The QX Series has been updated to Mkll status and Mission claims the results are “perfectly balanced”. Ed Selley investigates
As years go, the last few have been pretty good for Mission. Under the International Audio Group umbrella, it has enjoyed a strong run of form with the affordable LX and QX Series of speakers in particular. The LX range was revamped to MkII status last year and now it is the turn of the QX Series.
The QX-2 MkII is the larger of two standmounts in a range that also includes three floorstanders plus a centre and sub for AV duties. The basic design remains the same as before, which is not too surprising given how little was amiss with the original. It combines a 38mm ring dome tweeter with a 165mm ‘long fibre composite’ mid/bass driver, in the traditional Mission arrangement of the tweeter being the lower of the two. Instead, Mission has concentrated on the business of tweaking these drivers to improve their relationship.
TYPE 2-way standmount loudspeaker
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 220 x 320 x 300mm
38mm textile ring dome tweeter
165mm acrylic fibre mid/bass driver
Quoted sensitivity: 88dB/1W/1m (8ohm)
The tweeter is largely unchanged from the original, in part because it’s a fairly radical device to encounter at the price. It is assembled in two parts, with the centre of the dome being fixed and the voice coil attached directly to it. This is partnered with a ring around the central spike acting as a radiator (which is why the tweeter is relatively large at 38mm across). Mission says that this arrangement stops cavitation-based distortion from the tip of the dome without limiting the available frequency response. The most significant revision for the new models is the addition of a chamber at the back of the tweeter to capture rearward reflections, further improving performance.
The mid/bass driver sees some more significant revisions. The continuous profile cone is now infused with long acrylic fibres intended to increase the stiffness of the diaphragm without significantly increasing the mass. As before, the most notable aspect of this driver can’t be seen. As one of Mission’s ‘Dia Drive’ units, there is a complete secondary diaphragm behind the visible one to which the voice coil and motor are connected. This revised version now incorporates vents to prevent air build up and resonance. The distinctive ‘Comb Tooth’ surround that is designed to prevent reflections is retained and mimicked on the rear port, too.
The crossover that ties the drivers together has been tweaked, but retains its distinctive varying length signal path that further helps the time alignment of the two drivers. This has been fine tuned in an anechoic chamber and then placed in a rear ported cabinet that gives the QX-2 MkII a quoted frequency response of 44Hz-24kHz at +/- 3dB, which drops to 38Hz at the less demanding +/-6dB increment. Sensitivity is benign at 88dB/W and the 8ohm impedance (albeit with a slightly stiff minimum impedance of 3.6ohm) points to a speaker that should be an easy load to drive.
Even fairly hard- edged recordings are handled with impressive civility
The aesthetics of the new QX models have been revised too. This is a slightly mixed bag because one of the styling features I rather liked on the older models – the brushed metal end plates – has been dispensed with on the new versions, which now have all sides of the cabinet in the same finish. This leaves the review pair in their soft touch black sheen finish looking a little austere, particularly when compared with some similarly priced rivals. This has to be taken against the availability of both a white and walnut finish that are the same price and a little livelier to look at. Build quality is fantastic as well. There’s nothing I’ve seen at £ that feels more solidly made than this and precious little at double the price is meaningfully better.
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Initially connecting the QX-2 MkII to a Cambridge Audio Edge A – an amp significantly more expensive than the speaker that is sufficiently transparent to get out of the way and reveal any of its traits – the good news is that there is little sign of regression over what went before. Where this is most notable is in terms of the cabinet colouration that is present in the performance. Often, affordable speakers can feel somewhat constrained by the enclosure they use, but the Mission is admirably free of this. Martina Topley-Bird’s striking vocal turn in the opening Pure Heart on her album Forever I Wait is never beamed at the listener. Instead she is recreated singing directly between the speakers, a perceivable presence in a well-formed soundstage.
The tonal realism is worthy of note too. The distinctive tweeter might have a point in the middle of it, but the treble response that it produces is impressively rich and free of any aural barbs. In contrast with some Mission designs of yesteryear, the balance on offer here ultimately favours a dose of refinement over the urgency that was once the case. This does mean that even fairly hard-edged recordings like Placebo’s Infra-Red are nonetheless handled with impressive civility.
If you dig a little deeper, though, the QX-2 MkII reveals itself to still have some of the effortless get up and go of Mission designs of old. The difference is that now it is part of a rather wider and more balanced spread of abilities. Listening to the gloriously energetic Mettavolution by Rodrigo and Gabriella, it positively flows, latching onto rhythms and time signatures but stitching them into a performance that is refined, detailed and impressively three dimensional. It’s only when you listen to significantly more expensive speakers that you can perceive any real congestion to the performance and there’s precious little at a similar price that can best it.
The only slight weakness in this fairly convincing argument concerns the bass. This is entirely in keeping with Mission’s quoted figures, making this an impressively
hard-hitting speaker given its size and price. The limitation such as it is comes with the very deepest notes. Some of the admirable control and speed that the speaker shows throughout the rest of the frequency response can be fractionally less apparent here. This means the pounding low end of Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers has a slight ‘whoomph’ to the lowest notes rather than a single tight strike. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it feels uncontrolled, but there’s a very slight drop in the otherwise impressive levels of grip that are on display elsewhere.
Interestingly, this is less apparent if you use the Mission with more affordable equipment that doesn’t have quite the same low-end extension as the burly Cambridge Audio. Switching to a Rega Brio (HFC 446) and iFi Zen DAC Mk2 (HFC 480), the resulting combination gels with the speaker exceptionally well. Crucially, pretty much every positive aspect of the QX-2 MkII’s performance is present here in the same way as it was on the more expensive amp. It suggests that Mission has – entirely reasonably – striven to ensure that its speaker does its best work with more price-comparative electronics. Given that IAG sister brand Audiolab is operating at these similar price points, logic suggests there might be a designed link between the two.
And, given this is far more likely to be the sort of partnering equipment it’s used with, this helps the revised QX-2 to feel like a supremely well-adapted speaker. The performance it offers displays a fine balance of refinement, realism and excitement that is contained within a well-made, room-friendly cabinet. Mission’s tune up of the QX Series isn’t ground breaking, but there wasn’t much wrong to begin with. This is a very fine speaker and one of the strongest sub-£ options available
A fabulous affordable speaker that combines forgiving characteristics with excellent sonics
- Spacious, energetic sound
- easy to drive
- well made
- Fractionally sluggish low end
- austere black finish
Best Mission QX-2 MkII prices in the UK ?
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