a sense of immediacy and involvement, though not at the expense of fatiguing the listener. I was able to spend long sessions with the 782s and still find myself wanting to continue listening. This is always an important sign that the product is fundamentally right. In addition to presenting musical attacks with speed and precision, the sense of dynamic contrast was further heightened by the 782's ability to render subtle instrumental detail. Low-level information was clearly resolved without being hyped. These qualities combined to imbue music reproduced through the 782s with a sense of dynamic effortlessness and ease.
Soundstage presentation was similarly excellent. The 782s could throw a convincing soundstage in front of me as well as a fair sense of depth. Just as important was the precise and realistic portrayal of image size within the soundstage. Instrumental outlines were never bloated or diffuse. Instead, I was able to see the instruments before me in a precise position in space, distinct from neighboring instruments and unattached to the loudspeakers. The 782s' ability to present images laterally was better than their ability to convey the depth I know exists on some recordings. There was not the feeling of expansive three-dimensional envelopment experienced with some (albeit more expensive) loudspeakers. However, I must still give high marks to the 782s' soundstage presentation: they could throw pinpoint images away from the loudspeaker boundaries and, all things considered, were musically satisfying from a spatial perspective.
The 782s performed well over a wide variety of music. From early orchestral music (Handel's Water Music, Harmonia Mundi 907010) to high-energy rock and roll (The Dixie Dregs' Dregs of the Earth, Arista ARCD-8116) to full-scale orchestral music (Bruckner's Symphony 7, Telarc CD-80188), they were up to the task of conveying the music to the listener.
The Mission Cyrus 782 is a remarkable loudspeaker for $900/pair. It offers a level of musical performance one doesn't normally associate with a pair of loudspeakers costing under a thousand dollars. In particular, I was impressed by the 782's tonal smoothness and freedom from midrange coloration, a fundamental prerequisite for musical satisfaction. Instrumental timbres were always natural, with little imposition of the loudspeaker to obscure an instrument's subtle tonal shadings. The 782's treble was similarly enjoyable. It was soft and sweet, but not at the expense of openness or detail. Instruments and voices sounded harmonically correct, without the unnatural, steely sheen often heard from loudspeakers.
Another area where the 782 excels is in its ability to present transient detail with sudden attack and equally sudden decay. This characteristic allowed important dynamic information to emerge, giving music an "up," exciting feeling. In addition, I found the 782s provided a wealth of musical detail, especially in the midrange.
On the down side, the 782s had a leanness through a wide region that encompassed the mid/upper bass, reducing the feeling of body and warmth. Although vocals were free from a resonant chestiness, they lacked the feeling of an attached body.
The 782s have a strong sonic resemblance to the Hales System Two Signature, the loudspeaker that has become my reference. Both have a fundamentally uncolored tonal balance, ability to resolve detail, good transient characteristics, and presentation of tight, focused images. Interestingly, they share a common weakness in the overdamped, lean bass rendering, but with the 782s having a greater deficiency in this regard. No, the 782s don't have the degree of resolution, tonal purity, and transparency of the Hales Signatures, but it is significant that this $900 loudspeaker has more than a little in common with the Class A reference. The differences between them tended to be quantitative rather than qualitative. Throughout the auditioning, I felt that the 782s conveyed the music to me. They were always musically satisfying and never a chore to listen to. In addition to their superb musicality, the 782s are well-made and very attractive. The stands are well-designed and should be considered mandatory.
As you might have guessed, the 782s have earned a well-deserved recommendation.