Mission Pilastro loudspeaker Page 2

The four Nomex-coned 8" woofers use a double-layer voice-coil wound on an aluminum former to give high power handling and low distortion. The woofers are mounted two on each side at the base of the cabinet, with the chassis of opposing pairs mechanically linked by a "force pipe" so that the net mechanical excitation of the enclosure is zero. Above them are mounted the six passive radiators, three to a side. These also use Nomex cones, and weights can be added to optimize the bass tuning for a specific room.

The hardwired crossover filters are specified to use audiophile-grade components, with reversible electrolytic capacitors bypassed with polypropylene Claricaps, and the internal wiring is with polyethylene-insulated cables of silver-plated, long-crystal oxygen-free copper (LC-OFC). Electrical connection is via three pairs of binding posts at the base of the cabinet's rear panel to allow bi- and triwiring.

My review samples already had plenty of hours on them—they were the same speakers Mission and Denon had exhibited at Home Entertainment 2002 in June. Nevertheless, before I did any serious listening, I ran the burn-in signal from Stereophile's Test CD 3 through the Pilastros overnight for several days. (This track has some serious low frequencies on it to work hard the suspensions of woofers and ABRs.)

As set up by Peter Comeau, the Pilastros were toed-in slightly, not quite enough to cross at the 10'-distant listening position. They were a little farther out in the room than the Wilson Sophias I had reviewed for the July 2002 issue. The woofers mounted on each side of the speakers were 56" from the wall behind them and 35"/45" (left), 65"/75" (right) from the sidewalls. (The asymmetry in the left/right room positioning is mandated by two steps to a raised platform leading to my room's vestibule on the right of the room.) The Pilastro's perforated metal grilles complement the speaker's appearance, but Comeau recommended I remove them for serious listening.

Paradoxically, given how good I'd thought the Pilastros sounded at HE2002, they were initially unimpressive in my room. It was only after several prolonged listening sessions that I realized that what I wasn't hearing was coloration. Perhaps more significant, I wasn't hearing the usual high-level congestion, and other limitations in dynamic range that I was accustomed to hearing from box speakers. After the relatively small Thiel and RBH speakers I've reviewed in recent issues, the Missions seemed to have unlimited dynamic range. Given the combination of the Pilastro's high sensitivity and the beefy Levinson monoblocks, drum recordings simply exploded from the speakers.

Jerry Marotta's punctuating tom-toms on "Wallflower," from Peter Gabriel's eponymous 1982 CD (Charisma 800 091-2), for example, seemed to peak much higher than usual with respect to the level of the vocals and the synth continuo. I have consistently noticed with components that have high dynamic range that not all the elements of a recording appear to increase equally in volume as you turn up the wick. I assume this is because, with such speakers, the grunge that would otherwise fill in the spaces between those elements is considerably lower in level.

This clarity is partly due to a slightly elevated treble region. This didn't make the Pilastro sound bright, but the soundstage did project somewhat forward of the speaker plane, and the analog tape hiss on my 1994 Concert CD (Stereophile STPH005-2) was more audible than it should be. But my, could the Pilastro reproduce cymbals with a delicious differentiation between all the sounds wooden sticks can make on a bronze dish. Whether it was Shelly Manne's kit on the SACD re-release of Sonny Rollins' classic Way Out West (Analogue Productions CAPJ 7530 SA) or Jimmy Cobb's on the Kind of Blue SACD (Columbia CS 64935), it was almost as if the Pilastro was increasing the differences between the sonic characters. In this regard, the Mission's ring-radiator tweeter is up there with the mbl 111B's omnidirectional Radialstrahler (reviewed in August 2002).

US distributor: Denon Canada Inc.
505 Apple Creek Blvd., Unit 5
Markham, Ontario L3R 5B1, Canada
(905) 475-4085