Mission m71 loudspeaker Page 2

The m71 deviated from tonal neutrality only in the lower high frequencies. A slight highlighting of this range manifested itself in different ways, depending on the recording. On the Ian recording, her voice was a bit more sibilant than I'm used to, and the electric guitar had a bit more bite. On Kohjiba's The Transmigration of the Soul, from Stereophile's Festival CD (Stereophile STPH007-2), the marimba seemed natural but a bit more prominent in the mix than I've heard through other speakers. On some recordings, the highlighted upper frequencies actually enhanced my enjoyment of the work—such as the trumpet's brassy bite on the acoustic avant-jazz masterpiece from Sex Mob, Din of Iniquity (Columbia CSK 41146), or the upper harmonics of the piano strings on Michael Harrison's work for solo piano tuned in just intonation, "Quest for the Rose" (From Ancient Worlds, New Albion NA-042 CD).

Through the m71s, certain recordings literally gave me chills and goosebumps. The title track of Hole's Celebrity Skin, cranked up to the requisite 100dB, smashed me in the face with its processed vocals, crunch guitar, and melodic bass line, the last surprisingly easy to follow. On John Rutter's Requiem (Reference Recordings RR-57CD), the solo soprano sounded positively angelic and holographic, and the ambience and warmth from the organ pedals had me noting "They can't go down that deep, can they?"

Finally, in the acid test of a great speaker, while listening to the blooming classical guitar and string bass and the lyrical and weaving soprano sax on George Crumb's Quest (Bridge 5069), I put down my pen and pad and kept listening long past my usual reviewer stopping point for this CD.

...and the beauty contest...
I compared the Mission m71 with its predecessor, Mission's now-discontinued 731i ($299/pair when last available), as well as with the Polk Audio RT25i ($319), the JMlab Chorus 706 ($450), and the Alón Petite ($1000).

My beloved Mission 731i sounded more closed-in and dark in the extreme high frequencies than the m71. The midrange was as natural, but drier, with less resolution of detail. Moreover, the 731i became more confused on dense high-level passages, and had less bloom and extension in the bass. Overall, however, I still found the 731i's overall balanced timbral presentation very comforting to listen to for long periods.

The Polk's midrange presentation was much closer to the m71's: very neutral, but with somewhat less resolution of detail. However, the Polk's uncolored, extended timbral balance from the lower midrange through the extreme highs gave that speaker the nod in overall tonal balance, despite the m71's superior bass bloom and extension. The Polk's overall dynamic capabilities were inferior to the Mission m71's but superior to the Mission 731i's.

The JMlab Chorus 706 had much sweeter highs than the m71, but they were not as extended. Midrange reproduction, if a bit warmer in the lower midrange, was detailed, airy, and sweet, and was equally intoxicating on vocal recordings. The midbass was a bit more ripe than the m71's, and although it equaled the m71 in low-level dynamic articulation, the Mission m71 had superior high-level dynamic performance.

The Alón Petite had a touch more midrange resolution than the Mission m71 and was equally neutral-sounding. However, while the m71 had superior bass extension and dynamic bloom, the Petite's superior high-frequency extension, delicacy, and articulation placed it in a different league.

Mission accomplished
I congratulate Mission for producing a replacement speaker for their 731i that, overall, exceeds the performance of its predecessor at a lower price. Let's hope this indicates a trend throughout the speaker industry! But despite the m71's low cost, you should be careful to pair it with high-quality electronics; otherwise, its midrange resolution and bass reproduction will not be fully realized. Furthermore, I caution against matching the speaker with any components with noticeable high-frequency aberrations, as the m71's revealing tweeter will certainly not hide problems in this region.

Distributor: Denon Electronics
19 Chapin Road
Pine Brook, NJ 07058
(973) 396-0810